My Dog Has Had A Seizure -- What Do I Do?
By: Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna
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Q: I think my dog had a seizure. What should I do?
A: Seizure disorders are incredibly scary for those of us who are impacted. In the case of our pets, a seizure may be the only symptom of a neurological issue. Because our pets can’t speak, pet parents are often afraid that their furry friend is painful or suffering. As family members we want our dogs to be as safe and comfortable as possible.
Seizures may be primary or secondary. A seizure may be the result of a primary neurologic issue such as epilepsy, or the result of another problem, such as liver disease or cancer. Seizures can start at any age, some being the result of a congenital (or birth) defect, while others are caused due to toxin exposure or a health condition developed over time. These may include infection or inflammation, as well as epilepsy.
Many types of seizures exist. Most of us associate seizures with a type called grand mal. These are large seizures, usually resulting in a patient losing full or partial consciousness. A dog may lose bladder or bowel control, and may paddle her legs. Never put your hand or an object into the mouth of a seizing dog, as you are likely to be bitten. Other seizure types include petit mal (a smaller variation) or focal (or fly bite). With fly bite seizures a dog may appear to be biting or nipping at an object that is not present (an invisible fly). All seizures are serious, and should be treated immediately.
If you suspect your dog is having a seizure, call your veterinary hospital (or emergency veterinarian) immediately. Prompt attention can help to stop the seizure, as well as preventing secondary problems. Seizures can result in hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), muscle trauma, and dehydration.
If your pet has a seizure, your veterinarian will try to stabilize your pet as quickly as possible. Stabilization includes stopping the ongoing seizure, and providing supportive care such as heat support, IV fluids, and oxygen. The veterinarian will ask you many questions, to determine the cause of the seizure, including any changes in patterns or exposure to possible toxins. Additionally, she will perform a complete physical exam to assess for physical abnormalities.
Laboratory testing and diagnostic imaging are helpful to diagnose the cause of the seizure. Blood work can assess for some problems, such as liver disease and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Advanced imaging can help to determine if a structural abnormality or tumor may exist in (or around) the brain, causing seizures.
Based on your veterinarian’s exam and lab work, she may discuss a variety of treatment options. Oral medication is most common. Many dogs are well controlled with oral medications, but your veterinarian can help you select what is best for you and your dog.
I am often asked if Voyce Pro can help detect seizures. Voyce Pro is effective at providing supportive information to a veterinarian, which should be combined with a thorough physical exam and laboratory testing. Voyce Pro may help evaluate how well a seizure patient is controlled. Additionally, Voyce Pro’s note taking feature can allow you to document when you think a seizure may have occurred, allowing you and your veterinarian to investigate the data.
We are wishing you and your pet all the best of health!