When the dog suffers an epileptic seizure for the first time, it is a frightening experience for all family members. The first point of contact is then the trusted veterinarian, who first tries to determine possible causes for the seizure with a neurological examination and a laboratory diagnostic check of the blood.
When making a diagnosis, it is important to describe the seizure in detail. Video documentation of the seizures, for example by recording with a cell phone, is helpful.
In dogs, epileptic seizures are the most common chronic neurological dysfunction. Some possible causes of the cramping, such as z.B. Metabolic diseases, can be treated to prevent further seizures. Unfortunately, in the dog, despite elaborate. cost-intensive examinations often fail to find a cause. This is referred to as idiopathic epilepsy, in which renewed seizures can usually only be suppressed by the lifelong administration of antiepileptic drugs.
In the case of a single seizure or isolated seizures at intervals of more than six months, there is, in the opinion of experts, no reason for long-term treatment with medication.
"If the seizures occur repeatedly and at shorter intervals, consistent therapy is urgently recommended once the diagnosis has been confirmed," explains Matthias Hoffmann, veterinarian at Virbac Tierarzneimittel. Untreated, seizures occur at increasingly shorter intervals. Become progressively less controllable. The risk of serial seizures with several convulsions in one day or even a "status epilepticus", a life-threatening convulsion lasting five to 30 minutes, increases.
Drug treatment of epilepsy
The drug of choice for the treatment of epilepsy in dogs is phenobarbital. Virbac now offers the drug, which has been tried and tested in human medicine, with veterinary approval for dogs. Correct adjustment of the patient to the antiepileptic drug is important at the beginning.
In addition to the emotional burden of having a beloved pet diagnosed with epilepsy, the pet owner faces another test at the beginning of treatment.
In the first two weeks, dogs tend to be very weak, occasionally have difficulty walking and are noticeably thirsty and hungry. In addition come, despite treatment, possible further epileptic seizures.
"From the point of view of the animal owners, it is understandable that they would prefer to discontinue the treatment immediately, but for the medication to have an effect, it must be taken consistently," Matthias Hoffmann warns. "After 14 days the drug begins to work, after three to four weeks the side effects recede. This valley of tears must go through the animal owners, even if it is difficult."
It is necessary to take the medication twice a day and always at the same time of day. This is the only way to build up a consistent level of active substances. The veterinarian determines the individual dosage for the animal by regularly checking the level of the active substance in the blood.
When the worst is over..
Once the patient has been successfully controlled and has no or only a few seizures, pet owners should not arbitrarily discontinue the medication because they consider their dog to be cured. Changes in dosage should always be discussed with the veterinarian. Abrupt discontinuation of medication can cause severe withdrawal convulsions.
Not all dogs can have a satisfactory outcome with phenobarbital alone. In these cases a combination treatment can be the solution. In this case, the active ingredient potassium bromide is also administered, which supports the effect of the phenobarbital. The potassium bromide preparation has now been approved for the first time for use in dogs. It is offered by Virbac in a tablet strength suitable for animals.
When a dog suffers from epilepsy, the treatment path is long and requires a lot of perseverance, understanding of the therapy and meticulous adherence to the treatment. But the diagnosis of epilepsy does not mean the end – because a dog can live very well with it, if it is well adjusted to its medication.
Virbac veterinary medicines
Virbac Tierarzneimittel GmbH, headquartered in Nice, is one of the top ten veterinary pharmaceutical companies in the world. Virbac develops and produces large and small animal vaccines, dermatological products, antiparasitics, dietetics, dental products as well as readers and transponders for animal identification, among others, in 22 subsidiaries on all 5 continents.