Epilepsy in Dogs

Epilepsy in dogs is more common than epilepsy in cats. Epilepsy causes seizures and during the seizures, the dog may lose consciousness or get injured. An owner with an epileptic dog must be aware of the condition and how to deal with it, so as to prevent possible accidents.

Causes of Canine Epilepsy

Dogs with epilepsy have seizures, which are involuntary contractions of the muscles. Seizures may be caused by poisoning, chemical imbalance or low blood sugar; however in epilepsy, the seizures are caused by damaged brain tissue. This damage may be caused by a head injury, a brain tumor or blood clots. There may be a genetic factor causing epilepsy in dogs.

Seizures in dogs typically last a short period of time (less than 3 minutes), but may last even longer; you need to visit the vet as soon as you notice a seizure in your dog.

How to Deal with Canine Seizures

A seizure occurs without any warning signs. A seizure can be triggered by excessive light, noise (fireworks, thunder, even loud TV) or stress.

During a seizure, the dog will start to stagger and the muscles will begin to spasm. The dog may salivate and the saliva may turn into foam due to the forced breathing.

In other cases, the jaw may get stuck in an open position and it looks as if the dog is trying to yawn.

The dog may roll from one side to the other and may hurt himself. This is why you need to place a few blankets and prevent any possible injuries. Make sure your dog is not near stairs or sharp objects.

Dim the lights and stop any disturbing noise.

The dog may or may not be conscious during the seizures.

You shouldn't place your hand in the dog's mouth to prevent him from biting or swallowing his tongue, as the dog may bite you.

The dog should get back to normal after a few minutes; he will be relaxed and will display no other disturbing signs.

Epilepsy Treatment Options

Epilepsy may be kept under control with an anti-epilepsy drug (AED) that will prevent seizures. Common anti-epilepsy drugs include Phenobarbital and Dilantin.

These drugs are recommended only if the seizures are frequent (more than one seizure per month).

The AED is administrated daily and the treatment may be interrupted if the dog is well and has no seizures. A dog that is under anti-epileptic medication should be monitored; periodical blood tests are recommended.

If the seizures are caused by tumors, the anti-epileptic drugs will not be effective.

It is important that you keep record of every seizure episode; note down when it started, what might have caused it and how long it lasted. All these may help you prevent future seizures.

Epilepsy is a challenging medical condition and cannot be cured, but may be managed. Epileptic dogs that get medication and proper care can live a long, healthy life.