I will always remember that morning. I was coming in to work while a couple waited impatiently in the parking lot for me to unlock the doors of the vet clinic. They were accompanied by their border collie dog who had just finished a long epileptic seizure. It gave them all a scare, shocked by the major convulsions.
Perhaps this story reminds you of your epileptic dog, or that of a friend? This article will shine a light on what epilepsy and seizures really are. I will explain the causes, types and different symptoms of this condition. But above all, I will give you some solutions.
As usual, we will offer you an all-natural product to provide help to your dog. The professionals at Zumalka have over 20 years of experience in the field of natural care and have developed a product that will help your dog if it has seizures.
Read on and you will find all the tools you need to learn about what to do if your dog has seizures.
What is epilepsy?
Firstly, epilepsy is a chronic condition that results in repeated seizures. It’s a neurological disorder that usually appears in purebred dogs, between the ages of 6 months and 6 years.
What is a seizure? What does a dog seizure look like?
Convulsions or seizures are the result of excessive electrical activity in the cerebral cortex. During a typical attack, the animal loses consciousness (but not always), collapses, stiffens, then begins to tremble and move its legs. It’s a very upsetting and possibly traumatic moment for a pet owner.
Also, there is typically a post-convulsive phase, called the postictal phase, which can last from a few minutes to several hours. Following an episode, the animal will generally be exhausted. It may therefore appear disoriented, have difficulty moving, and may even become temporarily blind.
This is the classic manifestation of seizures, but these can manifest themselves in all kinds of ways. Any involuntary movement of the body is considered to be a potential seizure.
Why do some dogs have epilepsy?
Some dogs have lost the genetic lottery and have unfortunately inherited a malformation of part of the brain that causes these seizures. But even if your dog has seizures, it doesn't necessarily have this condition. Let me explain in the next section.
What are the causes of epilepsy and seizures in dogs?
While epilepsy is indeed a genetic disease, seizures can occur in a completely different context.
If there is a sudden onset of seizures in old age (more than 5 years), the most plausible hypothesis of the cause of the seizures is unfortunately a brain tumor. A blood test can be performed to clarify the diagnosis. If found quickly, they are often operable, but this is very costly.
What can trigger seizures?
Perhaps you have already heard that people with epilepsy should avoid strobe lights to avoid the onset of an epileptic seizure? Certain elements can indeed trigger the onset of an epileptic episode, and the same is true for dogs. Here are a few:
emotional or physical stress
lack of sleep
metabolic disturbance (for example, kidney problems)
a missed dose of anticonvulsant medication
What are the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs?
Well, of course, you guessed it, the main symptom for a dog with epilepsy is the presence of seizures. But let's look at this in more detail.
There are some signs to watch for if your dog is epileptic, that indicate the imminent onset of seizures. These epilepsy symptoms actually make up the first phase of an epilepsy attack. Here are a few:
Licking its lips
Wandering around the house aimlessly
Urinating in the house
Vomiting, appearing nauseous, or salivating a lot
Seems to be stressed or agitated (barks, cries, tries to isolate itself, demands attention or comforting, etc.)
What to do if your dog has a seizure?
The key is to keep calm. But here are a few things to keep in mind in the event of an epileptic seizure:
In the event of an impending seizure, clear the environment of any object on which your animal could be injured. You could even put cushions around it. It will be necessary to monitor your animal during its episode.
It might be tempting to try to stick its tongue out to prevent it from choking, but refrain! The involuntary movements of the dog’s body during the episode could cause it to bite your hand.
If your vet has prescribed medication for an attack, make sure you have it handy.
It’s also important to make a note of the duration of the episode. You could even film it to show to your vet.
How to stop dog seizures?
In order for the epileptic episode to end quickly, it’s important to limit stimuli in your dog's environment. Avoid touching or even talking to your pet during the attack. Turn off the television and the lights, in short, you want your pet to be in a calm state.
How can I prevent my dog from having seizures?
The best prevention for epileptic seizures in your dog is to never forget to give your dog its medication, to always give it at the same time and to pay attention to these early warning signs. Avoid situations of stress, ensure your dog has a good sleep routine, and visit your vet regularly for a check-up.
What can I give my dog for seizures?
For primary epilepsy, your vet may prescribe anticonvulsant therapy to be given daily to prevent the onset of seizures in your dog. One of the most common is phenobarbital.
