Epilepsy in Dogs : Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

dog ground photoIn this article, we will study what dog epilepsy is. In order to better understand this disease and its consequences on your dog’s health, we will see what are its causes, symptoms and treatments. We will also observe that it is quite possible to live with an epileptic dog by adopting some good gestures.

What is epilepsy and what causes it?

In order to better understand epilepsy, we need to define seizure as a first step. The latter is a neurological manifestation that proves that your animal is suffering at the cerebral level.

Now that we know what a seizure is, we’ll be able to understand what epilepsy is in dogs.

It is characterized by sudden convulsions. The animal may lose consciousness, but this is not always the case. The duration of the crisis can vary from a few seconds to a few minutes. In general, the seizures go alone.

There are several forms of epilepsy in dogs, so-called True or primary epilepsy and symptomatic or secondary epilepsy.

True ( or primary) epilepsy: in this form of canine epilepsy, the dog has no symptoms before the attack. There is no evidence of any disorder in the brain. Only the fact that you attended the crisis will guide the veterinarian’s diagnosis.

Indeed, it is very rare for the veterinarian to see a dog in crisis because usually by the time you get to the office, the crisis is over. You will therefore have a key role in describing the symptoms. It is important to know that some breeds are predisposed to epilepsy even if all dogs can be affected: dachshund, poodle, Labrador, German shepherd, boxer…

Symptomatic ( or secondary) epilepsy: in this form, seizures have underlying causes that it is important to discover. Crises can be classified in two forms: :

Extracerebral convulsive attacks which manifest themselves in metabolic disorders such as: hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia or which may be due to raticide intoxications for example.
Seizures of cerebral palsy that may be due to tumors, trauma or diseases resulting in neurological problems such as distemper.

What are the symptoms of Dog Epilepsy?

Generalized seizures: these are the most impressive seizures for the owner. The crisis usually happens very suddenly. The dog stops clearly what he is doing, then you feel restless, restless, he starts to tremble and falls to the side.

Sometimes some dogs scream. Once the dog fell, he stiffened, his muscles stiffen. The whole body of the dog shows contractions and tingling, the eyes are usually tilted, the dog urinates and sometimes also excretes his stool.

The animal bites its tongue, drooling, no longer controls its chewing muscles at all (this is why it is important never to put your hands near your mouth during the attack because a bite would be possible). Once the crisis is over, which can last several minutes, the dog lifts up slowly. He’s uncertain and feverish about his limbs.

Seizures can be repeated at different frequencies, but if treatment is not implemented, they can become more violent and longer.

Generalized non-convulsive crises: in this case, the crisis is much less impressive than in the previous one. It lasts less than two minutes approximately and the dog does not lose consciousness. He just seems worried and some flinching may appear. The crisis goes by itself.
How do you diagnose epilepsy in a dog ?

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is important to consult your veterinarian. It is very important that you record everything you have seen. In fact, it is rare for the veterinarian to attend the crisis, so it will be up to you to explain to him everything that seems abnormal to you.

After learning of your statement, the veterinarian will conduct a complete neurological examination, a skull x-ray and a blood test to investigate whether there is an underlying cause for epilepsy.
What are the treatments to manage your dog’s epilepsy ?

If your pet has so-called primary epilepsy, it will not be able to cure it. The goal of the treatment will be to reduce the duration, frequency and especially the severity of the attacks. The veterinarian before offering you a treatment will find the cause of your dog’s epilepsy and then he will offer you a treatment.

Do not be surprised if he does not give you treatment to the first crisis of your animal, it is essential to identify the causes upstream. The treatment will be given to the animal for life. The vet will prescribe antiepileptics. It is important to put treatment in place quickly once the cause is identified, because the sooner it is caught, the easier it will be to manage and prevent the crisis.

It will be necessary to do regular blood work to verify that your dog’s organs are well-supporting the treatment. This can cause side effects so if you notice a change after starting treatment, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.
How to manage an epileptic seizure ?

If you feel that your dog is going to have an epileptic seizure, it is important to check several things in order to secure it as much as possible. :

Make sure he can’t hurt himself by hitting or falling. For this, remove everything that is at its height and that could hurt it, if you have stairs, secure them with barriers.

Think and I know that it is not easy during these times to calculate how long the crisis lasts. This will be a very important clue for your veterinarian.

It is important that it be calm during the crisis. Put your dog in the dark, avoid making noise. You can stay close to him, it will soothe him to know you are nearby but do not make any noise or sudden movements.

In case of a big seizure, never try to pull your dog’s tongue out. It might bite you unintentionally. Don’t worry, he won’t swallow his tongue. If the attacks are repeated in a similar way (3 in 30 minutes for example), call your veterinarian to help you manage the crisis from a distance or take it to your veterinarian if he or she advises you to do so.
My dog has epilepsy, can she have babies ?

This can be risky and difficult to manage. Epilepsy in dogs can be hereditary, so the risk of developing it is increased. In addition, treatments given to the epileptic bitch can have an impact on the fetus. It is therefore not recommended to breed a dog with epilepsy.

It is better, the opposite can be sterilized to prevent pregnancy. It is important to know that the sterilization will also have a beneficial effect on the bitch because the attacks can be caused by the hormonal changes of the unsterilized bitches.
Can I go on a trip with my epileptic dog ?

Going on vacation or travelling is a change for your companion and like any change, it will be stressful for your dog. So we’re gonna have to take some precautions. :

It is important that you put your dog in front of your eyes to keep an eye on him, so avoid anything that is in the hold by plane or boat, prefer the car or the train.

Plan your dog’s treatment well in case of crisis. It will be wise to locate the veterinary clinics close to where you are going on holiday if necessary.

Plan his basket, his food, his usual toys if he has them so that he has as many marks as possible. Food is essential, do not change it, it could cause discomfort at the intestinal level that could affect the effectiveness of its treatment.
The return of holidays

And yes, your dog was also on holiday, it was great, you walked a lot, played a lot but comes the time when you have to go home and go back to work. This is going to be another change for your companion. It is therefore best to start getting used to your companion a few days before returning from holiday at his old pace. It will be less brutal for him, which may prevent further crises.
What can be learned from this article ?

If your dog has epilepsy, it’s not inevitable ! Canine epileptic seizures are not fatal to your companion. Especially since there are now treatments to better manage and prevent them. In case of a crisis, you should not panic because your companion will feel it and may become even more stressed. He won’t die, and the crisis will pass alone.

To help him, stay calm, secure the premises and notify your veterinarian. In this disease, you will be a little the right arm and the eyes of the vet. It will be important to note the frequency, the duration, the elements that could have caused the crisis.

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