What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic condition which causes repeated seizures. It affects around 1 in 130 dogs and can often be described as ‘funny turns’ or ‘fits’. Usually, epilepsy is a lifelong condition with some dogs suffering from frequent seizures and others very rarely having them.
What happens during a seizure?
Seizures occur when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain which leads to sudden changes in behaviour or movement.
What are the signs that my dog may be epileptic?
If your dog has had two unexplained seizures more than 24 hours apart, we may suspect that your dog has epilepsy. It is really helpful for us if you record any unusual events, funny turns, or seizures such as how long they lasted, what your dog was doing beforehand, and a video recording if possible.
Different types of seizures:
Seizures can affect dogs in various ways and can be different each time. Most epileptic seizures happen quite suddenly without warning, last only a few seconds or minutes, and stop by themselves. Dogs can have subtle signs called focal seizures which can manifest as twitching, blinking, salivation, behaviour changes. Generalised seizures present with stiffening, rapid jerking, or convulsing. It is also possible for focal seizures to turn into generalised seizures so it is important to keep a close eye on your dog if they are displaying any signs of focal seizures.
Causes of epilepsy?
What to do if my dog has a seizure?
What can trigger my dog’s epilepsy?
Some dogs may have certain triggers which can lead to seizures, whereas others appear random with no trigger. Tiredness, lack of sleep, stress, or not taking medication are all common triggers. Stress can occur in situations such as changes in environment, routine, car journeys, changes in foods, or vet visits(!)
How is epilepsy diagnosed in dogs?
A diagnosis for epilepsy is usually achieved through a process of elimination. This will include a physical examination by the vet and possibly some diagnostic tests such as blood tests, urine tests, and possibly even recommending an MRI to determine any abnormalities in the brain.
What treatment options are there?
Usually, epilepsy in dogs cannot be cured but we can improve the quality of life for your dog and yourself by reducing the frequency or severity with anti-epileptic medication. It is important to try to stay consistent with your dog’s medication timings and doses as well as their routine. We will talk through the types of medication we would recommend for your dog and when and how to administer them.