Did you know that pets can have seizures? If you do know, because your pet has had a seizure, you know how scary it can be watching your beloved companion lose control for a few moments. Recognizing the signs and knowing what to do if your pet seizures is important.
A seizure is a sudden, uncontrollable electrical disturbance in a pet’s brain that causes abnormal behavior and activity. Most seizures in pets are generalized, or grand mal, seizures, which are characterized by loss of consciousness and convulsions. Focal seizures, which cause abnormal movement of only part of the body, and psychomotor seizures, which cause abnormal behaviors, are seen less commonly.
A generalized seizure is often identified by its three main components:
During a generalized seizure, a pet will suddenly lose consciousness and fall to the ground, and may also experience these signs:
After a seizure, pets commonly seem disoriented and confused, and may stumble or walk into things.
A number of medical conditions can cause seizures in pets, including:
Idiopathic epilepsy typically causes seizures starting at 6 months to 6 years of age, with seizures recurring throughout life if the disease is not controlled by medication. Epilepsy is recognized to be a genetic condition in some breeds, including:
During a seizure, the best thing you can do is ensure your pet does not hurt herself. Clear the surrounding area so she does not hit her head, and move her only if she is in danger of falling down stairs or from an elevated surface. Although you will want to console your pet, stimulation such as touch and sound can actually prolong a seizure, so a hands-off approach is best. Your pet’s seizure may seem to last a long time, but most last less than one minute. A seizure lasting five minutes or longer is always an emergency that warrants immediate medical attention, as does a cluster seizure, which is multiple seizures occurring in one day.
After the seizure, talk quietly to your pet to calm her, and gently restrain her to keep her from stumbling into furniture or falling down stairs. If this is your pet’s first seizure, or if she has had previous seizures without being examined by your family veterinarian, schedule an exam immediately.
During your pet’s veterinary visit, a panel of diagnostic tests will likely be performed to determine the underlying cause of her seizure, and may include:
If your family veterinarian decides a referral is necessary, CASE’s veterinary neurologist, Dr. Aslynn Marie Jones, will be happy to work with her to diagnose and treat your pet’s seizures.