Archive for March, 2013

The Dog Breeds That Most Often Get Epilepsy

March 30th, 2013 No comments

Epilepsy in a dog can be scary for the owner. The causes of idiopathic epilepsy in dogs are still a mystery. What scientists do know is that it may be linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Typical cases show grand mal seizures between 6 months and 5 years of age. Different breeds tend to develop epilepsy more often than the rest.

Small Dogs

Beagles and Dachshunds are known to have an inherited predisposition to this condition, but a genetic inheritance hasn’t been established in many other breeds. That being said, idiopathic epilepsy has turned up at higher levels in certain breeds. Some small dog breeds reported to have higher incidence of epilepsy are Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, and Wire Fox Terriers. However, even mixed breed dogs can become epileptic.

Large Dogs

Many different large breed dogs can get epilepsy. Large dogs with inheritable conditions include German Shepherd Dogs (also know as Alsatians), Belgian Tervurens, and Keeshonds. Epilepsy has also been observed in several other large breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Irish Setters, Saint Bernards, and Siberian Huskies.

Not everybody who owns one of these particular breeds of dog is going to witness seizures. It’s merely something to watch out for.

Choose a Dog With Care

If you are shopping for a puppy, you obviously want to research the pedigree. Many dogs are known to have produced puppies that become epileptic, so prospective owners are encouraged to do their research when shopping for puppies.

A reputable breeder should be more than happy to answer any questions regarding potential genetic conditions. Even the healthiest puppy can develop epilepsy. As mentioned earlier, mixed breed dogs are not immune from the disease. There’s really no telling when and if epilepsy will strike. It’s important to remain aware of any health changes in one’s dog.

Owners are encouraged to look out for classic symptoms of epilepsy. The seizure typically comes in three phases. Owners may not see all three phases if the dog is resting or sleeping. The first phase is the aura. The second is a grand mal seizure. Finally, there’s a post-seizure state. Veterinarians will usually have pet owners keep a log of seizure activity.

Teach Your Children

You should speak to your children about this condition because it can be very scary for a child to witness a beloved dog’s grand mal seizure. Keeping a log of seizure activity is the best way to handle the condition. Your veterinarian will most likely prescribe medication like Phenobarbital.

Ultimately, seizures can occur in nearly any dog breed, and in puppies or adult dogs. Getting to a veterinarian as soon as possible is essential. A strict drug schedule may be necessary for many cases. Although this can be a very frightening condition, dog owners should know that most cases are manageable. Having a good open line of communication with one’s veterinarian is the best place to start. Keeping a log of seizure activity can help the vet determine a proper treatment plan.

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Why Do Dogs Get Epilepsy?

March 26th, 2013 No comments

Epilepsy is the general term for a disorder found in dogs (as well as humans and other animals) that results in seizures. The seizures are involuntary spasms of the skeletal muscles that can cause complete loss of control and sometimes unconsciousness. If they occur repeatedly and have no obvious cause, the condition is called “idiopathic epilepsy“. 

This can be frightening for a dog owner. Fortunately, medical advances in understanding and treating human epilepsy have proved useful in veterinary medicine as well. We have a much better understanding of the causes of epilepsy and its treatment.

Seizures are the result of erratic electrical activity in the brain. They vary greatly in seriousness, length, and frequency, but are generally caused by either a genetic condition or a trauma to the brain. Some traumas may involve immediate physical injuries (like a blow to the head), while others result from temporary chemical imbalances due to low blood sugar or poisoning. (Chocolate, pesticides, and lead are common culprits.)

Less common, though still worthy of concern, are seizures caused by previously unknown food allergies or psychological factors. These could be implicated if a seizure immediately follows a sudden change in diet or a period of great stress.

Although most non-inherited cases of epilepsy are temporary, there are some cases of chronic, long-term seizures unrelated to genetics. “Idiopathic” simply means “without an obvious physical cause,” so chronic (but not idiopathic) epilepsy can arise from such factors as scar tissue that developed around old injuries, chronic thyroid or calcium imbalance, brain tumors, parasites, and many diseases, including distemper and encephalitis.

