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Don’t panic! A dog that has fits is not the problem it can seem to be

Don’t panic! A dog that has fits is not the problem it can seem to be

The experience of watching a dog have an epileptic fit for the first time is a very frightening experience. Owners not only are gripped with panic and shock but they also feel helpless as their best friend struggles against an unseen foe.


Even when owners are experienced observers of this nerve-racking problem it is very difficult to come to terms with let alone get used to but it is important for their and the dog’s sake that they learn to manage. It is thought to be much more common in dogs than in humans and so it is not a rare problem at all, No cure but it can be controlled.


It can’t be cured but it is possible for it to be controlled. The frequency of seizures can be cut down and those dogs that suffer the infliction can still lead happy and active lives.
To describe epilepsy as a brain disorder sounds like the dog has mental problems but this is not the case. It just means they suffer seizures; which unfortunately keep recurring through the dog’s life. The seizures are caused by excitement that triggers sudden electrical activity in the brain.


The issue may occur because the brain may have suffered trauma or scarring but in the vast majority of cases causes are undiagnosed. Nor is a dog that has fits necessarily an epileptic. If a vet can discover what causes these non-epileptic problems it is possible for the problem to be cured or at least controlled. This is not unfortunately the case with epileptic animals.


Two types of fit


Fits fall into two main categories: partial seizures where symptoms are less severe (focal); and generalized seizures (grand mal or tonic clonic) that are triggered by electrical activity across the brain.


There are three stages to a fit:


    •    First the “aural” phase when a dog shows signs a fit is imminent.  Some dogs miss out this stage.
    •    The “ictal” phase, which can last between a few seconds and three minutes,is the actual seizure when your dog may lose consciousness and fall on his or her side. It is likely the dog will stiffen up and make kicking motions as if trying to get up. Some make whimpering and crying noises and lose control of their bowels and bladder.
    •    The recovery period is known as the “postical” phase when your dog may appear uncoordinated and disorientated temporarily struggling with his faculties including his vision. Some take just a short time to recover, but others can display symptoms for several hours.


Take care


The best advice to any dog owner confronted by a fitting dog is: don’t panic. There is not much you can do except removing any potential dangers and reassure your pet that you are there and all will eventually be alright.


Be aware if the seizure lasts more than five minutes, of your dog has multiple fits without recovering. This is status epilepticusand can be serious, even life-threatening, so veterinary help as soon as possible. But for most pet dogs monitoring and treatment means that they are able to take part in normal activities and enjoy healthy long lives.

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