Epilepsy means repeated seizures due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain and is caused by an abnormality in the brain itself. However a fitting dog is not always an epileptic dog. Fitting or seizures can be caused by a variety of disorders (including poisons, metabolic disorders and brain tumours), with epilepsy being only one of them. Epilepsy is recognised as an inherited condition (idiopathic epilepsy) in some breeds, and typically signs start between 6 months and 3 years of age.
Signs: Fits occurring during exercise are unlikely to be epilepsy. Epileptic fits usually occur when the dog is quiet and even when rising from sleep: the dog collapses, is unconscious and unresponsive, thrashes it’s legs, often froths at the mouth and can empty its bladder and bowels. It may also scream and moan loudly whilst fitting.
Action: Try to prevent self-injury to your pet, but do NOT attempt to pull its tongue out and never put your face near to a fitting dog; you may be bitten as your dog will not recognise you whilst he is fitting. Some restraint may be necessary, but letting your dog just lie on the floor is probably best, so do not try and move him unless he is in danger. Do not give stimulants. As he recovers he will recognise your voice, so talk to him all the time in a reassuring manner. Time how long the fit lasts and when he has recovered contact your vet; most fits last less than a minute - it just seems much longer. But if a fit does lasts for more than ten minutes or clusters of fits occur in rapid succession seek veterinary attention immediately.
On recovery, remove excess saliva and put the dog in a darkened room, keep quiet and warm. Keep a detailed record of your dog’s fits, and let the Breeder know once the diagnosis has been confirmed by your vet.
The article on The Kennel Club was written by Dr Rowena Packer and Professor Holger Volk, both from the Royal Veterinary College.
The Canine Epilepsy Support Group is a small charity set up in 1991 to offer practical and sympathetic support to the owners of epileptic pets, and the opportunity to talk to people who have learnt to live happily with an epileptic pet.
Their Advisory Panel includes Mr Francis Hunter, VetFFHom, MRCVS, Adviser on Homoeopathy, Mrs Sylvia Gulbenkian, BVetMed, MRCVS, Adviser on Acupuncture, and Professor Steve Dean, BVetMed, DVR, MRCVS, Adviser on Veterinary Legislation. The group also works closely with two Herbalists and a Holistic Therapist and they have set out to offer alternative options in addition to prescribed medication and veterinary care.
Their aim is to help owners achieve normal, happy lives for their pets and are here to help and support you and your pet.
Please contact: Anne Morley 01903 784263 or 785327
The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) runs an epilepsy clinic and if you use the link to the clinic you will find more information:
The following link gives a more detailed description of epilepsy and its phases:
The Canine Epilepsy website is a collaborative project provided by Vetoquinol UK and Vetstream. The site contains information on canine epilepsy for both veterinary surgeons and owners of dogs that have been diagnosed with epilepsy.
The Phyllis Croft Foundation for Canine Epilepsy (PCFCE) was founded to bring comfort,support and information to the owners of epileptic dogs.