Welcome to the Canine Epilepsy Support Website

If you have witnessed your dog having a seizure or ‘fit’, you will know how frightening it can be. Seizures are not uncommon in dogs. Whilst some dogs may only experience a single ‘one off’ seizure in their life time, some dogs will suffer from seizures on a more regular basis. If your dog experiences more than one seizure it is possible that they may be epileptic.

This site aims to provide you with as much information as you might need to know about canine epilepsy and how to live with a dog with this condition. It will give you information on the therapies available and give you useful downloads to help monitor your pet.

What is epilepsy?

Idiopathic epilepsy is a disorder in which seizures or ‘fits’ occur repeatedly. Sometimes seizures can have an underlying cause such as an illness or problem within the brain, however a lot of the time there is not a clear underlying cause and the animal can be otherwise completely healthy in between.

As an owner of an epileptic dog, you may have experienced the distressing sight of them fitting. While the outlook may at first seem bleak, it is important to remember that in typical epileptic seizures your dog is unconscious and not aware of what they are experiencing.

If episodes occur because of a problem elsewhere in the body, such as heart disease which stops oxygen reaching the brain, this is not epilepsy. Your vet may do tests to try to find the reason for the epilepsy, but in many cases no cause can be identified.
In most instances effective treatment is possible and many epileptic dogs enjoy a pain-free, long and happy life.

If you are worried that your dog is epileptic, speak to your vet today.

How do I recognise epilepsy?

Epilepsy is usually first seen in young animals, typically between 6 months to 6 years of age, but can affect animals at any stage of their lives.

Each seizure usually lasts 1 to 2 minutes, but can last longer in some cases. If the seizure is lasting for more than 5 minutes or occurring more often than once per hour, you should contact your vet immediately.

In a typical seizure, the dog will lie on their side and alternate between rigidly straightening out their head and neck and performing jerking, paddling movements with their legs. There may be partial or complete loss of consciousness, as well as a loss of control of bowel motions and urine.

In addition to the seizure itself, you may notice strange behaviour both before and after. For example, your dog may appear restless or behave oddly before the seizure and may be sleepy or restless afterwards. Some dogs become very affectionate, while others seem abnormally hungry or thirsty. Each epileptic dog will have its own individual signs.

Is there a cure?

Unfortunately there is no cure for epilepsy and an epileptic dog will always be at risk of having a seizure. Yet treatment can be very successful, most often resulting in reduced frequency, duration or severity of seizures; sometimes stopping them from occurring altogether.

Remember, in most instances effective treatment is possible and many epileptic dogs enjoy a pain-free, long and happy life.

Can I do anything to prevent epilepsy?

There are some measures that can be taken to reduce the frequency of seizure in an epileptic dog. If your pet suffers from this condition it would be unwise to breed from them as there is thought to be a strong hereditary factor with epilepsy.

When should I contact my vet?

When your dog starts a seizure make a note of the time. If your dog comes out of the seizure within 5 minutes then allow them time to recover quietly before contacting your vet. If this is the first seizure your dog has had, your vet may ask you to bring your dog into the next routine appointment for a check and some routine blood tests. It is far better for your dog to recover quietly at home rather than be exposed to the stresses of a car journey and vets waiting area immediately after a seizure.

If your dog does not come out of the seizure within 5 minutes, or has repeated seizures close together, then you should contact your vet immediately, as they will want to see your dog as soon as possible. Always call your vet practice before driving there to be sure someone is alerted and waiting to help when you arrive.