These are all very serious concerns, and the dog should be examined by a vet as soon as possible. Non-hereditary causes are most likely in dogs that experience their first seizure after age 5. They are also slightly more common in male dogs.

Hereditary seizures account for 80% of all cases of canine epilepsy. This type of epilepsy is an inherited genetic condition that can’t be cured. It can, however, be managed. Idiopathic epilepsy is usually the diagnosis for dogs between 6 months and 5 years who have had more than one incident within the week in which the seizures first appeared.

Epilepsies of this sort are slightly more common in female dogs, and especially prevalent in certain breeds. Because breed standards are so exacting, purebred dogs of a particular type will often share many of the same genetic characteristics, including (in some breeds) hereditary diseases like epilepsy.

Unfortunately, epilepsy turns up in several of the most popular and recognizable dog breeds, including Dachshunds, Poodles, Beagles, Collies, and Dalmatians, as well as Labrador and Golden Retrievers. Other dog breeds with a high risk of idiopathic epilepsy are Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, Irish Setters, German Shepherds, Belgian Tervurens, Keeshonds, Schnauzers, and St. Bernards.

The potential for epilepsy should be considered when you look for a new dog, but it shouldn’t discourage a prospective owner from choosing an attractive breed. Medication and therapy have made it possible for epileptic dogs to live a full and happy life.

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The Best Medications for Dogs Battling Epilepsy

March 22nd, 2013 1 comment

People love their pets. When something is wrong with them, we want to give them the best treatment possible. Certain dogs develop epilepsy, which becomes a major concern for their owners. Here are a few things you should know to make your dog’s life easier and safer.

What is Dog Epilepsy?

Epilepsy in dogs manifests as unexpected, uncontrolled, and recurrent physical attacks in the dog’s brain. This dog may or may not lose consciousness. Epileptic seizures sometimes happen for reasons unknown, or they may be due to abnormalities in the dog’s genetic code. Some seizures are due to lesions on the brain, which happens more often in male dogs.

If left untreated, the seizures may occur more often and with greater severity. Most seizures happen when the dog is asleep or at rest. This will often be at night or in the early morning. Most dogs will have recovered by the time you get them to the vet for examination.

The Most Common Treatment for Dogs with Epilepsy

The single most effective drug for treating canine epilepsy is Phenobarbital, a barbiturate and depressant of the central nervous system. It is usually the first medication prescribed when a dog is diagnosed with epilepsy.

Phenobarbital works by increasing the function of GABA, which is the inhibitory transmitter. It also appears to slow the secretion of glutamate from the brain’s nerve endings. Phenobarbital has excellent results in 60 to 80 percent of dogs with epilepsy, as long as doses are kept within the correct range.

What Are the Side Effects of Phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital does have some side effects to watch out for. The most common includes extreme hunger, an unquenchable thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and weakness in the hindquarters. Some dogs may act depressed or sedated after introduction of the drug. Most of these effects go away fairly quickly as the dog becomes used to the treatment.

A less common but more serious side effect of Phenobarbital is liver damage due to scarring and/or failure of the liver. These side effects can be permanent, so monitoring liver function during this time is extremely important. In rare cases, anemia can occur after introduction of the drug into the system.

Other Options to Consider

If Phenobarbital doesn’t work for your dog, or the risks seem too great, there are other options a pet owner may request. Drugs such as Clonazepam, Clorazepate, Valproic Acid, and others have been used for treatment of epilepsy in dogs. The dosages and results vary, but regular monitoring is essential to control seizures and avoid a toxic overdose.

Despite the array of medicines available for epileptic dogs, anti-epileptic drugs are not necessarily 100% effective. Talk with your veterinarian about changing your dog’s diet to help control seizures. Certain grains and chemical ingredients can trigger allergic reactions, and possibly raise the chance of seizure in an epileptic animal.

Some pet owners try outside-the-box ideas like acupuncture for treatment of their pet’s condition. Caring for your epileptic dog can be a challenge, but it’s worth it to give your dog all he or she deserves.

