Epilepsy in cats and dogs

Epilepsy in dogs and cats is very similar to that in humans – recurrent seizures that can be full body (grand mal) or less extensive (petit mal).

Dogs mostly get epilepsy by inheriting it and breeds such as poodles, collies, beagles, keeshunds, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherds are more susceptible than other breeds.

Many cases of epilepsy in cats are caused by a physical cause such as infectious diseases (e.g. feline infectious peritonitis, toxoplasmosis) as well as increased brain pressure and brain tumors, liver and kidney disease, low blood sugar, vitamin B-1 deficiency, feline AIDS, rabies, ingesting insecticides and antifreeze, and some parasites.

What To Do During A Seizure

If your pet starts to have a seizure, keep calm and try these things to help your pet (I’ve assumed the poor pet is a male dog for the guidance below.)

  • Place the pet’s head on a soft folded towel or pillow so he doesn’t hurt himself on the floor and remove all nearby objects as well.
  • Get some paper towels and warm soapy water ready for clean up (he’s likely to soil himself in the seizure) but keep it out of reach to avoid spills.
  • Do not put your hands into the pet’s mouth - you will get bitten if you do.
  • If your dog can’t breath and turns bluish, try an inverted spoon on the tongue to unblock the breathing passage. This situation is quite rare so only try it if it’s needed. If the dog still can’t breathe, pass two towels through the mouth and pull on them – one up, one down.
  • Gently stroke and speak calmly and softly to your dog. He will not know you are present until the seizures begin to subside but it will help you keep calm and the dog will wake up to your voice.
  • Keep the room darkened and keep other family members away while your dog recovers.

Talk to your vet when you suspect your pet is epileptic. If the seizures are frequent, your vet may prescribe drugs to help prevent them but they will take time to take effect.

As with any of your pet’s health conditions, if you are worried about your pet, talk to your vet.

Perhaps you have had an experience with epilepsy you'd like to share with us. Your comments and thoughts are always appreciated.