Monday, January 2, 2012

What to do if your dog has a seizure

Contributed by a CP Volunteer

Having had a Cairn with seizures, this is very interesting.... and it's always in the back of my mind...

Seizures are one of the most misunderstood conditions in canine health. Some doctors estimate that between 0.5 and 5.7% of all dogs experience a seizure at some point. Today I'd like to help you understand what happens during a seizure and how to react in the best way to keep your dog safe.

Seeing your dog have a seizure for the first time is truly frightening. It comes on with no warning. One minute your dog is happily enjoying an afternoon nap. Then, in an instant, his entire body begins shaking with wild muscle spasms. He has an empty "faraway" look in his eyes ... and you can't help but wonder if he knows what's happening. It's a tough thing to talk about, but it happens. And it happens more often than you might think. If they happen to your dog, you need to be prepared. You should:

Keep your dog safe. If he's not on the ground, make sure he doesn't fall. If his thrashing might knock something over that could hurt him, move it.

Keep yourself safe. Your dog will not swallow his tongue. NEVER put your hands in his mouth - you could get seriously bitten.

Be aware. The more you can tell your vet, the better. What happened? How long did it last? How severe was it?

Get treatment. Once the seizure has passed, take your dog to the vet.

Finding out why your dog had a seizure is like solving a puzzle. It's tough to put all the pieces together. A seizure is difficult to diagnose because it's not a disease. It's a symptom (with any number of causes). It could be "epilepsy." This common diagnosis is made when no other causes can be found. Epilepsy could even be genetic since it is more common in certain breeds, like German Shepherd dogs, Irish Setters, Retrievers, Poodles and Dachshunds. There is no diagnostic test for epilepsy. The only way to find out if your dog has it is through the process of elimination. All other possible causes must be ruled out through a series of testing.

The diagnostic process generally requires a lot of testing-and that means lots of money, too. Some people wonder: does the cause really matter as long as the dog comes through the seizure OK?

If the cause is medical, environmental, metabolic or traumatic, it could be serious or life threatening, so you need to identify it and treat it. If the cause is medical, environmental, metabolic or traumatic, it could be serious or life threatening, so you need to identify it and treat it.


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