3628 Lynoak Dr. #107, Claremont, CA

The Well Dog Place

Dr. Ken Tudor Holistic Veterinarian

Holistic Dog Treatments 03 | My Dog Started Having Seizures - Now What?

What are seizures?

Seizures are uncontrolled, random firing of brain signals. They interfere with normal brain function so your dog losses voluntary control of movement, vocalization, bladder and bowel control.

What are the symptoms of seizures?

In the worst form, dogs show violent muscle jerking, fall to the ground on their side with their head thrown backwards as they continue to jerk. They may foam at the mouth, scream and urinate and defecate uncontrollably. Generally, seizures will last only 30 seconds to a minute. It always seems longer to the owner witnessing this distressing symptom. Fortunately, the dog does not feel anything and does not know it is happening. It is not true that dogs will swallow their tongue and suffocate, so don’t try to grab the tongue and get bit! After the seizure your dog will seem out-of-it but fully functional. In ½ to 1 hour she will be back to normal. Short seizures like this are not an emergency, unless they are happening multiple times in the same day or if the seizures become long. If the seizure continues for more than a few minutes, safely roll your dog unto a blanket, sheet rug, scoop them up and rush to the nearest veterinarian. Continuous muscle contractions can raise the body temperature over 107 degrees Fahrenheit and result in permanent brain damage. Dogs experiencing shorter, infrequent seizures don’t need emergency care but should be seen by a veterinarian a soon as possible.

 

Milder forms of seizure activity are minor facial contractions (ticks), random episodes of teeth chattering or episodes of incoordination. You should consult your veterinarian about these symptoms as well, but a visit to the emergency room is not necessary.

 

What causes seizures?

Seizures are a symptom with many causes. Low blood sugar, unbalanced electrolytes (sodium, potassium or calcium) in the blood, irregular heartbeats from diseased hearts, drugs (legal and illegal), pesticides and some chemicals can all cause seizures. Brain diseases like infections (bacterial, fungal and viral), tumors and epilepsy are the most common causes of seizures.

 

How are seizure treated?

Treatment for severe seizures is always hospitalization and the administration of intravenous drugs, valium or phenobarbital depending on the severity, to control seizures until the cause can be determined. Further treatment of seizures is based on the cause. Veterinarians will perform lab tests initially to check for irregularities in sugar and electrolyte levels. If drugs, pesticides or chemicals are suspected, special blood test may be performed to identify them. ECG or x-rays may be taken to identify heart problems. If abnormalities are found, treatment is targeted toward the condition responsible for the irregularities causing the seizures. Treating disease that alter blood sugar and electrolytes, heart conditions and toxicities will stop any further seizures. But what about seizures caused by something happening in the brain?

 

Tapping and analyzing spinal fluid, CAT scans and MRI’s are the only way to determine causes of seizures in the brain. The taps identify infections by bacteria, fungus and viruses. The CAT scans and MRI identify tumors or areas of plaque that may be causing the seizures. So how is epilepsy diagnosed?

 

The diagnosis of epilepsy is made after blood tests, toxin tests, spinal taps, CAT scans and MRI all have normal results. If everything else is ruled out, we veterinarians then say a dog has epilepsy. But that would cost a fortune to determine, you might say, and you would be right. That is why the diagnosis of epilepsy is generally made when a dog has normal blood work, no signs of heart disease and no history of drug or chemical exposure. Most of the time this will be accurate, but the possibility of a brain tumor must always be considered, especially if a dog stops responding to treatment for epilepsy. So how is epilepsy treated?

 

Traditional treatment of epileptic seizure is phenobarbital or Keppra (levetiracetum). Zonisamide, sodium or potassium bromide may be added to control tough cases. Over time, phenobarbital is particularly hard on the liver. Keppra has fewer liver side effects but seizure control dosing can sometimes be difficult resulting in more frequent seizures in some patients. Periodic blood testing is necessary to make sure drug levels in the blood are high enough to control seizures and the drugs are not harming the liver or other organs. Zonisamide and the bromides are generally ineffective when used alone for seizure control. If a dog has no more than 1 seizure per month, owners should carefully consider not treating traditionally as the treatment may cause more harm than the epilepsy. It is a myth that seizures cause brain damage that accumulates with continued seizures.

 

At The Well Dog Place, we take a more holistic approach to epilepsy. We have been able to provide our patients seizure-free management without the use of western drugs We recommend a ketogenic high protein, high fat diet. Research with human epileptics has shown some positive results in decreasing seizure activity by such a diet. With diet we combine a combination of Chinese herbs, western herbs, essential oils and supplements. We find the combination stops seizure activity without any side effects. That means we can treat all patients no matter how infrequently they have seizure. 

Author
Ken Tudor DVM
Dr. Ken Tudor, Holistic Veterinarian

Dr. Ken Tudor is a recognized expert and leader in the field of pet nutrition and fitness. He has developed a pet weight management program and served on the American Animal Hospital Association task force to develop their Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. He is also a frequent guest on the Pet World Insider radio show and a popular guest on the televised Pet Ex Talks-Pet Experts Empowering Pet Parents show.

Holistic Dog Treatments 03 | My Dog Started Having Seizures - Now What?

Holistic Dog Treatments

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