If your dog has seizures, it is best to get them seen by a vet sooner rather than later in order to help stop the condition progressing.
You should certainly see a vet if they have:
- More than two seizures in 24 hours
- Seizures for more than two minutes
- More than two seizures in six months
- Recurrent tremors
Your vet will be able to provide treatment to reduce the frequency of seizures but not cure the condition.
The initial goal of treatment is to reduce the frequency of seizures by at least 50% within four weeks, although some dogs do experience full remission.
In 25 to 33% of cases the dog will require more than one medication.
There are two medications licensed for treating primary epilepsy in dogs. The first is Phenobarbital which is often prescribed under the trade name EpiphenTM and the other Imepitoin is prescribed under the trade name PexionTM.
Potassium bromide (prescribed under the trade name LibromideTM) is licensed for uncontrolled epilepsy in dogs.
Some drugs for humans may be used for dogs but they are a last resort because they may not work as well in dogs.
Your dog is likely to experience side effects from their medication, such as thirst and hunger which can result in increased urination and weight gain.They may also become tired, wobbly, excited or start panting. Side effects often get better after a few weeks of treatment.
It is important to always administer the medication exactly as instructed by your vet and not miss a dose.
When you notice your dog having a seizure it is understandable to want to comfort them but it is best not to go near them, especially their mouth, because they may accidentally bite you.
Be assured they are not in pain and won’t swallow their tongue although in rare cases they may bite it.
It can be distressing watching your dog having a seizure but try to stay calm and take the following practical steps to help them.
- Move any dangerous objects out of the way
- Turn off any lights or anything noisy like the television or radio
- Note down when the seizure started and when it ends – this will help the vet diagnose them
- Consider if anything may have triggered the seizure such as stress or an unusual environment. Exercise is not considered a trigger
- Film them to give the vet a clearer picture of what happened
- If the seizure lasts several minutes then they may overheat which can lead to brain damage. If this happens, try to cool them using a fan for example.
Follow these steps every time they have a seizure and present the notes to the vet to help them assess the best treatment for your dog.
Once the seizure is over, you may need to wait before comforting your dog because they may still not recognise you. If they are seeking your attention then it is safe to reassure them.
Their prognosis depends on how often they have seizures. Most dogs with epilepsy are able to live a perfectly normal life with medication to control the frequency of their seizures.
If they have several seizures in a short period of time then they are at risk of brain damage.
In the most extreme rare cases they may end up in a coma.
They may also need to have regular blood tests because the medication they are on could
build up in the liver and impact its function.
Our expert team of neurologists will be able to help find the most suitable treatment to give your dog the best chance of living a normal life.