November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. During this month, the goal is to educate and raise awareness about one of the least understood of all neurological diseases.
Our fellow EpilepsyWarrior and IG friend, Rosie the Labradoodle ‘s Mom, published a great journal for PAWrents of dogs with epilepsy. This journal is an efficient way to document your epilepsy warrior’s information, log seizure activity, track medications, triggers, appointments and medical history. The journal measures 7×10 inches and makes traveling with your epileptic pet easier in the event of an emergency trip to the vet by having all of your pet’s medical history in one convenient place. Over 125 epileptic canine warriors are pictured throughout… including OUR very own warriors, Porter and Jägermeister (can yo spot them on the page below?! This journal can be purchased on Amazon.
Epilepsy? What’s That?
“Epilepsy” is a general term for neurological disorders that are characterized by recurrent seizures. In some cases, the seizures are caused by trauma, a toxin, a brain tumor, an infection, or an issue with your dog’s blood, kidneys, or other organs. At other times, the epilepsy is referred to as “idiopathic,” which simply means that there is no identifiable, underlying cause.
Seizures commonly fall into two categories: generalized (grand mal) or partial (focal). Generalized seizures commonly appear as involuntary jerking or twitching movements of all four limbs with loss of consciousness. Partial seizures may involve one limb, side of the body, or face. Partial seizures may progress to generalized seizures. Seizures may also result in abnormal behavior, vocalization, salivation, chomping/chewing, and involuntary urination and defecation.
Dogs with idiopathic epilepsy typically have their first seizures between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. Though idiopathic epilepsy can occur in any breed, it is considered an inheritable disease in many breeds and in some breeds a genetic basis has been identified. Therefore, dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy should not be used for breeding. Commonly affected breeds include:
- Labrador retrievers
- Golden retrievers
- German shepherds
- Irish setters
- Cocker spaniels
Is a seizure painful or dangerous to the dog?
Despite the dramatic and violent appearance of a seizure, seizures are not painful, although the dog may feel confusion and perhaps panic. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not swallow their tongues during a seizure. If you put your fingers or an object into its mouth, you will not help your pet and you run a high risk of being bitten very badly or of injuring your dog. The important thing is to keep the dog from falling or hurting itself by knocking objects onto itself. As long as it is on the floor or ground, there is little chance of harm occurring.
A single seizure is rarely dangerous to the dog. However, if the dog has multiple seizures within a short period of time (cluster seizures), or if a seizure continues for longer than a few minutes, the body temperature begins to rise. If hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) develops secondary to a seizure, another set of problems need to be addressed.
Prolonged seizures lasting more than 5 minutes or two or more consecutive seizures without full recovery are referred to as status epilepticus. This is a true emergency and you should seek immediate veterinary care for your pet. Two or more seizures in 24 hours are referred to as cluster seizures and are an indication for beginning anti-seizure medication.
In dogs, seizures often occur in three distinct phases:
- The first is called the aural phase and the most common signs are behavioral changes. These changes may be subtle and include restlessness, attention seeking or anxious behavior.
- The second phase, called the ictal phase, is when the seizure itself takes place. A seizure can last from just a few seconds to several minutes.
- The final phase is called the postictal phase, which occurs after the seizure. During this phase, your dog may seem restless, uncoordinated and/or disoriented. Occasionally, temporary blindness, deafness or other neurologic abnormalities may occur.
It may be difficult to watch your pet have a seizure but most are of short duration and cause no permanent harm. Avoid being bitten by keeping your hands away from your pet’s mouth during a seizure. If it can be done safely, provide padding and move your pet away from stairs to prevent injury.
Your veterinarian will take a complete history and perform a thorough physical and neurological exam to determine if there is an identifiable, underlying cause of your dog’s seizure.
In order to do so, the following tests may be recommended:
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels and electrolytes
- A complete blood count to screen for infection, inflammation, anemia, and other blood-related conditions
- PCR testing and/or serology to evaluate for infectious diseases that may cause seizures
- Referral to a neurologist for advanced testing including MRI and cerebrospinal fluid analysis
- Cultures, PCR testing, and other specialized tests that can identify if specific parasites or diseases could be the cause
Epilepsy cannot be cured, but it can usually be controlled with anticonvulsant drugs. If your veterinarian determines that your dog’s epilepsy is idiopathic, one or more of the following medications may be prescribed:
- Phenobarbital helps reduce the frequency of your dog’s seizures and is the most prescribed medication for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. It is generally a well-tolerated drug.
- Potassium bromide is another seizure medication that may be added to your dog’s treatment, if she does not respond well to phenobarbital alone.
