Did you know, seizures are the #1 most frequently reported brain/nerve condition in dogs?
A dog who seizes is a scary experience for both the dog and the owner. Dogs often become injured or go into a state of panic during a convulsive episode.
Whether you currently have a dog who has seizures or if you are thinking to adopt a pooch with a history of seizures you may ask yourself, why do dogs have seizures?
What is a Seizure?
A seizure is an involuntary disturbance of the brains regular brain function for a temporary period of time. This sudden change in brain function is accompanied by uncontrollable activity of the muscle.
A dog that experiences multiple seizures is then known to have epilepsy.
Epilepsy means a canine has repeated seizures. An epileptic dog’s seizures are unpredictable and can occur at any time. These seizures, or convulsions as they are sometimes called, can be a onetime fit (another word for seizure) or a cluster of fits.
What Happens During a Seizure?
A dog which is about to go into a seizure will begin to display altered behavior. He may seek out the company of his owner, appear nervous, hide, become restless, shake or whine. A dog may continue to act in this manner for a matter of seconds to an hour before actually having the seizure.
Once the seizure begins, the dog may appear to be in a mental state, biting at imaginary objects or he may lose consciousness completely.
Other dogs will fall to one side, paddling the legs uncontrollably as their muscles contract and spasm. The head may also be drawl backward, accompanied by a profuse amount of drooling.
The seizure itself can last anywhere from a few seconds to five minutes.
After the seizure, a dog may appear confused and may even have a hard time seeing for a short duration.
The seizure, itself, is not painful to the dog, but injury may be inflicted during the seizure, such as tongue biting or falling.
This is an example of a Shiba Inu suffering from a mild seizure:
Why Do Dogs Have Seizures?
Dogs can have seizures due to:
- Brain Cancer
- Injury to the head
- Electrolyte disorders
- Kidney disease
- High or low blood sugar
- Disease of the liver
- Ingestion of poison
While these are common causes for a dog to seize, other dogs suffer from seizures for no reason, which is known as idiopathic epilepsy.
Idiopathic epilepsy is first seen in dogs when they are between six months to six years of age.
Any breed of dog can be diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy, but this condition is most commonly seen in: German Shepherds, Collies, Belgian Tervurens, Beagles and Labrador Retrievers.
How are Seizures Prevented & Treated?
Seizures that are caused by known sources can be prevented by routinely visiting your veterinarian and insuring your dog gets the treatment he needs. However, for dogs that suffer from idiopathic epilepsy, prevention and treatment are one in the same.
Once treatment is started, the dog must continue to take the medicine for the rest of his life to prevent another seizure from occurring.
A dog may never be seizure free, but the medication can make the episodes less severe and occur less frequently.
Veterinarians commonly prescribed two medication types to treat canine seizures: potassium bromide and phenobarbital. Both medications are used to treat and control seizures in dogs and/or cats.
Why dogs have seizures cannot always be explained, but due to advances in veterinary medicine, your dog can live a long and happy life.
If you have a dog that suffers from seizures or if you are thinking to adopt a dog who has a history of neurological health conditions, talk to your veterinarian about how you can improve the quality of his/her life.