Seizure activity in a dog is a frightening experience. Often, owners are unprepared and not certain what to do for their seizing dog.
What Causes Seizures in Dogs?
There may be many causes for seizures in dogs. Canine epilepsy is probably the most commonly diagnosed seizure disorder, but other causes of seizures in dogs need to be ruled out also. These include:
Often, the exact cause of the seizure activity cannot be established and these disorders are usually referred to as canine epilepsy.
How are Seizure Disorders in Dogs Diagnosed?
The diagnostic work-up of a dog experiencing seizures may include:
Even with advanced diagnostics such as MRI or CAT scans, exact diagnosis may be elusive. Many seizure disorders in dogs are never definitively diagnosed, despite exhaustive diagnostic investigation. In addition, these advanced imaging tests may not be widely available in smaller communities and/or may be cost prohibitive for many dog owners.
How are Seizure Disorders in Dogs Treated?
Treatments for seizure disorders in dogs depend on the cause of the seizures. If possible, correcting the underlying cause of the seizure behavior is the most effective treatment. However, often the underlying cause is not known and the goal of treating seizure disorders in these dogs becomes controlling the seizure activity the dog is experiencing.
There are many different drugs which may be employed to help control seizure activity in dogs. These include:
The most commonly used anticonvulsant in seizure disorders is phenobarbital followed by potassium bromide. These medications may be administered together or separately.
When is Anticonvulsant Therapy Recommended?
Anticonvulsant medication may not be necessary for the dog who has only occasional mild seizure activity. Most veterinarians recommend beginning medications to help prevent seizures:
What Should a Dog Owner Do if Their Dog Suffers a Seizure?
If your dog has a seizure, remain calm. Your dog can sense your emotions and a panic reaction on your part may make your dog's condition worse.
Make certain your dog is in a safe area, away from stairs and sharp objects. Gently stroke your pet and talk calmly and soothingly to him. Avoid going near your dog's mouth while your dog is having a seizure. Your dog is unable to control his muscle movements during this time and may inadvertently bite you.
If the seizure your dog is experiencing does not end in five to ten minutes, transport your dog to a veterinary emergency facility immediately.
Any dog which has experienced a seizure, even if fully recovered from the seizure, should be examined by a veterinarian.