Have you ever seen a dog suffer from seizures? It happens to be a very sad sight, especially if you happen to be the dog owner. Typically, the first reaction one has is one of fear, probably because of lack of knowledge about what is happening to the dog. Following the fear comes the sensation of impotence and even desperation because of not knowing what to do to make it stop.
Although I have not found precise statistics about the disease in dogs, what is important probably to you is not how many dogs do suffer from epilepsy, but is this condition present in yours and what to do about it.
There are some important details that will most likely provide you with the basics of canine epilepsy and help you understand it better.
Let us first give you a simple definition: "Epilepsy is a condition of frequent or recurring seizures that are not of a system origin".
As in human epilepsy, the canine manifestation has been identified as a brain disorder. The results of this disorder are that the dog suffers from attacks that appear suddenly and are completely uncontrolled. There may be loss of consciousness or not, so it is important to remember that your dog may be having the seizure and you could, perhaps, not even be aware of it.
Two main reasons have been given for the condition: one is the genetic abnormalities and the other is, precisely, an unknown reason, called idiopathic. This last one is generally more identified with brain lesions of structural nature and is seen more frequently in male dogs.
If you happen to watch your dog appear frightened without any apparent reason, hiding and with a dazed look, it may be feeling what is known as an aura, or the preceding step to the seizure per se. The following is normally the full blown seizure, which is characterized by the dog falling on its side and becoming stiff. Other behaviors that usually take place are the salivation, urination or defecation, vocalization and paddling with the four legs. Thank God, the time period typically does not exceed 90 seconds.
Studies have found that when the onset of the disease takes place when the dog is younger, the severity of the disease will be elevated.
We explained before that there is an epilepsy of genetic origin, but there is another type that can have several origins, like just about anything that happens to induce damage to the right side of the dog's brain. Such events may include strokes, accidents the dog has suffered or sometimes, brain tumors.
We all know that our brains carry messages through electrochemical processes, which means that the chemicals in our body move in and out of the cells and establish an electrical current. Well, when the chemical signals in the dog's brain become excitatory, the result will be a seizure. Seizures may be of different "levels", ranging from mild to severe and in the latter case, may even produce the death of the dog.
Two types of seizures have been identified: the generalized and the focal. As to be expected, the generalized seizure affects the dog's entire body, but the focal type only affects a small part of the dog's brain and specific body parts.
Another important point to be aware of is the behavior the dog produces after the seizure, because many dog owners may be expecting their pet to recover immediately and go on its merry way as if nothing had happened. That is definitely not typically the case, although it may happen occasionally. The dog may show signs of confusion, it may pace aimlessly, have a marked increase in thirst or appetite, show disorientation, compulsion and may even be momentarily blind.
There are certain dog breeds that are more prone to show the disease and in some, the epilepsy runs in the family, especially those of genetic origin. Some of the breeds well known for being victims of epilepsy in this case are the Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Keeshonds, Belgian Tervurens, German Shepherds, Vizlas and Shetland Sheepdogs, although other breeds have also been known for showing the disease, the same being of a different origin, like the Cocker Spaniels, Irish Setters, Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, St. Bernards, Wire Fox Terriers, Siberian Huskies and even some mixed breeds.
The diagnosis is extremely important in order to determine what cause of action is going to be taken by the veterinarian, so the dog owner has to be on the watch for any of the symptoms mentioned before. If the origin is one of idiopathic nature, such as a brain tumor, the removal of the same will be enough for the epilepsy to be a thing of the past in the dog's life, but if the disease has another cause, medication will be the only remedy, since in this case, it will not be able to be cured … just controlled. The veterinarian will be, of course, the only one to determine what medicines to administer, since not all dogs react the same way to some of them and develop a resistance to their effects. The dog owner should always keep a log of the seizures in order to show the doctor the progression and frequency of the same. That will help him or her to continue with the proper administration and dosage.
Since all good dog owners want the same for their dogs; that is, health and happiness, it is important to remember that having a sick dog, or one who suffers from a condition like epilepsy, does not mean in the least that it is less of a companion. Care and love should be administered just the same you would with a loved human being in your family. The enjoyment of the animal will be the same if you give it what it gives you unconditionally and all the time.