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What are Epileptic Seizures?

Epilepsy refers to a disorder of recurring seizures. Seizures in dogs are brought on by an abnormal level of neuronal brain activity resulting in brief episodes of uncontrolled jerking movements, momentary loss of awareness and/or loss of consciousness. Seizures can occur in all dog breeds. Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to epileptic seizures, including Beagles, Belgian Tervurens, Golden Retrievers, Keeshonds and Labrador Retrievers. Left untreated, seizures may become more frequent and the severity can become life-threatening.The characterization of recurrent seizures is a neurological disorder, commonly referred to as "Epilepsy." The cause for seizures is broad, in some cases correlated with trauma, toxins, brain tumor(s), or an infection. It can also be chalked up to an issue with your dogs blood, kidney, or other key organs. Don't be discouraged if your veterinarian is unable to identify the cause, in some cases, the condition can be "idiopathic" which means there is no identifiable cause.

Epileptic Seizures Average Cost

From 16 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$3,000

Symptoms of Epileptic Seizures in Dogs

Epilepsy can begin as early as 6 months or as late as 5 years of age. A seizure can occur at any time of day while the pet is awake, resting or sleeping. On average, seizures may persist for between 30-90 seconds.

The initial “prodrome and aura” stages of a seizure may include:

  • Startled or panic behavior
  • Confusion
  • Hiding
  • Clinging to owner

The seizure or “ictal” stage may include:

  • Collapse
  • Stiffness
  • Teeth grinding
  • Vocalization
  • Drooling/foaming saliva
  • Kicking/paddling limbs
  • Shivering/jerking movements
  • Urination
  • Defecation
Types

Seizures can be categorized as follows:

  • Generalized

    – Pet falls down, loses consciousness, and becomes rigid. Breathing stops for 10-30 seconds. Pet may begin to paddle or kick, chew or grind teeth, salivate, urinate and defecate. Milder forms may not involve rigidity, kicking or loss of consciousness.

  • Absence/Petit Mal

    – Short period of unconsciousness, may or may not collapse, blank stare. May be difficult to observe.

  • Partial

    – One part of the body or face may twitch, move or contort. Can progress to the entire body (a generalized seizure).

  • Complete Partial

    – Abnormal behaviors such as chewing, biting at a limb, biting the air, vocalization, hiding, vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, blindness. May last minutes to hours and may be followed by a generalized seizure.

  • Cluster

    – Multiple seizures in a row with short periods of consciousness in between. To be considered a life-threatening emergency.

  • Status

    – One continuous seizure lasting 30 minutes or longer (may be many small seizures with no consciousness in between). A life-threatening emergency.

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Causes of Epileptic Seizures in Dogs

Epilepsy in dogs can be the result of a number of conditions including:

  • Ingestion of a toxin
  • Head injury
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Anemia
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • High blood glucose
  • Low blood glucose
  • Congenital abnormality
  • Hyperthermia
  • Idiopathic epilepsy (no known cause)
  • Genetic predisposition

There is no identified trigger of the seizure itself. Seizures may occur during periods of excitability, rest or sleep.

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Diagnosis of Epileptic Seizures in Dogs

If you feel your pet is exhibiting symptoms of epileptic seizure, you will want to schedule an appointment to bring her to the veterinarian for an examination. Video recording of the seizure activity can be helpful for the veterinarian (if possible). As seizure times are short, your pet may be over the episode by the time you reach the clinic. An examination is still important to identify the cause of the seizure and rule out any life-threatening possibilities.

Your veterinarian will need a detailed history including when the seizure occurred, how long it lasted, the behaviors of the pet during the seizure, and how many (if any) seizures have been observed in the past. Note any possible toxins the pet may have been exposed to, recent vaccinations, behavioral changes, and any recent injuries or falls.

A physical and neurologic examination will be performed. Depending on the pet’s history, a number of laboratory tests will rule out possible causes, including a complete blood cell count, blood chemistry and urinalysis. These tests will evaluate liver and kidney function and look for anemia and blood glucose levels.

Your veterinarian may order a CT scan or MRI of the brain.

If no cause of the seizure can be identified, the condition is diagnosed as primary idiopathic epilepsy (epilepsy of no known cause).

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Treatment of Epileptic Seizures in Dogs

If an underlying cause of seizure is determined, the veterinarian will treat the pet according to the diagnosis. If this is your pet’s first seizure, and no cause of seizure was identified, the veterinarian will likely ask you to continue to monitor your pet for future seizures and report back if one occurs. Treatment is not begun for epilepsy until multiple seizures have occurred or are so severe that treatment is warranted.

Each single seizure is not necessarily an emergency requiring a veterinarian visit. During each seizure:

  • Remain calm
  • Note the time of onset
  • Place your pet on the floor, on his side, away from sharp objects or furniture
  • If outdoors, bring your pet in the shade to prevent hyperthermia
  • Keep hands away from your pet’s mouth
  • Speak quietly and gently to your pet
  • Note the time the pet has recovered
  • Record any specific seizure behaviors observed

Notify the veterinarian when possible to give them the date, time of onset, and duration of any seizure. This information will help the veterinarian determine the treatment protocol.

If your pet does not come out of the seizure within a few minutes or if you have other concerns for your pets safety, always visit the veterinarian.

The usual treatment for epilepsy is oral phenobarbital, potassium bromide (KBr), or Gabapentin given daily, often for life. A blood test may be required prior to beginning treatment to examine kidney and liver function. Blood tests every 2-4 weeks will determine blood concentration of the medication. The veterinarian will increase or decrease the dose as needed until an optimal treatment protocol is determined.

If a pet is having a long or severe seizure, the veterinarian may give intravenous diazepam to bring the pet out of the seizure. The veterinarian may supply you with valium to be given rectally should your pet have a seizure at home.

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Recovery of Epileptic Seizures in Dogs

Follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely. Never skip a dose of seizure medication or stop medication abruptly as this can result in severe seizures. Keep your home environment safe. Swimming can be particularly dangerous for an epileptic pet. Pets on potassium bromide may need to eat a reduced salt diet.

Blood tests for certain seizure medications including phenobarbital will need to be conducted every 2-4 weeks until a proper dose is determined and then every 6-12 months to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Treatment for epileptic seizures is not curative. It is an attempt to decrease the frequency and severity of the seizures. Once your veterinarian decides to begin treatment, it takes time and trial and error to find the correct medication dose. Follow your veterinarian's instructions closely, keep a record of seizure activity, and notify your veterinarian when seizures occur.

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Epileptic Seizures Average Cost

From 16 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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Epileptic Seizures Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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dog-breed-icon

mini collie

dog-age-icon

8 months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Laying Around

She was running around in the backyard playing and bumped her head on a tree chasing his rope swing and had a seizure that last maybe a couple minutes then went and laid down and won’t really do much is this normal right after having a seizure? Vet said just monitor her

July 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello It sounds like she sustained some head trauma after hitting her head. If she had a seizure, it is recommended that you take her to a veterinarian right away. They may want to perform skull x-rays and give pain medication, and possibly treat for head trauma. Good luck.

July 20, 2020

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dog-breed-icon

mini collie

dog-age-icon

8 months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Laying Around

She was running around in the backyard playing and bumped her head on a tree chasing his rope swing and had a seizure that last maybe a couple minutes then went and laid down and won’t really do much is this normal right after having a seizure? Vet said just monitor her

July 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello It sounds like she sustained some head trauma after hitting her head. If she had a seizure, it is recommended that you take her to a veterinarian right away. They may want to perform skull x-rays and give pain medication, and possibly treat for head trauma. Good luck.

July 20, 2020

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Kobe

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures

We have a Chesapeake Bay retriever who is 1 1/2 years old. The end of March of 2018 our pup started to have seizures. Had 4 the first time and we took him to the ER Animal Hospital, they did blood work and stated it was not environmental, and suggested an MRI and Spinal Tap. He has since been on Phenobarbital, and Keppra (generic pill) now and MRI and Spinal Tap were just completed this week. He have taken him to a neurologist for animals and she also stated MRI and Spinal Tap just to rule out other items. The MRI came back normal but the Spinal Tap his WBC was 8 and the neurologist said 5 was normal. Now she wants to do some more blood testing for Tick diseases, Limes disease, Meningitis and Protozoal infection. This is getting very expensive and after his MRI and Spinal Tap, he can't walk very far and we used to walk 3 miles a day. Currently on Phenobarbital 60 mg 1 1/2 pills every 12 hours Levetiracetam ER 500 mg 2 pills ever 12 hours - recently has been drooling which he usually has seizures when this occur res. Neurologist stated to give him 2 pill extra at one time during mid day for 3 days to see if this helps with drooling We live in DFW area of Texas and is current on all his shots

June 21, 2018

Kobe's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It does make sense to pursue the elevated WBC in his spinal tap, as that means it may be a treatable disease that may get worse without treatment, and better with treatment. The medications that he is on may be contributing to him not being able to walk as far, as they can be sedating.

June 21, 2018

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Red

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Australian Cattle Dog

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Muscle Atrophy
Seizures
Hair Loss
Limping
Fatigue
Not Playing
Whining
Sad
Weight Gain
Exercise Intolerance

hi, about a month ago our 4-5 y/o rescued blue heeler had his first cluster of seizures after 3 months without any (he had started Zonasimide and it seemed to be working). he's been on phenobarbital + zonasimide since, but the seizures are still happening every 1-2 weeks, and every time it happens they're in clusters. giving him 1 extra dose of pheno makes the clusters stop, but idk why they keep happening. he's also shedding WAY more than he used to, he's gaining weight, his poop starts out solid but by the end of the day it's liquid, he drags after 15 mins of walking (he used to be able to go for an hour no problem), and he's even more tired and apathetic than he used to be--he's always been a lazy dog and would only play when really excited, but now he won't play at all, ever. he also whines VERY often, even after we've let him outside, fed him, given him attention, etc. it's like he's constantly in pain and he looks sad all the time, and he sleeps probably 20 hours a day. also, he has severe muscle atrophy on his front right limb from past trauma, causing him to limp, but even though we walk him for at least 45 mins a day it will not get better and he won't put weight on it, but it doesn't seem to hurt him to put weight on it? we are so distraught that something seems wrong with him, but he just had bloodwork done at the vet last week and all of his values are within the normal range. in the past they've ruled out all medical causes for the seizures besides epilepsy or a neurological issue, and his leg has been ruled as just muscle atrophy. what is wrong with him and why is he so sad? ): he acts like a senior dog but he's only 4 or 5 years and we're scared that something is underlying all these issues.

March 25, 2018

Red's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

From the things that you describe with Red, it would be a good idea to seek a referral to an internal medicine specialist. He has a number of concerning signs and problems. An internal medicine specialist will be able to further examine him, beyond screening bloodwork, and may be able to give you some insight into what might be going on, and what you might be able to do for him.

March 25, 2018

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Marley

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Cockapoo

dog-age-icon

7

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

We have a cockapoo who only has a seizure when he gets bathed (which we no longer do, we just use a washcloth here and there). He begins to tremble,his eyes bulge, he loses his bowels, stiffens, will fall over and doggie peddles. It's traumatic for all of us. How do we fix this so i can bathe him? It's been 2 years. He's developing a large amount of skin tags and i think it's the oils on the skin. I have to buzz him because no groomer will without bathing him first. Help!

Nov. 1, 2017

Marley's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

One option is to use a waterless shampoo to help clean Marley if taking a bath is traumatic for him; but apart from that I can only recommend trying to ease his stress slowly over time by introducing him slowly to a bath, start by placing him in the bath with no water multiple times and praise him for his bravery, afterwards place him in the bath with an inch of water and again praise him for his bravery. This could be built up over time to allow him to take a bath but there is no short term fix. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 1, 2017

my three year old pom bell has had 5 seizures. we don't want to take her to the vet because we are worried its to expensive. she has head some head falls before witch has lead us to believe she has epilepsy. should we go to the vet????

Nov. 28, 2017

Sofia C.

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Sancho

dog-breed-icon

Mutt

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures

My dog started having seizures when he was about a year old. When they occurred every two week we decided together with the vet that was time to medicate. We went to a special clinic and he got tested for literally anything and then we got the diagnosis idiopathic epilepsy. So then we started the medication. First he got Pexion but that didn’t help at all. Now he is on Phenobarbital 25mg 3 Tabletts a day. We had periods with a seizure every 6 months, now are back at every 3 months or so. He is 8 years old now and has a great life despite of it. His seizures are not as harsh as others dog have them. He is conscious, does not get aggressive, can sometimes even walk (of course we don’t encourage him walk intentionally), does not pee himself (unlike the first time). He does however have generalized seizures and they can be a few minutes. For that we have diazepam at hand that is administered rectally. We came to know situations that can trigger a seizure and avoid those or make sure he has enough relaxation after stressful days. So all in all he has a happy life with occasional complications. Also he loves to take his medicine because it means turkey ham ;)

dog-name-icon

Bandit

dog-breed-icon

hound mix

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Weight Loss
Hair Loss
Whining
Paddling
Hair Loss Weight Loss Lethargic

My dog bandit is a 130 pound mutt, ive had him since he was 10 weeks old, he started having seizures at four years old. He had two that night. I have never been more scared in my life. Our puppy athena alerted us just minutes before he began seizing, mind you this was bandit first time every seizing. His first one lasted about 2 minutes, he had foaming of the mouth, was paddling all four paws, shaking uncontrollably and defecated as well as urinated on himself. While i rushed to get shoes on and grab a blanket for him he began his second seizure. When he calmed down with that one about 3 minutes later, my husband carried him to the car and i rushed him to the emergency vet. He had one more that night before they got him under control. After he came home they had him on phenobarbital. He had a couple seizures here and there while he got used to the medication. About a month ago the worst thing that could happen did, bandit began having a seizure that lasted almost 5 minutes. once he came out of it and could walk we got him to the emergency vet, where they decided to keep him for the night. Bandit ended up staying for 3 nights, the twenty four hours following bandits first seizure were filles with multiple seizures. He had about 12 in a twenty four hour period. The only way they could keep him from having more was to sedate him. Finally after the 25th hour he had no more. Since coming home bandit now walks around whining, he is also having significant hair loss as well as weight loss. My big boy who had once been 130 pounds is sitting at about 105. The vet has no explanation as to why he is experiencing seizures the way he is as they gave him antibiotics when he first started having them hoping it was just from an infection. We sit with no answers and are constantly scared to leave him alone.

dog-name-icon

Sunny

dog-breed-icon

miniature dachshund

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures

My two year old miniature dachshund has what appears to be two very short seizures first one July (18) and second October (18). Both times he was stressed and barking like crazy at another dog,turned to run away and fell losing control of all limbs and in a state of panic. About 10 minutes later he was able to walk properly again and about 30 minutes later he wanted to eat dinner but was continually scratching his way and ears. The following day he is super clingy and won’t leave our side even coming to the bathroom when we go. Is this normal?

Epileptic Seizures Average Cost

From 16 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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