Understanding Canine Epilepsy
"Understanding canine epilepsy is difficult since seizures occur for no known reason. Epilepsy is diagnosed when no other known cause can be found. Medications are used to reduce the frequency of seizures."
Understanding canine epilepsy is important if your dog has a seizure disorder. There are two types of seizures you dog may have. Primary seizures, or idiopathic epilepsy, which are seizures that occur for no known reason. Secondary seizures, on the other hand, are seizures that occur because of some disease or condition that is diagnosed in your dog such as scar tissue in the brain from an injury. Secondary seizures are not epilepsy.
Part of understanding canine epilepsy is knowing how such a diagnosis is made. Because there are many conditions that can cause your dog to have seizures, your vet will do a number of tests before making a diagnosis of epilepsy.
Your vet will check for thyroid disease, liver problems, metabolic disorders, central nervous system damage, infections, and genetic disorders. Many of these problems can be diagnosed with blood tests. Other tests your vet might do include an EEG (a test that measures brain waves), a CT (computed tomography) scan, an MRI (magnetic resonance imagining), and a cerebral spinal fluid test (a test of the fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal column). If your vet is unable to find a cause for your dog�s seizures, he or she will diagnosis your dog with idiopathic epilepsy.
Understanding Canine Epilepsy - Seizures
Finally, understanding canine epilepsy includes knowing what to expect when your dog has a seizure. Seeing your dog have a seizure can be scary. It helps to be prepared and to understand what is happening.
Seizures have three phases. The first phase is called the aura. During that phase, your dog may seem nervous or restless. He may hide or he may wonder aimlessly around the house. He may tremble or whine. This phase can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Over time, you will learn to recognize when your dog is in the early stage of a seizure.
The second phase is the actual seizure. This is known as the ictal phase (the seizure is sometimes referred to as an ictus). Your dog will lose consciousness during this time. He will probably fall on his side. His face might twitch and he might make noises. His feet may paddle the air. He might empty his bladder and bowels. The seizure may seem to last a long time, but in actuality, most seizures last less than two minutes.
The third stage is called the post-ictal stage. Your dog may seem confused, restless, or unresponsive. He may bump into things when walking through the house. This may last for a few minutes or as long as a few hours.
When your dog is having a seizure, move any objects out of his way so he doesn't hurt himself. Don't try to restrain him, though. You might end up hurting him. Talk to your vet if you have questions about how to help your dog when he has a seizure.
Understanding Canine Epilepsy - Treatment
Another part of understanding canine epilepsy is knowing how it is treated. Medication is prescribed to treat seizures. Phenobarbitol and primidone are the most commonly prescribed anti-seizure drugs. Despite the medication, your dog may continue to have some seizures. The goal is to decrease to the frequency and severity of seizures, but it may not be possible to stop them altogether.
The side effect of medication is your dog acting sedated which your dog will adjust to over time.
Long term your dogs prognosis may not be effected by the number of seizures he or she suffered prior to treatment.
Natural Medicine for Canine Epilepsy
Natural medicines are known for their ability to provide balance to the systems of the body. The nervous system is no exception. Ingredients such as:
* Passionflower: helps to calm and support the routine equilibrium of the nervous system. The active ingredients in this herb include flavonoids, cyanogenic glycosides, alkaloids and saparin. Passiflora has also stood up well to clinical studies.
* Scuttelaria laterifolia (Skullcap): promotes natural equilibrium normally present in the mind. Active ingredients include flavonoids, tannins, bitter, volatile oil and minerals.
* Cuprum mettalicum (30C): supports the nervous system while encouraging routine digestive function.
Research products like EaseSure which combines these ingredients and is made specifically for this purpose. Be sure to consult your veterinarian if you are using natural medicine in place of or in addition to other treatments.
Canine Epilepsy Network