One of the most noticeable and most traumatic diseases found in cats and dogs is epilepsy. For many pet owners, the sight of an epileptic seizure in their pet can cause anxiety until the disease is controlled. Epilepsy is a form of non-progressive brain disorder that results in intermittent seizures. It’s important to determine the underlying problem, as many dog and cat diseases present with a symptom of seizures.
Types of Seizures in Cats and Dogs
There are two primary types of seizures, partial seizers and generalized seizures. Partial seizures may be due to a congenital problem, which is present at birth, or an acquired problem, such as encephalitis or cancer. Some sufferers of partial seizers have the condition evolve into a secondary generalized seizure. Generalized seizures are more common in cats and dogs. There are several different types that can present itself in a pet: These include:
-Absence seizures/Petit mal: Symptoms include a brief loss of consciousness. However, absence seizures are quite rare in animals.
-Myclonic seizures: Symptoms include muscle jerk(s).
-Clonic seizures: Symptoms include rhythmic muscle contractions.
-Tonic seizures: Symptoms include a general increase in muscle tone in any area of the body.
-Tonic clonic seizures/Grand mal: Symptoms include loss of consciousness, paddling movements, and muscle jerking. Tonic clonic seizures account for sixty percent of seizures in cats and eighty percent in dogs.
Causes of Seizures in Cats and Dogs
Before a true diagnosis of epilepsy can be made, other general causes of seizures must first be ruled out. Your veterinarian will need to address several questions to determine if epilepsy is the proper diagnosis for your pet cat or dog. To do this, they will need to know if the cause is inside or outside the brain. If the cause of the seizures is found inside the brain, a progressive problem is to blame, such as an infection or cancer. If the cause is inside the brain and non-progressive, the problem may be epilepsy. If the cause is found outside the brain, the veterinarian must determine if the cause originated within the body, such as a liver problem, kidney failure, or low blood sugar. If outside the body, the causes could possibly be toxicity, lead poisoning, or organophosphate.
Diagnosis of Epilepsy in Cats and Dogs
The type of seizure that your pet experienced will play a major role in the diagnosis and treatment. If the pet owner determined that the cat or dog had a solitary seizure, the veterinarian may advise against future testing. This is because most solitary seizures will only occur once and will not lead to future problems. For other types of seizures, your veterinarian will take a detailed history of your pet. They may ask you to videotape the seizure to better identity where the weakness is located and how it occurs. There are several symptoms that the veterinarian may have you look for, such as:
-Clonic or jerky muscle movements
-Tonic or increased muscle tone
-Spontaneous defecation and/or urination
The veterinarian will typically take x-rays of the abdomen and chest to check for signs of diseases. An analysis of fecal matter may be tested in puppies that experience seizures. If all tests appear normal and no disease is detected, many cats and dogs will be diagnosed with epilepsy unless further testing is requested. Once a diagnosis of epilepsy has been finalized, the veterinarian will prescribe anticonvulsant drugs to eradicate seizure activity. Epilepsy is not curable but with the proper medication, seizures in your cat or dog can reduce significantly or disappear altogether.
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