Obviously the first thing to do is call your vet or an emergency clinic. (It is a good idea to keep an emergency number on your refrigerator regardless of your dog's health ... you never know when you may need it.)
Don't be surprised if your vet says to wait about 10 minutes and then call back if the seizure is still in progress. The reason for this is that most seizures will be over within approximately 10 minutes.
In the meantime, throw a heavy blanket over the patient and, if possible, hold him in a position to avoid self-inflicted damage. Do not try to kiss or hug the dog; there is a chance the dog may snap and bite, especially children. Dogs do not do this intentionally.
You may push gently on the eyeballs (on the lids, of course) to help stimulate the vagus nerve,possibly slowing the seizure. Start this immediately that you suspect a seizure, ie facial twitching, snapping at imaginary flies..apply this pressure for 10 to 60 seconds and it may be necessary to repeat it every 5 or 10 minutes…
Above all, don't panic because a great percentage of dogs will pull out of a seizure and be none the worse for wear.
For dogs that are seizure-prone, try to avoid stimulation such as flashing television pictures, flashing lights, excessive and strange noises (such as sirens or kids' toys). You can't avoid thunder,but you can take the dog into a closet or any place where you can administer TLC.
During a storm, create happy distractions by playing soft music, adopting a happy tone of voice during stressful situations, closing the curtains, and turning on lights to minimize the effects of lightning.
If a dog is seizure-prone, avoid sudden arousal from a deep sleep or too much excitement.
Above all, assuming the seizure passes, keep a diary as to how often the seizures occur and the motions and movements the dog makes.
It should never be necessary to put a block in a dog's mouth during a seizure but if you feel you have to do it, use a rolled-up cloth because the dog can chomp so hard he could break a tooth or even his jaw. You should not have to hold a dog so tight as to break a bone. Use a heavy blanket or pillows to hold him down.
Finally, once out of the seizure, it may take the dog anywhere from five minutes to one hour to completely recover as he has hallucinated (it is thought) and expended a lot of energy.
STAY CALM BECAUSE YOUR DOG CAN'T!
What is epilepsy?
The word epilepsy describes a series of frequent seizures or convulsions. It does not identify a disease but rather describes a clinical sign. The word epilepsy may be interchanged with seizures, convulsions, attacks, and fits to aid in client education. There are many different diseases and organisms known to cause seizures in animals. Anything capable of changing the nerve function within the brain may produce a seizure. The veterinarian determines the cause of the seizures through a complete physical examination and diagnostic testing. Most forms of epilepsy have no apparent cause, in which cases the epilepsy is considered idiopathic. Known causes of seizures include infectious diseases (distemper), metabolic disorders (hypoglycemia), toxic substances, and certain bacterial, viral, and fungal organisms.
How can the owner know when a seizure is likely to occur?
Most seizures occur in
three stages, each characterized by specific clinical signs. To the inexperienced
owner, the first part of a seizure, called the aura, often goes unnoticed. However,
owners who have dealt with seizures in their epileptic pets are often well aware
of certain changes in their pets' behavior signaling an impending seizure. The
animal often shows signs of apprehension, restlessness, nervousness, and salivation.
No one knows for sure how long this period may last, as it could last from a
few seconds to a few days.
The aura is followed by the actual seizure, called the ictus. Although it seldom lasts for more than one minute, it can be a very disturbing event to the owner so that the duration seems much longer During the seizure, the animal usually collapses onto its side and experiances a series of violent muscle contractions associated with paddling of the feet and rigidity of the body. Loss of consciousness, excessive salivation, and involuntary urination and defecation may also occur in more severe seizures.
The period immediately following the seizure is known as the postictal phase. It usually lasts less than one hour but may last as long as one or two days. The animal may show signs of confusion, disorientation, restlessness, and temporary blindness.
What can the owner do when a seizure occurs?
Pet owners are frightened and con- fused about what to do when their pets have seizures, particularly if it is for the first time. Owners should take certain steps during a seizure to prevent injury not only to themselves but also to their pets, as follows:
Most seizures last less than one minute and are not life threatening. If the animal has repeated seizures for more than five minutes and fails to regain consciousness between seizures, it is in status epilepticus. This condition is an emergency and your veterinarian should be notified immediately. The effects of these seizures may result in death, so it is important to treat the animal as soon as possible.
Can the owner of an epileptic animal expect a cure?
There is no cure for idiopathic epilepsy. Seizures can be controlled with anticonvulsant drugs. There is no standard protocol for treating epilepsy. The purpose of the treatment is to decrease the frequency, duration, and severity of the seizure. Treatment is individualized for each animal based on its history and physical examination. No single drug is always effective; several drugs or a combination of drugs may have to be tried before a successful treatment is found. It could take several weeks to establish a therapeutic dosage that works for the pet. The owner should not become discouraged if the pet has seizures during therapy. This may indicate a need to change medication or alter the dose. It might be necessary to medicate the pet several times daily for the rest of its life. The medication schedule must be closely followed. Variance from the schedule may potentiate a seizure or series of sezures. The owner must be willing to make a commitment to help ensure the success of the therapy.
by Cindy Intravartolo, RVT
*This article rnay be reprinted for free distribution to clients.
There is a new theory that Taurine may be helpful in the treatment of seizure..It is effective in various drug induced seizures- it is strictly theory but may prove out-however it is not harmfull but can be expensive, which should not enter into the procedure if it helps the animal
Drs. A.J.M. de Graaf, DVM on 00/2/3 in Reply To --> Theodore
Re: Theodore Seizures may
be seen immediately after acute head trauma (falling off the bed for instance)
as a result of direct neuronal injury. Posttraumatic seizures may occur many
weeks to several years after head injury. It develops secondary to a "scar"
in the brain at the side of the initial injury. Because your dog had a seizure
after the falling and another one afterwards it is possible the seizures are
caused by a brain injury. Therefor I really recommend an EEG to locate any possible
It is also possible the falling triggered off the first seizure, but because you can't be sure, it's best to do an EEG. I don't think he will grow out of this. When it's caused by something, it can be treated (secondary epilepsy) and when no cause is found (idiopathic epilepsy), treatment is only by medications, which means your dog has to live with it. Regarding food it's best to avoid preservatives (BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin).
I can't say how long your dog can go on without medications. Every epileptic seizure triggers off the next one and normally the seizures will appear more and more (that is if it is idiopathic epilepsy). It's necessary to start with medications if your dog has more than one seizure a month. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask.
Amy de Graaf, DVM
VEH for Small Animals
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