Epilepsy in Dogs and Cats

a sick friend


"An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language." - Martin Buber


Epilepsy in dogs and cats is comparable to that in humans. The key symptom is a form of convulsion. These seizures can come in many forms and several of these are listed below:

Generalized Seizures

Generalized seizures are the general common type of seizures in dogs and cats. There are several variations of these seizures:

  1. Non appearance seizures (petit mal): an abrupt short loss of consciousness, unusual in animals.
  2. Myoclonic seizures: muscle jerking of one or more muscles.
  3. Clonic seizures: cadenced muscle contractions, rhythmic contractions.
  4. Tonic seizures: abnormal growth in muscle tone in all skeletal muscles, buldging like muscles.
  5. Tonic Clonic seizures (grand mal): the most conventional form of seizure found in pets.

Tonic Clonic Seizures

Tonic Clonic (grand mal) seizures account for 60% of seizures in cats and 80% of seizures in dogs. They are typically accompanied by a loss of consciousness, and consist of a tonic stage, where the increased muscle tone causes the animal to fall over on its side with its limbs extended, and a clonic stage, consisting of intense muscle jerking or paddling actions or rythmic contractions.

In order to diagnose accurate epilepsy, other causes of seizures must be primarily ruled out. Once a tentative diagnosis of epilepsy has been made (by excluding all the other recognized causes of seizures), the animal can be prescribed anti-convulsant drugs. These drugs are not fitting for animals with seizures caused by a dilemma beyond the brain function. The overall goal of anti-convulsant therapy is to destroy all seizure activity, but this is rarely achieved.

A more realistic goal is to lessen the frequency of the seizures to a point that is satisfactory for the owner, without having negative side effects for the animal. Since epilepsy is not curable, the owner must be ready to give a pet the medication for the rest of the animals life.


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