Epilepsy in humans is a well-known disorder. Dogs, especially certain breeds, are also prone to this seizure disorder. While the underlying cause is not often known, recurring seizures (also known as idiopathic) are the clinical manifestation of excess electrical activity in an area of the brain known as a cerebral cortex. Canine seizure disorder affects approximately 0.75% of dogs.
Most dogs who develop an idiopathic canine seizure disorder experience their first seizure between ages 1 and 5 and in most cases there is no identifiable brain disease. Typically, both hemispheres of the brain are impacted. As a result, dogs will lose consciousness, fall on one side, with rigid limbs and progress to limb paddling or jerking and chewing movements. Canines may also lose their bladders in the early stages of a seizure. Post-seizure, dogs may pace, show signs of anxiety or aggression, and experience abnormal hunger.
Idiopathic seizures are diagnosed by ruling out all other options. Veterinary tests to check for neurologic disorders including lab tests, an MRI, and spinal fluid analysis are conducted. If they all come back normal, the remaining diagnosis is canine seizure disorder.
Treatment options for canine seizure disorders typically include antiepileptic drugs. Most often, veterinarians prescribe medication when a dog has more than 2 seizures in a 6 month period, if there are cluster seizures, following any seizure episode, or if the post-seizure period is prolonged or different than typical.
The goal with antiepileptic medication is to significantly decrease the severity and frequency of seizures with minimal side effects. A drug that reduces seizures by 50% is considered effective. Prescription treatment may include first-line antiepileptic medications alone or combined with other anticonvulsant drugs.
As with any medication, it’s easiest to dose when the patient likes it. At The Compounding Center in Virginia, we’ll happily compound seizures medications to include your pet’s favorite flavors. We currently make Potassium Bromide, Levetiracetam, Diazepam, Phenobarbital, Zonisamide, and Gabapentin. Contact us to learn more about our process and flavor options.