It was late one summer evening and just about time for bed. As the children headed upstairs for the night, they heard their mom downstairs start to panic. Their miniature schnauzer, Duncan, who was always happy, energetic and full of life, was now writhing on the floor, convulsing and foaming at the mouth. When he finally stood up, he ran wildly through the house, running into walls, chairs and furniture with his eyes ablaze.
That night, Duncan had his first grand mal seizure. In the following years, he would be plagued by more and more seizures. The story of Duncan is not incredibly uncommon. Unfortunately, seizures can be a common health complication in canines, and some breeds are predisposed to the ailment.
What Are the Different Types of Seizures?
Idiopathic epilepsy occurs when dogs have frequent seizures with no known cause. Dogs diagnosed with this condition typically see their first seizure between six months and six years of life. Breeds that have a higher likelihood of this disease include Border Collies, German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Beagles, Collies, Belgian Tervurens and Labrador Retrievers.
Generalized seizures, also known as grand mal seizures, are a result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Convulsion and loss of consciousness are common symptoms that can last anywhere from several seconds to several minutes.
Focal seizures are caused by abnormal activity in a select part of the brain. As such, rather than full convulsions, your dog may have odd movements in one limb or on one side of his body.
What Are Common Symptoms of Seizures?
Common symptoms of seizures include:
- Muscle spasms
- Foaming at the mouth
- Chewing of the tongue
- Paddling of legs
If you notice any of these behaviors in your pet, it is important to call the vet immediately.
What To Do If Your Dog Has a Seizure
If your pet has a seizure, it is important to remain calm. The seizure will pass, but make it a priority to slide your pooch away from any sharp objects nearby that could potentially harm your convulsing dog.
As your dog is unconscious, stay clear of his mouth, as he may unknowingly bite. Likewise, keep any other objects away from his mouth and avoid placing anything in his mouth so he does not choke.
If your furry friend has a seizure lasting longer than five minutes, bring a fan into the room to help lower your dog’s body temperature and place cool water on his paws. If a seizure lasts too long, your pet’s body temperature will begin to rise, even to dangerous heights, which can cause brain damage.
If the seizures are coming one after another without ceasing, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible and let them know you’re on your way. Medication such as Valium may be administered to stop the seizures.
What are treatment options for dogs with seizures? Oftentimes, treatment includes medication. Duncan, from the story above, remained on seizure medication the rest of his life, which greatly reduced the number of seizures he had.
Two common medications for seizure disorders are phenobarbital and potassium bromide.
If your precious pooch is struggling with seizures, speaking with your vet and administering the proper medication is crucial for your pet’s enjoyment of a long, happy life.
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