EPILEPSY is defined as a neurological disorder characterized by sudden, recurring attacks of muscular, sensory, or psychic malfunction with or without loss of consciousness or convulsive seizures.
A SEIZURE refers to the involuntary contraction of muscles. Seizures can result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain brought on by tumors, blood clots or scar tissue, or from chemical imbalances such as low blood sugar or nerve stimulating drugs. Tetanus toxin poisoning can stimulate muscles to contract resulting in a seizure.
Epilepsy is a recurrent seizure disorder that may be idiopathic or acquired. It is a brain disorder that causes the dog to have sudden, uncontrolled, recurring physical attacks, with or without loss of consciousness. This may sometimes occur for unknown reasons (idiopathic) or due to genetic abnormalities (acquired).
Some dogs seem to know when they are about to have a seizure and may behave in a certain way. Often dogs just seek out their owner’s company and come to sit beside them when a seizure is about to start. Once the seizure(s) begin, the dog will fall on its side, become stiff, chomp its jaw, salivate profusely, urinate, defecate, vocalize, and/or paddle with all four limbs. These seizure activities generally last between 30 and 90 seconds.
Generally, the younger the dog is, the more severe the epilepsy will be. Behavior following the seizure, known as postictal behavior, include periods of confusion and disorientation, aimless wandering, compulsive behavior, blindness, pacing, increased thirst (polydipsia) and increased appetite (polyphagia). Recovery following the seizure may be immediate, or it may take up to 24 hours.