Epilepsy is a relatively common condition in dogs. Up to 5 out of 100 dogs are diagnosed with it. In this condition, nerve cells in the brain become over-excited, causing discharges in the brain and causing seizures. A seizure usually only lasts a few minutes. Between attacks, sick dogs behave completely normally. The seizures themselves usually occur during periods of rest and often in the home. Extensive walks do not harm a sick dog.
Forms of epilepsy
There are two forms of epilepsy, idiopathic and symptomatic. The most common is the idiopathic form. These dogs are healthy in all other respects, so they can lead largely normal lives. The only exception: you have to be supplied with medication for life.
In principle, idiopathic epilepsy can affect any dog. However, some dog breeds develop this clinical picture much more frequently. These include Labradors and Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Beagles, Boxers, Irish Setters, Spaniels, Poodles, and Dachshunds. The first attack usually occurs between the ages of one and five. Around ten percent of the affected dogs only suffer a single attack, the cause of which is usually not found. Everyone else is regularly affected by epileptic seizures at more or less frequent intervals.
Symptomatic epilepsy is when other events trigger the seizures. Head injuries are the most common, according to an American study the rate is up to ten percent. But toxins ingested through food, infections, or organ diseases can also trigger epileptic seizures.
What to do if you have a seizure
There is little the dog owner can do during a seizure. However, he should carefully document the course of a seizure. This is very easy to do with the video function of a mobile phone, for example. The “recording” of a seizure provides the veterinarian with important information. Otherwise, masters or mistresses should hold back during a seizure. A seizure once started cannot be stopped. The best thing to do then is to stay calm and not panic. At best, you can ensure that the dog does not injure itself.
Diagnosis and Therapy
Sick dogs must first be examined extensively. The diagnosis needs to rule out other possible diseases with certainty. Treatment only makes sense when it is clear with what regularity the seizures occur. A single attack or isolated attacks at intervals of more than six months do not justify long-term treatment with medication.
Epilepsy is a lifelong condition. It cannot usually be cured, but in most dogs, it can be treated very well with the appropriate medication.