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Dog Epilepsy

Dog Epilepsy

A small, frisky, brown-and-black dog

Dog Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurrent seizures. It is relatively common in dogs. Epilepsy generally starts between the ages of 6 months to 5 years, with a typical age of onset of 2-3 years. Epilepsy is not curable, but it can usually be managed with medications so that seizures are kept to a minimum and quality of life is good.


Seizures are a sign of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. There are many causes of seizures other than epilepsy. In fact, epilepsy is only diagnosed when other causes of seizures can be safely ruled out. Causes of seizures include:

  • Congenital brain defects
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain injury such as head trauma or stroke
  • Infection
  • Abnormally low or high blood sugar
  • Heatstroke or high fever
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Low thyroid level
  • Toxins
  • Medication side effects
  • Stroke
  • Epilepsy

There are 3 main types of seizure: grand mal, partial, and complex. Characterizing the seizure can help narrow down the cause.

Grand Mal seizures in dogs are dramatic and hard to miss. a dog will typically lose consciousness, fall down on one side and have uncontrollable muscle movements of the whole body, resulting in kicking or paddling. The animal may salivate profusely and sometimes urinate or defecate involuntarily. Epileptics most commonly have Grand Mal seizures.

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