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How Epilepsy is Treated in Dogs

March 18th, 2013 No comments

The first time your dog suffered a seizure, it probably scared you. When your veterinarian diagnosed the dog with epilepsy, you probably feared for your pet’s life. Fortunately for dedicated dog lovers, it is entirely possible for a dog to live a long and healthy life with epilepsy. Here’s a description of how it is usually treated.


Many advancements have been made in recent years when it comes to treating epileptic dogs. Unfortunately, medications do not work 100 percent of the time and can sometimes have harmful side effects. But most of them usually decrease the number and severity of canine seizures. Your veterinarian will typically prescribe medication only if your dog averages at least one or two seizures a month.

When your pet is officially diagnosed with epilepsy, he or she may be given phenobarbital, potassium bromide, or a combination of the two. Phenobarbital is usually more effective in preventing seizures, but the side effects can be frightening. 

Most dogs that are placed on the drug will experience lethargy and excessive hunger. Happily, the lethargy will often go away within a few weeks as your pet’s system gets used to the medication. Liver damage is another potential side effect that should be discussed with and monitored by your vet.

Potassium bromide is usually not as effective as phenobarbital, but it is safer. The only major side effect is potential stiffness in your pet’s hind legs. If you notice stiffness in the dog’s rear legs when he or she goes on a potassium bromide regimen, stop giving it to your pet and contact the veterinarian.

Many people end up using a mix of the two medications. Other drugs are available as alternative treatments. Some of these include valproic acid, clonazepam, and clorazepate. It’s important to give your pet any medication in the exact amount and manner prescribed by your veterinarian.

Change in Diet

Just as with humans, designing a healthier diet for your pet can help prevent and fight various diseases. Many believe that a nutritious diet can effectively avoid or weaken canine seizures. This may involve purchasing premium dog food at a pet shop instead of the inexpensive stuff found in grocery stores. Look for foods that do not use artificial flavors and other chemicals.

A better way to ensure your pet is getting an all-natural diet with lots of good vitamins is to put together your own dog food. A raw or home-cooked diet should be stocked full of protein, amino acids, magnesium, and other key vitamins and minerals. You should also avoid feeding your dog any products that contain wheat, corn, or soy. These offer little nutritional value for dogs, and can even cause an allergic reaction in your pet.


If you are open to alternative forms of medicine, you may want to give acupuncture a try. Studies conducted in the United States have indicated that dogs who received acupuncture as a treatment for epilepsy tended to experience fewer seizures and required lower doses of medication in treatment.

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Signs That Your Dog May Be Having a Seizure

March 14th, 2013 No comments

For most of us, dogs are members of our family. It can be downright terrifying if your dog starts to have health issues, especially when a seizure is one of the symptoms. However, it can be difficult to tell whether or not your dog is actually having a seizure.

Types of Seizures

Each type of seizure comes with its own set of symptoms. Some are easy to spot and others are not. The three types of seizures are:

• Petite mal
• Grand mal
• Cluster

1. Petite mal seizures

Petite mal seizures are the hardest to detect. Characterized by clicking teeth and repeated blinking, they are barely noticeable.

2. Grand mal seizures

Grand mal seizures are both easy to detect and extremely dangerous. When dogs experience a grand mal seizure, they may fall over, grind their teeth, salivate excessively, lose control of their bladder and bowels, jerk uncontrollably, and kick their legs violently. It is possible during a grand mal seizure for the dog to lose consciousness.

3. Cluster seizures

Cluster seizures are essentially a series of grand mal seizures that occur within concurrent 24-hour periods. The dog may have time after each seizures to return to consciousness and recover. If your dog suffers a series of seizures with no recovery time in between, take him or her to a vet immediately.

Seizure Stages and Symptoms

If you are aware that your dog is prone to having seizures, knowing what happens during each stage of the crisis will help you prepare. There are three stages to each seizure:

• Prodromal Stage
• Ictus Stage
• Postictal Stage

A. Prodromal Stage

The prodromal stage is the beginning of the seizure. Your dog will appear stressed, worried, or frightened. Your dog will either seek affection from you or try to hide. At this point, you should gather towels and blankets to cushion the dog. Clear a space of furniture and other items so your dog doesn’t get hurt if he or she should fall down. Gently coax the dog into this safe area in order to prevent further injury.

