What many dog owners may not know is that dogs can suffer from many health conditions that humans also suffer from. Among those disorders and diseases are seizure disorders and epilepsy. As a dog owner yourself, knowing about such disorders in dogs can help you to provide the best possible care for your dog.
Get to know more about epilepsy in dogs and how you can treat and manage it.
Understanding Epilepsy and Types of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder, meaning that it originates in the brain and central nervous system. This disorder causes repeated and often uncontrollable seizures in your dog. Many different types of epilepsy or seizure disorders can occur in dogs.
Often, canine epilepsy is diagnosed as idiopathic epilepsy. We do not know the exact cause of this is a form of epilepsy. It can sometimes be difficult to determine what is causing seizures and because brain scans and tests are expensive, many dog owners opt to forego them.
If a dog owner were to opt for brain scans, they might be able to find reasons behind their dog's seizure disorder. When specific lesions on the brain or structural problems with the brain are found using these scans, a dog's epilepsy is called symptomatic epilepsy.
There are other forms of epilepsy as well that are defined by the frequency of seizures that a dog experiences. Status epilepticus, for example, is a condition in which a dog experiences constant or near-constant seizures with short periods of inactivity. This is the most severe form of epilepsy your dog can experience.
What Seizures in Dogs Look Like
When many people think about seizures, they think about dramatic convulsions and the like. This can happen with dogs, but often, the signs of seizures in dogs are quite a bit subtler than that.
Typically, the signs of seizures that you will notice are those that occur during what is known as the aural phase of the seizure. This is the time before the actual seizure begins that can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours.
Your dog will experience behavioral changes during this time period. They may become extremely needy and seek you out or follow you around closely. Your dog might also act frightened, try to hide, or might just otherwise act anxious and restless.
During the seizure itself, different things can happen. In a mild seizure (a seizure not classified as grand mal) the symptoms are often not what most people would associate with seizures. Dogs can become disoriented and begin hallucinating, for example. During those hallucinations, they might snap their teeth at the air or otherwise act strangely.
The disorientation and loss of awareness can also involve strange rapid eye movements and a lack of responsiveness to verbal commands or even physical touch. Some dogs might also suddenly lose consciousness. If their owner were to try to wake the dog, it would not work until the seizure ended.
In grand mal seizures, you can see the more severe symptoms of seizures. Dogs will often collapse suddenly to the floor and have spastic muscle contractions or might go rigid other than their legs moving in a paddling motion. Grand mal seizures can also cause a dog to urinate or defecate uncontrollably.
Treatments for Epilepsy in Dogs
If you notice the signs of seizures in your dog, you should report these symptoms to the veterinarian right away. They can take what you have observed and make a diagnosis or can perform brain scans to look for internal signs of epilepsy.
Once epilepsy is diagnosed, there are two different medications that your veterinarian may prescribe to help control their seizures. These are phenobarbital and sodium bromide. If your veterinarian finds tumors or other causes of the seizures in the brain scans, surgery may also be an appropriate treatment option.
Knowing the facts about epilepsy in dogs and the treatments available, you can be sure that you head to the veterinarian at the first signs of trouble with your dog.