Epilepsy in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Epilepsy in dogs is a chronic condition of recurrent seizures. Fast and uncoordinated firing of neurons in the cerebrum are the cause of these seizures. What causes such abnormal behavior in neurons is not fully understood. Epilepsy in dogs works pretty much the same way as in humans.
When a dog is suffering an epileptic seizure, he will suffer short-lived changes in behavior or movement. Such events can be terrifying as a dog can be acting normal at one moment but the next one he is on the floor, with glazed eyes, and muscles twitching. He may even lose control of his bladder and bowels.
What causes epilepsy in dogs?
When it comes to epilepsy in dogs, we need to figure out what cause of the seizures is. Some causes for seizures can be:
- Kidney disorders
- Liver disorders
- Brain tumors
- Toxins or certain medications
- Brain damage
- Fevers and hyperthermia
- Certain infections
- Low oxygen levels in the blood
- Congenital defects
Depending on the cause of epilepsy, these can be classified as structural (when the cause is related directly to the brain) and idiopathic (where no underlying cause can be found; usually thought to be caused by a genetic predisposition).
What are the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs?
Epileptic seizures can be classified into certain types. It is important that you are able to identify which one is your dog suffering. Some dogs may not display convulsions during an epileptic episode. Others may have more than one type of epileptic seizure.
- Focal or partial seizures happen in only a portion of the brain. The way these seizures present themselves will depend on the part of the brain being affected. They can be as simple as a face twitching or as complex as incessant howling, biting the air, or fear behavior.
- General seizures occur on both sides of the brain. These seizures usually start as focal seizures and develop into a general one. This is when the dog will usually fall on its side, have excess salivation, and lose control of his sphincters.
What can I do if my dog is epileptic?
Whenever your dog is suffering a seizure, you must remain calm. Usually, these episodes are short and the dog does not even realize he is having one. If possible, keep your dog away from furniture. Do not place anything in his mouth, not even your hand.
If your dog is suffering from seizures caused by epilepsy, the veterinarian will usually prescribe medication to decrease the frequency, duration, and intensity of the episodes. This treatment is not curative. Call your veterinarian if the seizure lasts more than three minutes. A mild epileptic seizure is not an emergency and does not indicate the need for long-term medication.
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