Basics and causes of epilepsy in dogs
The nerve disease epilepsy in dogs is similar to that in humans. There are seizures and muscle twitching in dogs at unpredictable intervals in this disease, which happens due to a temporary disturbance in brain function. The treatment and cause of canine epilepsy is not yet fully understood, but there are things you can do for your dog and things you should know about.
The occurrence of seizures can have various causes. For some seizures, metabolic disorders can be a cause. Sometimes, despite numerous examinations, no causes can be found. Therefore, one distinguishes basically two different forms of epileptic seizures of the dog. On the one hand there is the idiopathic epilepsy, on the other hand the symptomatic epilepsy.
The Idiopathic Epilepsy
This type of epilepsy is statistically the most common. Many dogs, whether purebreds or mixed breeds, experience epileptic seizures without being able to diagnose an exact cause. However, there are breeds that are more prone to idiopathic epilepsy, even when crossed with another breed of dog. These include the golden retriever. The Beagle, the Border Collie, the Australian Shepherd, the Poodle, the Labrador Retriever, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Dachshund, and the German Shepherd. Scientific research has shown that this type of epilepsy can be inherited and can affect both sexes. Dogs suffering from idiopathic epilepsy are basically healthy and show no abnormalities on a veterinary examination. The seizures and muscle twitches in the dog are first noticed between the age of six months and the beginning of the 6th year of life.
The symptomatic epilepsy
This type of epilepsy occurs in quadrupeds due to pre-existing conditions or acute illness. Sometimes the seizures can also be side effects of a heavy medication, but this is more rare. Underlying symptomatic epilepsy are conditions such as head injuries, brain tumors, liver and kidney problems, infections, poisoning, or low blood sugar.
Diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy in dogs
What type of epilepsy is present is usually difficult to diagnose. The vet will run some tests on your dog to rule out symptomatic epilepsy, as this is clearly diagnosable. If it is idiopathic epilepsy, information through observation will help to properly help your dog.
When treating idiopathic epilepsy, the frequency of seizures will determine how and if the condition can or should be treated with medication. If seizures occur 6 months apart or more, there is no reason to start drug treatment. If seizures occur more frequently or several in a short period of time, you can work with a veterinarian to find the right solution and treatment option for your dog.
The treatment of symptomatic epilepsy is much easier, because it is only tried to get the actual disease under control. This is usually possible as soon as a clear diagnosis can be made.
What to do during a seizure?
- It is important to stay calm as an owner during a seizure. There is nothing you can do for your pet at this time except watch over them.
- If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, notification of the vet or animal rescue is necessary.
- Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to prevent a seizure, but you can keep a close eye on your dog to be prepared in case it happens. The dog may exhibit noticeable behavior days before a seizure if he has idiopathic epilepsy.
- During a seizure, there is usually falling sickness, which means the dog falls to the ground and starts twitching. As an owner, you can just stay calm and be there for your dog after a seizure as he may then suffer from disorientation.