B. Ictus Stage

The ictus stage is the seizure itself. This is when your dog might become unconscious, suffer uncontrollable muscle spasms, and lose control over bladder and bowels. During this stage you should stay clear of your dog’s legs and mouth to prevent harm from coming to you. To comfort your dog, gently stroke it and speak in a low, calm voice.

C. Postictal Stage

The postictal stage is the end of the seizure. At this point, your dog will be exhausted and disoriented. This can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Some dogs may experience temporary blindness or deafness during the postictal stage.

Seizures are a Symptom

It’s important to remember that seizures don’t just happen out of the blue. They have a cause. If your dog has a seizure, the best course of action is to take him or her to a veterinarian to explore the potential causes, which can range from ingested toxins to brain tumors.

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The 4 Stages of Canine Seizures

March 12th, 2013 2 comments

My Yellow Lab, Cory, was probably born with a genetic predilection which made him prone to seizures. Since I had never owned a Lab before, I did not understand what was going on when Cory, at about 3 months of age, woke up one day from a nap and could not walk without his legs crossing over themselves. Since he bounced back quickly, I assumed that his legs had gone to sleep, as mine sometimes do when I have slept on them in such as way as to temporarily block the flow of blood to a nerve, causing tingling and numbness.

Another time, when he was about 12 months old, Cory had an episode where he stood as if he had turned to stone, with his eyes fixed in a stare, and drool running out of his mouth. Although we were out camping, we were able to call a veterinarian in a local town who suggested that he was probably just tired out from all the exercise he got that day. Again, he snapped out of it after a few minutes and he was also fine the next day, and so I still had not connected the dots to consider that maybe what we were seeing was early evidence that his brain was not communicating with his body for brief periods of time.

Stage 1: The Pre-ictal Phase

It turns out that Cory was, in those early years, experiencing the first stage of a typical seizure called the prodome, or pre-ictal phase.  In this early stage of a seizure, some dogs become clingy to their humans, while others try to hide, as if they believe that canine-eating monsters have landed in a spaceship nearby. It took 3 years for Cory’s seizures to develop past this initial phase.

Stage 2: The Aura

The second stage of a full seizure is called the aura, which is where the pre-ictal symptoms increase in intensity. This is the point just before the convulsions begin. The dog may become restless and start pacing in this stage.

Stage 3: The Ictal Phase

The aura is immediately followed by the third, or ictal phase, where the spasms begin, resulting in a disruption of brain activity that causes a jumble of mixed signals throughout the dog’s body. Most seizures last for 1 to 5 minutes. Any seizure which lasts longer than 5 minutes may require medical intervention.

During this phase, most dogs fall onto their side and are either rigid or they paddle their legs uncontrollably while convulsing. There are times when some dogs will lose control of their bladders or bowels during this phase. I suggest that the best thing you can do in this stage of the seizure is to turn off the lights and maintain a sense of calm, while keeping the room as quite as you can.

Screaming and panic on your part will only make things much worse for your dog. Some people have found that giving rescue remedy during the pre-ictal or aura phase will help to reduce the intensity and duration of the ictal phase. If your dog has already been diagnosed as having epilepsy, you will probably have received some syringes of valium from your veterinarian, which you can administer if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes; or goes into status, which is where one seizure quickly follows another.

Stage 4: The Post-Ictal Phase

Once the ictal phase has ended, the next stage can last from several minutes to several days. This is known as the post-ictal phase, which for some dog owners is the most difficult stage of all, depending upon how long this stage lasts. The dog may appear to be drugged or drunk, running around in frantic circles, or some dogs actually become temporarily blind, and will bump into walls.

