Witnessing your dog having a seizure is a distressing and unpleasant experience. But there are ways you can help. Identifying the cause of the seizure is the first step in controlling their frequency and intensity. In some cases, it’s possible to use medication to drastically reduce the amount of seizures your pal suffers.
The Most Likely Cause
Epilepsy is the most likely cause of seizure in dogs aged under five years old, unless the epilepsy is caused by a brain injury, rather than an inherited gene. The condition is more prevalent in Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, beagles, boxers, German shepherds and keeshonds. Your vet will advise a suitable course of action depending on the severity and frequency of the seizures. If the seizures occur in clusters or more frequently than once a month, it is probable that your vet will prescribe anticonvulsant medication. In cases where seizures occur less frequently, your vet will probably not prescribe anything. A dog that has experienced a seizure caused by epilepsy should never be used for breeding.
Seizures are the most common symptoms of brain tumors. If your dog begins to have regular seizures after he has reached five years old -- typically the latest stage at which any underlying issues such as epilepsy or portosystemic shunts would have become apparent -- it’s possible that he has a brain tumor. Over-sensitivity to pain, a meandering gait and unusual behavior are also indicative of brain tumors.
Low Blood Sugar
Seizures caused by low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) are most common in puppies aged under 12 months, especially toy breeds. Inadequate feeding and over-medicating diabetic dogs with insulin can also cause hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar may also be characterized by lethargy and dulled reflexes, so look out for these signs too. Be careful not to place your fingers between the dog’s teeth while he is seizing, as he may bite down hard.
Encephalitis, Distemper and Genetic Problems
Encephalitis is the name for swelling of the nervous system. A number of disorders can cause encephalitis, including distemper, a viral disease affecting the lymph and nervous system; hydrocephalus, also known as water on the brain - often the result of head trauma; and portosystemic shunts, a congenital deformity of the circulatory system around the liver.
Liver disease and kidney disease can both lead to poisoning, which in turn can cause a dog to experience seizures. Poisoning from an external source, such as ingestion of antifreeze may also cause seizures. Heat stroke, abscesses, and in rare cases, adverse reactions to vaccinations may also cause seizures.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.