Helpful Articles For Pet Owners

Seizures & Epilepsy: A Simplified Guide For Pet Owners

Paul Cunningham, DVM, MANZCVS (ECC)
February 9, 2024
5 min read
A Jack Russell Terrier dog looking sick unwell being held in the pet owner's hands

Witnessing our furry friends experience a seizure can be a frightening and distressing ordeal.

Seizures can occur suddenly and without warning, leaving us feeling helpless and unsure of how to help our beloved companions. In this post, tailored for pet owners like you, we'll discuss seizure disorders in dogs and cats, exploring the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. With the wealth of knowledge from Ready Vet Go's veterinary team, you'll be better equipped to recognize signs of seizures in your pets and provide them with the care and support they need, and when in need, Ready Vet Go can respond to treat your pet's seizures & get them the supportive care they deserve.

What are Seizures?

Seizures, also known as convulsions or fits, are involuntary, uncontrolled movements or behaviors caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. They can manifest in various forms, ranging from mild episodes of twitching or trembling to more severe convulsions involving loss of consciousness and muscle rigidity. Seizures can occur in dogs and cats of all ages, from puppies and kittens to senior pets.

Causes of Seizures in Dogs & Cats:

Seizures can have a multitude of underlying causes, including:

  1. Idiopathic Epilepsy: A neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures with no identifiable underlying cause. Idiopathic epilepsy is commonly diagnosed in dogs & typically develops in the first several years of life.
  2. Structural brain abnormalities: Tumors, infections, head trauma, or congenital defects in the brain can trigger seizures, and often advanced imaging & specialist care is needed to identify these problems.
  3. Toxicity: Ingestion of certain toxins, such as pesticides (especially snail & slug baits), heavy metals, & human medications can cause seizures.
  4. Metabolic disorders: Conditions such as hypoglycemia, liver disease, kidney failure, or electrolyte imbalances can disrupt brain function and lead to seizures.

Symptoms of Seizures in Dogs & Cats:

Signs of a seizure can vary depending on the type and severity of the episode but may include:
  • Muscle twitching or trembling
  • Stiffening of limbs
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrolled shaking or convulsions
  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Pacing or restlessness before and after the seizure
It's important to note that not all seizures look the same, and some pets may exhibit subtle signs that are easily overlooked.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options:

If your dog or cat experiences a seizure, it's essential to seek veterinary care promptly for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Your veterinarian may perform a thorough physical examination, blood tests, imaging studies (such as X-rays or MRI), and neurological evaluations to determine the underlying cause of the seizures.

Treatment options for seizures in dogs and cats may include:

  • Hospitalisation: Admission toa 24-hour vet clinic is often recommended to stabilise your pet, prevent further seizures, and begin investigation of underlying causes.
  • Anticonvulsant medications: Prescription drugs such as phenobarbital, potassium bromide, or levetiracetam can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.
  • Management of underlying conditions: If seizures are secondary to an underlying medical condition, such as liver disease or metabolic disorders, treatment of the underlying cause is essential.
In some cases, seizures may be managed successfully with medication, allowing pets to lead happy, comfortable lives despite their condition.

The Takeaway

Seizures can be a distressing and challenging experience for both pets and pet owners, but with an understanding of the condition & how to respond, you will be in a better position to help your pet if a seizure occurs. By recognizing the warning signs of epilepsy, seeking prompt veterinary care, and exploring treatment options with the guidance of Ready Vet Go, we can help manage this condition and improve the quality of life for our beloved dogs and cats. With our empathetic approach, we are equipped to be the first responders after a pet has a seizure to administer anti-epileptic drugs, stabilise their condition, and provide the necessary ambulance transport & support care they need to have the best outcome.