You must understand that a seizure takes a tremendous amount of energy, and the dog’s body will be depleted of glucose. I recommend that you allow the dog to lick a spoonful of honey on top of some natural, preservative-free vanilla ice cream, which will help to quickly restore the blood sugar levels. It might also be helpful to help the dog learn that a seizure has a positive outcome, (i.e., ice cream), which may eventually help to reduce the dog’s anxiety in the earlier stages of the seizure. As soon as it is safe to do so, you can then allow the dog resume its normal routine.

Foods that Can Cause Seizures in Dogs

March 11th, 2013 No comments

When I was a young girl growing up in Alaska, our family dog was a lovely, white toy poodle named Mitzi. Mom claimed that Mitzi occasionally had seizures. They were infrequent enough that I was fortunate to never have had to witness one. One day I came home from school and Mom said that Mitzi had one of the seizures again that day, after “getting into” the chocolates. We did not have the internet in those days and so it took years for me to make the connection between chocolate consumption and canine seizures. Today, almost everyone knows that chocolate can cause not only seizures, but other serious neurological disorders in dogs. I’m happy to say that Mitzi lived to an old age and that she did not die as a result of her sweet tooth.

But this made me wonder about other foods that might be harmful to dogs. What a relief it would be to find that the reason for a dog’s seizure or other illness could be something as simple as what he eats! Although it is by no means a complete list, what follows is a list of common foods that can cause health problems in dogs.

Cat Food

For those households which are home to both dogs and cats, beware of letting the dogs get into the cat’s food on a regular basis, because it is too high in protein and fats for dogs to eat, resulting in potential digestive problems. Cat food is also denser in calories than dog diets, so it can lead to obesity in dogs.  I used to let Cory “lick the kitty’s plate,” which won’t hurt anything if the kitty has eaten well, but just keep in mind that cats and dogs have their own unique nutritional needs and they should not be allowed to eat the same food.

Raw Fish

Here in the Pacific Northwest, salmon and other raw fish can carry a fluke which in turn carries a bacteria, which can cause seizures and death if consumed raw. By cooking the fish, the danger is completely eliminated, although you must be careful to get all the bones out of the cooked fish before allowing your dog to eat it. I’ve been told that freezing the fish at a certain temperature will also kill the fluke & eliminate the problem, but I’m not comfortable with taking any kind of a chance when it comes to the health and well being of my dog, since I do not know if my freezer can get to the correct temperature or how long the fish would need to be frozen to make the raw fish safe to consume.


Nutmeg is a spice which I have seen in recipes for homemade dog food and treats, but it is a food which dogs should actually never eat. Nutmeg has been known to cause seizures, tremors and even hallucinations in dogs.

Apple Seeds

Apple seeds and other pits from peaches, cherries and plums contain the poison cyanide, which can also cause seizures, obstruct the small intestines and cause painful inflammation for dogs. Although horses can eat their apples whole, core and all, dogs should never be allowed to eat the apple cores.

Grapes and Raisins

I first learned, via the internet, that grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure, seizures and even death in dogs at about the time I was reading a training book for dogs that actually advocated giving raisins as treats!  I contacted the author with my concerns and she was quite defensive. I was concerned enough to follow the internet links about this frightening claim, and I found it to be confirmed by Snopes as being true.

Other foods that are commonly on the list of what not to allow your dog to eat include:

  • macadamia nuts
  • onions
  • egg whites (the whole egg is just fine for the dog)
  • some of the species of wild mushrooms

Early signs that your dog is having an adverse reaction are vomiting and hyperactivity, followed after about a day by lethargy and depression.  If your dog has consumed anything on the list above, and exhibits any such behavior, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

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Treatment Options for Canine Epilepsy

March 11th, 2013 1 comment

If your dog is having seizures, and the diagnosis is idiopathic epilepsy, then you will want to know what your treatment options are as soon as possible. After Cory’s first grand mal seizure (which I describe in detail in Chapter 1 of Cory’s Story), I was terrified and wanted the veterinarian to put Cory on drugs immediately. We live in a society where medications are quite often the first place we turn to whenever something goes wrong with a body, be it human or canine.

