What Causes Epileptic Seizures in Dogs?

When our dog had her first seizure it was absolutely frightening. You don’t know what to do, in reality there isn’t much you can do except let it run it’s course. Actually, the one thing you can do is make sure your dog doesn’t get hurt during the episode. This means keeping your dog away from sharp objects or anything that can harm them while they are convulsing.

Determining the Cause of a Seizure

Epilepsy is a term used to describe permanent changes in a dog’s brain that causes abnormal activity. Canine Epilepsy  is not uncommon, but the causes of the event can be hard to find. The key term connected to epilepsy is “Permanent”, whatever caused the problem is deemed permanent.

Your vet will do a battery of tests to determine what caused the attack. The tests usually look for lead poisoning, infections, metabolic disorders, traumatic experience, nutritional deficiencies, things of this nature. Once all these things are dismissed, then your dog will be classified as a Idiopatic epileptic. This means they don’t know what the exact cause is for the seizures. At this point the blame is pointed at genetics or inherited.

Signs of an Epileptic Attack

Pets are not much different than we are, they get sick. You have to distinguish the difference between a seizure and a neurological Epileptic Dog disorder. For example: We have seen animals where their hind quarters shake due to nerve damage or some other physical disorder. To someone who hasn’t been exposed to a real seizure this may look like the dog is having some sort of mild convulsion.

When a dog has a seizure their body will start to tremble, their eyes become glazed and they are unresponsive to your commands. As the seizure progresses the dogs body will become rigid and their legs will stiffen. There is not much you can do at this point except let it run its course. Epilepsy in dogs can become quite frustrating for the owner because the seizures just happen, plus the seizure can last minutes or longer.

Post Epileptic Seizure

If it is your first time experiencing a seizure with your dog it can be very traumatic. As mentioned, keep your dog safe and away from harmful objects during the seizure. The next step is getting your dog to the vets as quickly as possible. A seizure is also a traumatic experience for your dog, dehydration is one characteristic: It should be OK to give fluids after a seizure.

If your dog is epileptic and the cause has been determined, you will be given specific instructions to follow after the event has passed. If there is a specific cause for the episode, like Addison’s Disease, then there are medications you will give your pet to control them.

The Long Term Outlook

A dog that has epilepsy will be subject to seizures for the rest of their life. The cause, will determine what you can do to help your dog manage this disease. A dog can live a relatively normal life outside of the seizures. They are a response to the imbalances or genetic short circuiting that takes place in their brain. Of course, over time, these seizures can weaken the threshold a dog has concerning other disease and vital organ functions.

For these reasons it’s vital that you take steps to discover the causes for the convulsing dog. Historical data tells us that certain breeds of dogs are more prone to being epileptic. The dog’s sex also plays a role in the disease. For some reason female dogs that are between the ages of 3 to 6 are more prone to having Addison’s Disease compared to male dogs. The vets don’t really know why, they just know that this is the pattern for dogs with this disease.

Since the causes of canine epilepsy are vast, be patient, give your vet time to work through the tests. If you have a dog with epilepsy your patience will be tested – your pet is depending on you.