What to do with a dog that has epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a hereditary disease suffered by a large number of multi-breed dogs such as the German Shepherd or the Poodle. Even so, and thanks to all the scientific advances in recent years, these dogs can lead practically normal lives. Read this article where we explain the basics about epilepsy and how to act and what to do with a dog that has epilepsy.

Epilepsy in dogs:

Epilepsy in dogs is a disease in which animals repeatedly repeat epileptic seizures also known as seizures. To know what to do with a dog that has epilepsy, first of all, you must understand what seizures are, their phases, and their possible causes.

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Epileptic seizure or seizure:

The epileptic seizure consists of a transitory event that is characterized by an alteration of brain function due to the excessive electrical activity of the neurons that make up the cerebral cortex. That is, due to overstimulation of brain neurons, the brain collapses and is unable to perform its functions correctly.

The seizure is characterized by being involuntary, stereotyped (which always occurs in the same way), and self-limiting (which ends on its own).

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Phases of a seizure:

In order to act as quickly as possible in the event of an epileptic seizure, it is necessary to know the different phases of it and how it develops over time.

A seizure has 4 distinct phases:

1st. Prodrome:

This phase is not part of the attack itself, it is a phase prior to the epileptic attack and that has a very variable duration since it can last from hours to days.

During this phase, strange behavior by the animal. Some of these behaviors may be the animal’s restlessness or the exaggerated and constant search for the owner.

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It is the period that occurs minutes or a few hours before the attack and in which the dog begins to have symptoms such as restlessness and search for the owner that we have discussed above, and others such as vomiting, licking, or excessive salivation, etc.

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It consists of the attack itself and lasts a few minutes. It can be given in a more or less exaggerated way depending on the level of involvement of the cerebral cortex. During this phase we will see that the animal presents loss of consciousness, begins to make repetitive movements of the whole body such as the “pedaling” of the limbs, presents excessive salivation and sphincter relaxation may occur causing the animal to urinate during the attack.

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It is about the different alterations that the dog presents after the attack and they have a very variable duration (from seconds to days). The animal can be seen to show loss of balance, disorientation, weakness, drowsiness, blindness, etc.

It is very practical that the owner may be able to identify these phases and differentiate them by yourself to know what to do with a dog that has epilepsy and presents one of these named symptoms and to be able to act in the most effective way possible against them.

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Causes of epilepsy in dogs

The causes of seizures in dogs can be divided into 3 groups according to whether it is a primary or secondary problem or the cause is unknown.

  1. Primary causes: it is a problem that acts directly on the cerebral cortex causing the stimulation of the neurons that form it. An example could be a brain tumor or a head injury.
  2. Secondary causes: They are attacks that occur as a result of metabolic problems, that is, they indirectly influence brain function. An example could be a kidney or liver problem.
  3. Idiopathic causes: are those attacks that occur without being able to determine a specific cause.
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What to do with a seizure dog?

Knowing that it is a seizure, its phases, and the possible causes, we will proceed to explain what to do with a dog that has epilepsy in its day-to-day life and in case of presenting an epileptic attack.

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What to do to “prevent” attacks

As we have already said in the introduction, it is necessary to have some basic guidelines for action in the case of living with a dog that has epilepsy to prevent seizures as much as possible.

We already know that seizures are an exaggerated neuronal excitation, that is why, with treatment and prevention, what we want is that these neurons do not exceed the excitation threshold, that is, that they do not stimulate excessively so that a seizure develops. Therefore, one of the aspects to have good management of the epileptic dog is to take into account the following considerations:

  • Know how clear medication guidelines that have been prescribed by our veterinarian and carry out periodic veterinary checks to check that the drug is working and that the dose administered is correct.

The drugs that are most used for the chronic treatment of epilepsy in dogs are barbiturates, which present very good results and allow our pets to lead a practically normal life.

  • To avoid neuronal excitation, it is best to maintain a calm environment for the animal, without loud noises, avoid glaring lights, things that can make the dog nervous, etc.
  • Finally, know The different phases Prior to the epileptic attack, it is essential to anticipate the attack and take it to the vet before the seizure occurs.
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What to do in case of seizure?

Faced with a seizure, the owner should:

  1. First of all keep calm since, as we have already explained, the stroke phase does not usually last more than a few minutes and is self-limiting, so the seizure ends up by itself and the dog returns to its normal state.
  2. Prevent the animal from suffering any harm placing the dog on a safe surface and soft as long as it does not fall or hit with an object.
  3. Watch out! You too could suffer some damage Do not manipulate the area of ​​your animal’s mouth! as it may be that, due to the involuntary movements that occur during the seizure, the dog accidentally bites you.
  4. Last but not least, call your vet or even visit it if the attacks occur repeatedly over time.
  5. If your dog has previously been visited by a veterinarian and has been prescribed a specific medication for seizures, give medication it will help your animal to stop the attacks. If in doubt, call your usual clinic, the veterinary technical assistant will surely explain the medication regimen clearly and concisely and remind you of all these tips!

After the attack, in the post-stroke, the animal is especially sensitive and vulnerable, so any type of overstimulation can trigger another series of attacks. Therefore, it is recommended that the animal is in a relaxed and calm environment, avoid loud noises, keep it in an area with low light intensity, etc.

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