Seizuring is a disturbing but relatively common condition seen in pet dogs and only occasionally in cats. A seizure is extremely distressing for both pets and their owners and veterinary attention should be sought immediately. Episodes may range from a few seconds of tremoring or disorientation through to a longer period of loss of consciousness and paddling of limbs. The prolonged or “grand mal” type of seizure can cause the body temperature to rise and lead to brain and organ damage. Immediate veterinary treatment with sedatives and anti-seizure drugs is needed if the episode doesn’t quickly stop.
There are many causes of seizures for the vet to consider based on the pets breed, age and history. The vet will perform blood tests to rule out conditions such as low blood sugar, liver or kidney failure or severe blood disorders. Young and inquisitive outdoor pets may have ingested dangerous toxins such as snail bait or garbage. Female dogs feeding puppies can develop low blood calcium levels and seizures known as “milk fever”. Elderly pets with a sudden onset of seizures may have intra-cranial disease and be referred to a veterinary specialist with MRI or CT imaging able to detect brain tumours.
If blood screening tests are normal and a brain lesion is considered unlikely the vet may make a presumptive diagnosis of epilepsy. Epilepsy typically affects younger dogs aged 1 to 5 years and occurs in numerous breeds including poodles, beagles and border collies. The good news is that most epileptic dogs are well managed with daily anti-seizure medications and regular monitoring by the vet. If you suspect your pet has had a seizure don’t hesitate to see your vet immediately. Meet Lexi the healthy little pug puppy who visited our clinic for a checkup and vaccination this week.