Canine Epilepsy – Signs & How to Treat
Since Izzy is looking for his forever home we asked our primary Veterinarian – Dr. Amy Kidd of Pocopson Veterinary Station in West Chester, PA – for some information about canine seizure disorders. Izzy was treated by Dr. Kidd and has been seizure free for several weeks now. His seizures are easily managed by an inexpensive prescription medication. He is now enjoying life and is perfectly healthy. If you’d like more information about Izzy please check out his page and contact us. His sweet personality will be a wonderful addition for a lucky adopter.
Living a long and happy life with canine seizure disorder.
Canine epilepsy or idiopathic epilepsy is a very common seizure disorder in dogs. There are many causes of seizures in dogs so it is very important to have a full evaluation for each patient to rule out an underlying cause such as liver disease, tumor, toxins, and other infectious diseases. Once these other causes of seizures are ruled out, idiopathic epilepsy is diagnosed.
Dogs with epilepsy usually present with their first seizure between the ages of 6 months to 5 years. They can have either “partial seizures” or “generalized seizures”. Partial seizures usually only involve minor muscle spasms and the patient is usually conscious. Generalized seizures are much scarier to see. They can be very convulsive, have more violent muscle movements, and the patient is usually unaware of the episode. During an epileptic seizure, the dog is generally laying on his/her side, all the legs are rigid and paddling, and they can urinate and defecate. After the seizure is over, they can have a period of time where they are a little wobbly.
What to Do If Your Dog Has a Seizure
It is very important to know what to do if you see a dog having a seizure.
- The first thing is not to panic.
- The main thing to remember is to stay away from their mouths. Dogs do not swallow their tongues during a seizure. They can however, clamp down on your hand (without knowing it) with a force strong enough to do serious damage.
- You should use a blanket or towel to pull them away from anything dangerous like stairs or falling objects.
- Do not cover them with anything because the body can overheat and cause permanent brain damage.
- You should try to time the seizure from start to finish. This is valuable information for your veterinarian to properly treat the patient.
Seizures can occur very infrequently or they can present in clusters. Cluster seizures can lead to a severe and potentially fatal condition called Status Epilepticus. If one seizure seems to lead into another, this is a true medical emergency and the dog needs to be rushed to the closest veterinarian to be treated.
Treatments for Dog Epilepsy & Seizures
Treatment of epilepsy varies depending on the duration of the seizures and the time in between having them. The general rule of thumb is to medicate any dog having one or more seizures a month. There are many different medications we use to treat these patients. The most common ones are phenobarbital, potassium bromide, Keppra, and Zonisamide. Keppra and Zonisamide are two relatively new agents we use to control seizure activity. They do not require blood levels like the older medications do. Luckily, they are both now in generic forms which has made them relatively inexpensive and our go-to meds. We also like them because we see less side effects, if any. Sometimes we combine medications to fully control the seizure activity.
Seizures are extremely scary to see, but if you understand the disorder and seek proper treatment, dogs with epilepsy can live a full and happy life.
A strong proponent of cutting-edge medicine, Dr. Kidd prides herself in her ability to deliver high quality preventive medicine and perform both routine and emergency surgeries. She provides these services for the patients and their owners at Pocopson Veterinary Station in West Chester, PA. Be sure to visit her website for more information.