Epilepsy is a fairly common seizure disorder. Epilepsy is widely believed to be genetic, and it affects up to 5.7% of the canine population.
Certain breeds are more prone to epilepsy than others, with Belgian Shepherds, beagles, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, keeshonds, and vizslas most susceptible.
Canine epilepsy is most commonly managed with medications such as Phenobarbital, imepitoin, and other anti-seizure pills. One of the most common side effects of medication – particularly Phenobarbital – is weight gain. Dogs are notoriously stubborn about taking medications, and this daily routine can be stressful for both dog and owner. A pet with epilepsy must take medications at the same time each day, so maintaining a set routine is a necessity. For certain pets, seizure medication can stop a seizure the moment it occurs. These dogs must have access to their medications at all times.
A dog’s daily life might change after the diagnosis of epilepsy. There are three types of epilepsy: reactive, secondary, and primary. If a dog has reactive epilepsy, seizure episodes occur in response to an external stimulus, such as low blood sugar. For these pets, seizure triggers must be managed.
Additionally, a dog’s living quarters must be seizure-proofed for when the owner is not home to monitor the dog’s health. Epileptic dogs should be kept in a kennel or empty room in order to keep the pet from injuring itself during a seizure. Additionally, epileptic dogs might have to be separated from their canine siblings, as dogs might instinctually attack the dog during a seizure.
Epileptic dogs that frequently swim should be fitted for a life vest, as a seizure while swimming can result in drowning.
During and After Seizures
For the pet owner, seizures are terrifying to witness. However, for your pet they will become a way of life. You might be surprised that after a particularly scary seizure your dog is back to his or her normal self within only a few hours. However, it is important to note that dogs can be temporarily blind or sensitive to light and sound immediately following an episode. Keep this aspect in mind by dimming lights or turning down the television.
Ultimately, epileptic dogs are able to live high-quality lives with proper management and care.
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Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.