Seizures and epilepsy

Some dogs can suffer from seizures which are caused by uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain and can develop for several reasons. A dog might only have a single seizure episode in their lives, while others might suffer from repeated seizures.

The latter is a chronic condition known as epilepsy, and this is often an inherited disorder meaning that it’s passed down from the dog’s parents.

As seizures are one of the most common neurological problems in the dog, it’s beneficial for the health of your dog to be able to recognise the signs of a fit.

Symptoms

Before a seizure, a dog might seem dazed or vacant and might become unsteady.

There are several signs and symptoms that will help you determine if your dog is having a fit but these can vary depending on the type of seizure. These include:

  • Collapse or loss of consciousness
  • Muscle twitching (anywhere on the body)
  • Jerking movements
  • Drooling or frothing at the mouth
  • Involuntary passing of urine or faeces
  • Signs of hallucination
  • Tongue chewing or chomping

After a seizure, your dog might return to their normal selves quite quickly, while others can take a few hours to feel themselves again.

Cause

There are several possible causes of seizures in dogs, some more serious than others. These include:

Epilepsy

Types of seizures without an unidentifiable cause are known as idiopathic epilepsy and is an inherited condition that’s most common in dogs between 6 months and 6 years old.

Poisoning

If a dog eats something toxic to it, like slug bait, caffeine, chocolate, or poisonous plants, this can cause them to convulse.

Disease

Disease in vital organs like the liver or kidneys can cause dogs to have seizures.

Tumours

A tumour on the brain can sometimes cause seizures in older dogs.

Other triggers include low blood sugar levels, calcium deficiency, stroke, anaemia, heatstroke, head trauma and poor circulation.

Prevention and treatment

While it’s not possible to prevent all types of seizures, the most effective way of reducing the likelihood of a fit is to try and minimise the probability of the triggers.

Dogs with atopic epilepsy should not be bred from to prevent the condition from being passed on to their pups. By going to a responsible breeder and being a responsible owner, a dog can be given the best possible start to life.

It is important to note that if your dog is having a seizure, under no circumstances put your fingers in its mouth, as the involuntary contractions can often cause the mouth to clamp shut – and some breeds of dog have jaw muscles strong enough to cause (permanent) damage to your fingers, or even sever them entirely.

Contact your vet or speak to a Joii vet, free of charge to every Animal Friends customer with any dog insurance policy if you notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour.

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