What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a condition that leads to dogs having repeated fits or seizures due to abnormal activity in the brain. Most seizures happen when dogs are relaxed and resting quietly, often in the evening or at night.
Symptoms include fits or seizures. Once seizures start, dogs lose consciousness and don't respond to owners. Facial twitching and running or stretching movements with their legs are also common symptoms and sometimes they cry out. Seizures typically last between 1 and 3 minutes. Once a fit is over affected dogs may behave oddly and may appear dazed and confused, sometimes for several hours. More rarely fits will continue over a longer period. This can be an emergency as the brain may become starved of oxygen. In such a case, urgent veterinary advice should be sought.
What causes epilepsy?
Epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in the brain. Some breeds of dog are more susceptible and the condition may be inherited in breeding lines. It may also result in minor brain damage caused by head injury or from oxygen starvation (for example at birth). Other types of seizures may be caused by underlying medical disorders, so your vet will usually need to investigate further.
A number of medications are available to control regular or persistent epileptic seizures. If you think your dog has developed fits or seizures, contact your vet who will be able to advise appropriately.