- Levetiracetam (Keppra)
With these medications, as with all drugs, some patients experience side effects. In order to make sure an adequate dose is being given, and to monitor for side effects, it is important that blood levels of each medication as well as complete blood counts and blood chemistry profiles be monitored periodically. Liver function tests may also be indicated. Your veterinarian will advise what monitoring needs to be done and how often. Medication dosages should not be changed without talking to your veterinarian.
Dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy may require treatment for life, and sometimes more than one drug is needed for adequate seizure control. And while many dogs are well controlled, some are not despite multiple medications. In addition, adequate seizure control does not necessarily guarantee that a dog will be entirely seizure free. The degree of seizure control may need to be balanced against potential side effects of the medications.
Besides medication, there are many ways for you, yourself, to help manage your pet’s epilepsy:
- Maintain a seizure log that lists date, time, length and severity of seizures as well as videotape and share this with your veterinarian
- Do not change or discontinue medications without consulting your veterinarian
- Have blood work and other lab work done when recommended by your veterinarian
- Consult your veterinarian whenever you notice a change in your pet’s condition
- Put a medical alert tag on your pet’s collar so that if he becomes lost, whoever finds him will be aware of their seizure disorder and need for medication.
Several treatments are available for pets with epilepsy. By working closely with your veterinarian, you can maximize the chances of controlling the disorder and giving your pet a long, happy, and comfortable life.
This above information is reposted from: http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/canine-epilepsy and https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/seizures-general-for-dogs
Would You Recognize a Seizure if You Saw One?
As a pet owner, seeing your dog have a seizure can be one of the most frightening experiences you’ll have. Seizures are often sudden, seemingly occur without reason and leave you feeling helpless as the owner.
There are a variety of different types of seizures found in dogs. However, one very important type of dog seizure to be aware of is cluster seizures.
What are the types of seizures in dogs?
Unfortunately, there are actually several different types of seizures found in dogs, and they can vary greatly in severity. It’s valuable to be able to differentiate the different types of dog seizures so you can have an idea of what type of treatment and outcome to expect.
Epilepsy in Dogs
Believe it or not, epilepsy itself is actually NOT a type of seizure, rather a condition that often causes repeated bouts of seizures. The term “epilepsy” refers to recurrent seizures that originate in the brain. There are different forms of canine epilepsy as well, but again, these are not types of seizures themselves.
Grand Mal Seizures
In a generalized seizure, the dog will fall, lose consciousness, and extend his limbs out rigidly. The dog may also have sudden apnea, meaning he will briefly stop breathing. This will generally last for around 10 to 30 seconds. Afterwards, the dog will begin paddling his limbs or start chewing. He may also have dilated pupils, salivate, urinate or defecate.
A mild seizure begins the same way as a grand mal seizure but will typically not involve the extension of the limbs or paddling. The dog usually will not lose consciousness. Mild and grand mal seizures are most often associated with epilepsy.
Petit Mal Seizure
Also known as an absence seizure, petit mal seizures are very rarely recognized in dogs. These seizures are very brief, lasting just seconds, and can manifest as a brief period of unconsciousness, loss of muscle tone, blank stare, or possibly even an upward rotation of the eyes.
During a partial seizure, the associated movements will only be seen in one area of the body. This can be the movement of one limb, a muscle jerking, a turning of the head or bending the trunk to one side or even facial twitches. Partial seizures can progress to generalized seizures and are associated with secondary epilepsy.
Complex Partial Seizures
These seizures are notable for the strange or complex behaviors that they repeatedly cause. In humans, complex partial seizures cause us to distort our thought perception, and certain emotions, like fear.
When they happen to dogs, they might be displayed as lip-smacking, chewing, fly biting, aggression, vocalization, frightened running, covering or hiding. Dogs may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, blindness, unusual thirst or appetite or biting.
These can last minutes or even hours, and can be followed by or progress to a generalized seizure. Like partial seizures, complex partial seizures are also closely associated with secondary epilepsy.
Colloquially known as simply “status,” this type of dog seizure can occur either as a series of multiple seizures within a short timeframe with no periods of normal consciousness in between, or as one continuous seizure that can last up to 30 minutes.
Although closely related to primary and secondary epilepsy, status can sometimes occur suddenly in dogs that have no history of seizures or brain injury. Status can often be difficult to differentiate from cluster seizures. These seizures are considered life-threatening emergencies.
Cluster seizures in dogs occur when a dog experiences multiple seizures within a short period of time, generally considered within a 24-hour window. Like status epilepticus, cluster seizures should be considered life threatening. These seizures are typically brief and isolated, but can also be more serious. Large breed dogs tend to be the most susceptible to cluster seizures.
