Seizures in Dogs
Seizures in dogs can be a very disruptive and scary event for the entire family. Dog seizures are also commonly referred to as epilepsy, convulsions or fits. Seizures are one of the most frequently found neurological problems in dogs stemming from a sudden and uncontrollable burst of neurological activity in the brain. Though it can sometimes
be centralized to a particular part of the dog such as the face or a leg, dog seizures generally spread throughout the entire body of the animal causing the animal to go into convulsions. Seizures in dogs are not that unusual, but it is a very good idea to have your pet checked by your vet to find the possible cause of the problem and to see if a treatable condition may be the root cause.
Causes of Dog Seizures
Although there are many known causes of seizures in dogs, the most common cause is still unknown; these dogs are diagnosed as having "idiopathic epilepsy. Even though a large percentage of seizures end up being diagnosed as idiopathic, testing for other possible causes should always be performed, especially if the seizures are severe, frequent or occur in clusters.
The Possible Casuses of Seizures in Dogs
Diagnosing Seizures in Dogs
- Trauma to the head can lead to seizures due to hemorrhage or swelling of the brain and surrounding tissues, often with subsequent formation of scar tissue or blood clots. It is not uncommon to see dog seizures that result from a traumatic episode that occurred years earlier.
- Kidney failure and high levels of circulating uremictoxins have been known to cause seizures, although this is rare.
- The most common toxic cause of seizures is probably lead poisoning.
- Inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS), also called encephalitis.
- High blood ammonia levels also can lead to canine seizures.
- Heat stroke.
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is another common cause of seizures that affect toy breed puppies. Hypoglycemia can be brought on by giving excessive doses of insulin to diabetic dogs, or by insulin-secreting tumors of the pancreas in older dogs.
- Canine distemper is one of the most common causes of seizures in puppies.
If you believe your pet is suffering from canine seizures, you should take the animal to your veterinarian for diagnostic testing. The vet will generally perform a chemistry profile that helps to investigate metabolic causes of seizures by testing for biochemical markers of liver, kidney, glucose, and electrolyte disturbances. If the cause isn't found from the chemistry profile, the last diagnostic option available to investigate seizures is a brain scan.
Treatments For Canine Seizures
Treatment is usually started only after a pet begins having more than one seizure per month, clusters of seizures, or grand mal seizures. Puppies with only mild signs may improve on their own without treatment, as they get older. Treatment may involve the use of anticonvulsant drugs or natural remedies. Natural remedies are the preferred method of treatment as the anticonvulsant drugs are often ineffective or cause toxic side effects. Also, once treatment with anticonvulsants starts, it must be maintained for the life of the animal. It has been shown that taking a dog off such a treatment can lead to more serious and possibly even fatal seizures. You should always discuss any medical treatment with your veterinarian.
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Dog owners should realize that seizures are rarely eliminated completely. Seizures themselves are very unlikely to kill a dog, but be aware that if the underlying cause is not treated, it is still a possibility. Hopefully, future research will uncover more of the facts about seizures in dogs. For now, it seems, there are more questions than answers.