When pets experience seizure it is very upsetting to the humans that love them. Epilepsy is a term to describe repetitive inappropriate brain stimulation causing seizure activity. A “Gran Mal” seizure indicates full tremor, usually 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 profile to rule out the possible causes of abnormal blood glucose or blood calcium levels, or kidney disease. Traumatic incident or head injury can also cause seizures and in rare instances, seizure is triggered by a growing brain tumor. If cancer is causing the seizures they increase in frequency despite medical therapy. Cat scans are sometimes used to diagnose brain tumors in dogs.
If chemistry values prove normal, it is often advisable to wait for another seizure before we beginning anti-epilepsy medication Phenobarbitol. Phenobarbitol is a lifelong therapy and high doses over long periods can cause liver disease. Therefore the blood levels of phenobarbitol need to be checked regularly to confirm effective but non-toxic blood phenobarb levels exist.
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 is seizures less than 4-6 X yearly it is debatable whether the anti-epileptic medication is indicated. Once seizures become more frequent than once monthly, medications are very helpful.