All Creatures Veterinary Hospital
4549 HW 62 West
Mountain Home, AR 72653
A seizure is a temporary loss of consciousness associated with severe muscle tremors, shaking, and body stiffness.
Often, the pet will lose control of the bladder and/or bowels and may foam at the mouth or vomit. Most seizures last
about 5-10 minutes and then the pet will slowly regain consciousness. There may be a long period of confusion and
disorientation during recovery from a seizure. Seizures can be a very scary experience for both the pet and owner.
Fortunately, in many cases seizures can be kept under control with medication.
If your pet has a seizure:
1. Stay calm and don't panic.
2. Do not attempt to touch or handle him/her.
3. Leave him/her on the ground and remove chairs or items from around the pet that could cause injury.
4. An animal will NOT swallow its tongue during a seizure.
5. Do not put your fingers in his/her mouth. A pet having a seizure is not aware of his/her actions and may bite you unknowingly.
6. Time the seizure. If the seizure lasts longer than 10 minutes or if seizures occur one right after another, call a veterinarian. Use a clock and do not rely on "guessing." Three minutes may seem like twenty when your pet is having a seizure.
Seizures can have many causes including poisons (lead, strychnine, permethrin, antifreeze, and others), electrolyte imbalances, low blood sugar, liver disease, brain tumors, and epilepsy. When a pet first experiences a seizure, it is important for a veterinarian to examine the pet to try to determine a cause of the seizure. Often blood-work and x-rays are performed to help determine a cause. More advanced technology such as CT scans and MRI can be performed at some referral hospitals to look for evidence of a brain tumor or brain abnormality. If all other causes of seizures are ruled out, the pet may be diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy.
Epilepsy can often be controlled with medications such as diazepam, phenobarbital, and potassium bromide. Medication may not be needed at all if seizure episodes are very mild and infrequent. Close monitoring of the pet and his/her response to medication is very important in determining what dose of medication is necessary. Blood-work may need to be done routinely to be sure blood concentrations of the medication are high enough and to monitor for liver problems that can be a side effect of some medications such as phenobarbital. Some pets may experience drowsiness when on seizure medication. This often resolves over time.
Medication does not cure epilepsy, but it can help control the frequency and severity of seizures. Treatment is lifelong. Most pets with epilepsy do not outgrow the disorder. Pet owners should keep a record of their pet's seizures noting date, time of day, length and severity of seizure, and anything that may have triggered the seizure such as a thunderstorm or other stressful event. If seizures are occurring more than once a week, last longer than ten minutes, or occur one right after another (cluster seizures), the pet should be examined by a veterinarian and medications may need to be adjusted or changed. Unfortunately in some cases such as brain cancer, medication may be only a short-term treatment, and the seizures may continue to worsen.
Many animals are successfully managed on seizure medication and enjoy a long and happy life. Close monitoring and good communication with the veterinarian are important to successful management of this disorder.
If you have questions concerning seizures, please call our office at (870) 425-5175.