CURIO ITALIAN GREYHOUNDS
Quality without Compromise since 1987
Your beloved companion has just had a seizure. You are frightened, and feel utterly helpless in the face of this situation. What caused this? What happened to trigger it? What can you do to "fix" it? Can it BE fixed? What do you do to prevent or delay the next one? What can you do to help your pet?
All these questions and
more will flood your brain if your dog has a seizure. You feel helpless
and scared and want to make it all go away. You may not be able to make
them go away forever, but you CAN arm yourself with the knowledge it will take
to help your pet before, during and after a seizure, and to make their life as
near normal as possible. Knowledge is power, and knowing what to do will
help you regain some control over this condition.
what is a seizure?
seizure is an episode where an animal (in this case your IG) exhibits a sudden
change in behavior characterized by changes in sensory perception or motor
activity due to abnormal firing of nerve cells in the brain.
is a condition characterized by recurrent seizures that may include repetitive
muscle jerking called convulsions. Most
diagnosis of seizures in dogs, particularly in instances where the seizures
begin before the age of 5 or 6 years, are deemed “Idiopathic Epilepsy”,
which basically means “we don’t have a clue what is causing the seizure
activity”. It is believed that IE
has a genetic component, and is most likely “polygenic”, meaning that the
inheritance is carried on several different gene locations.
This makes it impossible to track genetically, as there is no simple mode
of inheritance, such as “a dog which seizures will produce get that
also seize, or conversely, that dogs that have never seizured will never
produce one that does. The fact is,
any dog is capable of seizing, and of producing a dog that seizures.
Since no one spends 24/7 time with their dogs, it is impossible to know
for certain if a dog has had a seizure (particularly a petit mal episode) when
no one was around. Additionally,
some of the forms of seizure episodes are so mild, they may very well go
disorders and their classification date back to the earliest medical literature
accounts in history. In 1964, the Commission on Classification and Terminology
of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) devised the first official
classification of seizures, which was revised again in 1981. This classification
is accepted worldwide and is based on electroencephalographic (EEG) studies.
Based on this system, seizures can be classified as either focal or generalized.
Each of these categories can also be further subdivided.
focal (partial) seizure develops when a limited, confined population of nerve
cells fire their impulses abnormally on one hemisphere of the brain. (The brain
has two portions or cerebral hemispheres—the right and left hemispheres.)
Focal seizures are divided into simple or complex based on the level of
consciousness (wakefulness) during an attack. Simple partial seizures occur in
patients who are conscious, whereas complex partial seizures demonstrate
impaired levels of consciousness.
generalized seizure results from initial abnormal firing of brain nerve cells
throughout both left and right hemispheres. Generalized seizures can be
classified as follows:
partial seizures can be caused by congenital abnormalities (abnormalities
present at birth*), tumor growths, head trauma, stroke, and infections in the
brain or nearby structures. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures are associated
with drug toxicity, or low levels of blood glucose (blood sugar) and sodium.
Certain medications, antihistamines, and even antibiotics can precipitate tonic-clonic
seizures, as can intolerance to vaccinations or pesticides such as flea
controls. Absence seizures are implicated with an abnormal imbalance of certain
chemicals in the brain that modulate nerve cell activity (one of these
neurotransmitters is called GABA, which functions as an inhibitor).
conditions that can cause epileptic episodes include low thyroid, which also has
a genetic predisposition. *One of the most frequent physical genetic
abnormalities that can cause seizures is a liver
Another is hydrocephaly, or “water on the brain”.
Blood tests, MRI’s and ultrasounds are necessary to confirm a liver
shunt. Hydrocephaly is generally observable to the trained eye
without further testing.
for the different types of seizures are specific.
Generalized seizures have a more complex set of signs and symptoms.
physical exam should be done on any dog that has had a seizure. This will include a complete blood count (CBC), which can be
helpful in determining whether a seizure is caused by a neurological infection,
which is typically accompanied by high fever.
A complete thyroid panel and liver panel should also be run. If drugs or
toxins in the blood are suspected to be the cause of the seizure(s), blood and
urine screening tests for these compounds may be necessary.
In some cases, an EEG or MRI may be indicated to help pinpoint the
possible cause of the seizures.
medication can be altered by many commonly used medications such as sulfa drugs,
erythromycin, warfarin, and cimetidine. Diagnosis requires a detailed and
accurate history, and a physical examination is important since this may help
identify neurological or systemic causes. In cases in which a central nervous
system (CNS) infection (i.e., meningitis or encephalitis) is suspected, a lumbar
puncture (or spinal tap) can help detect an increase in immune cells (white
blood cells) that develop to fight the specific infection.
is targeted primarily to:
The usual medications prescribed for treating seizure disorder in dogs are Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide. Both of these drugs are helpful, when prescribed and given under veterinary supervision and monitoring. Neither come without risk, and the long term use of either can affect liver function.
