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Canine epilepsy in Dogs

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Posted on October 09 2018

What is canine epilepsy? How to prevent crises? What to do when they occur? Is it possible to treat my dog? Epilepsy in dogs is accompanied by a host of questions. We will try to answer it through this article.

Just like in humans, epileptic seizures in dogs are quite frightening . One then has the impression of not recognizing his animal, which is totally out of control while he struggles on the ground. The feeling of helplessness that one feels during these episodes is just as terrible. The seizures are more or less frequent depending on the severity of epilepsy and the individual.



It should be noted that some breeds have predispositions to epilepsy, such as Labrador Retriever , Golden Retriever, and Beagle . Males are usually more concerned than females. Also note that epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder in dogs, since it reaches 1% of the canine population. The challenge is to learn to identify the premises of these crises in order to react quickly to limit the damage and adapt to this particular situation.

The possible origins of canine epilepsy

In the same way as in humans, epilepsy is associated with repeated or even chronic convulsive seizures in dogs. These seizures are caused by uncontrolled neuronal discharges . They themselves are the result of neuronal hyperexcitability that may have different origins: membrane damage (functional or structural proteins, ion channels) or the neuronal environment (disorders of homeostasis, inflammation, necrosis), an imbalance in excitatory systems (glutamic acid) and inhibitors (aminobutyric acid or GABA).

The different phases of the crisis

This is not a schema applicable to all epileptic dogs, but rather the most commonly observed procedure. The first phase may be more or less obvious to detect, while the last may not occur in some animals.

The warning phase of the epileptic seizure is the least palpable. This is the prodrome , during which the dog adopts unusual behavior for a few minutes to several days. He may moan or seek to hide, lick his lips, walk, salivate, urinate, vomit or show signs of stress.

The next phase is that of the aura  : in general, it is a handful of minutes before the onset of convulsions. The dog is then still conscious.

The phase of the stroke  : it is about the convulsive crisis. The animal has open eyes, but is unconscious . It is sometimes rigid , sometimes relaxed , the whole being punctuated by contractions and movements characteristic: limbs that move, jaw beats as to chew, pedaling movements, etc. During this phase, the dog can also urinate, defecate or drool.

The post-stroke phase : it may not occur in some dogs. It is characterized by disorders without convulsions and lasts between minutes and hours. The animal may be confused , confused . He may momentarily lose some of his sensory faculties, including sight and hearing. Some subjects fall asleep, while others may become aggressive.

What if we suspect an impending crisis?

With experience, we can learn to detect the first warning signs of an epileptic seizure, like those mentioned above concerning the prodrome phase. When we think that a crisis will occur, it is important to reassure the dog by caressing him and talking to him.

The ideal would be to place it in a quiet room , not too bright and without objects around that could cause injury during the crisis. Depending on what has been prescribed by the veterinarian , an anticonvulsant drug may be injected when there is evidence that an epileptic seizure is imminent.

Can we treat canine epilepsy?

The treatments prescribed by the veterinarian will depend on the factors that cause the epilepsy, as well as the intensity and frequency of seizures. Often, these do not disappear completely despite the medical care, but their frequencies and durations can be significantly reduced .

To identify the cause of epilepsy in dogs and treat it, the veterinarian conducts a thorough examination of the nervous system . Other examinations can also be done: X-ray of the skull, CT scan, blood test, etc.

In case of so-called " essential  " epilepsy  (whose cause can not be determined), the treatment is rather heavy , with drugs to be given every day to the animal and throughout its existence.

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