Patience & Vigilance

I am so glad that Cory’s vet did not acquiesce to my pleas; but instead, he gently told me that in some cases, the drugs cause more harm for the dog than good. He told me to start a “seizure diary” where I listed all of the information I could about each of Cory’s seizures, including the date, time of day, what Cory had just been doing, and even the phase of the moon. As I look back over that seizure diary, I do see hints that there were certain triggers that seemed to be present for many of Cory’s seizures.

It was frustrating, however, because there was no black and white cause and effect. While swimming in a lake for hours often led to a seizure for Cory, it did not always lead to one. In any case, keeping a diary gave me a tool, and it helped me feel like I was doing something for Cory. I kept it up all of his life with the hope that one day I would find the clue that would pinpoint the reason for his seizures.

Anti-Epileptic Drugs

Along the way I spent hours reading everything I could find about other people’s experiences with canine epilepsy. I wanted to know what drugs were available, what the side effects were and how effective they were. One must keep in mind that the purpose of treatment for canine epilepsy is to reduce the frequency and intensity of the seizures, and that in many cases the seizures will continue in spite of the treatment.

At that time, Phenobarbital was usually prescribed by veterinarians as the first drug of choice to treat seizures. If that did not sufficiently reduce the frequency of the seizures, then Potassium bromide was usually added; although I did see instances where Potassium bromide was also used alone. For some dogs, these drugs (independently, or in combination) were effective enough to reduce the seizures, although I did not often see where the seizures were eliminated entirely.

Another drug, valium, was often prescribed in order to immediately treat a dog where the seizure lasts for 5 minutes or more, or when the seizures would come in clusters. Valium is usually administered by an owner rectally, rather than by injection. During Cory’s entire life, once he was diagnosed with epilepsy, I carried several vials of valium everywhere we went.

Change of Diet

I was fortunate to have been made aware of the connection between feeding a raw, natural diet and the reduction of seizures before we got to the point where we needed to start Cory on anti-epileptic drugs. Although it seems strange to include a dog’s diet in an article about treatment for canine epilepsy, it was exactly this that led to our success in controlling the seizures.

As I’ve shared Cory’s Story with others, including some veterinarians, I’ve been told that Cory must have had an allergy to the commercial dog food I’d been feeding him, and it was not the raw, natural diet that helped him, but rather the elimination of the dog food that was an allergen for him. I cannot agree with that assumption, however, because there was not an immediate cessation of the seizures when I began feeding the raw diet to Cory; in fact, it took five years for them to stop completely. If the cause of Cory’s seizures had simply been an allergy, then once he stopped eating commercial dog food I would have expected that his seizures would have also stopped.

Gold Bead Implants

Other treatment options which I would have considered for Cory, if not for the fact that we got such great results from the diet change, include Gold Bead Implants, which involves placement of gold beads into acupuncture points, which must be done by a highly trained specialist. I heard happy accounts from relieved owners of many dogs with epilepsy who received complete relief from seizures once this treatment was received.

Homeopathic Remedies

I also sought the expertise of a holistic veterinarian who prescribed homeopathic remedies for Cory. Although I used them for years, I also stopped using them from time to time, and I cannot say with any assurance that I saw a difference in the frequency or severity of Cory’s seizures. I did see dramatically positive results with the homeopathic remedy arnicaid, which I would give to Cory when he was a senior and would be experiencing muscle aches and pains, so I cannot rule out homeopathy altogether; it’s just that I’m not sure it had any effect on Cory’s seizures.

Common Causes of Seizures in Dogs

March 11th, 2013 1 comment

If your dog has a seizure, the first thing you’ll want to do is find out what might be the cause.  The purpose of this article is to give you a few of the common causes, because the treatment will be dependent upon the reason for the fit, (as they are called in England), or seizure, as we call them in the United States.  Both terms refer to the state where the brain temporarily loses control of the body.

Environmental Toxins

The environment contains many toxins which can cause seizures in dogs. If your dog has a seizure the first thing you will want to do is take a look at where the dog has been.  Do you see poisons such as rat bait?  How about leaked antifreeze?  Have you recently put a flea collar on your dog or used flea powder or insecticides in your home?  If you find any of these culprits, you may have good news, because most dogs can fully recover, with quick medical intervention and treatment, if the reason for the seizure is found to be an environmental toxin.

