Seizures in pets can be caused by a number of underlying issues. The most common causes are:
Toxins- Insecticides, chocolate, and antifreeze
Encephalitis- Inflammation of the brain usually caused by an infection such as Distemper
There are several types of seizures. A grand mal seizure usually begins with a period of altered behavior, such as staring, restlessness, and crying out. This is followed by the symptoms we usually associate with seizures, such as loss of consciousness, paddling of the feet, urinating, and defecating. This part of the seizure usually only lasts 1-2 minutes. It is followed by a period of confusion and incoordination.
Seizures can also be localized in the brain and cause a more localized reaction such as muscle twitching, blinking, and chomping.
Diagnosis is often made based on historical information, such as exposure to toxins, age of the animal, recent illness, etc. Blood work will also be done to check for liver function, kidney function, and blood sugar levels.
During the seizure, the first impulse is to reach out and comfort your pet by talking to him and petting him. However, it is best to turn out the lights, keep quiet, and not to touch him. Sensory input can prolong the seizure. This includes the period of disorientation that follows the main part of the seizure. Once the seizure has ended, it is important to get your pet to a veterinarian for a diagnosis.
Treatment is usually based on treating the underlying problem. For epilepsy, the treatment is based on the frequency and severity of the seizures. It is important to keep track of when seizures occur and how long they last in order for you and your veterinarian to decide when to start your dog on anti-seizure medications. Many of these medications have other side effects, so most veterinarians do not want to start anti-seizure medications until the seizures are happening at a regular frequency or the individual seizures are severe.