Epilepsy In Dogs

Epilepsy is a condition that is associated with repetitive and recurrent seizures in dogs. Learn more about the causes of and diagnosing epilepsy

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What Is Epilepsy in Dogs?

Epilepsy is a condition that is associated with repetitive and recurrent seizures in dogs. Seizures are commonly known by pet owners as ‘fits’ and occur when there is excessive electrical activity in the brain.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Had A Seizure?

A seizure may take many different forms, but most commonly results in loss of consciousness, a stiff and rigid body, and then paddling movements. Often before and after the seizure episode the dog behaves abnormally or may seem disorientated. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish a seizure from a fainting episode.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Dog Has Had A Seizure?

If you suspect that your dog is having a seizure, you should make an appointment for a check-up with your vet as soon as possible.

If your dog is having multiple seizures or if the seizures are prolonged (more than 5 minutes duration) then you must visit your vet for emergency treatment.

How Common Is It?

Epilepsy is relatively common and affects approximately 0.5%of the canine population.

What Are The Causes of Epilepsy in Dogs?

There are two different types of epilepsy:

  • ‘Idiopathic’ epilepsy, which occurs in the absence of a detectable brain abnormality and may be genetic in origin
  • ‘Secondary’ epilepsy, which is caused by an identifiable structural abnormality of the brain such as an inflammatory brain disease or a tumour.

How Is Epilepsy Diagnosed?

There are many different possible causes of seizures that originate both inside and outside of the brain. Causes originating outside of the brain such as liver disease, low blood glucose or kidney dysfunction are ruled out first using blood tests. Blood tests may also be performed to check for infections or parasites of the brain. More advanced tests such as brain imaging may then be used to check for structural brain abnormality. Diagnosing epilepsy usually involves a process of eliminating other potential causes of seizures.

What Treatments Are Available?

Oral medications may be used to decrease the frequency or severity of seizures. Treatment is usually tailored to the patient, with medications selected based on response to treatment, and potentially involving the use of a combination of medications in order to control the seizures effectively. Patients need to be regularly monitored on these medications and some treatments may require regular blood tests.

If you are concerned about epilepsy in dogs, please call your local practice.

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