After Affects of Petit-Mal Seizures in Dogs

by Betty Lewis
It's not confirmed dogs actually have petit mal seizures; if they do, they are extremely rare.

It's not confirmed dogs actually have petit mal seizures; if they do, they are extremely rare.

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A seizure is the result of an abnormal surge in the brain's electrical activity. A dog can experience a variety of seizures, though it's not confirmed a petit-mal seizure is among them. Regardless of the type of seizure a dog experiences, he may have some after effects as his brain activity returns to normal.

Seizures 101

According to the Canine Epilepsy Network, there are two types of seizures: generalized and focal seizures. If your pup experiences a generalized seizure, his entire brain is affected by abnormal electrical activity. There are two types of generalized seizures; a grand mal is a major motor seizure and a petit mal, or absence seizure, is a brief loss of consciousness. A focal, or partial, seizure is the result of abnormal activity in just a small area of the brain.

Petit Mal, or Not

As the word "petit" implies, there is little movement in a petit-mal seizure. Also reflecting its other label, "absence," there's no engagement with surroundings during the seizure. A person experiencing a petit-mal seizure may blink or stare and do nothing else. If you look at an electroencephalogram, or EEG, of a petit-mal seizure it will reflect inhibition in the brain, while the EEG of a grand-mal seizure will show excitation in the brain. The Canine Epilepsy Network notes it's not proven petit-mal seizures actually occur in pets. In fact, the majority of seizures in pets labeled as petit-mal seizures are actually focal seizures. According to "A Practical Guide to Canine and Feline Neurology," veterinarians often misuse the term "petit-mal" to describe any type of mild seizure. It's very rare for a dog to experience a petit mal seizure; if he does, he may shake his head, drool, arch his back and tremble.

Perhaps It's a Focal Seizure

The focal seizure starts in an isolated part of the brain, where it may remain or spread, affecting the whole brain. There are simple focal seizures, rooted in the part of the brain responsible for controlling movement. Common signs of a simple focal seizure include blinking and twitching, often on one side of the face. If the seizure spreads, body parts on the same side may begin to be affected. A simple focal seizure can stop at that point or generalize, turning into a grand-mal seizure. A complex focal seizure originates in the part of the brain responsible for emotions and behavior, causing a dog with one of these to behave strangely. This includes repetitive behavior, rage and uncontrolled running.

Before, During and After

Regardless of the type of seizure a dog experiences, he'll usually experience the same basic stages. The time before the seizure is the prodrome phase, when the dog may be anxious, resulting in whining, hiding or comfort-seeking. Prodromes lead into the the aura phase, which is when the abnormal brain activity begins. The ictal period is the actual seizure when the behavior, such as staring into space, twitching or convulsing occurs. The post-ictal phase can last a few minutes to several days. The after effects of a seizure can be the same, regardless of what kind of seizure your dog experiences. He may be disoriented, clumsy, perhaps even temporarily blinded. Pacing and running around is fairly normal after a seizure, and some dogs are very hungry after the experience. Occasionally, a dog may experience no after effects of a seizure.

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