Epilepsy is a chronic condition caused by disrupted electrical signals in the brain. Think of epilepsy as a brief electrical storm. Although epilepsy is deemed as a human condition, pets could also suffer from an epileptic episode.
Pet epilepsy is more common in dogs than in cats. Any breed of dog can develop this condition but golden retrievers, Staffordshire bull cocker spaniels, beagles, German shepherds, Schnauzers, and Huskies are more vulnerable to epilepsy. Usually, epilepsy among dogs is inherited. Canine epilepsy is divided into idiopathic and symptomatic disorders. Idiopathic epilepsy means there are no abnormalities in the brain other than the occasional seizures. But symptomatic epilepsy means the seizures are caused by identifiable lesions, brain disorders, and/or other specific causes.
In cats, Persians and Siamese breeds are prone to developing pet epilepsy. While pet epilepsy among dogs is inherited, scientists are unsure how cats develop feline epilepsy.
Symptoms of Pet Seizure
Canine and feline epilepsy share the same symptoms. These symptoms include collapsing, uncontrollable muscle twitching, loss of consciousness, drooling, tongue chewing, foaming at the mouth, and jerking muscles. The animal could fall to the side; make paddling motions with their legs. Sometimes, the animal would defecate or urinate during a seizure.
Before the attack, the animal will not appear like itself. It becomes dazed, confused and seems unsteady on its feet. Then, the animal will become disoriented, wobbly, and temporarily blind.
After the attack, the animal would lay motionless for a brief period. Eventually, the pet will get back on its feet and appear perfectly normal. However, the animal may show signs of post-ictal symptoms. These symptoms include disorientation, restlessness, and temporary blindness that last for a few hours to several days.
It can be scary watching your pet seizing during an attack. However, do note that your pet is not in pain. What you can do is to place your pet’s head on a soft pillow or folded towels to avoid head trauma. Thankfully, seizures only last for a few minutes. Remove any object that surrounds the pet’s mouth so it will not injure itself. If the animal’s tongue turns bluish, insert an inverted spoon in its mouth so air can pass through the dog’s throat.
Keep a bottle of dishwasher soap and tissues on hand in case your pet defecates or urinates unintentionally.
Once the attack is over, take your pet to the nearest vet. The vet will prescribe various meds to control the seizures, such as phenobarbital or potassium bromide. Make sure you only give the right dose of medication to prevent liver disease. After the initial treatment, you will have to take your pet to the vet for routine checkups and blood work.
To reduce post-ictus symptoms, feed your pet a small amount of all-natural vanilla ice cream. The ice cream will normalize your pet’s blood pressure and body temperature. Feed your pet a small amount of carbs every hour to keep its blood sugar level stable. If you are hand feeding your pet, watch out! Recovering from a seizure could cause unintentional biting, especially if the pet is very hungry.
To reduce the frequency of the attacks, never miss a dose of epilepsy medication. Make sure your pet eats healthy, brain and liver-friendly foods. Provide a stable environment for your pet to avoid triggering an attack. If the condition is inherited, have your pet neutered or spayed as early as possible.