November is Epilepsy Awareness Month
Seizures can happen to dogs or cats at any age. There are many different causes of seizures. Some animals may only have 1 seizure in their lifetime while others will have to go on medication for the rest of their life. Having a good relationship and communication with your Veterinarian, testing, and follow-ups will help in keeping the seizures controlled. It may take a while to get there so being patient is very important as well.
There are many different types of seizures:
- Grand-mal (tonic-clonic): The whole body will stiffen, then start violently shaking. It is VERY important not to put your hands near your pet’s mouth. He cannot swallow his tongue but may bite you without knowing it. If you are able to get your pet on his side, that is the best way to help him. When he comes out of this seizure, he will start paddling his legs and may not be aware of his surroundings. This is known as the post-ictal stage.
- Petite-mal: This type of seizure is more of a staring type of seizure. Your pet is still not aware of his surrounding and is non-responsive, but with this seizure there is no shaking. Once out of the seizure, there will still be a post-ictal stage.
- Facial seizure: These seizures may vary between twitching of the eye to what is known as “bubble gum chewing” or “fly biting.” Your pet may or may not be aware and sometimes can come out of these seizures when you talk to him.
If your pet starts having seizures, an exam by your Veterinarian is very important. If it is a 1st time seizure for a dog, then there are a couple of options depending on the type of seizure. The doctor may suggest bloodwork and start medication depending on your dogs age or wait and see if another one happens. If it is a cat, an exam is very important. Seizures are more rare in cats than dogs.
There are different diagnostics that can be done to see why your pet is having seizures:
- Cat Scan
- Spinal Tap
Some seizures can be idiopathic, which means we do not know the cause. Other causes of seizures can be toxins, hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), hyperthermia (fever), or brain tumor. This is where having a good relationship with your Veterinarian is important. The doctor will know how to best treat your pet and refer you to a specialist (Neurologist) if needed.