Seizures are on of the most common neurological problems that occur in dogs. A seizure is abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can occur as full or grand mal seizures or partial seizures. Grand mal seizures cause the dog to be unresponsive, paddling, foaming at the mouth and lose control of bladder and bowel. This type of seizure may last from a few seconds to several minutes. If the seizure last more than 5 minutes you need to seek immediate veterinary attention. Partial seizures may only cause stiffness or a strange behaviour like “fly catching” where the dog continuously turns his head and tries to catch imaginary flies. Other partial seizure symptoms can include stiffness, lack of co-ordination, loss of consciousness, shaking and altered vision.
There are many different causes of seizures. Here I have listed a few of the most common.
Genetic Epilepsy– Certain breeds tend to have seizures. This is due to a genetic tendency towards electrolyte imbalances in the brain. If these imbalances occur. seizures can result. Breeds affected are Poodles, German Shepherds, Keeshonds, Belgian Tervurens, Beagles, Irish setters, Saint Bernards, Wirehaired fox terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Labrador retrievers and Golden retrievers. Cross breds of these breeds can also be affected.
Brain tumors–both cancerous and non cancerous brain tumors can cause seizures
Liver disease–Shunts and acquired liver problems can cause seizures. Toxin build up in the body is the reason for this.
Kidney disease can also cause toxin build ups which can lead to seizures.
Toxic substances including over the counter flea products,food additives, vaccinations, lead, common cleaning products and household chemicals can cause seizures.
Food allergies can also trigger seizures in susceptible dogs.
Low blood sugar particularly in toy breed dogs can lead to seizures.
Cancer can cause seizures as can severe worm infestations and vitamin B deficiency.
Head trauma is also a possible cause of seizures.
If your dog experiences a seizure your veterinarian may suggest blood work to rule out whether the problem is in the brain or outside the brain. He or she may recommend a referral to a veterinary neurologist for evaluation. The neurologist may recommend a CT scan, MRA or other specialized tests.
Treatment for seizures depends on the cause. Medication such as Phenobarbital or Potassium Bromide are commonly dispensed by conventional practitioners. Holistic treatments include a diet change to a raw or cooked homemade diet, acupuncture, herbal supplements and sometimes exercise therapy. If your dog has been diagnosed with seizures, seek the advice of a holistic veterinarian. There are many alternatives to conventional medications.