One of the most traumatic events to witness is a pet that is having a seizure. Even though most seizures last only a minute or two at most, they seem to go on forever, to anyone watching.
It’s helpful in making a diagnosis if you carefully keep track of the pattern of your pets seizures by marking on a calendar when they occur and a description of what took place. It’s important to differentiate a seizure from other problems that have similarities to them, especially if the pet loses consciousness, which can notably occur with heart and breathing diseases.
The overwhelming majority of seizures in pets stems from idiopathic epilepsy. The cause of this is unknown, although prior head trauma can lead to it. Other causes can include low blood sugar, low blood calcium, toxins and brain tumors.
A seizure may be accompanied by the following signs, either alone or in combination:
- Stiff muscles followed by rhythmic contractions or running motion of the legs
- Facial twitching and chomping of the jaws
- Urination, defecation and overly salivating
If your pet is experiencing a seizure, it’s important to minimize the chance of your pet hurting itself. Move furniture or other objects that can cause injury, and keep children away. Do not put your hand in its mouth if it turns blue because your pet won’t swallow its tongue. The blue color will go away when the seizure subsides.
Most seizures rapidly run their course, and your pet will return to normal in a short period of time. If the seizure does not subside or repeats itself fairly soon, then your pet must get immediate veterinary care to stop the seizure. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence.
A veterinarian should examine any pet that has a seizure since there are a multitude of causes for them. Several different types of diagnostic tests will be recommended depending on your pet’s breed, age, physical exam findings and pattern of seizures. Sometimes, a diagnosis can be made with a simple blood test; other times, sophisticated assessments like brain-wave scans and MRIs are needed.
Monitor the correct level of phenobarbitol in the blood stream every six months, and adjust the dose accordingly.
Depending on the diagnosis, your pet might be given a specific treatment to cure the problem or put on anticonvulsant medication to control the problem. The most common anticonvulsant medication used is phenobarbital, and if it’s prescribed, it will be used for the rest of your pet’s life. The blood level needs to be checked every six months to ensure that your pet is on the proper dose. This is easily accomplished with a blood test.
You can learn much more about seizures in animals by following this link on our website.