Seizures, or epilepsy, in dogs and cats is a neurological disorder. Seizures can occur for many different reasons. A seizure occurs when the cerebral cortex functions in an abnormal way. Seizures can be caused by extracranial reasons (due to reasons outside of the brain) or intracranial reasons (due to reasons inside of the brain).
EXTRACRANIAL SEIZURES IN PETS
An extracranial seizure occurs because either the metabolism or the electrophysiology of the brain is changed by a disease. In most extracranial cases of seizures, the entire cerebral cortex is affected resulting in a generalized seizure rather than a focal or partial seizure. The most common extracranial seizures are caused by underlying kidney disease, liver disease, , hypoglycemia, changes in electrolytes, endocrine disease such as hypothyroidism, hyperthermia, toxins or trauma.
INTRACRANIAL SEIZURES IN PETS
Intracranial causes of seizures are disease processes that can cause either structural or functional changes inside of your cat or dog’s brain. Functional changes inside of your pet’s brain may result in what is known idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is a disease in which your dog has recurrent seizures, but no specific cause can be located for the seizures. Other causes of intracranial seizures are due to brain tumors, viral, bacterial or fungal infections (distemper virus, rabies and others), tick borne diseases, parasitic infections, trauma to the brain, degenerative brain conditions which cause lack of blood flow to the brain causing a cerebral infarction, or nutritional deficiencies such as lack of B vitamins. Idiopathic epilepsy is genetic in many dog and cat breeds. In these breeds where epilepsy is diagnosed, they should not be used for breeding.
DOG BREEDS MOST COMMONLY PRONE TO EPILEPSY:
These breeds of dog are more genetically prone to epilepsy, however epilepsy and seizures can occur in any breed
BeagleKeeshondGolden RetrieverGerman ShepherdLaborador RetrieverBelgian TervurenVizslaShetland Sheep Dog (“Sheltie”)
Genetic epilepsy usually manifests itself from 10 months 3 years of age but can vary. Both the age at onset of seizures and the seizure pattern are important in diagnosing idiopathic epilepsy.
If your pet has experienced seizures, it is very important to have your pet seen by a veterinarian to diagnose the root of the problem. Diagnosing the cause of seizures includes full blood work panels including complete blood count, chemistries, infectious and parasitic testing, endocrine testing, as well as imaging such as radiographs and MRI, and spinal fluid analysis. Once the reason for seizure has been diagnosed, appropriate medical treatment can be recommended. There are integrative holistic therapies available as well for seizure treatment including food therapy, Chinese herbal therapy, and appropriate western herbal therapies through NHV.
Because Seizures can be caused by a number of different factors, choosing appropriate herbal supplements varies based on the diagnosis.
IF YOUR PET HAS HAD A SEIZURE
If your dog has had a seizure, he or she should be examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible. In some cases, diagnostic tests will indicate a clear cause for the seizure or seizures. Where no cause can be located, the disease is diagnosed as idiopathic epilepsy. Together you and your vet can make a health plan to deal with your pet’s seizures. While seizures can be scary they are usually not life threatening. Your vet can teach you what to do if your dog is having seizure’s and, in some cases, can provide medicine to make them stop.
If you have any questions regarding your pets health, please don’t hesitate to schedule a consult!