EPILEPSY / SEIZURE (also see Seizure)

Epilepsy or seizures can be caused by trauma, brain tumor, or chemical imbalance. The most common cause of Epilepsy is termed “idiopathic” meaning unknown.

When a pet experiences a seizure it is due to repetitive inappropriate brain stimulation. A “Gran Mal” seizure describes full sustained tremor including defecation and urination. “Petit Mal” describes a briefer, lesser, tremor without defecation or urination. The first medical step is to run a general blood chemistry profile to rule out the possibility of abnormal blood glucose, insufficient blood calcium levels, or kidney disease which can all cause seizures. Seizures can also be caused by traumatic incident or head injury. In rare instances, seizure is triggered by a growing brain tumor, in which case the seizures increase in frequency rapidly and do not respond to medical therapy.

If chemistry values prove normal, it is best to wait and see if another seizure occurs before we prescribe lifelong administration of the anti-epilepsy medication Phenobarbitol. Phenobarbitol in high doses for long periods can cause liver disease. Therefore the blood levels of the phenobarbitol medication must to be checked regularly by the Vet Laboratory to confirm effective but non-toxic blood levels.

Epilepsy is not considered a “curable” disease, but rather “controllable”. Successful control is when the seizures are reduced from 2 or more monthly 2-4 X yearly. If a pet seizures less than 4-6 X yearly it is debatable whether the anti-epileptic medication is indicated.