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Understanding a Seizure: You probably endure more mental trauma than your dog's physical trauma, but you need to keep him calm.

Finding your dog down, legs paddling, possibly urinating or drooling heavily and non-responsive to you is a frightening situation. The first rule is "Do Not Panic." Dogs can't swallow their tongues, and most dogs will stop the seizure activity in seconds to minutes--although it may seem a lot longer to you! At that point, many dogs will simply rest quietly, recovering from the extreme exertion of the seizure.

So, what can you do for your pet? If your dog is located in a dangerous area, such as near the top of a flight of stairs, slide him gently away from that area. Gently petting may help to settle things as the seizure ends but often does not have any effect. Dimming lights and keeping the area quiet will reduce stimulation and possibly shorten the seizure time. Keep other pets away from the dog.

Be prepared to offer water once your dog is back to normal. Wait until he is ready to stand and move.

It is extremely helpful to keep a log of any seizures your dog has. In the log, note the time of day, duration of the seizure, and any unusual factors about the seizure, such as urination, defecation, how it started, etc.

Also, think back on any changes in your dog's routine that day. Note any medications he might be getting and any foods or treats. Think about any possible toxin exposures. You may find a pattern that helps you predict his next one.

Stages of Seizures. Seizures have three stages. The first is "pre ictal." You might also see the term "aura" used. In this stage, your dog acts uncomfortable or nervous. Obviously he senses something is not quite right. The dog may try to hide, or he may drool, pace, or become very clingy.

The second stage is the actual seizure. The seizure we described at the start of this article is a grand mal or full seizure. Some dogs have petit mal seizures or psychomotor seizures with only part of the body involved. If the actual seizure goes longer than five minutes, you need to get your dog to your veterinarian. Prolonged seizure activity can lead to life-threatening high body temperatures.

The period right after the seizure ends is called the "post ictal" time. Your dog may be confused and very tired from the physical exertions of the seizure. He may be concerned about the mess, if he eliminated during the seizure. You need to simply be calm, hold or pet him, and talk gently to ease him back to normal.

If your dog's seizures have an obvious physical cause, such as a tumor in the brain, he will not go back to totally normal post seizure. In contrast, dogs with idiopathic epilepsy usually return to full normal behavior after they have recovered with no obvious problems, such as a head tilt, slight gait disturbance, etc.

Getting to the Cause. Diagnosing seizures can be frustrating for a veterinarian, as there are many causes. These can range from permanent damage, such as brain cancers, to inherited defects, such as genetic epilepsy.

Many seizures fall under "idiopathic" epilepsy--meaning that the exact cause may not be determined. With idiopathic epilepsy, there is no specific test--it is considered a diagnosis of elimination. The veterinarian looks for other causes--cancers, toxins, metabolic diseases, infections, etc.--and if all those results are normal, the diagnosis is epilepsy.

The Neurology Service at Cornell has all of the latest diagnostic equipment for seizures, including MRI and CT scan capabilities. Combined with basic screening done by your referring veterinarian, this is your best option for an accurate diagnosis. http://vet.cornell.edu/hospital/Services/Companion/Neurology/

WHAT YOU CAN DO

* Be sure he isn't in a position where he could be injured during the seizure

* Keep other pets away

* Make the area quiet and dim the light

* Pet him to reassure him

* Offer water as soon as he stops and can stand

* Allow him to rest post seizure

* Consider possible triggers, and report the episode to your veterinarian

POSSIBLE GENETIC BASIS

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, these breeds have a genetic predisposition to epilepsy:

* Beagle

* Border Collie

* Dalmatian

* English Springer Spaniel

* Golden Retriever

* Irish Wolfhound

* Labrador Retriever

* Standard Poodle
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Title Annotation:HEALTH
Publication:Dog Watch
Date:Oct 28, 2017
Words:707
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