Pet Seizures; Signs, Causes and Solutions
It can be terrifying to see your canine companion have a seizure. You feel helpless because you don’t know what to do or why it’s happening. All you know is that your beloved dog is in trouble, maybe serious trouble.
Here’s some tips and advise from one of my favorite and most relied upon sources, a vet that believes in not only conventional medicine, but alternative medicine as well, Dr. Andrew Jones.
Most of the time your veterinarian will offer you ONLY one option… traditional medication.
But there are other options.
Signs of Seizures
The signs of seizures vary, but they generally include some of the following symptoms:
- Loss or derangement of consciousness
- Contractions of all the muscles in the body
- Changes in mental awareness from nonresponsiveness to hallucinations
- Involuntary urination, defecation, or salivation
- Behavioral changes, including non-recognition of owner, viciousness, pacing, and running in circles
Seizures consist of three components:
1) The pre-ictal phase, or aura, is a period of altered behavior in which the dog may hide, appear nervous, or seek out the owner. It may be restless, nervous, whining, shaking, or salivating. This may last a few seconds to a few hours.
2) The ictal phase is the seizure itself and lasts from a few seconds to about five minutes. During this period, all of the muscles of the body contract strongly. The dog usually falls on its side and seems paralyzed while shaking. The head will be drawn backward. Urination, defecation, and salivation often occur. If it is not over within five minutes, the dog is said to be in status epilepticus or prolonged seizure.
3) During the post-ictal phase, there is confusion, disorientation, salivation, pacing, restlessness, and/or temporary blindness. There is no direct correlation between the severity of the seizure and the duration of the post-ictal phase.
Despite the dramatic signs of a seizure, the dog feels no pain, only bewilderment. Dogs do not swallow their tongues. If you put your fingers into its mouth, you will do no benefit to your pet and will run a high risk of being bitten very badly. The important thing is to keep the dog from falling and hurting itself. As long as it is on the floor or ground, there is little chance of harm occurring. If seizures continue for longer than a few minutes, the body temperature begins to rise. If hyperthermia develops secondary to a seizure, another set of problems may have to be addressed.
Status epilepticus bears special note. It is characterized by a seizure that lasts more than five minutes. When it occurs, the dog’s life is endangered. Unless intravenous medication is given promptly, the patient may die. If this occurs, you should seek treatment by a veterinarian immediately.
Causes of Seizures
There are many, many causes of seizures. Epilepsy is the most common and of least consequence to the dog. The other extreme includes severe diseases such as brain tumors. Fortunately, most are due to epilepsy.
When a seizure occurs, we begin by taking a thorough history concentrating on possible exposure to poisonous or hallucinogenic substances or history of head trauma. We also perform a physical examination, a basic battery of blood tests, and an electrocardiogram (EKG). These tests rule out disorders of the liver, kidneys, heart, electrolytes, and blood sugar level. A heartworm test is performed if your dog is not taking heartworm preventative very regularly.
If these tests are normal and there is no exposure to poison or recent trauma, further diagnostics may be performed depending on the severity and frequency of the seizures. Occasional seizures are of less concern than when the seizures are becoming more severe and frequent. In this instance, a spinal fluid tap and fluid analysis may be performed. Depending on availability, specialized imaging of the head with a CAT scan or MRI might be performed. Fortunately, these additional tests are usually not needed.
To the Veterinarian
We generally prescribe 1-2 weeks of anticonvulsant therapy. If there are no more seizures during that time, the anticonvulsants are gradually discontinued. The next treatment is determined by how long it takes for another seizure to occur. That may be days, months, or years. At some point, many dogs have seizures frequently enough to justify continuous anticonvulsant therapy. Since that means that medication must be given every 12 to 24 hours for the rest of the dog’s life, we do not recommend that until seizures occur about every 30 days or unless they last more than five minutes.
It is important to avoid sudden discontinuation of any anticonvulsant medication. Even normal dogs may be induced to seizure if placed on anticonvulsant medication and then abruptly withdrawn from it. Your veterinarian can outline a schedule for discontinuing the medication.
There are reports that show a link between diet and seizures in dogs. Every seizuring pet should at least try a commercial hypoallergenic diet for 12 weeks. You can also make your own elimination diet.
This has been used an anticonvulsant for some dogs. Many dogs only have seizures at night.
Cicuta virosa. This can be given to control seizures.
Many pets with epilepsy will seizure in response to certain stimuli, such as loud noises or bright lights. Get to know what triggers your pet’s seizures, and avoid these situations.
To find out more, for your dog’s sake, not only about seizures but about almost any health related problem or situation, CLICK HERE. Trust me, I did!
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!