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Epilepsy in dogs

Epilepsy in Dogs Signs and Treatments:

Epilepsy in dogs can be extremely traumatic, and in many ways it is more so for the owner than for the dog.

Watching your dog suffer an epileptic fit is itself an extremely scary and painful experience. However, the epileptic dog is of course completely back to normal once the fit has passed, while the owner is in many ways permanently traumatized and constantly scared of a recurrence.

Understanding epilepsy in dogs can go a long way towards helping owners cope with the condition and properly manage an attack.

Epilepsy in dogs is of three different types – primary epilepsy, secondary epilepsy, and reactive epilepsy. If a dog is suspected to be suffering from epilepsy, the veterinarian will usually begin by looking for factors that could cause either reactive or secondary epilepsy. Reactive epilepsy could be triggered by metabolic problems such as extremely low blood sugar or kidney failure.

Other medical conditions that can cause epilepsy include strokes, brain tumors, and certain severe infections. In such cases, the epilepsy is considered to be secondary. If there is no detectable cause of epilepsy, it is known as idiopathic or primary epilepsy. This type of epilepsy is the most common, and is often a genetic disorder that is inherited.

The symptoms of epilepsy in dogs mainly consist of seizures of various kinds. Sometimes only part of the body may be affected, while in other cases, the dog may completely lose consciousness and may even lose control of its bladder and bowels. Psychomotor seizures may involve psychological distortions as well, in which the animal may suddenly bark, bite, snap at, or hide from invisible threats. Seizures may be rare or they may occur several times a day, and it is not always possible to identify any pattern. You can however learn to recognize the early signs of a seizure, such as trembling, nervousness, and cowering. At such times, you should try to get your dog to the nearest quiet, safe place.

With epilepsy in dogs, treatment mainly consists of managing the condition rather than curing it or even preventing it. In cases where the epilepsy is secondary or reactive, the underlying condition must be treated. However, if the epilepsy is primary or idiopathic, there are several drugs that your veterinarian might recommend, of which the most common is phenobarbital. In some cases, other drugs may better, although these must sometimes be supplemented by more medications to limit the effect on the liver.

  Submitted on January 20, 2010  

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