Sometimes, our pets’ behavior comes out of nowhere. When a dog does something unexpected, it can be a scary experience for both the pet and their owner. Seizures are one of these occurrences. Knowing the signs, causes, and treatments of canine epilepsy can bring comfort and clarity to such an unprecedented situation.
What is Canine Epilepsy?
While there are other causes of seizures in dogs, idiopathic epilepsy is the most common. “Seizures” occur when brain cells experience an abnormal surge of electrical activity. A dog has “idiopathic” epilepsy when brain activity appears normal but cells are more predisposed to sudden surges. By definition, even experts cannot determine the underlying cause of idiopathic epilepsy. The diagnosis appears in approximately 1 in 111 dogs.
What Does A Seizure Look Like?
Seizures can look a variety of ways, but they are recognizable to the trained eye. During a seizure, many dogs experience abnormal motor activity such as facial twitches or limb movements. They are often fearful, and they may lose ability to control bodily functions. Seizing dogs may salivate, vomit, urinate, or defecate.
Although seizures are caused by neural excitement, most occur when a dog is asleep or resting. In some cases, dogs may experience seizures during exercise or emotional arousal, but this is much less common.
Despite their violent nature, seizures are not painful to your dog. At most, they may experience confusion or panic. Never try to intervene if your dog starts seizing. Let the seizure run its course before acting.
When Should I Call the Vet?
A short, single seizure is not necessarily dangerous to your dog, but you should still contact your vet after the first seizure. The vet will ask for a detailed history, looking for potential head trauma or exposure to toxic substances. They may administer blood, urine, or heartworm tests to rule out other causes. If they cannot find any other causes, they may diagnose your dog with idiopathic epilepsy.
Usually, vets only administer treatment for severe regular seizures. Treatment includes anticonvulsants such as phenobarbital and potassium bromide, and it will most likely continue for life.
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