Westbury Animal Hospital
713.723.3666 · 4917 S. Willow Dr. Houston, Texas 77035 

Seizure activity, if seen for the first time, can be very scary to watch. It can often be confused with choking, collapsing, or heart related disease. There are three phases to a seizure; the pre-ictal phase, the seizure itself, and post-ictal phase. Seizures can appear in many different manners ranging anywhere from a blank stare to tensing of the body to full on convulsions and shaky movements, also known as a grand mal seizure.  The post-ictal phase is the period after the seizure where mentation and behavior may be altered. The animal may seem blind during this third phase and can last anywhere from a few minutes to hours.

 

There are numerous causes for seizure activity. These can be grouped into three main categories. Primary seizures are ones that have no known cause and include epilepsy. Secondary seizures are a result of a known brain abnormality such as tumors or malfunctions in development at birth. Reactive seizures are when the brain itself is normal, but the seizure is due to a toxic exposure, low blood sugar, a liver shunt, or other metabolic conditions. 

 

What to do if your pet has a seizure:

  1. If your pet is in a hazardous area such as next to a pool or stairs try to safely make the area safe for your pet.
  2. Do not hold your pet down or place your fingers in their mouth including during the time following a seizure unless your pet seeks out your affection. Often pets become aggressive during these states and can react in unpredictable ways.
  3. Once the location is safe, immediately start timing the seizure. If the seizure is lasting longer than 1 minute start putting your shoes on and grab your keys to get your pet to the veterinarian.

 

Any seizure, even if it only happens once warrants a full physical examination by your veterinarian. If this is your pets first seizure your veterinarian will want to run some tests including blood work to find out if there is a cause for the seizure. Although epilepsy is a condition that can occur in pets, it is a diagnosis of exclusion. This means all other causes must be eliminated before assuming your pet has epilepsy. Occasionally, an MRI is needed to rule out intracranial disease.


The following are other reasons to seek veterinary care outside of the first time seizure; if a seizure is lasting longer than 2 minutes, more than one seizure in 24 hours, or more than 2 seizures in a month. Seizures can be medically managed if they occur frequently, and if no other cause has been found. Please consult with your veterinarian if you think your pet requires seizure medication. The veterinary profession does include specialists in neurology, and you can obtain a referral from your general practitioner if needed.

 

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