Unfortunately for dogs, epilepsy can either be inherited or it may even be caused by the preservatives in the food that they eat. There are certain breeds that are more likely to experience this condition than others. There are three different types that may possibly present in a canine. Most animals affected by canine epilepsy can be treated by a change in their diet and with proper medication and monitoring.
Beagles, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Keeshonds and Belgian Tervurens are all breeds with a proven genetic predisposition for seizures. The English Springer Spaniel has also been included in the group frequently. The condition is actually very common for dogs even when it is not a genetically inherited trait and it may just develop over the course of their life. The condition has also been linked to problems related to the thyroid gland and should be considered at initial onset.
A change in diet may be the first course of treatment for many dogs because the preservatives in the food can be the main cause of many seizures. For particular breeds that are at high risk, it is wise to feed with only food that has no preservatives from the beginning and eliminate the possible chance of the problem developing. Be sure to read the labels carefully and preservative information will be indicated on the packaging.
The three various type of epilepsy that may occur with canines are reactive, secondary and primary. Seizures labeled as reactive involve the metabolic system. These are always related to either low blood sugar, kidney failure or liver failure.
Secondary refers to symptomatic and is labeled this way because the cause is actually known. The problem is most likely related to stroke or tumors located within the brain. Many times these types of seizures will occur after a particular trauma.
Primary or idiopathic seizures are labeled as such due to having no known cause. This diagnosis is reached when all other probable conditions have been completely eliminated. These are likely to begin in dogs that are in the age group of one and three.
There are different types of seizures as well and they last for different periods of times and have different intensity. The petit mal is mild and may result in brief periods of staring. A grand mal is considered moderate and can last for up to three minutes with a possible loss of consciousness. Status epilepticus or cluster seizures may be hard to distinguish from one another and can last for long periods of time and repeat with the animal losing consciousness; they can be life threatening.
Many medications are available for the treatment of seizures including Phenobarbital, potassium bromide and Valium. When Phenobarbital is being used as the medication of choice, it is necessary to monitor the liver functions closely to avoid liver damage. Should the liver become damaged, the pet will be changed to a medication of potassium bromide for continued treatment. Valium is usually reserved for status epilepticus and cluster seizures and is given either by injection, rectally or orally. Over the counter medications can be used to comfort the animal after seizures to assist with faster recover time; consult a veterinarian about which types are best to use for treatment of canine epilepsy for a particular pet.