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Epilepsy in Dogs… Treatments, Causes, and Costs.

Most folks have heard of epilepsy in humans and have a general understanding of what it entails, but what does it mean when your four-legged friend has been diagnosed with it? That’s the real question 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 “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.


Don’t be scared… epilepsy in dogs is more common than you might think, meaning you’re not alone. Epilepsy in dogs is one of the most common of all canine brain disorders, which means that there will be a lot of 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 that causes your pet to have frequent seizures. Your furry friend may also endure cluster, focal, partial, or grand mal seizures (More on those later).

You may be wondering…

“What does a seizure look like?”

It is essential to diagnose this condition early, so keep a lookout 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, it is essential to remain calm and not yell or speak loudly. Treat them like a crying baby; yelling will not 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 they’re hypnotized; they can’t contain what they are doing, which means they could accidentally injure you while you’re trying to help them out.

One widely recommended trick…

To subdue seizures, place your fingers and pressure 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. Now 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 affect one hemisphere of the dog’s brain, 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 focal seizures. The symptoms of this seizure would be:

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

Commonly Affected Breeds

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

So…. what causes this?

Canine epilepsy is believed to be caused by the brain’s electrical activity and over-excited signals. It can have an underlying cause like an injury, brain trauma, brain trauma, or simply no viable reason 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 at IndulgeYourPet know quite a bit about animals, we’re not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks 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 your dog may be suffering from canine epilepsy or any other medical condition, be sure to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!

And in the case of…

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

One treatment for recurrent seizures is medication, which is the best option for most epileptic dogs. Treatment is highly recommended for pets with seizures that occur more than once a month or cluster seizures. Standard 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.   It can abolish frequent seizures immediately and is an excellent option if it works for your pet.
  • Potassium bromide – Can take three to four months to begin working for your pet. Although 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 your pet’s seizures and test your pet’s seizure threshold. While we can’t speak about our financial situation, we can say that paying up to 5,000.00 dollars for the care of a pet can be “out of reach” for many folks.  This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable 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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