What to Know about Epilepsy in Dogs
Biology can be fascinating, it can also be scary. As a person who went through advanced levels of biology in college (back when I thought I was going to be a Physical Therapist), I’ve always been intrigued by how our bodies can function. That’s also true for how animals can be so similar and different to human biology at the same time. I’d like to use this post to share some information pertaining to Epilepsy in dogs, a diagnosis that can, no doubt, be unnerving for pet parents to have to face. I hope this post (along with a series of posts from other pet bloggers on this subject) can help you if this is ever a diagnosis you have to face.
Symptoms for Epilepsy in Dogs:
Characterized for recurrent seizures. There can be underlying causes (brain tumors, kidney problems, or infection, to name a few) but if there is no specific cause, it’s referred to as idiopathic.
Grand Mal: Is generalized, meaning it’s not isolated to one specific part of the body. All four limbs tend to move and there is normally a loss of consciousness.
Focal: Means that one or a few specific areas of the body (one or two legs, a side of the face, etc.)
Any Breed Can Have Seizures:
Although some breeds are more prone to them such as: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Poodles, Siberian Huskies, Beagles, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels, Irish Setters, and Keeshonds.
When To Seek Medical Attention:
If your dog has a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes, or two consecutive seizures without full recovery in between, you should seek medical attention immediately. Call ahead, inform the veterinarian that you’ll be arriving and share information about the timing of the seizure(s), their length, your dog’s current state (so the staff knows if they’ll need to help you transport your dog into the facility). Bring blankets or towels to spread under and wrap your dog while transporting him/her. If at all possible, bring someone with you to help monitor your dog while driving and assist with bringing it into the medical facility.
If your dog has been formally diagnosed with a seizure disorder like Epilepsy, there are treatment options available to help reduce the frequency of seizures and their severity. All medications come with the risk for side effects. Be sure to monitor your dog so you are able to bring symptom information with you when you speak with your veterinarian. There are seizure tracker apps available to download on your phone. While they’re intended for humans, there’s no reason why they can’t be used to track seizures and side effects for your dog.
An Epilepsy diagnosis is not a death sentence. With proper management, your dog can have a long and fruitful life. There are a lot of resources online that can help you, including multiple networks of fellow dog owners that you can speak with should you have questions or need support. Listed below are a variety of resources that might assist you in the event your dog is diagnosed with Epilepsy.
FiveSibesMom - Gibson, shown above, was a handsome dog who loved life. He also happened to have Epilepsy. This blog shares information and stories for pet owners who have dogs suffering from Epilepsy.
K9 Epilepsy - This page includes a useful FAQ, Glossary of Terms, information about drugs & diet.
Dogster - A web magazine that includes a variety of information, include info about pet health.
NOTE: I am not, nor will I ever claim to be a veterinarian or practitioner of veterinary medicine in any capacity. Your first and most important resource for answers to your questions should be your trusted veterinarian and their staff. Should you find you have remaining questions, you can always seek a second opinion or the trusted resources listed for your review.