First, before we take a deep understanding of how epilepsy can affect pets, here are some common terms you will come across in this article about epilepsy and seizures in pets, and their definitions.
Common Terms - Epilepsy in Pets
- Automatisms - Involuntary or unconscious movements
- Autonic Seizure - Type of seizures that is characterized by a loss of muscle tone.
- Cluster Seizures - Two or more seizure in a 24-hour period usually occurring with a shorter than interval
- Focal / Partial Seizure -Only one part of the brain is affected by disruption to electrical impulses therefore only one part of the brain is affected.
- Generalized Seizure- both sides (hemispheres) of the brain are affected.
- Idiopathic Epilepsy - idiopathic means unknown cause, so this description is usually attributed to seizure where the cause isn't structural and they are assumed to be genetic.
- Interictal Period - The time between seizures.
- Myoclonic Seizure - Sudden shock-like jerking of a single muscle or groups muscle.
- Postical Period - The time immediately after a seizure ( can last seconds, minutes, hours, days ) when it is believed the brain is recovering from the seizure.
- Refractory Epilepsy - Medicine isn't effective at controlling these types of seizure.
- Status Epilepticus - A medical emergency where the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or seizures closely follow without a break in between.
- Tonic Seizure - Sudden stiffening or tensing of muscle that can last several minutes
- Tonic-clonic Seizure - a combination of both tonic and clonic seizure symptoms where the body goes stiff and then the limbs begin to jerk about ( previously called grand mal seizure).
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy - This is the most common neurological disorder found in cats and dogs and can affect around 1-3% of cats and between 0.5-6% of dogs. Seizure is a symptom of epilepsy, and not all types of seizures are caused by epilepsy. The cause of seizures in both pets and humans is dysfunction of the brain, though the specific mechanisms that cause seizures are not fully understood. Different types of seizures have different types of treatment that are recommended by your pet's veterinarian.
Phenomav is prescribed for animals that are diagnosed with neurological conditions like seizures, convulsions, epilepsy. Click here to find out more about Phenomav in Pets.
My Pet is having seizures
- There are a number of things you should attempt to observe that will help your pet's vet with a diagnosis if you think your pet is having seizures.
- Record the date and time of day the seizure occurred.
- Try also to time how long the seizure lasts.
- Remember what your pet was doing just before having the seizure. Were they acting restless or agitated, or were there any other changes in their behaviour in the days, hours or minutes before the seizure?
- Take note of any behavioural changes after the seizure.
All of this information is crucial in assisting your vet to be able to accurately diagnose and treat your pet's seizures.
Different Types of Seizures In Pets
There are two types of seizure in pets - Focal and Generalized.
Focal or also known as partial seizure only affects one part of the brain, meaning only one side or part of the body is affected by the seizure. Unlike generalized seizure affects both sides or hemispheres of the brain.
Not all seizures are caused by epilepsy. These seizures that are triggered by the presence of a toxin or metabolic imbalances are called reactive seizures and not considered to be a form of epilepsy.
Four Stages Of A Seizure
- Prondome - Stage may precede the seizure by hours or even days. In humans, they can experience insomnia, headaches or mood changes during this stage. It is unknown for the pets if they experience this stage but they can experience some behavioural changes during time.
- Aura - This is the start of the seizure. Signs your pet is in the aura stage including hiding, whining, salivation, trembling, affection-seeking, restlessness, nervousness, wandering. apprehension and hysterical running.
- Icutys- This is the actual seizure. Your pet will experience a sudden increase in the tone of all muscle groups. The ictus can be either tonic or tonic-clonic and usually lasts around 1 to 3 minutes.
- Prostictus - Immediately after a seizure,, your pet may be disoriented, confused, restless, wander, be unresponsive or may experience transient blindness. The animal is conscious, but not functional. Sometimes this is only the sign your pet has had a seizure as they often occur at night or in the early hour of the morning.
Types of Seizures Caused By Epilepsy
Seizures caused by epilepsy can generally be classified into three categories :
- Idiopathic Epilepsy - There is no obvious structural cause, no abnormal neurological symptoms and no known exposure to toxins that could explain epilepsy. This type of epilepsy is usually assumed as certain breeds can carry genetic defects that cause seizures.
- Structural Epilepsy - Diagnosis for seizures that occur after an animal has suffered head trauma, stroke, had an inflammatory disease of the brain or a brain tumour is found.
- Epilepsy of Unknown Case - Where a structural cause is suspected, but cannot be identified.
Things To Do If Your Pet is Having a Seizure.
-Do not attempt to restrain your pet if having a seizure.
-Remove any items around them that may injure your pet such as tables, chairs etc.
-Turn off the lights, television or any music that are playing to reduce environmental stimulation.
- Try to record the event during the seizure and the time how long it lasts.
- Never put your hands in or near your pet's mouth, even if they have stopped moving, they may not be able control their movement and may bite.
Immediately contact your pet's vet if the seizure lasts for more than two minutes or has more than two seizures in a 24 hour period or still twitching/suffering from tremors after the seizure has finished.
Medications to Treat Epilepsy
There are some medications available that can help manage your pet's epilepsy. Treatment for epilepsy is not usually recommended in pets that have had a single, isolated seizure. Find out more from PetScripts about the medications.