Seizures, also called convulsions, are one of the most common neurological disorders in companion dogs. They occur when too much electrical activity is going on in the outer layers of a dog’s brain, called the “cortex,” which is responsible for thought, memory, sensation and movement. Seizures can be caused by many things, including infections, cancer, abscesses, anatomical malformations, heat stroke, liver disease, kidney disease, trauma and ingestion of toxins. The term “epilepsy” is sometimes used interchangeably with “seizures,” although technically this isn’t correct. Epileptic dogs do have unpredictable brain activity that causes them to have seizures, but not all dogs with seizures have epilepsy. Many dogs become restless or anxious before a seizure and seek affection or seclusion. Seizures typically last less than 2 minutes. They are characterized by stiff extended legs, collapse, breathing lapses, rhythmic leg jerking, chomping, drooling and sometimes urination or defecation. Afterwards, the dog may be disoriented, wobbly and confused.
Seizures are the most common neurological abnormality in companion dogs. In the broadest of terms, seizures are caused by abnormally large bursts of electrical activity inside the brain. Seizures happen because of conditions, events or defects that originate either inside of the skull (intracranially) or outside of the skull (extracranially). Whether intracranial or extracranial, these incidents cause excessive and unpredictable firing of nerve cells called neurons in the cerebral cortex, which is the outer
Dogs with seizures can have a wide range of involuntary, abnormally increased or decreased muscle activity. While we can’t ask dogs how their seizures affect them, we can make reasonable assumptions by extrapolating from what people with seizure disorders tell us. Before most seizures, there is a brief period of restlessness and anxiety; the dog may want affection or seclusion. After a seizure, the dog may feel disoriented, wobbly and confused. It also may have
Seizures are not difficult to detect. The hard part is figuring out why they are happening. Presented with a dog that is suspected of having some sort of seizure disorder, a veterinarian will go through a detailed initial evaluation in an attempt to figure out whether the dog’s spastic episodes, as described by its owner, actually are seizures. She will ask the owner questions about the dog’s health history, living environment, exposure to other animals,
When a dog has a seizure, its owner is typically scared and confused. Watching a loved one have a seizure is heartbreaking, but fortunately a number of treatment options are available for companion dogs, depending upon the seizure’s cause. The goals of treating seizures are to reduce seizure frequency and severity, increase the time between episodes called the “seizure-free interval” and eliminate or at least control the underlying cause of the seizures. To manage seizures