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Seizures in Older Dogs

Seizures in older dogs is a very worrisome health problem for pet owners. There are many causes of seizures that are discussed in this article.
DogAppy Staff
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
'Seizure' is a term that is generally associated with a human disorder or condition. However, dogs too share similar health problems like humans. Canine seizures are very common and can occur due to various reasons. Sometimes, seizures occur without any apparent reason and sometimes, there can be a variety of factors involved.
There are many types of canine seizures that can affect your pet. Some of these include primary epileptic seizure, secondary epileptic seizure, and reactive epileptic seizure. The veterinarian will be able to diagnose the type and provide treatment accordingly.
Canine seizures in older dogs occur due to the same reason, changes in electrical and chemical signals in the brain. There is a normal pattern of neurological activity that occurs within the brain of dogs. However, when many brain cells get excited all at once and cause changes in the brain activity, it may lead to canine seizures. The causes depend on the age of the dog.
Dogs Under 8 Months of Age
It's not just older dogs, but young dogs too can experience seizures. They can occur due to developmental disorders, encephalitis, meningitis, hypoglycemia, portacaval shunt, parasites in the intestinal tract, and due to idiopathic epilepsy in dogs. Seizures due to idiopathic epilepsy occur very rarely.
Dogs between 8 Months and 5 Years of Age
Dogs in this age group experience seizures mostly due to idiopathic epilepsy, trauma, meningitis, neoplasia, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, toxins, etc.
Dogs Over 5 Years of Age
There are many causes of seizures in older dogs that includes dog cancer, tumor, degenerative disorders, hypoxia, hypoglycemia, trauma, meningitis, acquired hydrocephalus, electrolyte disturbances, hypothyroidism, etc. Other causes may include toxicity due to ingestion of poison like lead, traumatic impact, heart disease, etc. Infection of the central nervous system or organ failure may also lead to canine seizures.
Grand Mal Seizures
A grand mal seizure is a term that is usually used in case of humans. Grand mal seizures in older dogs are a type of generalized seizures. They affect the entire body of the dog, causing stiffness, spasticity, involuntary movements, etc. The dog loses control and may strike suddenly. During a grand mal seizure, the dog may fall on its side or chest. The eyes may even roll back and the dog may drool. There will be twitching or muscle spasms in the body. The dog may even urinate or defecate on itself. Once the episode of the seizure is over, the animal may wake up confused and disoriented.
One cannot do much to prevent seizures in older dogs. However, you can take your dog to a veterinarian for regular check ups and keep the underlying causes in check. Also, regular seizure treatment will help keep the occurrence of episodes to a minimum.
What To Do
You need to remain calm yourself when you witness a canine seizure. You should immediately contact the veterinarian and ask him for advice. You should maintain a safe distance from the dog as it may suddenly strike. Also, make sure your dog is in a safe environment that will not cause any injury to it. Once the seizure is over, remain calm. You need to approach your dog cautiously and gently. Call out the dog's name and try to make it calm.
You should speak to the veterinarian regarding the treatment. You need to be regular with the doses of medications if you want the frequency of the seizures to reduce. It is a very frightening time for the owner to helplessly watch their pet experience a seizure. One goes to through an emotional upheaval that makes seizures not only traumatic for the dog, but also emotionally draining for the owner. However, with proper care and treatment, you can reduce the occurrence of seizures in your dog. As an owner, it is up to you to decide what's best for your pet and do everything possible to make it feel better.