SlimDoggy Health Check: Epilepsy
We’ve been focused on the Nervous System recently in our SlimDoggy Health Check Series. This includes the spinal cord and the brain. One of the more common brain related disorders that our dogs get is epilepsy. I feel fortunate that none of my dogs have ever suffered from this disorder (knock on wood), but we know many of you live with dogs who have epilepsy.
Epilepsy may be caused by a genetic disorder or it may be Idiopathic (no known cause). A seizure is created due to abnormal nerve signals within the brain. Your dog may twitch or have uncontrollable shaking and jerking, he may collapse and even lose consciousness. The seizure may last from a few seconds to several minutes. It can be a very scary experience, but epilepsy is not terminal and can be controlled with proper care.
The following is an excellent presentation from Dr. Karen Becker on Epilepsy that I recommend you watch as it covers the types of seizures, the many causes of seizures (including diet) and controlling your dog’s seizures. Source: Causes of Seizures in Pets: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/02/22/pet-seizures-and-pet-dog-cat-food-diet.aspx
Diagnosis of epilepsy can be challenging as seizure may be mild, you may not witness them and they may occur very infrequently. In addition, there are many other causes of seizures in dogs besides epilepsy, and those must be ruled out before a diagnosis of epilepsy can be confirmed. Diagnostic tests can be inconclusive. Your vet will likely ask you to keep a record of your dog’s seizures, recording the time, place, duration, preceding events, your dogs behavior pre and post seizure – anything that might help more accurately diagnosis and treat your dog.
There are anti-seizure medications designed to lower the ‘seizure threshold’ for your dog, but this should be discusses with your vet after they thoroughly rule out any other cause for the seizures.