Canine Epilepsy. The main sign of epilepsy is seizures, which are caused by abnormal electrical activity that begins in the brain. Most seizures last from one to three minutes, with the average time being 90 seconds. Minor or partial motor seizures can cause dogs to salivate, stare into space, and/or have localized muscle twitches. Severe, also called grand mal seizures, may cause dogs to totally lose control. After the episode, some dogs act normally, others remain dazed. Seizures use up a lot of energy so most dogs are hungry and will eat and drink after the epileptic episode.
Some cases of epilepsy in dogs occur as a result of diseases like diabetes, kidney failure, and brain tumors. Those dogs are usually over six years old before they start having seizures. However, most cases of epilepsy in dogs are termed “idiopathic”, meaning that the cause is unknown. Classically the onset of Idiopathic Epilepsy is between one and five years of age, with a higher incidence in certain breeds, such as golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, huskies, malamutes, and miniature poodles.
- Localized muscle twitches.
- Lie on one side and paddle with one or all legs.
- Pupils of the eyes are dilated.
- May act dazed and stare into space.
- May lose control of urine and/or bowels.
WHAT YOU AND YOUR VET CAN DO
- All dogs that suffer from seizures should be checked by a vet. Routine procedures include a physical examination along with blood tests, a urinalysis and x-rays. If an underlying problem can be found such as Diabetes or Kidney Disease, appropriate therapy may eliminate the seizures. In dogs with Idiopathic Epilepsy, no underlying problem can be found. In these cases, the seizures may be controlled but not cured.
- Various anticonvulsant medications, such as Phenebarbital, are usually prescribed. Potassium bromide may be used along with phenobarbital in certain cases. The Potassium Bromide decreases the effective dose of Phenobarbital necessary to stop the seizures. Preventative daily medications are generally not recommended unless the dog has seizures more than once a month. With proper therapy most epileptic dogs are able to lead normal lives that are only slightly shorter than normal.
Silicea 30C (silicon dioxide) may help control seizures. One dose of two whole pellets or three pellets crushed to a powder on the tongue. Withhold food one hour before and after. Wait 30 days, then reassess. Acupuncture is effective to control seizures in certain cases.