You consider your dog a member of the family, and just like a family member, he may develop certain worrisome health conditions.
And none of these are more worrisome than your beloved pet suddenly trembling and shaking like a gelatin dessert. Seizures in dogs can be just as troubling and dangerous as they look.
Causes Of Canine Seizures
The first thing to figure out is what is causing the condition.
An animal with this inherited condition may experience single seizures spaces far apart, or may suffer a more dangerous version of the disease which causes cluster seizures, where a large number of contractions happen over a period of around twenty-four hours.
No one really understands the underlying cause of this condition, but we do know that there are certain things which can trigger these episodes in your pup.
The term “idiopathic” indicates that the source of the condition is unknown.
Epilepsy in dogs is more common in males than females, and in pure breeds rather than mixed breeds. It usually presents when the animal is one to five years old, and symptoms can vary.
An epileptic dog will usually suffer two or more seizures, unprovoked, within a thirty day period.
These may be the rather disconcerting generalized variety, which means he will stiffen, make paddling movements, and lose consciousness, or the focal kind, which involves unusual movement of a single body part, and may or may not affect consciousness.
Only a vet is qualified to make a diagnosis, ruling out other medical causes such as kidney or liver problems, cancer, or encephalitis. Once a diagnosis has been made, your vet will prescribe an antiepileptic drug treatment program.
It is important to see a vet as soon as you notice a convulsion problem, as these medications are more effective if the are administered close to the outset of the problem.
Seizures are also commonly referred to as convulsions or fits, and usually occurs during a period of change in brain activity.
But epilepsy, while the leading cause of canine convulsions, is not the only cause.
Other factors are poisons, liver or kidney disease, low or high blood pressure, anemia, and an electrolyte imbalance.
Naturally, any condition involving brain damage can also be at fault. This includes an injury to the head, encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain), stroke, or even brain tumor.
All the factors which can affect your human cohorts can also affect your furry friend. Therefore, If you suspect a medical condition, please see your vet.
If your pet has epilepsy, you may have noticed that his seizure activity occur most often at feeding time, when the animal is excited, and when he is falling asleep or waking up., all periods when his brain activity would be expected to change.
But, in other cases, convulsions may seem to come on completely unexpectedly, without warning.
So you should be aware that there are other things which can cause such fits. These are called triggers, and can cause problems in seemingly otherwise healthy animals.
What Can Trigger A Seizure In A Dog?
Many of these triggers can be found in the environment, both in the home and outside in your yard.
Certain cleaning supplies have been known to act as triggers.
Polyurethane fumes, as well as fumes from paint, are incriminated. But other innocent seeming products can be to blame, too. Heavily scented candles, flashing lights, or simply bright ones may be the problem.
Moreover, that loud music may disturb your pup’s brain as much as it does the neighbors.
Second hand smoke is just as dangerous for your canine companion as it is for you. And the fumes from that kerosene heater may be setting your pup’s brain a-trembling.
In the kitchen, rosemary, sage, fennel, and saffron may be affecting him as well.
Medications have been known to cause seizures in some animals, as well as certain treatments , such as heartworm treatments.
Moreover, some flea and tick concoctions have been known to increase the risk in some animals.
Cheaper processed foods containing may contain convulsions inducing chemicals, as well as his favorite doggie chew, especially bleached or flavored ones.
On the other side, don’t think that your dog would be any safer outside.
Certain herbicides and insecticides can contain dangerous chemicals, and even weather conditions themselves can cause convulsions. Beware of extreme cold or heat.
Narrowing down the culprit may be even harder than you thought, as it can take up to thirty hours after exposure for a seizure to result. Furthermore, some canine vaccinations can take up to a full forty-five days to have the same effect.
In addition, stress can be just as debilitating to your pet as it is to you. Your pooch can react with an increase in his stress levels when there is an extreme weather condition, when he fears being abandoned, or when there is a change to his regular schedule.
Even a long car ride, or, certainly, a visit to the vet can increase his stress level to seizure inducing proportions. You may think he’s simply being a bit fussy, but this can soon turn him into a quivering mess.
How Do You Stop A Dog From Having Seizures?
First, this will depend on the type of convulsions he had had, and the underlying cause.
If the convulsion was caused by some outside problem, and not a condition from which the animal suffers, you will have to do a bit of detective work to determine the cause of the problem.
This can be rather time consuming, common sense should tell you to remove as many of the possible triggers from the environment as possible.
Upgrade his daily food if you are purchasing an economy brand, purchase natural chews, not those which are bleached into unnatural whiteness or flavored with who knows what chemical additives.
Check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic flowers and plants, and make sure your garden isn’t a deathtrap.
Consult your vet about flea and tick medication , and listen to the advice given.
However, you can’t really do this all on your own, you must paint your vet into the picture. Only he/she is qualified to assess your furry companion to determine what’s really going on.
Should you euthanize a dog with seizures?
Nobody likes to think about having their pet euthanized, but only you, in consultation with your vet, can make this decision.
Some dogs with idiopathic epilepsy live long lives, but this often requires a level of commitment, time, effort, and money, which may be beyond the capability of many owners.
Your pet must be continually monitored by a vet to insure that the medication is being maintained in his blood in sufficient quantities to control the fits without causing adverse side effects .
Some of the drugs used in such therapy can be toxic is not carefully monitored. The good news is that many pups, about sixty to seventy percent, maintain good seizure control when the drug therapy is carefully maintained.
This still leaves thirty to forty percent who suffer a poor quality of life even with therapy. And those pets with the more serious type of convulsions benefit far less than others.
It is important to note that drugs do not completely eliminate the problem of fits.
But should you choose not to treat your pet with such drug therapy, the odds are only six to eight percent that he will continue to live fits free, but, rather, will continue to undergo debilitating convulsions for the rest of his life.
Pets with epilepsy will require a significant lifelong commitment from their owners, who must use their own judgement in deciding how to achieve a balance between the best quality of life for their pet measured against a positive therapeutic outcome.
Is the time, effort, commitment, and expense worth it to provide your pet with an outcome which may not be up to your expectations?
It may take a lot of soul searching to come up with an answer, and only you know your resources, both of the inner and outer variety, which will inform your answer.
In conclusion, dealing with this ordeal will not be easy, There is work to be done, commitments to consider and decisions to make at some point.
As always, your canine companion is looking to you to make the right choices, so do your research, consult your vet for some blood work , and follow your heart. You can’t go wrong.