Seizures In Dogs - Stages And Treatment [II]

Wag Wiki, last updated 11th, May 2017, Varun

In our previous segment, we discussed about seizures in dogs, the types of seizures and the possible factors that would bring up a seizure in your dog. In this segment, we will share with you the different stages of seizures and what you can do when your dog has a seizure.

Stages of Seizures

If you observe closely, a seizure occurs in phases:

Prodrome: The pre-seizure phase causes behavioral changes and can last for minutes to hours. Your dog may appear restless, pace, seek affection, salivate, whine, or hide. This stage is difficult to understand as you may not be able to link it with the possibility of the on-set of a seizure.

Aura: This is hard to determine in an animal because it is a sensory experience, but you may notice a behavioral change just minutes before a seizure.

Ictal Period: This is the actual seizure. Your dog may appear excited, vomit, salivate, run in circles, collapse, and have uncoordinated muscle activity. This stage generally lasts less than 5 minutes.

Post-Ictal Phase: After the seizure, the recovery (post-ictal) period begins. Your dog may seem disoriented, uncoordinated, and occasionally blind (temporary). This may last several minutes to days.

Most dogs will actually feel the seizure coming on and seek out the owner for comfort. During the actual seizure, a dog is unaware of his surroundings so it does little good for the owner to try to comfort the seizuring dog. It is best to be there for comfort when the dog recovers.

Dog Breeds and their relation to seizures and epilepsy

German Shepherds, Beagles, Belgian Tervurens, Dachshunds and Keeshonds. Collies, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Siberian Huskies, Cocker Spaniels, Irish Setters, Miniature Schnauzers, Wire-haired Fox Terriers, Labrador Retrievers and St. Bernards have a high incidence of idiopathic epilepsy, but inheritance has yet to be proven. Dogs as young as 6 months or as old as 5 years can show signs. If your pup is one of the breeds on the list, it doesn't mean he'll develop epilepsy. As well, just because he's not one of the vulnerable breeds doesn't mean he won't experience seizures.

What to do during a seizure

Once the seizure has started, there is little that you can do for your dog apart from comforting him. During the seizure try and comfort him by saying “it’s okay” or slowly wave your hand over his body to help him relax and calm down.

It is said that the dog is unaware of his surroundings during a seizure so the above option might be futile, but I believe that we should do whatever we can do.

Other things that you have to keep in mind are:

1. Do not put your hand in your dog's mouth. This will not help your dog and you may be bitten. (Contrary to popular belief, a dog will not swallow his tongue.)

2. To prevent injury to your dog, remove nearby sharp or hard objects (e.g.; tables and chairs). Using a towel, elevate your dogs head lightly. Use a sheet or thick towel and hold down your dog so that he / she does not try to run or walk.

3. If the dog is on a couch or human bed, lower the dog to the floor, if it can be done safely. This will avoid any injury from falls.

Treatment for Seizures

Treatment for Seizures is usually not recommended till the number of seizures is more than 10 or 12 times a year. The only reason for this is because once the medication is started, it can’t be stopped.

Treatment may be started if the seizure lasts for over 4-5 minutes at a stretch and if the pet has a cluster of seizures i.e. one seizure is immediately followed by the other (Seek advice of a vet immediately in the latter case!!)

The two most commonly used medications to treat seizures in dogs are phenobarbital and potassium bromide. Research into the use of other anticonvulsants is ongoing, and combination therapy is often used for dogs that are poorly responsive to standard treatments. Though again I would like to mention that you should keep this option as a last resort.

Lastly, make sure you check out the video attached in this article. A fair warning is that the video is very very disturbing to see, but it’s better to know what a seizure looks like in-case you ever experience it firsthand.

If you know someone whose dog suffers from a seizure, do share their article with them.

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