All Pets Veterinary Clinic
A seizure is the result of an increased amount of electrical activity in the brain.
During a seizure, an animal may shake or jerk, become rigid and unresponsive, urinate,
defecate, or salivate. This article will focus on some of the possible causes of
seizures as well as their treatment and prevention.
There are many things that can cause a seizure to take place. The most common things
include head trauma, certain types of infection, exposure or ingestion of certain toxins,
brain tumors, low blood glucose, low calcium levels, and certain liver conditions.
Seizures that cannot be contributed to any specific cause are termed idiopathic, which
means of unknown cause. Animals with seizures of unknown origin are then called
epileptics or described as having epilepsy.
When is a seizure significant? For an animal that has had a single seizure of
relatively short duration, it is important for an owner to take note and consult with
a veterinarian. Often times, a single seizure will not be enough to warrant long term
medication. However, if the animal is starting to have multiple seizures (more than
one a week), seizures of a long duration, or other signs of illness, the animal should
be brought to a veterinarian.
What can be done to stop a seizure while it is happening? At home, little can be done
to stop a seizure. Keep the animal in an area where it will not fall or injure itself
during the seizure. Do not attempt to stick anything (fingers, medications, etc.) in
the animals mouth. If the seizure has not stopped within 3 or 4 minutes or if the
seizure stops and returns, you should contact a veterinarian. The veterinarian will
be able to give IV medications to help sedate the animal. Often times, the heavy
sedation that these medications can provide will "override" the electrical activity
in the brain that is causing the seizure.
Once the veterinarian has stopped the seizure, it is often a good idea to draw a
blood sample to check for signs of infection, low glucose, low calcium, liver problems,
etc. If the bloodwork is normal the veterinarian may decide to put the animal on one
of several types of anti-seizure medications. Since many of the seizure medications
can cause damage to the liver after long term use, it is wise to have bloodwork done,
at least annually, to monitor liver function. In addition, if the medication is not
working properly, tests may be done to determine how much of the drug the animal has
available in the bloodstream after administration. This will allow the veterinarian
to safely make the decision to increase the dose or to change medications.
Once medication has been started, animals with seizures of unknown origin can often
times live a long and healthy life.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not
intended to take the place of your regular veterinarian. Please do not hesitate
to contact your regular veterinarian if you have questions regarding your pet.
Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
14 December 2002