WHAT IS SEIZURES OR EPILEPSY? (DOG, CAT, PET ANIMAL)


WHAT IS SEIZURES OR EPILEPSY?

Epilepsy is a general term which describes the chronic disturbance of the nervous system function for dogs, cats, pets and all animals.

Seizures, convulsions or epileptic fits, often use interchangeably, are the episodes your cat, dog or pet may experience if s/he has epilepsy. Seizures can also happen due to reasons other than epilepsy, which is more common.

Seizures happen when normal electrical activity of the brain is interrupted, blocked or distorted, resulting in the excessive or mis-firing of nerve impulses from the brain, causing seizure symptoms from mild shaking, jerking, twitching and spasms to violent muscle cramping, convulsions and fits.

The sensation is like heated electrical shocks shooting all over the body (like an internal short circuit), causing a temporary loss of control over mind and bodily functions. It can be a rather exhausting experience and your pet looses a lot of energy during a convulsive seizure.

It usually takes a bit of time for your canine, feline or pet animal to recover and regain conscious control from a seizure or epilepsy attack. Also, minor tics can, but not always, progress to more serious convulsions and seizures.

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WHAT CAUSES SEIZURES OR EPILEPSY IN DOG, CAT & PET?

Seizures are usually the result of an overwhelmed nervous system due to a variety of different reasons. The most common reasons for canine, feline and pet seizures are:

  • Excessive level of or allergic reaction to chemical toxins that has entered the bloodstream and/or nervous system. This may include, but are not limited to, pharmacy pet meds, vet drugs & medication, chemical parasites treatment, anaesthesia, vaccines treatment, household chemicals (home, lawn or public places) and food chemicals in pet food and pet treats (chemical dyes, food coloring, ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT, preservatives, additives, hormones, steroids, antibiotics, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, genetically modified foods, processed foods, spices, MSG, etc.). Any combination, over time, can tip your pet's tolerance scale.

  • Poisoning such as rat poison, mushroom poison, plant poisoning, antifreeze poisoning, street drugs, non-vet medicine, other poisonous chemicals and deliberate poisons.

  • Physical trauma or injury to the brain, nerves or nervous system (present or past) such as concussion, bruising, hematoma. Sometimes this happens very obviously while other times it may be due to a minor fall or bump where you don't notice anything (think Natasha Richardson and her beginner's ski accident). Physical trauma can also occur due to a lack of oxygen to the brain tissues, however brief, from an old illness, accident or surgery process (whether you know it or not).

  • Brain, nerves and nervous system diseases, whatever the cause, such as infection, inflammation, meningitis, hydrocephalous (water in the brain or brain edema), lesion, scar tissues, tumor or cancer growth, malfunctioning of the pituitary or pineal glands and other deterioration.

  • Emotional trauma, intense fear or chronic stress and anxiety. Remember, this is from your dog, cat or pet's perspective, not yours. Some animals are more anxious, easily stressed and timid, while others may become this way due to their past such as abandonment, psychological or physical abuse. Emotional sponging from human and family stress is another major source of anxiety. All these emotions can be felt acutely from one incident or over time from many minor situations. Memories of past fears and scares can be triggered by seemingly unrelated current events which alter the brain's chemistry and set seizures into motion.

  • Distemper and other viruses - for pets who have experienced distemper or intense viral attack to its latest stage and recovered from it, they may have neurological damages that include spasms and twitching.

  • Rabies virus - rabies symptoms often include mania and convulsions with characteristic triggers such as water, water reflections, shiny surfaces and light. Sometimes a dog, cat or pet can react with convulsions even if bitten by a non-rabied animal.

  • Non-head injuries or illness, with or without high fever, can cause secondary damages to the brain, nerves or nervous system functions.

  • Unknown causes yet to be discovered by us BUT there is always a legitimate cause.

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WHAT TRIGGERS PRE-EXISTING SEIZURES OR EPILEPSY?

While the cause of seizures are often difficult to pinpoint, epilepsy and seizure triggers are a lot easier to identify if you keep a good record of your pet's seizure attacks.

Record the date, time, environment, weather, any changes and happenings a few weeks, days, hours to a few minutes before the seizure attack. Over time you will find some common patterns.

Once you are aware of the patterns, and there will be new ones, you can then avoid triggers, change event patterns so it is less stressful or use remedies to help your pet before a stressful situation.

Common things and stress that trigger seizures for your dog, cat or pet are:

  • Traveling & Motion Sickness: Car ride, ferry ride, boat ride, plane ride and so on.

