| What is a seizure?
A seizure results from abnormal electrical activity in the brain. There are many different kinds of seizures with different causes, and much is still to be learned through research. The term epilepsy is used to describe recurring seizures. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions in dogs.
How do you know if your pet is having a seizure?
Pets experiencing seizures may show a variety of unusual behaviors, but the most common include impaired consciousness together with stiffening, paddling or kicking of the legs. Pets may urinate, defecate, vomit or salivate. If spoken to during a seizure, pets will not respond, and if the eyes are open, they will typically have a glassy appearance.
Most seizures happen early in the morning and late at night, when the pet is at rest.
The changes in behavior (clinical signs) associated with seizures can be divided into three stages1:
What should you do? (See “What to do” page.)
- The pre-seizure. This initial period can last from just minutes to hours. During this stage, an animal may show anxious behavior or restlessness, including recurrent pacing or licking, salivating, vomiting, excessive barking, or even increased or decreased attention-seeking behavior.
- The seizure. This stage is characterized by involuntary body movements and behavior and pets may defecate and urinate. The actual seizure itself is typically very short, lasting only seconds up to less than two minutes. [NOTE: If the seizure doesn’t stop after five minutes, seek emergency care.]
- The post-seizure. Pets can continue to display abnormal behavior following the seizure. During this time a pet may be disoriented, have unusual thirst and appetite, and display weakness or even blindness. This period can last from a few minutes to several hours.
Clinical trial offers free medical care for qualifying dogs
There’s currently a clinical trial underway to evaluate a new treatment for dogs with idiopathic seizures (seizures with no known cause). The study is regulated by the FDA, and if your dog qualifies, free medical care may be available. For more information, see the “Help Available” page. To learn if there’s a study site near you, ask your veterinarian, or call us toll free at 1-888-598-7125, ext. 207.
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