for a dog with epilepsy.
disorder, or epilepsy, is a central nervous system disorder that
causes periodic seizures unrelated to progressive brain disease.
It is one of the most common neurologic problems in pets.
are three forms of epilepsy: primary epilepsy (also known as idiopathic
epilepsy), juvenile epilepsy, and acquired epilepsy. Pets with
epilepsy appear normal between seizure episodes. Some pets become
anxious just before a seizure and may either hide from you or
seek your attention. A seizure usually affects the whole body,
lasts one or two minutes, and causes loss of consciousness.
a seizure, the pet typically stiffens, chomps his jaw up and down,
salivates, urinates, defecates, and makes a paddling motion with
all four limbs. Some pets may experience mild, generalized seizures
in which they dont lose consciousness but have uncontrollable
muscle rigidity or trembling. After a seizure, the pet may be
confused and temporarily blind. Seizures usually occur when a
pet is resting or asleep during the night or early in the morning.
Factors and Detection
Primary epilepsy is common in dogs. It can affect any dog, but
certain breeds often inherit primary epilepsy, including beagles,
Belgian Tervurens, Border collies, boxers, cocker spaniels, collies,
dachsunds, German shepherds, golden retrievers, Irish setters,
Keeshonds, Labrador retrievers, poodles, Saint Bernards, Shetland
sheepdogs, Siberian huskies, English springer spaniels, Welsh
corgis, and wire fox terriers. Primary epilepsy occurs most frequently
in dogs between 6 months and 5 years old, and male dogs are at
epilepsy develops in very young puppies, usually 8 to 12 weeks
old. This condition, which affects breeds such as cocker spaniels,
can be difficult to control, but pups may grow out of it by 4
to 6 months of age.
epilepsy affects dogs of any age and breed. It stems from brain
injury caused by trauma or infection, such as distemper. Damaged
nervous tissue serves as a starting point for the seizures. However,
it might take six months to three years after the original injury
before a seizure occurs. In most cases, the original injury is
are some signs of epilepsy:
*urine and feces spread out or smeared on the floor
*urine and feces on your pets fur
*confusion or behavioral changes
*uncontrollable muscle rigidity or trembling
*a state of continual seizure activity, known as status epilepticus.
Status epilepticus is a life-threatening emergency. Take your
pet to the veterinarian immediately so the doctor can stop the
you notice any of these signs and think your dog may have experienced
a seizure, take him to your veterinarian. Your pets doctor
will ask about the nature of the seizures, your pets family
history of seizures, and if your pet was exposed to poisons or
infectious agents. Your vet will perform a complete physical examination
and may use blood tests, urine tests, X-rays, and ultrasound to
rule out other causes of seizures, including low blood sugar levels,
low blood calcium levels, poisoning, liver disease, brain tumors,
and infectious disease. Your veterinarian might also refer you
to a veterinary specialist for advanced diagnostic techniques,
such as cerebrospinal fluid analysis, computed tomography (CT)
scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
If the veterinarian diagnoses primary epilepsy in your dog, neuter
or spay the pet to prevent passing epilepsy to offspring. Avoiding
head trauma or serious infection reduces your pets risk
for acquired epilepsy.
allow pets with epilepsy to swim because they can experience seizures
in the water and drown. Another precaution: Place your pet in
a large kennel each night to sleep. If he experiences a seizure
during the night, the kennel will protect him from injury (such
as falling down stairs, falling off furniture, or banging against
a hard object). Keeping him confined will also make morning cleanup
you witness your pet having a seizure, make sure that he is away
from stairs or any other hazards. But dont put your fingers
in his mouth he wont swallow his tongue, but he might
bite you inadvertently.
your pet develops epilepsy, the veterinarian will ask you to record
the seizures and any event or condition that seems to trigger
them, such as thunderstorms or excitement. This journal will help
your veterinarian decide if treatment is necessary.
all pets with epilepsy require treatment. Medications for epilepsy
dont always eliminate seizures, and they can cause side
effects and complications. If the seizures are mild and infrequent
less than one every five to six weeks then the benefits
of treatment dont outweigh the risks.
medication can help pets who experience frequent seizures, cluster
seizures (many seizures in a short period), and status epilepticus.
However, once you administer anticonvulsant medication, your pet
becomes dependent on it. Abruptly stopping the medication may
is the preferred anticonvulsant. If your veterinarian prescribes
this drug, she will periodically test blood levels of the medication
and adjust the dose as needed. Also, the doctor will run blood
tests once or twice a year to make sure the drug isnt damaging
your pets liver. Phenobarbital increases thirst and appetite
and can contribute to obesity. Your veterinarian may use the anticonvulsant
potassium bromide alone or in combination with phenobarbital to
maximize seizure control.
drug diazepam can interrupt seizure activity in pets experiencing
status epilepticus. Diazepam isnt used for routine seizure
control in dogs because its effect is short-lived, requiring frequent
valproic acid, clonazepam, and clorazepate are anticonvulsant
medications that treat epileptic pets who dont respond to
phenobarbital alone. However, these drugs cause a lot of adverse
side effects, theyre expensive, and their effectiveness
Most pets with epilepsy lead good-quality lives. Pets who experience
frequent seizures, cluster seizures, and status epilepticus and
those who dont respond to drug treatment have a guarded
prognosis because theyre more likely to die from status