When a dog experiences cluster seizures, he will usually have one, seem to recover, and then have another a few hours later. However, the dog never fully recovers from the first seizure before the second strikes. This can continue on and on until the dog is in critical condition. With the aforementioned status epilepticus, these seizures won’t be spread out, but will be one long seizure that doesn’t stop. Both are true emergencies.
Cluster seizures can be managed with medication, but the cause of the seizures must first be established before any medication can be prescribed.
What causes cluster seizures in dogs?
Cluster seizures in dogs are often caused by a problem in the dog’s brain, such as a tumor that interferes with the communication between parts of the brain. They can also stem from a lack of oxygen in the brain, low glucose level in the blood, known as hypoglycemia, or hypothyroidism, which is a deficit of thyroid hormone production.
If the seizures seem to happen for no apparent reason, then idiopathic epilepsy may be the cause. This type of epilepsy is difficult to detect because it leaves no lesions or lasting damage on the brain. Genetics can also be a factor in dogs having seizures, but this is not yet absolutely proven.
What dogs have cluster seizures?
Any dog of any age and breed can experience cluster seizures, but they are most often seen in middle-aged dogs. Breeds like Border Collies, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, and Boxers are known to be susceptible. Research has actually shown that male dogs are more prone to cluster seizures than females.
What are the symptoms of seizures in dogs?
It’s important to note that most seizures are brief, and that your dog can live a normal life when given the proper dog seizure treatment. However, cluster seizures are much more serious, and can cause serious brain damage, or worse.
A dog experiencing a seizure will most often suddenly collapse, exhibit abnormal movement in its limbs, excessive drooling and uncontrollable jaw movement, as well as incontinence. The dog will usually be unconscious and unresponsive, and have no control over its spasms.
In cluster seizures, the dog will seem to recover between seizures, although he will be very tired and lethargic, potentially even staggering, as seizures are exhausting events.
Though their demeanor will otherwise seem fine, they do not fully recover in between seizures and can get progressively worse. If they don’t regain consciousness at all, or seem to have a prolonged seizure lasting up to 30 minutes, this is not a cluster seizure, but status epilepticus, which is extremely dangerous to your dog and can be life threatening.
How are cluster seizures diagnosed?
Dogs that have encountered cluster seizures should be brought into the veterinarian immediately. Once there, your vet will give your dog a glucose test. Often, your vet will also test to see if your dog has ingested poison.
A lot of the diagnosis will come down to what you are able to report to your vet when you bring your dog in. Pay attention to the symptoms your dog displayed during, before, and after a seizure. If you suspect cluster seizures, tell your veterinarian why and that will help them make a proper diagnosis.
Your vet may also conduct a CT scan or an MRI to see if there are any brain tumors or lesions. Since cluster seizures are so serious, you can expect a full round of testing.
How to Treat Cluster Seizures in Dogs
Medication will be prescribed by your veterinarian in order to treat a dog that is experiencing cluster seizures, but there are also a few things you can do at home to help care for your pet.
If you happen to notice your dog having a seizure, you can spring into action if necessary. Make sure your dog isn’t near anything sharp or close to stairs. Note your dog’s behavior during the seizure and, if possible, try to pinpoint the trigger. Comfort your dog after the seizure and see your vet immediately, especially if another seizure occurs.
If your dog has had cluster seizures, you should also be sure to monitor his other bodily functions. Things you’ll want to monitor include:
- Mental status and level of consciousness
- Breathing irregularities
- Heart rate and blood pressure
- Body temperature
- Salivation and fluid intake
- Muscle damage
- Yin, Sophia, “Vet Advice: Seizures in Dogs and Canine Epilepsy.” The Bark, 3 Feb. 2015, Accessed 1 April 2017. thebark.com/content/vet-advice-seizures-dogs-and-canine-epilepsy.
- “Cluster Seizures in Dogs.” VetInfo, Accessed 1 April 2017. www.vetinfo.com/cluster-seizures-dogs.html.
- “Epilepsy in Dogs.” The Kennel Club, Accessed 1 April 2017. www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health/for-owners/epilepsy/.
- Packer, R, “Risk Factors for Cluster Seizures in Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, Apr. 2016, Accessed 1 April 2017. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27033922.
- “Seizures and Convulsions in Dogs.” PetMD, Accessed 1 April 2017. www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/neurological/c_dg_seizures_convulsions.
***The above information is reposted from: https://canna-pet.com/cluster-seizures-dogs/