Unfortunately, our precious fur babies can also suffer from epilepsy. While this can be a scary sight, pet parents should know what to do to prevent seizures and the step to take when your dog is suffering from an attack. Let’s get to know more about canine epilepsy and answer any questions you may have about them.
What is Canine Epilepsy?
Canine epilepsy is a neurological condition present in some dogs. It’s when your fur baby has uncontrollable fits or convulsions that stem from abnormal brain activity. This abnormal function in the brain will cause muscle spasms and contractions that we see.
What Causes Seizures in Dogs?
How that you have a little background on what canine epilepsy is, it’s important to identify the cause. Sometimes, the issue is inherited and there is nothing you can do about it but just support your dog. This type of seizure is called idiopathic epilepsy, and it happens when brain activity in your pup changes.
Surges in emotion such as extreme excitement, or even changes in brain activity before sleeping or waking up can induce seizures.
Other than genetics, there are health causes that trigger seizures such as:
- Low blood sugar
- Head trauma
- Liver diseases
- Brain tumors
- Blood pressure spikes and more
Epilepsy Symptoms in Dogs
How do you know if your dog is having a convulsive attack? We understand that it can be tough to identify at times because seizures differ from one to another. A big indicator is trembling in your dog and his eyes losing focus or glazing over.
It can be more violent in other dogs in which they start to have more violent movements, fall to the ground, and some may even drool, clamp their jaws tight and twitch.
If your dog is prone to seizures and he experiences them quite often, there may be a chance you can detect the oncoming of a fit by identifying certain changes in his behavior.
After the seizure, your dog may not seem like himself. He may appear disoriented and not know what happened, but keep in mind that this is normal. It could take up to 2 hours for your dog to be okay again. If you notice your dog is still acting off after the 2-hour mark, then we would suggest calling the vet.
What to Do When My Dog is Having a Seizure
It may sound very counterintuitive, but you should do nothing when your dog is going through a convulsion. During the episode, your dog is neither in pain nor can he register what’s going on or your presence. Instead, we recommend dimming the environment and eliminating and visual or audio stimuli, and keep the area around your dog free of any dangerous objects.
We would also advise you not to touch your dog or put your hand near his mouth at this point as you may get hurt. Offer your pooch support and affection after the episode has passed. Single seizures aren’t very life-threatening, but if you witness your dog suffering from a cluster of them, then you must take your dog to the emergency room ASAP.
How to Prevent Canine Epilepsy Seizures
The first step to the prevention of canine epilepsy seizures is diagnosis. Your vet must first confirm that this is indeed something your pup is suffering from in order to treat him.
Your vet will only advise treatment if your pooch has suffered from more than one seizure per month, has had cluster seizures, or have episodes that last for a long time. The treatment is to use medication such as Keppra and Zonegran.
Health-related preventions are often dietary. You must feed your dog good and proper food, such as Purina Pro Plan recipes. You can learn more about Purina Pro Plan dog food here. Your dog’s nutritional needs will differ from other breeds, so make sure you ask your vet what the best food for your fur baby could be.
Knowing that you will need to prepare for canine epilepsy episodes will also help you prevent them. Get to know your dog’s lineage and his genetics. If any of his ancestors suffer from canine epilepsy, then there is a good chance your dog will too.
Unfortunately, the cause could also be breed-related. Some breeds are more prone to this genetic issue such as poodles, beagles, German shepherds, and golden retrievers.
We mentioned that low blood sugar levels can be a cause, so keep a close eye on your dog’s blood sugar. Take your dog regularly to the vet for a general checkup. Get bloodwork done to make sure everything is a-okay. Getting your dog’s brain checked can also help find tumors that are not yet detected.
There are also managing measures you can adopt that will not only help your dog during his episodes but prevent them altogether. Your vet will prescribe meds to manage the issue or you can go for alternative methods such as acupuncture.
Keeping your dog calm and reducing the spikes in emotions could also help prevent future triggers.
Are dog seizures deadly?
In general, dog seizures are not deadly, but if your dog suffers from a cluster of them or if one episode lasts as long as 3 to 5 minutes, then you have to head to the vet right away.
Does epilepsy shorten a dog’s life?
Unfortunately, studies have shown that dogs who suffer from epilepsy have a shorter lifespan compared to dogs who do not. Their medium age is around 8 years old.
How much does epilepsy medication cost for dogs?
You’re looking at an additional few hundred dollars a year on average. However, if your dog requires more or larger doses, it could run up the price even more. It all depends on your dog’s particular circumstances.
Witnessing a convulsion fit in your dog can be very scary. Try to keep yourself calm and fight your instincts to rush over and comfort your pooch. Know that your dog is okay and all that can be done after the episode. You can try to prevent canine seizures by taking good care of your dog with the right food.