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Seizure Disorders in Dogs

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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 veterinarian.

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.

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WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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