Last Updated on February 14, 2023 by Pets Feed
Epilepsy in dogs is one of the most common diseases of the nervous system. It is estimated to affect approximately 3-5% of all tetrapods. There are many options for classifying epilepsy in dogs. It is most often divided into primary, reactive and symptomatic epilepsy.
Canine epilepsy is defined as a brain disease characterized by a persistent tendency to seizures. An epileptic seizure usually has four phases, which vary slightly depending on the form of the disease. It is often possible to determine the immediate cause of canine epilepsy. How to do this and how to help a sick dog will be discussed in this article.
Causes of epilepsy in dogs. Breeds especially prone to disease
There are many causes of epilepsy in dogs. Depending on their nature, primary (genetic), secondary (symptomatic) and reactive epilepsy are distinguished. Primary, also called idiopathic epilepsy. It is addressed when the immediate cause of the disease cannot be clearly identified. It can only be diagnosed after all other causes have been ruled out.
Primary epilepsy in dogs is congenital, genetically determined. Its first cases appear in young quadrupeds. Usually around a year old. For this reason, it is also called juvenile epilepsy.
The proven influence of the genetic factor on the appearance of this disease was found in such breeds as:
- Finnish spitz;
- Belgian Shepherd;
- Irish wolfhound.
Suspicious genetic influences are found in breeds such as:
- Bernese Mountain Dog;
- Border Collie;
- Golden retriever;
- Australian Shepherd;
- Scottish Shepherd;
- Miniature and standard poodle;
- English Springer Spaniel;
- Vizsla and Italian Pointer.
In the interests of animal welfare, it is prohibited to breed dogs diagnosed with primary epilepsy. It is best, in this case, to carry out castration or sterilization procedures.
Secondary canine epilepsy is caused by structural or functional damage to the brain. It is also called symptomatic. It is based on conditions such as meningitis, bleeding, neoplasm, scarring, hydrocephalus (especially described in dogs of dwarf breeds).
The so-called intracranial causes of epilepsy may be the result of an illness or result from a traumatic brain injury during a traffic accident or a fall from a height.
Reactive epilepsy is the result of pathological processes of extracranial localization. Most often this is the result of intoxication or metabolic syndromes. This also includes poisoning with heavy metals, plant protection products, organophosphates, metaldehyde, as well as metabolic disorders such as electrolyte disturbances, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar). Additionally, disorders in the liver and kidneys (hepatic encephalopathy, portal-lateral circulation or uremia), vitamin B deficiency, infectious diseases (tetanus, rabies, distemper). An overdose or misuse of a medicine can also be of great importance.
Types of epilepsy in dogs
Epilepsy in dogs can take many forms. According to the clinical picture, seizures are divided into generalized and partial.
Generalized seizures are the result of stimulation of both hemispheres of the brain and can take the form of:
- Convulsive seizure, it is characterized by bilateral manifestation, rapid muscle contractions throughout the body, usually lead to loss of consciousness of the animal, salivation, vomiting, loss of urine and / or stool, noisy behavior (barking, whining, howling), also known as “big convulsions”;
- Non-convulsive seizure, characterized by the presence or absence of a motor component. A non-convulsive attack may go unnoticed by the owner of the dog, there is a loss of contact with reality and there is a risk of loss of consciousness.
On the other hand, partial seizures can take the form of:
- Simple, it is characterized by unilateral focal motor symptoms without loss of consciousness;
- Complex also known as psychomotor. They are characterized by psychological symptoms that can manifest themselves in periodic changes in behavior, sudden bouts of hysteria, aggression, hallucinations and diarrhea (the animal does not lose consciousness);
What does a seizure look like?
The epileptic seizure is gradual.
It has a prodromal phase. This is only noticeable in some animals. What does the impending disaster portend? This is a change in behavior that manifests itself in the form of lethargy or hyperactivity, aimless walking in circles in search of secluded places to hide. Lasts from several hours to several days.
Later, the so-called aura appears. Considered the start of a seizure. This takes from a few seconds to several minutes.
This is followed by the attack phase itself. Its course will be different depending on the form of the disease with which the animal is struggling.
This is followed by the post epileptic phase. At this time, the animal is resting. Restores physical fitness, returns to activity or goes into a state of disorientation that lasts from several minutes to several hours.
Dogs differ not only in the causes and symptoms of epilepsy, but also in the frequency of seizures.
Based on this, the following are distinguished: a single attack, a group attack (more than two consecutive attacks per day), status epilepticus (an attack lasting more than 30 minutes) or successive seizures (the animal did not regain consciousness during the attacks). Status epilepticus requires immediate veterinary intervention because it is life threatening.
Epilepsy in dogs how to help?
What to do if your beloved dog has epilepsy? It is necessary to control the course of the attack. This will save the animal from further injury. Therefore, be sure to remove from the environment any objects that the animal can hit or get hurt. During an attack, the head of the animal should be protected. It is good if the owner puts something under the body that will absorb shocks, for example, a blanket. All items such as toys or food should be removed from the animal’s mouth. Otherwise, it may choke on them.
Opinions are divided about pulling out the tongue of a dog during a seizure. Indications for such action are cases when the tongue causes difficulty in breathing.
If the animal is undergoing pharmacotherapy, we must not forget about the administration of the drug. Most often it is used rectally (through the rectum). The substances are then in the form of suppositories or infusions. It is important for the owner to always have them at home.
After the seizure is over, the dog should be provided with comfortable conditions for rest. She will recover faster in peace and quiet. After the initial loss of consciousness, the animal should be taken to a veterinarian. In the case of continuous recurring attacks, you should consult a specialist even during their continuation. It is necessary to pharmacologically stop epilepsy.
Is it possible to treat epilepsy?
How to treat epilepsy in a dog? Treatment for epilepsy in dogs is primarily medication. Anticonvulsants are used for seizures that occur more than once a month and for a series of attacks.
An epileptic seizure requires veterinary intervention. Intravenous administration of drugs is required. After stabilization, the dog should be treated especially kindly, as during this period it needs special attention. The goal of therapy is to eliminate seizures, which is sometimes not possible. The next goal is to reduce their frequency and intensity.
Typically, antiepileptic drugs are required for the rest of your dog’s life. For this reason, it is worth taking your dog for regular examinations, as drugs can cause disorders in some organs.
Important! This article is merely informative, at Petsfeed.co we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.