Witnessing your precious dog or cat seizure can be a most terrifying experience. During seizures, pets often lose control, fall, chew their teeth, salivate or drool, whine, paddle with their feet, and begin to urinate or weaken themselves. Your eyes get bigger (dilate) and don’t respond. A pet keeper feels panicky and helpless as he watches everything that happens.
Hopefully, you and your pet have never had, and never will have, to experience this shocking event. But, if you do, or if you experience it in the future, this article will help you understand what causes seizures, what you can do while your pet is having a seizure, and the various treatment options available.
What Causes Seizures? Epilepsy is one of the causes. Some breeds of dogs are more susceptible to epilepsy. These include: cocker spaniels; poodles collies; german shepherds; Irish setters; golden retrievers; dachshunds, labradors, saint bernards, miniature schnauzers, siberian huskies, and wire-haired terriers. Veterinarians are not sure what causes this “inherited” epilepsy.
In cats, hereditary epilepsy is rare. Veterinarians can usually find the cause of seizures. These include chemical toxins (which include chemical preservatives used in many pet foods), brain tumors, feline leukemia, feline infections, peritonitis, feline AIDS, head trauma, and problems with the liver and kidneys.
There are many causes of seizures in dogs in addition to inherited epilepsy. Food allergies and chemicals, preservatives, and artificial flavors added to food can cause seizures. Other causes include liver and kidney disease, tumors, poisonings, and low blood sugar levels.
What can you do while your pet is having a seizure? Try to stay calm. This is difficult to do, but using a calm, reassuring voice will comfort your dog or cat. Move furniture or other objects that your pet could injure himself on. If you cannot move the object, put pillows or wrap blankets between the pet and the object. Slide something soft under your pet’s head, but be sure to keep your hands and face away from his head so you don’t risk a possible bite. You can gently pat her hip or side, but face the sides of her feet and toenails, as muscle spasms cause the feet to bend into claws that can rip or rake your skin. Dim the lights and keep the environment as quiet as possible by turning off the TV and loud music.
If possible, take notes on the seizure so you can provide details to your vet. Write down the time of day it occurred, the duration of each seizure, and the time between each seizure if they recur. Your vet will also want to know if your pet urinated or became weak, if the seizure struck suddenly or progressed from a simple body spasm, if your pet regained consciousness, and how long it was before your pet appeared normal again. Also, you will need to find out if there were any possible triggering events. These include loud noises like fireworks, unusual items that were eaten, and excessive play or exercise.
After the seizure, pets often appear lost or drugged. This state of drug addiction can last from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the severity of the seizure. Your pet can respond to you, but do so very slowly. Since seizures are exhausting for your pet, he will probably want to sleep afterward. It is best to let him sleep, but keep an eye on him from time to time without disturbing his sleep.
If this is your pet’s first seizure, call your vet as soon as possible. Some vets will want to see if another seizure occurs, while others will perform a variety of blood tests to check for anemia, liver and heart function, calcium, glucose, and electrolyte levels. Your vet can even run a test for potential toxins, take X-rays, or perform an EEG.
The test results may not indicate the specific reason for the seizure. In this case, your vet can wait to see if another seizure occurs or may suggest medications. If the diagnosis is epilepsy, pets have an excellent chance of leading a normal life as long as proper medical care and follow-up are provided.
If you discover the cause of the seizure, you may be able to eliminate future seizures by eliminating the source of the seizure. For example, if the seizure is due to chemical toxins, make sure your pet remains as toxin-free as possible. Provide human-grade foods and treats that do not contain chemical preservatives, fillers, or by-products. Clean your home with chemical-free products. Also, use more natural products for flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, as some of these products can lower your pet’s seizure threshold and make seizures more difficult to control. Avoid products that contain organophosphate insecticides. For safer heartworm prevention, use products that contain interceptor and filaribits.
What can you do if your pet’s seizure condition cannot be cured and you realize that you and your pet may have to live with the seizures? In the past, the only treatment options available were strong anticonvulsants that could have serious side effects. These may still be your only option. However, more natural approaches have been found to help some pets, either before taking stronger medications or in addition to them so that you can reduce the dosage. There are a variety of treatment options including a natural diet, acupuncture, nutritional supplements, homeopathy, herbs, and conventional medications.
As mentioned above, give your pet a human grade diet, free of chemicals and additives. Also, remove other toxins from your pet’s environment. Clean with natural products and use more natural measures to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
Minimize stress in your pet’s life. Try to avoid sudden changes in your environment, loud noises, and other stressful situations.
You can also try herbs that act as sedatives. These include valerian root, kava, skullcap, and oat straw. Keep in mind that when using herbs and supplements, you may need to reduce the dose of other anticonvulsants.
Various supplements appear to help prevent seizures. Try a combination of antioxidants vitamin C, E, B-6, and selenium. Your vet can recommend the dosage for your pet. Magnesium and DMG (dimethylglycine) are other helpful supplements.
Acupuncture is another useful option that has helped control seizures in many pets. Sometimes just placing an acupuncture tack in a dog’s ear will stop the seizures, and this only requires an acupuncture visit.
If the tack does not work, the gold implants can be placed in different places under a pet’s head. Or your pet can be treated with traditional Chinese acupuncture.
As you can see, there are many natural approaches to treating seizures in pets. These should help your beloved pet to live a normal and comfortable life.