As with humans, dog seizures can occur for a myriad of reasons across an entire range of ages. They are the most common neurological disorder found in dogs.
Types of Seizures in Dogs
Epileptic seizures can range from mild, barely noticeable “focal” or “partial” seizures to generalized “tonic clonic” or “grand mal” seizures. Focal seizure characteristics may include facial blinking or twitching (often only affecting one side of the face,) muscle tremors, and partial loss of motor control.
This type of seizure can last from several seconds to several minutes long. Tonic clonic seizures can happen at any time, though occur more frequently when your pet is relaxed and quiet. The tonic phase will include a rigid body, your dog falling to his side from stiffened legs, and an outstretched neck with the head back.
From here, the seizure will move into the clonic stage, with rhythmic movements including jerking limbs and chomping jaws. These types of seizures can last one to three minutes.
Control, Not Cure
Currently, there is no cure for epilepsy in dogs, but there are several ways to control and manage the disorder in your pet. If your pet experiences seizures more than once per month, your vet may recommend starting your dog on one of two types of drugs, including phenobarbital and potassium bromide.
There are several other types of anti-seizure medications for dogs, including clorazepate, felbamate, gabapentin, Keppra, valproic acid, and zonisamide. These drugs are thought of as add-on medicines to conventional anti-epilepsy canine drugs.
Taking a Natural Approach
Holistic treatments for epileptic dogs can be effective for canines that do not have very frequent seizures. With complementary care, these pups can maintain a lower incidence of seizures.
By reducing the amounts of conventional medication, dogs will generally have less adverse side effects, including lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, liver stress, and decreased coordination.
Tips for Administering Medications or Supplements to Dogs
If you choose to give your dog medication, here are some tips on how to administer it properly:
- Get your dog to drink a few laps from a paper cup. After they get comfortable, open their mouth and pop the medicine as far back as you can get it. After a couple more sips of water, the pills will easily go down.
- Wrap the medicine in a piece of cheese or cold meat cuts.
What to Do During a Dog Seizure
- Some dogs may have light or sound sensitivity during a seizure attack. Dim the lights and keep your phone away in case it rings.
- Keep old towels or baby diapers at hand in case your dog urinates during the episode.
- Rubbing your dog’s feet with cool water or blowing a light fan on him can help your dog to cool down. If he seems to be overheating due to repeated seizures or not coming out of the episode, call your vet immediately.
- Keep them away from furniture, stairs, or anything else that could harm them.
- a detailed journal of your pet’s seizures to share with your vet. Record all circumstances surrounding the seizure, including odd food eaten or activities that happened during the day or the previous one.
Dog Seizure Safety
Seizure-proofing your home is essential if your dog is left alone and cannot be watched at all times.
- While in his crate, ensure your dog is not wearing a collar that could get caught on something while the dog is thrashing.
- Make a special room in your home dedicated to your dog. Clear out all objects and furniture that could harm her.
- Never leave your pet alone near any water deep enough to drown in.
- Use baby gates to block off staircases and rooms containing sharp objects or furniture.
- Prop a large piece of Styrofoam insulation against your glass door and screen in all windows.
Living with an epileptic dog can seem like a challenge, but with the right planning and precautions, your pet can lead a safe and happy life.