Seizures In Dogs

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Seizures affect the brain with a sudden onset and usually recur. There are different types of seizures that affect dogs; some are very common, especially in certain breeds of dogs, and some are quite rare and serious. Generalized seizures affect the entire body, causing the dog to fall to his side and move his feet and legs in a swimming motion until the seizure is over. Usually, dogs will also urinate or defecate and salivate during the ordeal. Seizures usually last between a few seconds and a few minutes. Focal seizures just affect one region of the body and only last a couple of seconds. Seizures can be a mix of both, beginning as a focal seizure and turning into a generalized one.

What Causes Seizures?

Once a seizure disorder is diagnosed, the veterinarian has to figure out what the cause is. The seizure could be caused by intracranial disease or by an extra-cranial source. The most common intracranial sources include structural diseases like hydrocephalus, head trauma, inflammatory brain disease, strokes, or brain cancer. The most common extra-cranial sources of seizures include toxins or metabolic diseases like hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, liver or kidney disease, electrolyte imbalances, poison, or anemia.

What Is Idiopathic Epilepsy?

This is a common cause of seizures in dogs. All it means is that the seizures have an unknown cause. Dogs between six months and six years suffer from this most often, and certain breeds are prone to them. Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and German Shepherds are the most affected, although any dog can develop seizures.

Diagnosis of Seizures

Your vet will perform many tests when trying to find out about his seizure disorder. A physical exam, a neurologic exam, blood work, blood pressure, liver function, and X-rays will be ordered. If extra-cranial sources are ruled out, your vet will begin looking at intracranial sources with the help of a CT scan or MRI. A cerebrospinal fluid tap is used to rule out encephalitis. If your vet finds something with these tests, treatment will begin. If your dog has recurring seizures, anticonvulsants will be prescribed. Dogs that have idiopathic epilepsy will usually need treatment for the rest of their lives.