Saturday , May 18 2024

Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy: How to Deal With It

When you’re adopting a dog, you’re welcoming a new family member. It becomes an integral part of our lives, and we want the best for it. Of course, their health is our number one priority, and we will do everything to make them feel comfortable, healthy and happy. However, whether we like it or not, they’ll have health issues at some point in their lives. The important thing is for you to recognize the symptoms on time and provide them with the proper care.

Starting from a minor cough to severe diseases like heart problems and eye issues, detecting the problem from the beginning is crucial. And with today’s advanced medicine and treatments, your furry friend can be up and about in no time. With seizures being one of the most frequently reported neuroglial conditions in dogs, today we will talk about idiopathic epilepsy and how to deal with it.

What Is Idiopathic Epilepsy?

dog suffering from Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy


Idiopathic epilepsy is a chronic condition where a group of seizure disorders comes from abnormal brain electrical activity. Still, the patient doesn’t have any structural brain abnormalities, and brain functions work as they should. The cause for this may not be identified even though many testing, such as MRIs, blood tests, spinal fluid sampling etc., have been made. This is the most common neurological problem that affects dogs and occurs in 75% of dogs with seizures. Most commonly, this happens in dogs between six months and six years.

What Are the Symptoms?

Different dogs can have different symptoms. But some movements and twitching while dreaming can be confused with seizure activity. The most common seizure activities are nausea, hiding, difficulty seeing and attention-seeking. There are three main categories of seizures in dogs – focal seizures, generalized seizures and focal to generalized seizures. All of them have different symptoms of epilepsy.

Focal seizures only affect one half of the brain at a time and act in a small area in that half. The most common symptoms are:

  • Unusual movements like head shaking, muscle contraction in just one limb or rhythmic eye blinking;
  • Dilated pupils;
  • Vomiting;
  • Excessive salivation;
  • Non-characteristic behaviours like unexplained fear, anxiety or restlessness.

Generalized seizures work on both sides of the brain. Often dogs will lose consciousness, or even urination and defection may occur. There are five categories for generalized seizures:

  • Tonic seizures that will contract or stiffen the muscles for a few seconds or minutes;
  • Clonic seizures lead to rapid muscle contractions and jerking motions;
  • Tonic-Clonic seizures when the tonic seizure effects precede the clonic effects;
  • Myoclonic seizures cause sporadic jerks on both sides of the body;
  • Atonic seizure where the dog quickly loses muscle tone and collapses.

    dog at the doctor


Focal to generalized seizures are the most common, and a focal seizure quickly evolves into a generalized seizure. Be sure to remember any strange behaviour, so the vet can promptly help you.

How to Diagnose It and What’s the Treatment?

Idiopathic epilepsy is diagnosed by ruling out other possible diseases that may cause seizures. This is done by testing blood count, biochemical analysis and urinalysis, magnetic resonance and cerebrospinal analysis. All of this can help diagnose and exclude other diseases outside of the brain like inflammation and brain tumour.

Although there isn’t a cure for idiopathic epilepsy, there are medications like Pexion for dogs that can help reduce the harmful effects of idiopathic epilepsy and improve their quality of life. Every dog is not the same in size, weight, age and health condition, so after diagnosing and testing, your vet will prescribe the best possible medicine according to those parameters.

labrador at the vet


Pexion is an anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medicine that works by reducing the brain’s electrical activity. It also blocks calcium channels that allow electrical impulses between nerve cells. This way, it reduces the impulses, lowers the possibility of the dog getting a seizure, and reduces anxiety and fear. This medicine starts to work after the first dose, which is recommended to be twice a day, possibly around the same time and without food for better absorption. Pexion for dogs is available as tablets, and the dosage should be 10mg per kg bodyweight.

What Are the Causes?

There are many possible causes of idiopathic seizures, but the most common is the inheritance factor. This type of disease is almost always inherited by the dog’s parents, but the right and the exact cause is still not known. Other causes and factors can be liver disease, brain tumours, toxins, brain trauma, low or high blood sugar, anemia, head injury, kidney failure and strokes. Seizures can occur when the brain changes activity during feeding, falling asleep or waking up.

How to Help Your Dog During a Seizure?

It is essential to know how to behave and how can you help when your dog has a seizure. If you already know your dog is diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy, the first thing you need to provide is a safe, cozy and stress-free environment. When you see that it’s having a seizure, gently lower the dog to the floor so it doesn’t injure itself on chairs and tables or fall from the sofa or the bed. Keep calm and stay away from its mouth because it could bite you.

dog having a seizure


Remember that dogs can’t choke on their tongues, so don’t put anything in their mouth. Time the seizure, and if it lasts more than a couple of minutes, turn a fan at it because seizures can make a dog overheat – or put cold water on their paws to cool them down. Talk to them softly and call your vet when the seizure ends to give them the details and consult for further actions.

Is It Painful for the Dog?

Even if it looks like the dog is in pain because of the violent and dramatic appearance, seizures don’t cause pain to dogs. It might feel confused or panicked because of the uncontrollable actions. Having one seizure won’t be dangerous for your furry pal, but if they repeat in a short period or last more than a couple of minutes, the dog can overheat and the body temperature will rise. This may cause additional health issues in the future.

In Summary

Take good care of your dog. If you notice any signs of not just idiopathic epilepsy but any disease at all, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Out pets deserve to have the longest and healthiest lives possible.