Seizures in Dogs and Cats

Both dogs and cats can suffer from epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized primarily by uncontrolled seizures. In dogs, epilepsy is most often an inherited condition. There are two types of seizures to be on the lookout for:

  • Grand Mal Seizure – The Grand Mal Seizure is characterized by repeated, uncontrolled movements of the body, excessive salivation, vomiting and uncontrolled urination. The immediate 24-hour period following a seizure of this kind is characterized by the dog or cat having difficulty walking, seeing and drowsiness.
  • Focal Motor Seizure – Animals that suffer from the Focal Motor Seizures are more likely to go longer without diagnosis. This type of seizure is characterized by subtle twitching of a part of the body like the eye, cheek or another innocuous part of the body. The seizure usually only lasts a few seconds.
Seizures are usually caused by a change in electrical activity in the brain. These changes can be triggered by chemicals, a blow to the head, malnutrition and diseases of the nervous system.

Types and Causes of Epilepsy in Dogs

There are not that many differences between feline and canine epilepsy. Both cause uncontrolled seizures and both can go years without diagnosis, depending on the severity of the seizures. But while feline epilepsy is characterized (in most cases) with Focal Motor Seizures, your canine friend faces three possible types of epilepsy:

  • Reactive Epilepsy – Reactive Epilepsy is caused by metabolic issues such as low blood sugar or kidney and liver failure.
  • Secondary Epilepsy – Secondary Epilepsy on the other hand is caused by issues such as a brain tumor, stroke or other trauma. 
  • Primary Epilepsy – Primary Epilepsy is diagnosed when your family friend has none of the symptoms associated with Reactive or Secondary Epilepsy. There is no known cure.

Either type of seizure can occur with canines, no matter what type of epilepsy your canine friend is diagnosed with. However, felines are more likely to suffer with Focal Motor Seizures, making it more difficult to recognize the symptoms of epilepsy.

Conventional Treatment of Epilepsy in Dogs and Cats

Conventional treatment includes initial diagnosis of the type of of epilepsy followed by a possible extensive, and probable life-long, routine of prescription drugs. The diagnosis phase includes a full work up or tests. These tests include:

  • Neurological
  • Blood count
  • Serum chemical profile, Urinalysis
  • Thyroid function tests
  • After diagnosis is confirmed, the vet will likely prescribe drugs that can counteract the effects of the seizures. In the case of Primary Epilepsy, which there is no known cause, the prescription drugs will likely be in the form of reactive treatment to help alleviate problems with the kidney and liver.

    Natural Treatments for Controlling Seizures in Dogs and Cats

    Natural remedies are preferential to some pet owners whose pets suffer from ill side effects from conventional prescription drugs, many of which can cause upset stomachs and an overall sedated state. Combined with a proper diet, herbal and homeopathic remedies can help prevent or reduce the occurrence of seizures. For instance:

  • Passionflower – Passionflower is an herb known for its ability to calm overactive nervous systems, which can lead to seizures.
  • Skullcap – Skullcap is a well-known calming herb with properties to ease overactive nervous systems
  • Homeopathic ingredients– Calm agitated state and reduce involuntary muscle spasms. 
  • CBD - Cannabidiol is known to have a biochemical effect on nerve cells in the brain, some of which may have an impact on seizures.