The diagnosis of epilepsy consists of eliminating all other causes of seizures. There is no test and even the electroencephalogram, which is not available to most veterinarians, is of little help. Epilepsy is considered an inherited defect and veterinarians recognize its presence in strains of many breeds. Most cases develop in dogs six to eighteen months of age but it is not unusual for older dogs to be brought in after a convulsion which may be the first of a long series of seizures. It is unusual to find a disease of such magnitude in man about which so little is known. It is indeed frustrating to know so little about it. In its mild form, it is not a violent condition but mild cases all too often progress gradually into major seizures.
It appears to act as a chain reaction of excited cells in the brain that pass that excitement along a neural pathway that becomes more (extensive) with each seizure. If the condition is observed before many attacks have occurred, antiepileptic drugs may prevent the tract’s memory from being retained arid in a few months or years the memory may disappear, and subsequently the medication may be withdrawn. Occasionally a dog is brought in for some other reasons, at which time the owner describes what appears to be the forerunner of seizures.
The dog suddenly stops playing and stares into space for ten or so seconds and then resumes playing as if nothing had happened. Some dogs are described as appearing to follow an imaginary flying insect also for a few seconds. This behavior suggests a condition similar to petit mat seizures in humans. But in dogs, these infrequent mild changes develop into brief seizures wherein the dog may not lose its footing and may not lose contact with the environment. There are usually long periods during which most dogs are not observed by their owners, such as when they’re asleep or when their owners are away from home.
Many owners have observed seizures once or twice a year, and these usually are not medicated as three times daily medication to prevent such rare convulsions does not seem practical.
When not treated, souse epileptic dogs have a convulsion once or so a month initially, and as months go by the seizures become more and more frequent until the poor dog finally develops a convulsion from which it cannot recover. This condition is called status epilepticus and demands intensive veterinary care for any chance of recovery.
The problem varies so with individual dogs that it is impossible to predict the future, even with the best of medications. One form of the disease causes only one severe convulsion and is never experienced again.
Of the four most common drugs to control epilepsy, phenobarbital is recommended, which is determined by administering an initial loading dose. A loading dose is one over the eventual dose which is determined by the loading dose’s effect Oil the dog. The dog acts drunk when more than the necessary amount is administered. The eventual object is to administer the maximum dose without the patient showing any effects of it. The object of the treatment is to prevent future convulsions but usually, there will be a patient that still has less severe and fewer frequent seizures for the remainder of their life. Other drugs such as primidone may be the drug of choice or combinations that may prove most effective. It will be necessary to work closely with your veterinarian for any hope of stabilizing the dog.
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