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Epileptic Pets Can Still be Affectionate Loving Companions

Epilepsy and pets – epilepsy and cats and dogs

Epileptic pets can still be compassionate loving companions

Among all the diseases I encounter in my practice, one of the most notable is epilepsy. For most owners, the sight of their pet having an epileptic seizure is a traumatic experience that will cause them to be anxious about their pet’s future. Fortunately many dogs with epilepsy can have their condition adequately controlled with the appropriate medication.

Epilepsy is one of the many diseases that can cause seizures and should be distinguished from other conditions and problems such as hypoglycemia, liver problems, poisoning, heart problems, infection and neoplasia. The use of blood tests, radiology, electrocardiogram, ultrasound, MRI and other tests help the veterinarian rule out other conditions similar to epilepsy.

An epileptic seizure is preceded by the aura, a stage in which the pet senses that the seizure is about to take place. The owner might notice a change in his pet’s behaviour, as it may try to hide from or stay close to the owner, complain or become aggressive. After these preliminary signs the seizure itself, called ictus will take place. The dog will become unconscious and fall on its side. Its legs will become rigid and paddling movements can be seen. Many dogs will tend to urinate or defecate at this stage. Although the seizure seems to last a long time, it usually does not exceed two or three minutes. During the post-ictal period, the dog will become confused and disoriented. It can also pace or even become blind for a while. In between episodes the pet will appear normal both physically and mentally.

During the crisis, or ictus, care should be taken to prevent the pet from hurting itself. Remove furniture in close proximity to your pet and prevent the animal from falling downstairs. Do not try to put your hands in its mouth as you can be bitten very badly. Should your pet ever experience such episodes you should have it examined promptly to determine if epilepsy is the problem. If epilepsy is diagnosed the medical approach taken will depend on the frequency and intensity of the seizures.

Many drugs are available to control epilepsy and are used when epileptic seizures become too frequent or intense, but one should not expect the medication to cure the problem. The goal of the therapy is to reduce the intensity, frequency and duration of the seizures. Controlling epilepsy usually means lifelong treatment. The assiduity and regularity with which the owner gives his dogs its medication is extremely important. By giving the appropriate medication at the right dosage, for most pets, the condition will be well-controlled. An epileptic pet which has its condition under control will remain a very appreciated member of the family.

Article courtesy of Dr. Bernier
Montreal West Veterinary Hospital

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