Defining a Seizure and Epilepsy
A seizure is one of the most commonly-reported neurological ailments that occur in dogs and is a short-term shorts in the brain's wiring that precedes uncontrollable muscle movements.
Epilepsy is the proper term for the history of seizures. Epileptic dogs can exhibit seizures in a single burst or in rapid-fire clusters across short periods of time; there is no uniform window of time for occurrence. Additionally some dog breeds are more prone to seizures.
What Causes a Dog to Have a Seizure?
Many things could be considered triggers for seizures in dogs.
- Idiopathic epilepsy. This is the most likely impetus for canine seizures. While it is currently unknown what exactly causes this ailment, veterinary science has pinned it down to genetics.
- Liver disease
- Failing kidneys
- Trauma or tumors within the brain
Beyond the question "what causes a dog to have a seizure?" would be "when is a dog likely to have a seizure?" The answer to this latter question: "whenever the brain changes activity level;" an epileptic dog is most likely to have a fit when it awakens from slumber or when it calms down after exercising.
What are the Elements of A Canine Seizure?
- Pre-Ictal Phase. This lasts anywhere from a few seconds to several hours and is a precursor to the actual seizure. During this phase, the dog is likely to exhibit behaviors associated with fear and worry, as if the dog senses the impending chaos.
- Ictal Phase. This is the seizure and lasts between a few seconds to five minutes. The dog may lose awareness, change its mindset, or hallucinate. A "grand mal" is when the dog falls unconscious and its muscles go haywire. A seizure episode exceeding five minutes is known as "epilepticus." Unsurprisingly, epilepticus is considered a priority emergency necessitating immediate treatment.
- Post-Ictal Phase. This state follows a seizure and its symptoms can include confusion, disorientation, restlessness, excessive salivation and even temporary loss of sight. There is no correlation between the duration of a seizure and the post-ictal phase.
Is a Seizure Directly Harmful?
While your dog may be confused or anxious, seizures do not cause pain nor risk swallowing the tongue. If your dog has a seizure, keep it safe by keeping it close to the ground. A single seizure is not likely to be a problem nor fatal, but if you notice a "cluster seizure" or one lasting multiple minutes, there is a risk of overheating as the dog's body temperature rises.
Once a Seizure Ends, Can We Learn the Trigger(s)?
Once a dog has a seizure, your veterinarian will draw up a list of potential dog seizure triggers and narrow them down to what seems plausible. This assessment includes exposure to dangerous substances, head trauma, a physical examination, testing blood, urine and heart rate; the last few being done to rule out potential disorders of the heart, liver, kidneys and the like.
Related Read: How to Take Care of Your Dog After a Seizure
Seizures can be prevented. There are many different natural methods and remedies that you can use to prevent this from happening. Diet, exercise, and supplements can work well. One supplement such as CBD Oil for pets works wonders when fighting even the worst seizures. Another way to combat seizures is using medicine that is prescribed by the vet. These can be effective but do come with side effects.