Epilepsy in Dogs

Imagine suddenly seeing your dog collapse, lose consciousness and bladder control and tremble on the floor in front of you. Seizures are scary. They usually only last for a few minutes but it feels like an eternity.

This is what happened to Misty, a very friendly, two year old border collie.

Her owners brought her to the Holland Park clinic about 10 minutes after the seizure and she was still under stress with an elevated temperature and an increase in her heart and breathing rate. Misty stabilised over the next 15 minutes and her physical exam findings came back to normal.

Misty’s seizure episode involved collapse, loss of consciousness, body trembling and loss of bladder control. It lasted perhaps a couple of minutes. Seizures can occur for a variety of reasons including central nervous system disease or trauma, metabolic disorders, poisoning and epilepsy.

Given Misty’s age and breed the most likely diagnosis is epilepsy. It can be inherited in the border collie and seizures usually start between 6 months and 3 years of age. Misty had a blood test for full biochemistry assessment and complete blood cell count to check for underlying disease and to ensure if treatment with any anti-seizure medication is required she has good organ function to tolerate it. Misty’s blood results showed no abnormalities and she could commence medication if needed. To completely rule out the other causes further testing can be arranged via referral to a specialist centre for a brain scan or CSF analysis. This would be strongly recommended if she was much older.

Medication for epileptic seizures is generally commenced if the episodes are becoming more frequent or increasing in severity. Since the initial visit Misty has had more seizures and we have commenced her on phenobarbitone. We will now monitor her regarding the frequency and severity of future seizures and we made need to adjust her medication. Misty’s owners are also monitoring her closely and will document any further activity. Unfortunately, treatment for canine epilepsy will often not provide complete remission of seizures but will provide a good result and a happier lifestyle for both pet and carer.

If you wish to learn more about epilepsy or other conditions which affect our pets please see the Pet Health Library link on our website and search seizures or epilepsy.