Just as with humans’ epilepsy can affect our pets too. Knowing what symptoms to look out for is key, so PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing has provided some suggestions for owners.
“It’s very upsetting when your pet unexpectedly has a seizure, but it’s important to try and stay calm. In epileptic pets, seizures can be triggered or made worse by something in the pet’s environment, like bright, flashing lights, loud noises, high levels of excitement or stress.”
Bursts of unusual electrical activity in your pet’s brain, like an electrical storm, cause seizures. Epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures however there can be many other causes.
Nina added: “Seizures can show themselves in different ways. Most people would recognise a seizure where a pet loses consciousness, collapsing with a rigid body and paddling their legs and they’ll often lose control of their bladder and bowels in this kind of fit, however, there can be less dramatic signs.
Treatment varies depending on the cause of the seizures. Sadly there’s no cure for epilepsy but it can usually be managed with medication and regular check-ups. Most epileptic pets go on to live very happy and normal lives, when managed by their vet.”
Epilepsy is often caused by a genetic fault passed from their parents so is more common in certain breeds or lines of pedigree dogs. Affected dogs usually start to show signs at around six months to six years old, although it can develop at any age.
Here’s Nina’s advice if your pet has a seizure:
“It’s important you don’t try to restrain them as they’ll be unaware of their surroundings and may accidentally hurt you. Stay calm and clear a space around your pet so they can’t injure themselves on furniture or wires.”
“Keep children and other pets away and turn off lights, TVs and radios, as noise and light could make the seizure worse. Keep a note of how many seizures your pet has and how long they last. If your dog has been having a seizure for longer than five minutes or has had more than one seizure in quick succession, call your vet immediately.”
After a seizure your pet is likely to be dazed and confused or very sleepy.
Nina said: “Provide somewhere calm and comfortable for recovery and call your vet after your dog has had a seizure even if they seem well.
“Depending on their medical history, your vet may want to monitor your pet closely, or perform investigations.”
By working as a team, owners and their vets can make their pets comfortable. Regular vet checks will ensure medication prescribed is effective in controlling seizures, so pets can lead a normal, happy life.
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk.