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What are Seizures?

Once the seizure is over, your horse will gradually resume normal behavior. They may seem to be dazed and exhibit some signs of depression that could last several minutes to several hours. 

Primary or idiopathic epilepsy is rare in horses. This is when there are recurrent seizures that are related to brain inflammation or a head trauma.

Seizures in horses are the same as in humans, abnormal behavioral or motor activity coming from the brain results from a dysfunction within the frontal cortex. This sudden and uncontrolled brain activity involves a small area within the horse’s brain and may trigger a partial or a full seizure.

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Seizures Average Cost

From 529 quotes ranging from $10,000 - $18,000

Average Cost

$12,000

Symptoms of Seizures in Horses

Should you witness any of these symptoms or think that your horse may be experiencing a seizure, call your veterinarian immediately for an emergency call. Be sure to note everything that your horse does while experiencing the seizure or possible seizure, this will help your veterinarian when diagnosing the episode. It may be scary to watch your horse while they are seizing, but do not leave them alone and keep all people and animals away from your horse.

Your horse will generally become unconscious. This will cause them to collapse. Try and make sure that they do not hurt themselves when they collapse and keep objects out of the way in case they flail their legs or head. Milder seizures may only cause them to stumble around, but not fall. Other symptoms to watch for include:

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Ears or tail twitching
  • Eyes glazing over
  • Abnormal licking or chewing
  • Jaw clenching
  • Profuse sweating
  • Eyes rolling up
  • Muscles of the legs or body jerking or tensing
  • Paddling of the legs
  • Bladder control loss
  • Bowel control loss
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Gradual return to normal behavior
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Causes of Seizures in Horses

The exact cause of seizures in horses is unknown, but there may be underlying health conditions that cause a horse to seize, such as infections, parasitic worm infestation or tumors. Trauma has also been linked to seizures. Exposure to toxins or metabolic changes can cause seizures.

Foals that have experienced seizures could have low glucose levels or there could have been a lack of oxygen during the birthing process. Many times, foals that have seizures, tend to outgrow them or they do not recur. 

Researchers are currently exploring a genetic link between Arabians and Paso Finos, as both breeds have a higher incident rate of seizures.

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Diagnosis of Seizures in Horses

Your veterinarian will most likely not witness the seizure or seizure like behavior. Therefore, it can be very difficult to properly diagnose. Filming the seizure if possible can be of great help to the veterinarian. Diagnostic testing is available, but it can be extremely time consuming and expensive. These tests are essential in determining the underlying cause of the seizure. 

Your horse may need to be hospitalized for a few days to be monitored and have the appropriate testing done. Your veterinarian may suggest blood tests that can indicate conditions that may lead to seizures. As well, ruling out illnesses will be an important part of the diagnostic process. Once the cause of the seizure has been identified, your veterinarian will be able to set an appropriate treatment plan.

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Treatment of Seizures in Horses

The treatment plan for your horse will be designed to help control the seizures. The seizures may never be cured, but with certain medications they can be controlled. 

There are two types of medications on the market that will help control seizures in horses. Diazepam or better known as Valium, and Phenobarbital are prescribed to control seizures. Be sure to give any medications prescribed by your veterinarian as directed and do not take your horse off any medications without first consulting your veterinarian.

Treatment of the underlying cause of seizures will vary depending on the condition. Your veterinarian will discuss all treatment options for your horse and help you decide on the best possible treatment plan to make your horse comfortable.

A horse that has suffered a seizure should not be ridden or expected to complete work until the cause of the seizure has been identified and properly treated.

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Recovery of Seizures in Horses

There are no ways to prevent seizures in horses. Managing your horse’s care is essential in maintaining your horse’s quality of life. After the seizure, your horse will return to normal activities. They may experience slight depression following a seizure.

Speak with your veterinarian regarding long term management and care of your horse as well as the expected prognosis following diagnosing the underlying cause of the seizures. Your veterinarian may need to adjust your horse’s medication as your horse becomes accustomed to the medication or the dosage amount.  

Ensure that your horse’s stall and pasture are free of items that can cause harm in the event that they collapse during a seizure. Injuries from falling onto objects or flailing their legs into objects are a great concern.

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Seizures Average Cost

From 529 quotes ranging from $10,000 - $18,000

Average Cost

$12,000

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Seizures Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Kitty

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Miniature

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9 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

Head Tic, Spasticity To Legs,
Head Tic, Spasticity To Legs, Heat
Head Tic

miniature mare with 9 week foal at foot, wormed 2 weeks ago. not on rich pasture and has no weeds in small paddock.today noticed to have an abnormal head tic, progressed to stiff spasmodic leg movements, panic going backwords, fell to ground, struggled up after just a minute. strange gait for a few seconds and then returned to normal and started eating. body was warm to touch but no obvious severe sweating. no public access so will not have had any extra food. however did commence a new bag of stud mix yesterday. stud mix is something she has been fed for some time.

Aug. 21, 2018

Kitty's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Without being able to examine Kitty, I really don't have any way to say what might be going on with her, but it sounds like it may have been a seizure, possibly. You may want to have her examined by a veterinarian and have some lab work done to make sure that everything is okay with her systemically.

Aug. 21, 2018

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MacKenzie

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Thorough

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26 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

Face Twitching
Nose Rubbing
Falling Over
Neck Bent
Circling

Have you used Gabapentin to treat horse seizures? My 26 year old Thoroughbred has focal seizures and we are trying this drug. Do you have any experiences pro or con?

July 6, 2018

MacKenzie's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Gabapentin has been used as an adjunctive therapy for the treatment of focal seizures in horses, however I don’t have any personal experience with its use in horses and cannot comment more than suggesting referring to literature for guidance; you should also discuss the use with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 6, 2018

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Seizures Average Cost

From 529 quotes ranging from $10,000 - $18,000

Average Cost

$12,000

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