  • Routine Changes: Traveling, visitors, pet owners going away on vacation, house visit, new family member, new pets, moves, kennel stay and so on.

  • Weather Changes: Rain, damp, heat, cold, windy or stormy conditions. Any extremes or major changes such as thunder and lightning.

  • Fears: Anything that your dog, cat or pet is afraid of or nervous about e.g. vet checkup, vet exams, blood test, groomer visit, etc. The more anxious your pet's personality is, the more of these fear triggers there will be.

  • Chemicals, Herbs, Essential Oils: Chemical flea, tick, mite, worm and parasites medication, strong pharmaceutical drugs, anaesthesia, surgery drugs, certain mind-stimulating herbs and essential oils.

  • Vaccines: Can be major trigger for some pets.

  • Food: Certain foods, esp. additives and chemicals in pet food, as well as cooking spices, seasonings, sesame seeds and peanuts.

  • Abrupt Hormonal Changes in one's life, whether naturally occurred or disease/chemically altered, can set off epilepsy symptoms in your dog, cat, pet animals and human.

  • Moon Cycles: Some pets are extremely sensitive to the subtle energy of the full moon, waning moon or new moon, as well as related tidal movements. Those dog, cat or pet with hormonal fluctuations, esp. an increase in estrogen or decrease in progesterone, can particularly be affected by these moon cycles.

  • Emotional Stress: If there is disharmony within the family pack (verbally expressed or not), or tension within individual family member's conscious or subconscious (human or animals), your cat, dog, pet and children will soak up the negative energy like a sponge, and affect them negatively.

  • Mental Stress: Is anyone being verbally or energetically rude, harsh or aggressive towards your pet? They don't need to say anything out loud, their negative thoughts will be picked up by your sensitive animal. Even harmless jokes, tricks and play (human point of view), loud noises and sudden action can be interpreted by a vulnerable pet as threats to him/her.

  • Physical Stress: Illness, physical rough housing, physical abuse, chronic pain, soreness, aches and discomfort can also set off twitchings or seizures. Even poor air quality like stale or heated air in cars; smoke, perfume or air spray scents in the home, can trigger an epileptic seizure attack. Even little details like disruptive sound vibration of heavy metal music can change the brain chemistry negatively.

  • Unique Stressors: Each dog, cat or pet is unique and have unique life experiences and personalities, therefore, their seizure triggers will be individual to them as well.

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WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SEIZURES?

The most common types of dog, cat and pet seizures are:

GRAND MAL SEIZURES

Grand mal seizures are the most recognizable seizures attack in canine and feline where there is a fall, complete loss of control in muscles coordination and even unconsciousness during the seizures. Grand mal seizures are also called tonic-clonic seizures.

Symptoms BEFORE grand mal seizures:

The dog, cat or pet may appear restless at the onset, resting with no initial signs or jerk up from rest with or without a scream. Your dog, puppy, cat, kitten or other pet may also be grumpy a few days or minutes ahead of the seizures, displays unusual aggressive behavior, gives out a cry, yelp, shriek, howl or yawn as an early sign of oncoming seizures. Other non-epileptic pets in your home may stay away from the seizure pet days, hours or minutes ahead of the seizure attack.

Symptoms DURING grand mal seizures:

The dog, cat or pet may fall down to one side or on his/her back (tonic). The head and neck may tilt backwards. The muscles cramp up, become rigid with violent twitching, thrashing and paddling (clonic). There may be involuntary urination and defecation. There may be labored breathing and heart constriction.

There is usually foaming and drooling at the mouth, with or without vocal sounds, with the tongue hanging out. You may also see tears, redness and white from the eyes, showing intense fear or confusion. The seizures often last 1-3 minutes, sometimes longer for pets with intense seizures.

Symptoms AFTER grand mal seizures:

Sometimes the dog, cat or pet may become completely unconscious.

More often, the dog, cat or pet is anxious, disoriented, may be pacing frantically, drink a lot, want fresh air and contact with the ground (earth).

The dog, cat or pet may also have problems coordinating the legs (staggering like a drunk), finding his/her direction, have temporary loss of sight (banging into things), hyper sensitivity to light (photophobia), severe headache and want lots of assurance from the pet guardian (to feel safe).

During this phase, the dog, cat or pet may try to lie down and rest but get up again right away as s/he does not feel comfortable in the body and in the head. After this anxious, repeated pacing phase, which may last 30-60 minutes, the dog, cat or pet usually falls into a deep sleep. Some pet and animal may pace on and off for several days.

