The Dangers of Epilepsy: Spotting the Signs and Protecting Your Pet

Seizures or fits are distressing to witness for any pet owner, especially when they are unexpected and a sudden occurrence. They happen when unusual electrical activity in your pet’s brain causes them to lose control of their muscles and shake for what can be just a few seconds, or several minutes.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Seizures can be caused by many things, including poisons, injury, illness or a condition called epilepsy that can cause frequent fits without proper treatment. However, some pets can have an unexplained ‘one off’ seizure. . It’s important that pet owners are able to recognise what’s happening and know how to react if the situation occurs.

Spotting the signs

“Pets cansometimes behave strangely just before a seizure is about to happen. Some animals may look dazed and stare off into the distance,others might seem confused and nervous. If your pet suffers from epilepsy, you are likely to become aware of their individualbehavioural patterns and begin to be able to recognise when a seizure may be about to occur.

Managing the situation

“In the unfortunate event that your four-legged friend has a seizure, there are several things you can do to keep them as safe as possible. While it can be a frightening situation, it’s important to remain calm and take steps to help your pet.

“Make sure any children or other pets are kept well away from the area. The same goes for any furniture or wires – your pet needs to be in a clear space without risk of injury. Don’t try to restrain them, as this could end up with one or both of you being accidentally hurt.

“Bright lights or loud noises can be triggers, so ensure that all lights are turned off and noise is kept to a minimum. Pets can overheat easily during a fit, so keep them cool by opening a window and give them plenty of space, don’t be tempted to touch them.

Reassurance and recovery

“Once the seizure has subsided, your pet will probably be very dazed and confused. To help recovery, some pets may prefer quiet time in a comfortable safe space whileothers may crave reassurance from you. – If this is the case, calmly stroke them while speaking softly, to help them feel  at ease.

Treating the condition

“If the fitting lasts more than five minutes or your pet has more than one seizure over a 24-hour period, you should call your vet straight away so they can provide advice and treatment.

“While there isn’t a cure for epilepsy, in most cases it can be managed with lifelong medication and regular check-ups. As long as you work with your vet and follow advice, your four-legged friend can go on to live a happy and normal life.”

PDSA is the UK’s largest 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

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