What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a disorder that has increasingly become a common problem for pet owners as it frequently affects the health of dogs and cats. This disorder is characterized by seizures which occur intermittently and range in intensity from mild to severe. Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical disturbances in the brain. Neurons, also called nerve cells in the brain send and receive electrical impulses in the body which interferes with the normal brain processes.
As a result, your pet will lose control of his muscles and experience jerking, twitching, thrashing and paddling movements. Seizures can affect animals once in their lifetime or occur regularly.
When more than one seizure occurs in 24 hours, it is known as cluster seizures while three or more seizures after each other or a seizure that continues for more than 30 minutes is known as status epilepticus. It is imperative that you consult your vet immediately if your pet exhibits any signs of epilepsy so that he can receive medical attention.
Types of epilepsy
There are various types of seizures that differ in intensity. Epileptic seizures may be classified into either generalized or partial episodes:
Generalized seizures occur frequently in dogs and cats and there are a number of variations of these seizures which include grand mal (tonic clonic), tonic, clonic, mycoclonic and petit mal (absence seizures). Grand mal seizures are the most common form of seizures in cats and dogs. The seizure begins with loss of consciousness and contraction of the skeletal muscles.
This causes the animal to fall on his side with its limbs extended and head back – known as the tonic phase. During the tonic phase, the animal may often drool excessively, experience loss of bowel and bladder control, and vomit. The tonic phase is followed by the clonic phase which is characterized by jerking of the muscles, paddling or running movements of the legs or clamping of the jaws.
Partial Seizures are also referred to as focal seizures and remain localized or spread to other parts of the body. It causes repeated twitching movements and is often so subtle that you may hardly notice it all.
The most common symptoms during epilepsy are:
- Repetitive jerking and twitching body movements
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Vomiting and increased salivating