Epilepsy is a problem seen in all animals, not just humans. It is more common in dogs but can affect cats and smaller mammals. It can occur at any age and affect any breed.
It is frightening to see your pet fitting. They generally lie on their side; often paddle their legs; move their jaws; salivate; urinate and defecate. This can go on for a few seconds to many minutes or even hours if left untreated.
An epileptic fit happens when all the nerves in the brain fire at once. It can happen to any animal but those that suffer from epilepsy are more prone to it. Before and after a fit your pet may behave strangely by wandering aimlessly, staring at a corner or continually drinking.
When the animal is fitting it is important to stimulate it as little as possible. Turn off any televisions or radios, close the curtains, switch off the lights and observe your pet from a distance. Once your pet has come round from the fit, call your vet and they will arrange an appointment for you to bring you pet in, usually within a few hours, once your pet has had time to return to normal. Any undue stress could start another fit. The only exception to this rule is if your animal has been in a fit for over 5 minutes – in this case you should seek emergency veterinary treatment to stop the fitting. This is because fitting uses lots of energy and this can result in the brain being starved of oxygen and glucose leading to a coma.
Once at the vets, your pet will get a thorough examination to rule out any other causes of the fit such as eating a poison. A blood sample will be taking to check that the body’s organs are working properly. If everything is normal, your animal will be started on anti-epileptic treatment. This involves 2-3 times daily dosing of tablets. Your vet will then be monitor your pet as it may be necessary to change the dose until one suitable for your pet is found.
Epileptic animals generally lead a normal life providing they receive their tablets as directed by their vet. Often you can completely eliminate the fits but some pets will continue to get the odd one. Providing they are infrequent and don’t last a long time, this is not harmful to your pet’s health but regular checks at the vets will ensure any dosage changes are made.