Seizures are normally associated with epilepsy which is a chronic condition of recurrent seizures. Epilepsy however, is not the only cause behind seizures. All seizures do not follow a set pattern of contractions and can range between contractions of skeletal muscles, loss of consciousness, facial twitching and vocalizations. There are different types of seizures and these have been classified according to phases, severity and the type of behavioral changes they bring forth.
Partial seizures are localized seizures that occur only on the part of the brain affected. The disturbance in the brain activity and conveyance of nerve impulses that causes a seizure is generally confined in a localized area. It may also expand and affect the whole brain over time. A focal seizure can affect any part of the body resulting in an abnormality in behaviors controlled by the affected portion of the brain. Abnormal behaviors may last for short periods or extend up to hours and a generalized seizure may follow.
In simple partial seizures, the area of the brain that is affected is the one that controls movement. In such cases it is the face that is affected the most. Symptoms like twitching and blinking appear and these are known to affect one side of the face. If the seizure continues, other parts of the body on the same side may be affected. In simple partial seizures the dog is usually alert and aware of its surroundings.
Complex partial seizures are also known as psychomotor or behavioral seizures that originate in that area of the brain that controls behaviors. In human beings, complex partial seizures are marked by a distinct change in behavior that may range from distortion of perception and emotions to the bizarre. In dogs, they are characterized by hysterical running, resonant vocal sounds, aggression, crouching or hiding, with or without loss of muscle control. Some of the other signs are vomiting, diarrhea, frothing mouth, temporary loss of vision, paddling or flank biting and abnormal thirst. There is a general lack of awareness about this disorder even though the dog engages in senseless repetitive behaviors. He may become aggressive without any provocation or appear to be biting at imaginary flies around the head.
As only a part of the brain is affected, complex partial seizures are normally associated with secondary feline and canine epilepsy. Convulsions and seizures are classified as a symptom of epilepsy when there is no underlying cause behind the condition. The underlying cause may be a noticeable head injury or a brain tumor or a metabolic disease.
Seizures are a major problem with domestic pets, both canine and feline. Seizures in pets are often seen by owners as catastrophic happenings that comes out of the blue without any warning. A seizure does not cause any pain to the dog despite the agony that appears in dog behavior. It should be handled with patient calmness instead of panic. The earlier they are reported to the veterinarian the better it is. Most of the times, seizures are due to idiopathic (without known reason) epilepsy and a specialist is the right person to determine if there is an underlying disease and provide relevant treatment.