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Epilepsy in Dogs… Treatments, Causes, and Costs.

Now most folks have heard of epilepsy in humans and have a general understanding of what all of that entails, but what does it mean when your four-legged friend has been diagnosed with it?  That’s the real question and one that we hope to help you answer in the following article.

Then…

Throw in the fact that you’re likely hearing words like “Idiopathic Epilepsy”, “Primary Epilepsy”, “Generalized Seizures” and/or “Undiagnosed Seizure Disorder” and well, it doesn’t take too active of an imagination to see how someone what begin to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of this.

But…

Don’t be scared… epilepsy in dogs is more common than you might think, which means that you’re not alone in your situation.  In fact, epilepsy in dogs is actually one of the most common of all canine brain disorders which means that there will be a lot or resources out there for you, with this just being one of many that will help you get a better idea of what it will be like to own a dog with this condition.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Canine Epilepsy defined

Canine Epilepsy is simply a brain disorder in dogs which causes your pet to have frequent seizures.  Your furry friend may also endure cluster seizures, focal seizures, partial seizures or grand mal seizures (More on those later).

You may be wondering…

“What does a seizure look like?”

It is very important to diagnose this condition early, so keep a look out for some of these symptoms.  Seizures differ from dog to dog but here are some of the things that can happen:

  • Fainting
  • Stiff sudden movements
  • Foaming from the mouth
  • You might see your dog becoming rigid
  • Collapsing onto the ground
  • Drooling excessively
  • Chewing on their tongue
  • Landing on their sides and kicking with their legs

“What should I do if my dog is having a seizure?”

If your dog is having a seizure first of all it is important to remain calm and not yell or speak loudly.  Treat them like a crying baby, yelling is not going to make them quiet down, or in your case end the seizure.

We would not recommend…

Trying to move your pet or placing your hands near their mouth because they might bite you without controlling it. When a pet is in a seizure it’s like their hypnotized, they can’t control what they are doing, which means that they could accidently injure you while you’re trying to help them out.

One widely recommended trick…

To subdue seizures is to place your fingers and put pressure on your pet’s closed eyelids for thirty to sixty seconds to activate the vagus nerve.  This will help calm the nervous system and hopefully decrease the length of the seizure.

You may be wondering…

What type of seizures your dog is having.  There are many different types but here are some of the common ones that are harder to understand just by their name:

Focal Seizure:

Focal seizures only affects one hemisphere of the dog’s brain as it is caused by a small area of cells with increased electrical activity.  The effects of this seizure are more minor and less violent with symptoms like:

  • Only moving one side of their body
  • Jerking their head to one side
  • Lifting one paw and not the other

Grand Mal Seizure:

Grand mall seizures are the most common type of seizure (AKA a “generalized seizure”).  These seizures affect the entire body, unlike the focal seizures.  The symptoms of this seizure would be:

  • Falling to the ground
  • Losing consciousness
  • Uncontrollable movements like kicking
  • Rigidity of the body

What types of dogs does this most commonly affect?

Larger breeds are more common to have dogs with epilepsy, the most common of these breeds include:

  • Saint Bernard
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Poodle
  • Irish Setter
  • Collie
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Beagle
  • Keeshond
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Brittany Spaniel
  • Wirehaired Fox Terrier

So…. what causes this?

Canine epilepsy is believed to be caused by the brain’s electrical activity and signals  being over excited.  It can have an underlying cause like an injury, brain trauma, brain trauma, or simply no viable cause at all.

This is why….

Seizures are so hard to comprehend because they can come from absolutely nothing or be scarily life threatening.  It’s also why we here at IndulgeYourPet strongly recommend you see your veterinarian if your pet is having seizures because there could be a deadly cause such as a brain tumor, and your pet’s health is our #1 concern.

Because remember…

While we here at IndulgeYourPet do know quite a bit about animals, we’re not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who are passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.  Which in most cases is a well-informed owner and access to a loving vet!

So…

If you feel that your dog may be suffering from canine epilepsy or any other medical condition for that matter, be sure to have him or her checked out by a vet ASAP!

And in the case of…

Canine epilepsy, the good news is that there are treatments options of those suffering from frequent seizures, and the life expectancy of epileptic dogs are normal given they don’t get badly injured and die during seizure activity.

So…

Some treatment for recurrent seizures is medication which is the best option for most epileptic dogs.  Treatment is highly recommended for pets that have seizures that occur more than once a month or have cluster seizures.  Common medication options include:

  • Phenobarbital – A cheap medicine in powder form that can be fed to dogs and cats in their food.  Fed to animals twice a day(as close to 12 hours apart as possible), and proven to treat 60% – 80% of dogs.   Can completely abolish frequent seizures immediately and is a great option if it works for your pet.
  • Potassium bromide – Can take three to four months to begin working for your pet.  Although, since it has a longer half – life, the doses can be less frequent and more flexible than with phenobarbital.

The bad news is…

Treatments are not proven to work for your pet, and subsequent vet visits may have to occur which can cost upwards of $500 – $5,000 where they monitor the seizures your pet has and test for your pet’s seizure threshold.

And while we…

Can’t speak towards your financial situation, we can say for sure that the idea of paying up to $5000.00 dollars for the care of a pet can be “out of reach” for many folks.

Which is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article

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