Brain Tumors

A diagnostic test, such as an MRI or CAT scan, can determine whether or not your dog has an abnormal growth on the brain.  Brain tumors, especially those in the cerebrum, can be a common reason for seizures in older dogs, but they are rarely the cause of seizures in younger dogs.  The highest incidence is found among the short-nosed breeds such as the Pug, Boxer, Bulldog, and Boston Terrier.

Tick-induced Diseases

Dog seizures can be attributed to several poisons that can be transmitted by ticks, such as Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  Check your dog’s body to see if there are any ticks.  Fortunately, with early treatment such as antibiotics, most of these conditions are reversible, and the dog will make a full recovery from a tick-induced disease.


Distemper, a virus, can cause seizures as the disease progresses.  Puppies are especially susceptible to distemper, around the age of about 3 months, when their bodies no longer have the protection of the antibodies which they received from their mother.  This debilitating disease is preventable if the dog receives a vaccination at about 8 weeks of age.  Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, discharge from the eyes and nose, followed by a dry cough, diarrhea and dehydration. Distemper must be treated by a veterinarian; in fact the very life of the dog can depend upon how quickly the dog receives medical intervention. Although antibiotics have no effect on the distemper virus itself, they are used to prevent secondary bacterial infections.  Anticonvulsants or sedatives are used to control seizures.  The best prevention against canine distemper is vaccination.

Ideopathic Epilepsy

Perhaps the most common cause of dog seizures is idiopathic epilepsy. If everything mentioned above is ruled out, idiopathic epilepsy is usually the diagnosis.  It is attributed to either a genetic or congenital disorder, causing the dog’s neurological system to be vulnerable to a chaotic electrical discharge of neurons in the brain, resulting in seizures.

The Best Way to Stop a Dog Seizure

March 10th, 2013 No comments

Just as in humans, a seizure in a dog is an episode when abnormal electrical triggers fire in the brain. As the effects of this electrical triggering spread, it affects the dog’s mental and physical functions, causing jerky movement and loss of physical control. If your dog is epileptic or has another condition characterized by seizures, it is important to be able to identify the seizure and handle it in the way that is best for your dog.

In dogs, a seizure typically starts with an aura, which is a set of pre-seizure behaviors. A dog in the aura stage often acts in a way that is totally the opposite of its normal behavior. Dogs that are usually sweet might become withdrawn and snappish; dogs that are laid back may become strangely anxious; and dogs that tend to be aloof might start to demand affection.

An aura can last for up to an hour before the seizure. Suddenly, your dog will collapse, with all four legs rigidly extended. Then the dog will kick its legs or move spasmodically, and he or she might bite at nothing. The dog may also lose control of its bowels and bladder. The seizure may last for several minutes, and leave your dog shaky and disoriented. The confusion following a seizure may last for several hours.

When your dog has a seizure, try to move it to a place where it will not do any harm. Pull it away from anything that could get knocked over and fall on top of it. Try to keep your hands away from the dog’s mouth, because he or she will lose control over the biting reflex during the seizure.

Talk soothingly to your pet, especially if it seems to respond to your voice. Dogs are acutely tuned into the way we say things; you must do everything you can to keep your dog calm. If you can help the dog stay calm, you can reduce the amount of agitation and potential physical damage it suffers during this unpleasant experience.

One way to help a dog move out of the seizure stage is to apply ice to his or her lower back, just above the tail. Keep a sealed plastic bag of cold ice in your refrigerator at all times so you can apply it when your dog starts to have a seizure. The cold pack can help your dog come out of a seizure very quickly. It also reduces or completely eliminates the post-seizure haze.

If your dog has a seizure, it is essential to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. This is important even if your dog experiences seizures on a regular basis, because you can never know when actual damage has occurred. If your dog has never had a seizure, you will find it even more imperative to talk to a professional.

Remember that seizures can result from many things, including poison and kidney failure, so consult a professional after your dog has had a seizure!

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