Epilepsy in Dogs

Canine Epilepsy

Much the same as seizures, epilepsy in dogs can cause uncontrollable convulsions in the limbs. Canine epilepsy is defined as a neurological disorder. It appears in the form of sensory and muscular malfunction, seizures or tremors in different limbs. Epilepsy in dogs can be much more mild than seizures, and your dog does not always become unconscious.

Canine epilepsy can be broken down into two different categories.

Idiopathic Epilepsy – This is thought to be inherited. There is no known cause for idiopathic epilepsy in dogs.

Seconday Epilepsy – Secondary epilepsy is diagnosed by a veterinarian. Secondary epilepsy in dogs is seizures that are caused by a specific disorder or illness.

Some dog breeds are more susceptible to canine epilepsy. These breeds include Dalmatians, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Schnauzers and Boxers.

Stages of Epilepsy in Dogs

Epileptic seizures in dogs can be broken down into four stages:

Prodome Stage

This is the stage prior to the actual epileptic seizure. This stage displays unusual behavior in your dog. These symptoms could be restlessness, seeking affection, whining, panting, drooling and pacing. The prodome stage may last a few minutes to a few hours.

Aura Stage

This stage displays the first signs of an oncoming seizure. These symptoms include vomiting, trembling, pacing, salivating, excessive barking and whining. If you notice these symptoms for no other apparent reason, it could be signs of an oncoming seizure.

Ictus Stage

This is the actual seizure itself. These seizures may be very intense, or very minor. The minor seizures are only twitching or trembling of one area on the dog’s body. Major seizures include symptoms such as unconsciousness, running in place, chomping their teeth, drooling excessively and losing control of their bowels and bladder. It can be a very frightening sight to see.

Ictal Stage

This is the stage that occurs right after the seizure. The dog will appear very disorientated, clumsy and may run into walls or objects. Dogs may appear to be blind or deaf, and will likely drink a lot of water. This phase may go on for a few minutes to a few hours.

Symptoms of Canine Epilepsy

There are many different symptoms of epilepsy in dogs. These symptoms may vary from dog to dog and certain epileptic episodes may be more severe or mild than others. Keep an eye out for the following canine epilepsy symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chewing, or chomping motions with the jaw
  • Convulsions
  • Excessive drooling or frothing at the mouth
  • Vocalizations; including barking, whining and yelping
  • Urination or defecation
  • Stiff limbs
  • Vomiting
  • Jerking movements

After the seizure episode is over, your dog may show the following symptoms during the ictal stage:

  • Disorientation
  • Pacing
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Temporary blindness; causing your dog to trip over things or run into walls or furniture
  • Confusion
  • Appear to be deaf

Treatment for Epilepsy in Dogs

Depending on the cause of epilepsy in dogs, your veterinarian will recommend a few different treatments. The most popular medications for epilepsy include:

  • Diazepam
  • Potassium Bromide
  • Dilantin
  • Mysoline
  • Henobarbital

Some medications will be a one time dosage to treat epileptic seizures, where as some treatments and medications will be a lifelong process. Some dogs will become immune to certain medications and may require a change. Sometimes, in rare occasions, certain medications may worsen epileptic seizures. Talk to your veterinarian if symptoms worsen or no change is seen in your dog.