Other symptoms may appear 24-72 hours after the grand mal seizure has settled. See Are epilepsy & seizures life threatening? below for more information.

The grand mal seizures may happen only once or twice, or it may repeat whenever it is triggered. It may happen many times within a 24-48 hour period (cluster seizures) or continuously without a period of consciousness or relaxation in between (status epilepticus).


PETIT MAL SEIZURES

This is a mild seizure usually with head tremors and light leg spasms. People sometimes miss it especially if the pet is sitting or lying down. The dog, cat or pet is conscious but may not recognize people or its surroundings during petit mal seizures. Absence seizure is another name for petit mal seizures.

The dog, cat or pet may look dazed, off at a distance, unaware and motionless. The eyes can be fixated, glaring or spacey. The head and body may tremble slightly. The limbs may also tense up, jerk, shake or paddle. The dog, cat or pet may also be staggering like a drunk if s/he is standing up.

Petit mal seizures often come in between grand mal seizures. Petit mal seizures can progress to grand mal seizures and, therefore, should not be ignored.


PARTIAL SEIZURES

This type of seizure is most common in cats which is somewhere in between petit mal seizures and grand mal seizures. Basically it means certain parts of the body are out of control while the rest are still ok. Partial seizures include myoclonic seizures (muscle contractions), atonic seizures (head drop) and clonic seizures.

Partial seizures can be a gentle epileptic fit with a lack of motion, staring into space and mild shaking of the head and body.

Partial seizures can also be an active convulsion where the cat, dog or pet runs around frantically as if chasing something invisible, leaps into the air or at objects, meows or barks with urgency, along with facial twitching, salivation and may progress with more muscular tension and into a full blown grand mal seizure.

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ARE EPILEPSY & SEIZURES LIFE-THREATENING?

Let us be very honest, seizures are terrifying to watch. In itself, epilepsy and seizures are not life threatening. However, there are dangers associated with seizuring:

  • Laboured breathing may lead to suffocation.

  • Heart constriction and increase in blood pressure may lead to heart attack.

  • During seizures, the paralyzed tongue of your dog, cat or pet may obstruct breathing.

  • The dog, cat or pet may injure itself during the convulsions and fits, especially the head area.

  • Low blood sugar level (glucose used up during muscle contractions) can lead to collapse and shock.

  • Prolonged, frequent seizures, especially grand mal seizures, can affect muscle tone, including organ muscles. This can lead to other complications such as incontinence, chronic digestion problem, heart congestion, respiratory difficulty and chronic lethargy.

  • Over time there could be further damages to the brain, nerves and nervous system.

  • Secondary problems can escalate after the seizures, one to a few days later.

  • Death can happen from very frequent and intense seizures in some cases. More often, an injury during seizure can lead to coma or death.

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CAN SEIZURES & EPILEPSY BE TREATED?

Seizures can be reduced in frequency and intensity with holistic treatment, sometimes even dramatically.

If you know the cause that sets off the first seizure for your cat, dog or pet, then addressing it can give even better results.

By being aware of seizure triggers, pet specific stressors that set off existing epilepsy or seizures, you can further prevent seizure attacks.

It is important to keep a record of all dates, time, environment, changes or happenings a few weeks, days, hours and minutes prior to seizures as it will eventually give you a pattern for a prevention strategy plan.

Both conventional and holistic treatments are described below. A cure is possible for some pets at this time while others may not get a cure from conventional or conventional holistic treatment.

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CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT FOR CANINE, FELINE, PET SEIZURES & EPILEPSY

Most seizures or epilepsy, and their causes, go undetected by blood and other laboratory tests. Veterinarians commonly use these medication to suppress seizures:

  • Phenobarbital (abbreviated pb or phb)

  • Potassium Bromide (abbreviated KBr)

  • Phenobarbital & Potassium Bromide

  • Valium (diazepam)

  • Dilantin (phenytoin)

  • Neurontin (gabapentin)

These veterinary medicines do not treat for cure but aim to stop seizures by suppressing the nervous system. Since these drugs suppress the nervous system, but are not selective, other bodily functions may also be affected.

Dogs, cats and pets on phenobarbital need to have their liver enzymes tested every three to four months. They also need pre- and post-meal bile acid testing to make sure the phenobarbital has not caused liver damage.

