Seizures In Dogs

Seizures in dogs is one of the most common neurological conditions to occur in our canine friends. It is however, fortunately quite rare.

A seizure is defined as a behaviour change caused when nerves fire abnormally. Seizure related behaviour changes are sensory perception or motor activity changes. These are often characterized by jerking movements known as convulsions. In dogs, the abnormal firing causes mild to severe spasms or convulsions.

There are several known causes. Injury to the brain, heartworm disease, toxic plants and a tumour can lead to events of seizing. Age and breed can also be a factor. Older dogs are more prone to having seizures as the aging process advances. It has been found that German Shepherds, Dachshunds and Belgian Tervurerens have a higher incidence than other breeds.

Seizures in dogs can be described in four stages. The first is the prodome. During this stage there may be a mood or behaviour change. This could go on for hours or even days prior to onset. Next is the aura. This is the beginning of the actual event. There may be symptoms of whining, hiding, restlessness, wandering or general nervousness. Ictus is the third stage and consists of the actual seizing event. It usually lasts about 45 seconds. The dog may drool excessively or grind his teeth. He may not be able to control elimination and may have convulsions. The final stage is known as post ictus where there is a period of time before the dog returns to normal. During this stage he may pace or drink excessively.

Seeing your pet have this experience can be very scary. If one happens to your dog, the first thing to remember is to remain calm. Move anything that your dog may be injured on. Try to make the environment as calm and quiet as possible. Speak softly and stroke the dog’s leg. Be careful not to get too close to his mouth though to avoid injury to yourself. Turn off televisions and radios and turn the lights down.

Fortunately, seizures can be controlled. Several medications are available that have proven very successful. They include such drugs as Dilantin, Phenobarbital, and Valium. Diet is also an important management tool. Feeding your dog food that is free of preservatives such as BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin can help.

Seizures are an affliction that your dog, particularly your older dog, may suffer from. With medication and a modified diet they can be a manageable part of daily life. If you as an owner and friend to your dog take the necessary steps to deal with seizures, both of you can continue to have a fulfilling life together.

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