Genetic and Idiopathic Epilepsy
Genetic epilepsy is passed down in a dog's genes. Some breeds are more prone than others to having genetic epilepsy. Some of the most common breeds include the Beagle, Keeshond, Shetland Sheepdog, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, and Viszla.
|Left to Right: Lab, Beagle, Golden Retriever, Sheltie|
Idiopathic epilepsy is caused by unknown reasons. Most dogs will show signs of idiopathic epilepsy between the ages of 1-3 years old. Idiopathic epilepsy in dogs is highly unpredictable. It's nearly impossible to know when or why a dog might have an epileptic seizure. It is thought that some factors may contribute to seizures, however. These factors could include things like a change in schedule, stress, or weather changes.
What Is a Seizure Like?
When a dog has a seizure, it can be very scary. It may feel like the seizure lasts forever, but they typically last between 30 to 90 seconds. The dog may fall over to their side, become stiff with all their legs stretching out, convulse, clench their jaw, salivate, release urine and/or fecal matter, and vocalize. Dogs may or may not be conscious throughout a seizure.
Afterwards, the dog is typically affected with a few symptoms which can vary from dog to dog. Some may recover very quickly, and others could take 24 hours or more. Dogs who have just had an epileptic seizure might appear to be disoriented, pace back and forth, or show extreme thirst.
|Try to comfort your dog if they're having a seizure.|
- Make sure they can't fall off of high places like a bed or stairs.
- Don't let them hit their head or body parts on surfaces that could injure them.
- Talk calmly to your dog while they are having a seizure. Try to keep calm after a seizure. This will help your dog feel more relaxed afterwards.
- Don't try to stop your dog's body movements during an epileptic seizure.
Sometimes, veterinarians prescribe medication, such as valium, to give your dog during a seizure. As it can't be given orally during this time, it's usually in a suppository form.
How Is Epilepsy In Dogs Diagnosed?
Idiopathic epilepsy is typically diagnosed through process of elimination. Your dog's doctor will rely heavily on your descriptions of their epileptic episodes. Try to keep a detailed log of your dog's seizures and include every detail you can think of. A video recording, if at all possible, may also be helpful in diagnosing idiopathic epilepsy in your dog.
Your veterinarian will first need to rule out that your dog doesn't have a different disease or condition that causes their seizures. They might want to run blood tests, take x-rays, or even do an MRI. Once the doctor rules out other possible diagnoses, they can conclude that your dog has epilepsy.
Treatment for Epilepsy In Dogs
|Epilepsy is treated with medication.|
Your dog will need to have it's blood tested every 6 to 12 months to make sure that they are receiving the most appropriate medication levels. At this time, your vet may talk with you about your dog's seizures and symptoms to see if the medication is working.
There really isn't anything that can be done to prevent epilepsy in dogs. It is unpredictable. You can, however, try to provide your dog with comfort when they have a seizure as indicated above. Don't put your hand near your dog's mouth if they are having a seizure. They have no control over their actions and may bite you accidentally since jaw clenching is one of the symptoms of seizures. Giving seizure medication as prescribed by your veterinarian can help prevent seizures. Never stop an epileptic dog's medication abruptly without first consulting their doctor.