Side effects of canine, feline and pet anti-convulsive and anti-seizure drugs are rather significant:

  • Liver damage (more toxins to handle)

  • Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite

  • Lethargy, depression

  • Loss of concentration and memory, confusion, headache

  • Excessive thirst, excessive appetite, excessive urination

  • Loss of use of hind leg, loss of reflexes, loss of sensitivity

  • Personality change

  • Skin affections

  • Restlessness, seizure-like symptoms, coma

  • Worsening of asthma, heart condition and other pre-existing conditions

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HOLISTIC TREATMENT FOR CANINE, FELINE, PET SEIZURES & EPILEPSY

Our holistic animal treatment plan includes homeopathic remedies, vibrational essences, herbal medicine, organs detox, electrolytes replacement and energy re-balancing for your dog, cat or pet after a seizure attack.

This natural integrative approach helps your cat, dog or pet to:

  • Calm and regress seizures without suppression.

  • Stabilize your cat's, dog's or pet's fears and confusion.

  • Re-gain mental clarity, balance and bodily coordination.

  • Nourish nerves and relax the nervous system so they can be repaired internally.

  • Eliminate toxic organs overload, esp the liver.

  • Replenish blood sugar level after each seizure to prevent shock.

  • Re-stabilize the disturbed energy field of the animal.

  • Address secondary complications, even serious or life threatening symptoms, from seizure attacks.

Additional treatment may be needed for the cause of the seizures or if there are multiple factors involved such as emotional trauma or past head/nerves injuries.

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WHAT CAN I DO WHEN MY DOG, CAT OR PET IS SEIZURING?

First, don't panic. You need to be alert. Not all dog, cat or pet bite during seizures. To be safe, don't put your bare fingers in the mouth. Try to help your dog, cat or pets not to injure themselves if possible, especially the head.

To prevent injury, you can throw some pillows or blankets at where your dog, cat or pet is landing, about to land, and to protect the head from hitting any wall or hard objects. You can also move furniture, breakables, close doors and keep children and other pets away. If your pet is prone to seizure attacks, it may be wise to re-arrange your breakable furnishings in the house and yard to avoid injuries to your seizuring pet and property damages.

If you see that the tongue is obstructing breathing, put on some thick gloves, use your hands to move your dog's, cat's or pet's tongue so it hangs out of the mouth and away from the throat. The gloves will prevent you from getting bitten accidentally since your pet may not be able to control its jaw reflexes during seizures.

After the seizure, touch and talk to your dog, cat or pet to reassure him or her. Follow your dog, cat or pet around to help prevent injury (e.g. throw a pillow under the bum when s/he falls). Allow access to outdoor fresh air and ground that connects to the earth, on a leash if needed, and opportunity to urinate.

Offer water for thirst and grain-based electrolyte fluids after each seizure attack at regular intervals to replenish blood sugar level and lost energy. (Glucose based electrolytes are not as good but can be used temporarily e.g. Pedialyte. You can also use homemade oats or rice water temporarily.) Give homeopathic remedies to assure a quick recovery.

You can also help your dog, cat or pet with our Spasms & Tremors Remedy Kit or Seizures and Epilepsy Remedy Kit. More healing tips can be found here.

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THINGS TO AVOID FOR CAT, DOG & PET WITH SEIZURES & EPILEPSY

Avoid mind-stimulating herbs or herbal extract such as rosemary, sage, thyme, wormwood, dill and mint.

Avoid essential oils containing camphor, cedar, eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, tansy, tea tree (melaleuca), thuja, turpentine and wormwood. I will avoid all essential oils during this time to be safe.

Avoid using chemical pet shampoo or natural pet shampoo that contains chemicals or strong essential oils. Read the labels for non-natural ingredients. Smell the shampoo for overpowering scent. If you need to bathe your cat, dog or pet, use our WildPets Skin Trouble Natural Shampoo or pure glycerine soap.

Avoid peanuts, sesame seeds and cooking spices. Introduce one new ingredient, food or supplement at a time so you can test whether it triggers your pet's seizures. I once used a new brand of yogurt and it had rosemary extract in it, bingo!

Of course, chemicals should be avoided at all times (e.g. MSG, aspartame, antifreeze, etc.). Vaccinations, chemical wormer, heartworm pills, chemical flea, mite or parasite programs, household chemicals, paint, pesticides and even perfume can trigger pre-existing seizures. Go natural around your house and yard as much as possible.

The biggest seizures trigger is STRESS, whether it is physical, mental or emotional stress - from your dog, cat or pet perspective. Each individual pet will have its unique triggers. The only way you can help them is to keep a good record, identify these stress triggers and use our remedy kits to help them.

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