There are many causes of canine seizures, and fortunately for some dogs, those seizures are isolated incidents.
For many dogs however, the incidence of a seizure may not be isolated. When this is the case, it may be that the dog is suffering from canine epilepsy.
Note that epilepsy and seizure are not synonyms. Epilepsy is a cause of seizures and is sometimes referred to as ‘recurrent seizure disorder‘ due to the fact that epilepsy sufferers experience frequent seizures.
There are many similarities between canine epilepsy and human epilepsy, the main difference being the method of treatment, but also that it may be more difficult to recognise the occurrence of a canine seizure in some instances.
What is Canine Epilepsy?
As mentioned earlier, canine epilepsy is a recurrent seizure disorder, where the dog experiences frequent seizures. In general, a dog suffering from a seizure or more a month is considered to be epileptic. Isolated seizures or less frequent seizures may be the result of another underlying disease.
The onset of seizures in dogs suffering from canine epilepsy can begin as early as 6 months of age, or as late as 5 years. Seizures that arise in dogs aged over 5 years may again be the result of an underlying disease, and not a result of epilepsy. The frequency of seizures in epileptic dogs may also increase over time (without treatment). Depending on the severity, epileptic dogs may experience multiple seizures each month. Multiple seizures in a day is a cause for concern (see cluster seizures below).
Canine epilepsy causes seizures as a result of sudden abnormal ‘electrical activity’ in the brain. This unusual activity results in a complete or altered loss of conciousness.
In the majority of cases, the cause of canine epilepsy is unknown (idiopathic), however, in some cases, epilepsy may be the result of a known cause (e.g. scar tissue in brain).