Seizure Disorders in Dogs
Treatment: If the dog is in a dangerous location at the time of the seizure,
move her to a safe site. Otherwise, do not disturb the dog during or after the
seizure, as this may trigger further seizures. Despite the old wives’ tale, do
not pull out the dog’s tongue or wedge something between her teeth. Dogs can’t swallow their tongue.
Note the length of the seizure. As soon as the seizure is over, notify your
veterinarian, because he or she will want to examine the dog to diagnose and
treat the underlying cause.
Seizures lasting more than five minutes (status epilepticus seizures) or
cluster seizures (several seizures one after the other without a return to
consciousness) are emergencies. They must be stopped with intravenous Valium or
other anticonvulsants to prevent permanent brain damage or death. Seek
immediate veterinary attention. Status epilepticus has a poor prognosis,
because it is usually caused by poisoning or a serious brain disease.
If seizures cannot be controlled with phenobarbital and potassium bromide,
other drugs, such as Clonazepam, Valproic acid, Clorazepate, and many others
can be added. The dosages and rates of action of all anticonvulsants are
variable. Regular monitoring of serum drug levels is essential-both to control
seizures and to avoid toxicity. Liver enzymes are monitored as well. The two
common causes of treatment failure are not maintaining adequate drug levels and
not giving the drugs as often as directed. A missed dose of an anticonvulsant
can precipitate a seizure. It is important to work closely with your
Acupuncture and dietary changes may also help to reduce the number and
extent of seizures.
Research is under way to identify the defective gene or genes responsible
for epilepsy so that dogs can be identified as carriers before being bred.
Affected dogs may not have their first seizure until 3 to 5 years of age, by
which time they may have already been bred. No dog known to seizure from
suspected epilepsy should be bred.