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What Causes Dogs To Have Seizures?
by Nicole Kesson

Breeds who commonly suffer seizure disorders include Beagles, Collies, Dachshunds, and
Retrievers.
 Dogs can have seizures and seizure disorders just like people do.  The possible
medical condition causes of your dog’s seizures, broken down by age of your dog include:

Less than 8 months old
Developmental Disorders, Encephalitis or Meningitis, Trauma, Portacaval shunt, Hypoglycemia,
Toxins, Intestinal parasites, Idiopathic Epilepsy

8 months to 5 years old
Idiopathic Epilepsy, Developmental disorders, Trauma, Encephalitis or meningitis, Acquired
hydrocephalus, Neoplasia, Portacaval shunt, Hypoglycemia, Electrolyte disturbances,
Hypothyroidism, Toxins

Over 5 years old
Neoplasia, Degenerative disorders, Vascular disorders, Hypoxia, Hypoglycemia, Idiopathic
Epilepsy, Trauma, Encephalitis or meningitis, Acquired hydrocephalus, Serious Liver disease,
Hypocalcemia

Epilepsy is the most well-known cause of seizures, both in dogs and in humans and is a
neurological disorder that involves frequent, sudden seizure attacks.  This can involve
malfunction in a dog's sensory or muscular functions. Researchers indicate that epileptic
seizures are caused by a locus of abnormal brain nerve tissue, which begins to send out signals
via nerve impulses. Since this area of the brain is abnormal, these impulses result in a chain
reaction which may cause the voluntary muscles in a dog's body to become active. This is how
the characteristic convulsions and "twitching" which accompany epileptic seizures occur.

Your veterinarian may consider performing one or more of the following tests:
MRI or CT brain scan to rule out brain tumors.
Spinal Tap to look for infectious diseases, such as distemper.
Antibody titers to help identify causes of an infection.
Toxin Tests to determine if there are any toxins or poisons.

Often, your veterinarian will first attempt to treat the underlying medical conditions before
being able to treat the seizures themselves. Unless your dog experiences seizures on a regular
basis, he/she may not prescribe medication for your pet.  In some instances, your dog will only
have one or two seizures and no more.    

Before treating your dog’s seizure disorder, your vet will determine the type of seizures that
your dog suffers.  The different types of seizures include Primary Epileptic Seizures, Secondary
Epileptic Seizures, and Reactive Epileptic Seizures. Approximately 65% of dogs between the
ages of 1 year and 5 years suffer primary epilepsy.

Seizures occur when your brain’s electrical and/or chemical signals fail to communicate
properly.  To put it in simple terms, when brain cells get too excited at once, a seizure can
result.  

It’s important that you remain calm when your dog is having a seizure.  According to veterinary
experts, the dog isn’t in any pain during a seizure.  Your dog will need your help to relax and
make sure he doesn’t hurt himself such as falling down stairs during the seizure.  Keep your
hands away from your dog’s mouth and don’t try to restrain him while he’s seizing.  

After a seizure episode, your dog may become disoriented or whine.  Speak to your dog in
calm and gentle tones reassuring him that everything is okay.  Give your dog a few small bites
to eat as it may be hungry following the seizure.  Be aware that your dog may be a little
unsteady and bump into furniture for a short period after the seizure ends.  

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