Melatonin is reported to be helpful in minimizing or suppressing seizure episodes, particularly the ones that occur during the night, or while the dog is sleeping.
For those dogs that experience cluster seizures, or seizures that are exceptionally strong, or long in duration, valium suppositories may be prescribed by the veterinarian for the owner to use at home to aid in breaking the seizure episode.
It is possible to
help manage a seizure dog using diet. All
seizure prone dogs can benefit from being fed a balanced diet with no grains in
them. Many dog owners with seizure
dogs are finding that feeding a raw diet that they put together in their own
kitchens, or purchase pre-made, that have no grain or preservatives in them are
of great benefit to their dogs overall health and seem to suppress the incidence
of seizure episodes.
In young puppies,
small dogs, or extremely active dogs who seizure due to low blood glucose, it is
possible to check the blood glucose level using at-home human diagnostic tools.
A dog’s normal blood glucose level should be between 80-180, and will
fluctuate during the day in response to activity and meals.
Illness can cause a change in blood glucose, as can dehydration, which
may put the dog at risk. Even an
otherwise healthy dog can seize due to these conditions.
If your dog
experiences a seizure, it is helpful to give the Karo or vanilla ice cream with
a dose of a product such as “Rescue Remedy” to bring blood glucose up and
calm the dog, thus alleviating some of the discomfort associated with the post
ictus (post seizure) state. IF you
recognize the pre ictus (pre seizure) symptoms, it is believed that a dose of
“Rescue Remedy” or other similar product may help ward off the
It is helpful to
keep a journal of your dog’s seizure activity which should include at least
the following information: Date, time of day, activity just prior (previous 24
hours) of seizure, what was fed and when, any medications or pesticides used,
any cleaning supplies used in the home, any form or injury or trauma, anything
that was “different” in the dog’s surroundings or activities.
The more information the better. By
doing this, you may eventually see a pattern or be able to identify certain
“triggers” to the seizure episodes. This
will assist you in removing as many of the triggers as possible, thereby
(hopefully) reducing the frequency and intensity of the seizures.
you have a dog that suffers from Idiopathic Epilepsy, you will probably witness
one or more seizures during your pet’s lifetime.
First of all,
stay calm. This won’t be an easy
task, as it’s extremely difficult to watch your beloved companion in the
throes of a seizure and feel so helpless. If
the dog is on a piece of furniture, gently move them to the floor, away from
furniture, so they don’t fall or otherwise injure themselves.
It is safe to hold them and speak to them quietly, even if they can’t
If you have other dogs, you may want to move the dog to another room where the others can’t interfere. Often, in a multi-dog household, pack members will turn on and injure or even kill a seizing dog.
that last longer than 5 minutes are cause for concern and a call/trip to a
veterinary emergency room. Another
cause for concern are cluster seizures, which basically are many seizures that
follow one another in rapid succession. Again,
a trip to the emergency vet is in order here.
Your dog may lose control of its bladder or bowels during a severe
seizure. This is not abnormal, but
doesn’t always happen.
that have moderate to severe seizure episodes can be helped at home by Valium
suppositories that can be administered by the owner.
These are prescribed and supplied by the veterinarian in charge of the
a seizure, your dog may want to sleep or may be extremely “clingy”, not
wanting to leave your side. Later, they generally will be hungry, will play and act like
your dog a teaspoon of warmed natural vanilla ice cream after a seizure can give
them a boost, helping them during the post ictal (recovery) stage.
Make SURE the ice cream you use is natural and has no added chemicals. DO NOT USE ice cream sweetened with artificial sweetener such
Other considerations for the seizure dog and their owner
Dogs that have
experienced a seizure that cannot be attributed to a drug reaction, high fever,
or temporary illness (which would indicate a condition other than epilepsy)
should NOT BE BRED.
it is the desire of a reputable breeder to breed healthy dogs, it is impossible
to accurately predict which dogs or bloodlines will produce a dog that develops
IE, and which ones won’t. Often,
seizure activity begins after a dog has already produced progeny.
In some cases, those progeny are grown and already in a breeding program.
As long as the breeder is forthcoming with known health information and
is there for support and advice if and when it is needed, it shouldn’t be a
cause for anger or finger pointing by anyone.
There are some marvelous groups dedicated to support and education for those living with dogs that suffer from seizure disorders. These groups are an invaluable tool that should be used as often as needed.
I have included links to some of them. There is also a Yahoo group for dogs with epilepsy. The book listed below is also a great help for anyone living with a seizure dog.
Owner’s Guide to Living With and Without Seizures