Watching your dog have a seizure is a scary event. Most strikes are short-lived, but they feel like the longest seconds and minutes of your life. In this article, I am going to help you determine what seizures look like, what causes them, and how I will approach treatment holistically.
What is an strike?
A seizure occurs when there is a higher-than-normal electrical activity in the brain. It usually starts in one area of the brain and spreads. When this happens, and depending on the type of strike, your dog may become numb, urinate or defecate, faint and start “paddling” (sudden paddling movements with his feet).
What are the most common seizures in dogs:
There are three types of seizures:
Generalized/Severe seizures. This is a classic strike in which your dog faints, falls, swings his paws and stretches his back. It is important to keep your hands and fingers away from your mouth. If possible, move them away from furniture or stairs to avoid falling. Dogs may feel disoriented and scared after a seizure and may unconsciously bite their humans.
Focal strikes. These seizures usually affect the head, but they can occur anywhere on the body. Some dogs experience jerks in the muzzle or constant pulling of the jaw. Many dogs remain conscious during these seizures.
Psychomotor seizures. These seizures are not classic seizures, but include a period of strange behavior. This may include being tired in space, becoming aggressive, not meeting familiar faces, or experiencing hallucinations.
It can be difficult to distinguish a fainting episode from a seizure. After seizures, dogs have a period of disorientation or strange behavior. This is important information that you should inform your veterinarian.
What causes seizures in dogs?
Toxins or health-issue. Some plants and chemicals can cause seizures. When they are eliminated, seizures usually stop. health-issue such as thyroid health-issue and electrolyte balance disorders can also cause seizures. They can be easily diagnosed with a routine blood test.
Brain health-issue. Brain tumors, autoimmune health-issue, and parasites can also cause seizures. In the United States, matters of parasite infestation are very rare. These conditions are best diagnosed by imaging, such as an MRI and/or CT scan.
Epileptic. Epilepsy is diagnosed when no other cause of a seizure can be determined. In other words, there is no brain tumor, health-issue, toxicity, or inflammatory health-issue that causes a seizure. This is the most common cause of seizures that occur regularly in young or middle-aged dogs.
How can I help my dog with seizures?
Seizures cause even more seizures. If your dog has 3 seizures in 24 hours, or if your dog’s seizures become regular or last longer than 5 minutes, it is important to take measures to overcome them. It is important to work with your veterinarian to determine when your dog should start treatment.
These are the tools I use in my practice to help my patients manage seizures.
Apothecary. Medicines such as Phenobarbital, Zonisamide and Keppra can save lives. For some dogs, we use all three to help control seizures.
Hemp. I have had success using CBD alone or in combination with other medications in the treatment of seizures in my patients. I use HempRx Forte for my patients and you can find out more about CBD dosage here.
Diet. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) in the diet can help reduce seizures in dogs. This is not intended to be a medicine replacement, but it can help reduce the number of medicines or reduce the necessary dosage.
Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture and herbs can also be used to treat cramps. Find a practicing veterinarian in your area.