EPILEPSY IN DOGS
Epilepsy is a disorder of recurring seizures or fits. A fit involves uncontrollable muscle activity such as paddling, loss of consciousness, salivation, involuntary urination and defaecation.
Fits can be caused by many diseases:
infections, for example canine distemper
too high (diabetes) or too low blood glucose
low calcium in nursing bitches (milk fever)
trauma to the brain
primary or idiopathic epilepsy
If no cause of the fit can be identified, the condition is diagnosed as primary or idiopathic epilepsy. There is no test to diagnose epilepsy, tests just rule out other causes. Epilepsy starts in dogs 6 months to 5 years of age. Some breeds have a higher risk of developing epilepsy, for example Labradors. Dogs with epilepsy should not be used for breeding. Most dogs with epilepsy will fit when overexcited.
There are three phases to a fit: just before the fit the dog may be restless, salivate, whine or hide; the fit phase itself normally lasts less than five minutes; the recovery phase can last a few minutes to several days and the dog may be disorientated and have no co-ordination.
Fits are not life threatening unless they progress into Status Epilepticus which is fit after fit without any recovery phase. Please contact us immediately if your dog is continually fitting.
Treatment for epilepsy is only started when the fitting is regular or severe. The aim is to decrease the frequency, severity and duration of the fits. Medications will not cure the epilepsy. Your dog may be drowsy when on the medication to begin with but this wears off after a few weeks.