Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Animal Health: Canine Seizures

Very little is more frightening than to see your best furry friend going through a seizure. The paddling, the gnashing of teeth, the loss of bladder or bowels, the vocalization beforehand, the disorientation afterward and the wondering how long it will be before it happens again or if it ever will happen again.

This is a subject very near and dear to my heart. I have a dog that has suffered with seizures for five years come May of this year. He was just three years old when he had his first seizure and, when it happened, I honestly thought I was watching my dog die. His most recent seizure was late Sunday night and, after seeing what feels like millions of them, they are still just as frightening as when I saw that very first one.

There is no feeling worse than having to watch your beloved pet go through a seizure and know that you cannot take them away and make them never happen again. You feel so helpless. It's an agonizing feeling.

The good news is that for a good majority of dogs who have seizures the trigger that causes them can be identified. Whether that trigger is something in their environment or an actual health reason, veterinarians can sometimes, through a series of testing, can identify the trigger that causes Fido to uncontrollably seize. For some dogs, the triggers have been something as simple as the doorbell ringing. For others, the causes have been a much more serious brain tumor. When the vet can pinpoint the cause, he or she can most often treat it or you will know what to make sure your pet avoids to prevent the seizures from happening.

But, in some cases, it isn't that easy. In some instances, it doesn't matter how many tests you and your vet do you will not be able to find the cause of the seizures. In this case, they are deemed as "idiopathic seizures" because there is no known explanation for them.

And all seizures aren't created equal. Some pets experience grand mal seizures (generalized tonic clonic). Those are the seizures where the animal will paddle their feet and gnash their teeth, among other possibly symptoms. Other pets experience petite mal seizures (partial or focal). During these, the animal may stop whatever activity it is doing and seem to stare at nothing with some slight movement of the legs or head. Sometimes, petite mal seizures can lead into tonic-clonic seizures.

More good news is that canine seizures can most often be controlled with medications such as Phenobarbitol and Potassium Bromide.

If you think your pet has had a seizure, or even if you know he/she has, the first thing you need to do, if you haven't already, is get your pet in to see your veterinarian. He or she can help start you and your furry friend on your way to hopefully finding the cause of the seizures or working to control them.

If your pet suffers from seizures you will need to do as much research as you can. The more you know the easier things will be for both you and your pet. Read every single article you can get your hands on, talk with your vet and talk with other pet owners who have epileptic dogs. Epileptic pets are truly special babies.

You can visit the following sites for more information:

Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels

Canine Epilepsy Resources

Canine Epilepsy Network

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful article. Thanks. A great resource for dog owners.