In cases where the seizures are close together, a visit to the vet is recommended. In some cases, you may be prescribed first aid medication to be given intra-rectally. The purpose of this medication is to decrease the duration of the episode and therefore avoid the consequences.
Special diets are also available from the vet for epileptic dogs, which help control the onset of seizures.
Natural options for dog seizures
In all cases, we have prepared a natural and simple solution for your dog who suffer from epileptic seizures. Read on to find out more about our product and the other natural regimens that exist to help with symptoms of this condition.
Zumalka provides a personalized solution to target the root of your pet's problem, instead of just the symptoms. And all of this done in the comfort of your own home!
Instead of struggling through in-person appointments and waiting rooms, our consultations are 100% online via email and video call.
It's a real conversation with a real Homeopath about your pet — without all the hassle and miscommunication.
So, go back to the section on the warning signs of an epileptic seizure because this natural product is good when administered at these first signs.
Acupuncture and acupressure
This treatment technique is taken from traditional Chinese medicine. This gives importance to the vital energy which flows harmoniously in the body. When there is blockage or imbalance of this energy, this is when ailments develop.
Acupuncture is a service offered by certain vets who are specially trained in this discipline, and is considered as a complementary medicine. Needles are gently placed at specific points on the animal's body, in order to relieve these energy blockages.
These same acupuncture points can be used in acupressure, which consists of putting light pressure with the thumb on these same places.
This type of treatment will help prevent the onset and decrease the duration of future epileptic seizures. Although, this should not be attempted during an episode, of course.
Give your dog honey after seizures
Some people suggest providing your pet with a little honey after their seizure if they are alert, in order to bring their blood sugar levels back to normal. If the animal is alert, is not vomiting and acts normally, a small meal may also be offered to provide protein and ultimately stabilize blood sugar.
If your dog is small or diabetic, honey is recommended by many as the seizures can be caused by hypoglycemia.
How often will an epileptic dog have seizures?
The answer to this question varies greatly from one dog to another, ranging from several times a week to rarely. This is why your vet will most likely suggest that you create a journal to track the frequency and duration of your dog's seizures. This will enable your vet to carry out an adequate follow-up and adjust your pet’s medication according to the progression of its epileptic condition.
How many seizures is too many for a dog?
Your vet will consider prescribing an anticonvulsant treatment for your dog if they consider that its seizures are too frequent and too severe. To make a judgement on this, vets will rely, among other things, on these different criteria:
If these are grouped seizures (more than three attacks in less than 24 hours)
If two or more isolated epileptic seizures occur in less than 6 months
If a seizure lasts more than five minutes
If the disorientation following a crisis is severe
Types of epileptic seizures in dogs
There are several types of seizures which can be summarized as follows.
Reactive epileptic seizures
We talk about reactive seizures when the brain is intact and the body reacts to an abnormality (intoxication, metabolic problem, infection). A veterinary exam can usually find the cause of these episodes and treatment is often possible.
Structural or secondary epileptic seizures
We talk about structural or secondary seizures when we find a lesion in the dog's brain, causing the onset of these seizures (head trauma, tumor). Depending on the nature and extent of this lesion, treatment is sometimes possible.
Primary epileptic seizures
And finally, when there is no apparent cause of the seizures, we refer to primary epileptic seizures. It is then that the animal is considered to be epileptic (a genetic disease called idiopathic epilepsy in dogs). There is no treatment to cure this disease, but a medication adapted to your animal makes it possible to control the frequency and duration of the episodes.
There are also different ways in which the seizures can appear.
Generalized (or severe) seizures
These are the most frequently encountered. These are the classic seizures where the animal has generalized convulsions all over the body, its limbs stiffen and it loses consciousness. Often the animal will urinate or defecate during this type of attack.
Focal seizures (also called local or partial)
These seizures affect only part of the body. The state of consciousness is not necessarily altered. We often see, for example, a dog having spasms of the jaw, which gives the impression that it is chewing something.
This is a type of focal seizure where the animal has an episode of abnormal behavior, as opposed to seizures. It can become very aggressive and may not seem to recognize you. It may also seem to be hallucinating something and trying to catch imaginary flies.
We wish you good luck in the treatment of your pet's seizures. We know it is not easy to see your companions suffer.
I invite you to comment in the section below to share your experience with us. Does your pet have epilepsy? How long has it been living with this condition?
You can always contact us for free to discuss, amongst other things, the possible causes of your pet's seizures. It will be our pleasure to assist you with the underlying condition of your dog's seizures.