Repeated seizures are often referred to as epilepsy. Only when seizures happen on a regular basis over a series of time do we actually call it epilepsy. Seizures are most often caused by brain disease. The seizures can be attacks on muscular, sensory, or psychic functions with our without loss of consciousness.
The seizures are identified as either primary epilepsy or secondary epilepsy.
Primary epilepsy is also known as idiopathic, genetic, or true epilepsy. It is the case of ruling out every other possible cause of the seizures. Secondary epilepsy is seizure that a specific cause can be determined. These causes can be traced to degenerative disease, toxins, infectious disease, and developmental issues.
Although the seizures themselves can be divided into different categories, the symptoms are generally the same. Classic seizures often have three phases although not all seizure will have them. These phases are called the aura, the seizure itself, and then the post seizure behavior.
Just as animals know when their owners are not feeling well, you will have a “sense” that a seizure is coming. It has been proven that dogs that have epileptic owners can sense when the owner is about to have a seizure. The same “aura” is created in the reverse. You know your dog and can recognize when something is just not right by your pets behavior. Common signs are that your pet will be upset or anxious or they may even withdraw and hide for no apparent reason.
The aura is a precursor to the actual seizure itself. It will start with a stiffening of the muscles followed by your pet falling to their side with the legs stretched out and their heads back. At this point your dog is usually no longer conscious although their eyes may still be open. During a seizure your pet has no control of their body. They may urinate, empty theirs bowels, and drool excessively. They may even vocalize although this is not an indication of pain. This phase is usually very brief, though it may seem longer.
The final phase of canine epileptic seizure will have your pet lying motionless for a short time. They will eventually get back up on their feet. They often times come out of a seizure perfectly normal as if nothing has happened. More often though your pet may be disoriented. They may go around the house aimlessly and even bump into walls and chairs. This usually will pass in a few hours.
Your veterinarian may recommend giving your dog diazepam or extra oral Phenobarbital following a seizure. If you are giving oral medication wait until the dog is awake and functional enough to swallow and not bite. They will be hungry following a seizure and putting the medicine in their food can be an effective way to give it. If low blood sugar is the suspected cause of the seizure, you may give them some honey or corn syrup to quickly bring the blood sugar levels back up.
The actions of your dog following an epileptic seizure are as disturbing as the seizure itself. The best thing to do is to leave your pet alone while making sure they do not accidently hurt them. This behavior will pass in a couple of hours
When your pet has been diagnosed with epilepsy your veterinarian will suggest several medications. The commonly used medications for epilepsy act to move the brain tendencies away from excess excitation. Medications that are usually prescribed are Phenobarbital, potassium bromide, and diazepam. Make sure that you follow your veterinarian’s advice and do not miss dosages.
Epileptic dogs go on to live full happy lives. You as their owner must not treat them any differently than you would a non-epileptic dog. You never know when an epileptic seizure is going to strike. Being prepared with knowledge and advice from your veterinarian is one of the best things you can do for your pet.