Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy


"Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy is diagnosed when no known cause can be found. Treatment is directed at the symptoms such as dog seizures, and can include prescription and homeopathic approaches."


Canine idiopathic epilepsy, also known as primary epilepsy, is epilepsy (seizures) that has no known cause. Dogs with idiopathic epilepsy generally begin seizing at between one and three years of age.

There are two types of dog epileptic seizures:

Generalized seizure - (called grand mal seizure, fit or convulsion) generally causes an acute decrease in state of consciousness, repeated movements of the body, excessive salivation, vomiting and often a loss of bladder and bowel control. The seizure lasts 30 seconds to a few minutes while changes in behavior can last around 24 hours ("Post-Ictal" period).

Focal motor seizure - less dramatic. A focal motor seizure causes a repeated twitching movement in the face or limbs and usually lasts several seconds. These type of seizures may often go unnoticed especially if they involve fairly unnoticeable movements like swallowing.

You should always seek medical care for seizures, particularly if there is more than 1 per month. The cause of dog health seizures can vary based on your dog's age. For more background information is our guide to understanding canine epilepsy.

Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy Symptoms

At the beginning of a seizure, your dog may seem restless or nervous. He may tremble or whine. He may seem to wander around or may hide.

During the seizure itself, your dog may fall on his side and paw at the air. His body may convulse. He may, however, stay on his feet. He may twist his head and appear to be biting at the air behind his head. He may urinate and drool. Seizures can be quite scary to witness, especially the first time.

Following a seizure, your dog may be confused, disoriented, restless, or unresponsive.

Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy Diagnosis

Canine idiopathic epilepsy is diagnosed by ruling out other possible causes for the seizures.

Your vet will ask you to describe the seizure in detail to make sure that is indeed what your pet is experiencing. There are different types of seizures, and knowing what type of seizure your dog had may help with a diagnosis.

Your vet will perform a thorough physical exam. He or she will look for indications of any illness that may be causing seizures. He or she will also perform a neurological exam, looking for abnormalities in coordination, reflexes, and nerve functioning.

Your vet will then do some blood work and a urinalysis to check for other illnesses that can cause seizures, such as metabolic disorders, liver problems, and thyroid disease. Other tests may also be performed, such as EEG’s, MRI’s, and CT scans, but these are all expensive tests and their usefulness in diagnosing epilepsy in pets is still debatable.

Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy Treatment

If your dog has only one isolated seizure, a thorough medical and neurological exam will be done, but no medical treatment will be given. You will be advised to watch your dog closely for signs of any future seizures.

Medical treatment is generally recommended for dogs who have more than one seizure per month. The goal of medical treatment is to decrease the frequency and severity of seizures. It may not be possible to eliminate the seizures completely.

Phenobarbitol and primidone are the most commonly prescribed medications for epilepsy in dogs. Initial side effects include fatigue and eating and drinking more than usual, but these effects usually wear off as dogs adjust to the medication. These drugs are generally given once a day.

Homeopathic Treatment for Canine Epilepsy

Homeopathic experts believe that herbal remedies can be used to calm the nervous system. Natural remedies for dog seizures include:

  • Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) - an herb for anxiety and stress and for calming an overstimulated nervous system. Effective in both prevention and treatment of seizures.
  • Scuttelaria laterifolia (Skullcap) - calmative and antispasmodic herb to reduce over-stimulation that can lead to seizure occurrence.
  • Hyoscyamus - valuable in the acute and long-term treatment of all seizures and tic disorders.
  • Belladonna - known for its usefulness in seizure control, especially those seizures associated with high fever.
  • Cuprum mettalicum - controls seizures and addresses any associated mental dullness or vomiting.

A good commercial source for homeopathic treatment canine epilepsy is Pet Alive EaseSure.

How I Treat Seizures
Anor, S.