Dogs with seizure disorders have special care requirements that will often encompass many different things, such as medications, regular trips to the vet for monitoring, vigilance to spot the potential signs of a seizure in the making, and having a procedure to follow during a seizure to keep the dog safe and aid their recovery.
Seeing a dog having a seizure can be very frightening and distressing, particularly if your dog does not have a diagnosed disorder or if you have never seen a dog having a seizure before. There are a number of common misunderstandings about dogs and seizures that many dog owners make, and so in this article we’re going to cover five of them and examine the truth behind them.
Read on to learn about five things that dog owners often misunderstand about seizures in dogs.
When we talk about seizure disorders in dogs, many people automatically think of epilepsy; and epilepsy is perhaps the best-know condition to affect both dogs and people that can cause seizures.
However, not even all types of epilepsy cause what most of us think of as fits or seizures, and there are a number of other health conditions that can cause seizures too, as can other things such as poisoning, and secondary complications of other health conditions.
Whilst epilepsy is likely to be one of the things your vet considers when they make a diagnosis as a result of dog seizures, this may not be the final diagnosis, and your vet is unlikely to make an immediate diagnosis on the spot.
They will probably need to run a range of tests on your dog, monitor them for some time and take a complete background of your dog’s health and lifestyle just to determine the root of the problem – and identifying the underlying issue is important in order to manage it effectively.
Most of us have a clear image in our heads when we think of seizures, and this picture is usually something obvious and unmissable.
However, seizures don’t always look like seizures, and they are not all dramatic and protracted. Some dogs will undergo a variety of different types of seizures, varying in intensity and duration; others may only ever suffer from seizures so brief and mild that you can easily miss them.
A seizure may take just a few seconds, several minutes, or much longer; and whilst some seizures are acute and obvious, others may simply take the form of the dog appearing to zone out and become unresponsive for a few seconds at a time now and then.
Many people think that undergoing a seizure can result in the dog swallowing their tongue, but this is a physical impossibility, and is for people too!
However, your dog could bite the tongue or the inside of their mouth when having a seizure, which can further worsen the issue as you also have to deal with the aftermath of an injury your dog won’t even remember acquiring too.
Never attempt to put your hands in the mouth of a dog having a seizure, and keep your hands well clear of their head, as you risk an accidental bite if you try to intervene.
There are a wide range of different treatment protocols and medications that can be used to help to manage and control seizure disorders in dogs, and when your vet has found the right approach these can dramatically reduce the severity and duration of seizures, make them less common, and sometimes, stop them from happening for long periods of time.
However, medications cannot outright cure fits and seizures, and unless your vet finds an underlying health problem at the root of the seizures that can itself be cured, your dog might well have to live with their seizure disorder for life.
Even epilepsy and other serious seizure disorders can be greatly eased with the right combination of medications and care; but these form part of the condition’s management, and do not constitute a cure.
We often find the sight of seizures quite shocking, and this is because witnessing one is unusual for most of us, and they can happen so quickly. By no means all (or even most) seizures come with clear prior indicators of a seizure developing, but some do, and if you get to know your dog and the patterns that their seizures take, you may be able to predict the onset of future ones too.
You should monitor and record your dog’s seizures and day to day activities, and see if you can identify trends such as your dog acting strangely or being overly tired in the run-up to a seizure, or if they go off their food or appear distressed.
Being able to identify the signs that result in a seizure can help you to ensure that your dog is somewhere safe and calm when it happens, enabling you to mitigate the effect that it has on your dog.
Your vet should be able to tell you about some of the behaviours that can serve as pointers to the onset of seizures, and they will also be able to suggest the best way to prepare for a seizure if you do spot warning signs.