by Dr. Janice Huntingford: The pet doctor | Windsor Star
Seizures can be very scary if they happen to your pet. Seizures are usually accompanied by thrashing, yelping crying, excess drooling, and possibly urination and defecation.
They result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This can be caused by things outside the brain such as electrolyte imbalances, hormonal problems, metabolic imbalances, low blood sugar, low calcium, liver disease, ingestion of toxins and high blood pressure, or things inside the brain — such as tumours, inflammation, infection, parasites, trauma or “idiopathic.” Idiopathic means that the experts do not know what is causing the problem. Both cats and dogs can seizure but this condition is more common in dogs.
In some breeds of dogs, seizures can have a genetic component. Inherited epilepsy is common in beagles, dachshunds, keeshonds, German shepherd dogs, Belgian tervurens and others. Breeds with a high incidence, but in which inheritance has not yet been established, include cocker spaniels, collies, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Irish setters, poodles, miniature schnauzers, St. Bernards, Siberian huskies and wire fox terriers. Even mixed breeds can be afflicted with epilepsy.
Although seizures are very frightening to watch, the majority of them are mild and very short-lived — less than a minute, although it seems much longer when it is your pet!
If your pet is experiencing seizures that last more than a few minutes, he will need immediate treatment as long-lasting seizures can be life threatening. It is extremely important to work with your veterinarian to determine the cause of your pet’s seizures.
If your pet experiences a seizure, a diagnostic evaluation can include:
- Complete blood count and/or blood chemistry profile
- Liver function tests
- Blood pressure tests
- Evaluation of cerebrospinal fluid
- Imaging studies such as a CT or MRI scan
- In some cases, consultation with a neurologist
Treatment for seizures will depend on the cause. If a cause can be determined for a seizure, the treatment is aimed at eliminating the cause. If the dog or cat has an inherited epilepsy condition, then things like phenobarbital and potassium bromide may be prescribed.
In spite of this treatment, some dogs still seizure. These are the dogs that I see for alternative therapy. Alternative therapies that are commonly prescribed are homemade diets (free of pesticides, hormones and preservatives), acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, food therapy or homeopathy.
If your pet has seizures, your veterinarian will be the best source of information on how to properly diagnosis and care for your pet.
Dr. Janice Huntingford practises integrative veterinary medicine in Essex. Contact her at Drjan@essexanimalhospital.ca