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Vet Talks: Seizures in Dogs and Cats

Posted 2020-11-12

hillary-cook

What Causes Seizures in Dogs and Cats?

Seizures, or epilepsy, in dogs and cats is a neurological disorder.  Seizures can occur for many different reasons.  A seizure occurs when the cerebral cortex functions in an abnormal way.  Seizures can be caused by extracranial reasons (due to reasons outside of the brain) or intracranial reasons (due to reasons inside of the brain).

Extracranial Seizures in Pets

An extracranial seizure occurs because either the metabolism or the electrophysiology of the brain is changed by a disease. In most extracranial cases of seizures, the entire cerebral cortex is affected resulting in a generalized seizure rather than a focal or partial seizure.  The most common extracranial seizures are caused by underlying kidney disease, liver disease, hypoglycemia, changes in electrolytes, endocrine disease such as hypothyroidism, hyperthermia, toxins or trauma.

 

Intracranial Seizures in Pets

Intracranial causes of seizures are disease processes that can cause either structural or functional changes inside of your cat or dog’s brain.  Functional changes inside of your pet’s brain may result in what is known idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is a disease in which your dog has recurrent seizures, but no specific cause can be located for the seizures. Other causes of intracranial seizures are due to brain tumors, viral, bacterial or fungal infections (distemper virus, rabies and others), tick borne diseases, parasitic infections, trauma to the brain, degenerative brain conditions which cause lack of blood flow to the brain causing a cerebral infarction, or nutritional deficiencies such as lack of B vitamins. Idiopathic epilepsy is genetic in many dog and cat breeds.  In these breeds where epilepsy is diagnosed, they should not be used for breeding.

 

Dog Breeds Most Commonly Prone to Epilepsy:

These breeds of dog are more genetically prone to epilepsy, however epilepsy and seizures can occur in any breed

  • Beagle
  • Keeshond
  • Golden Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Laborador Retriever
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • Vizsla
  • Shetland Sheep Dog (“Sheltie”)

 

Genetic Epilepsy

Genetic epilepsy usually manifests itself from 10 months 3 years of age but can vary.  Both the age at onset of seizures and the seizure pattern are important in diagnosing idiopathic epilepsy.

If your pet has experienced seizures, it is very important to have your pet seen by a veterinarian to diagnose the root of the problem. Diagnosing the cause of seizures includes full blood work panels including complete blood count, chemistries, infectious and parasitic testing, endocrine testing, as well as imaging such as radiographs and MRI, and spinal fluid analysis. Once the reason for seizure has been diagnosed, appropriate medical treatment can be recommended.  There are integrative holistic therapies available as well for seizure treatment including food therapy, Chinese herbal therapy, and appropriate western herbal therapies through NHV.

Because Seizures can be caused by a number of different factors, choosing appropriate herbal supplements varies based on the diagnosis. For example, if your pet is having seizures due to liver disease, NHV Milk Thistle can help to detoxify the body and help to support liver function. Natures Immuno is also excellent liver support and over-all immune support.  In the case of idiopathic epilepsy, reducing stress may help to reduce the incidence of seizures. NHV Lesstress and NHV Matricalm are both excellent choices for helping to reduce stress and anxiety in your pet.

If Your Pet Has Had a Seizure

If your dog has had a seizure, he or she should be examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible. In some cases, diagnostic tests will indicate a clear cause for the seizure or seizures. Where no cause can be located, the disease is diagnosed as idiopathic epilepsy. Together you and your vet can make a health plan to deal with your pet’s seizures. While seizures can be scary they are usually not life threatening. Your vet can teach you what to do if your dog is having seizure’s and, in some cases, can provide medicine to make them stop.

If you have any questions regarding your pets health, please don’t hesitate to schedule a consult with me!


Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

2 replies.

  1. Juno says:

    Hi, I have a few cats with different health issues. Can you pls advise what kind of supplements are good for them.

    – Beanie 18 yo with kidney issues and high blood pressure
    – Sasha 8 yo with urinary tract
    – Momo; a Scottish fold and had problems walking, running and jumping (to low heights in particular) now that he is 14 years old
    – Charlie 3 yo has seizures since he was a kitten. On average twice

    1. Team NHV says:

      Hi Juno,

      Thank you for your comment on our blog post “Vet Talk: Seizures in dogs and cats”. We’re sorry to hear that your kitties have these health issues. We can imagine it is very stressful for you. Here is what we recommend for the following conditions:

      – Beanie 18 yo with kidney issues and high blood pressure
      Tripsy and Hearty-Heart. Tripsy is a soothing formula that supports the kidneys, controls infection, has a demulcent effect for the urinary calculi, and supports the health of the kidney and bladder. You can find it here: https://www.nhvnaturalpetproducts.com/kidney-disorders-in-dogs-cats

      Hearty-Heart supports your cat’s heart for healthy blood pressure, helps with heart muscle function, aids with symptoms of cat heart disease, like weakness and difficulty breathing, and is a natural aid for general circulation issues and pulmonary function. You can find it here:
      https://www.nhvnaturalpetproducts.com/hearty-heart-for-heart-disease-in-cats

      – Sasha 8 yo with urinary tract
      For Sasha, Tripsy is the best for UTIs as it can help remove urinary stones, and urinary calculi and supports the health of the kidney and bladder. You can find it here: https://www.nhvnaturalpetproducts.com/kidney-disorders-in-dogs-cats

      – Momo; a Scottish fold and had problems walking, running, and jumping (to low heights in particular) now that he is 14 years old
      For Momo we recommend Old Timer. Old Timer is a natural supplement that supports cat joint movement, relieves pain, and reduces inflammation. Here is the link: https://www.nhvnaturalpetproducts.com/old-timer-for-cat-arthritis

      – Charlie 3 yo has seizures since he was a kitten. On average twice
      For seizures, would you be able to tell us more about why his seizures are happening? Has he seen a neurologist for them? With more information on Charlie’s seizures, we’ll be able to recommend a supplement to help.

      If you have any more questions we’re here for you and all of your kitties.

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