- Make sure your pet is safe – move any furniture away and sharp corners and provide soft bedding.
- Do not hold the animal down or put your hands anywhere near its mouth. Seizuring animals are not conscious and can bite very hard.
- Remove any fluids or vomitus near your animal.
- If this is the first time your animal has fitted, but the animal recovers, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
- If your pet has continuous seizures, or 2 or more seizures with incomplete recovery of consciousness in between, lasting at least 5 minutes, it is an emergency and is life-threatening. Your pet will need immediate veterinary stabilisation and care. Call your nearest vet to inform them that you are coming and take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
- If your pet has had a history of seizures and is currently on medication, contact your vet and bring along your pet’s medications with you to the clinic as it may require some changes in dosage of medication. If you have some rectal diazepam on hand from your vet, you can give a dose of it to your pet rectally whilst taking it to the vet. Do not administer any tablets to an animal having a seizure.
WHAT IS IT?
A seizure can be classified as a generalised or partial seizure. Generalised seizures present with signs like loss of consciousness, collapse, paddling of legs, salivation and loss of bladder/bowel control. Partial seizures on the other hand occur due to a defect in electrical firing arising from a specific location in the brain, resulting in muscle tremors in a particular region of the body.
- Seizures often occurs with a distinct pre-seizure (prodrome) and post-seizure phase where the animal will get nervous or restless pre-seizure and may still appear dazed for some times post-seizure.
- Partial Seizures:
- No loss of consciousness
- Muscle tremors usually affecting just one region of the body (eg. Face, one limb)
- In some cases, there can be altered state of consciousness and the animal may exhibit compulsive involuntary actions like chewing, licking, ‘fly-catching’, defensive or aggressive behaviour.
- Generalised Seizures:
- Muscle rigidity initially, leads to head and limb extension
- Falling to the side, collapse
- Paddling of limbs
- Exaggerated chewing motion and salivation
- Urination, defecation
- Loss of consciousness
- Seizures may last seconds to minutes. In the case of toxicity, seizures may continue until treatment is administered.
Causes of seizures are categorised as those that occur within the brain (such as infection, trauma, tumour, abscess or scar tissue, as well as epilepsy) and causes that are outside of the brain (for example metabolic causes such as low blood glucose, kidney or liver failure, or poisoning. Common poisons that can lead to seizures include snail bait, permethrin and chocolate.
All pets that have a seizure warrant veterinary care, to further investigate the underlying cause and possibly for further monitoring and treatment depending on the individual animal.
Your pet will be examined by the vet. Depending on the case, your pet may require hospitalisation, diagnostic blood tests, anti-seizure injectable medications to control the seizures and in severe cases, your pet may require 24 hour monitoring (seizure watch) to ensure that any more seizures that occur can be treated. In cases of toxins, metabolic, organ or electrolyte abnormalities, specific treatments and supportive will be required.
Your vet may advise or recommend referral for critical cases that require 24 hour overnight care or those that require an MRI brain scan as these are not routinely available in normal veterinary practices.
Vernau KM, LeCouteur RA (2009) Seizures and Status Epilepticus. In: Small Animal Critical Care Medicine. Ed. Silverstein DC & Hopper K. Missouri, USA: Saunders Elsevier.