Sunday, 22 January 2012

Cavaliers and epilepsy

So I've written a post about chihuahuas and pyometra so I thought it would be a good idea to write about Cassies dilemma with epilepsy.

Last summer we noticed Cassie just wasn't acting her usual self then suddenly she started moving her front paws frantically in front of her like she was trying to swim. What was even more worrying was that she looked like she had gone blind and deaf; she wouldn't answer to her name or respond. We called the vet straight away and they had a look at her.

The vet was pretty certain Cassie had an epileptic fit. If you have witnessed your dog having a fit then you will know how frightening it can be. However, it's not something to worry too much about as fits and seizures aren't uncommon in dogs but you must contact your vet when they occur. The vet reassured us that many dogs will only experience a fit once and never again.

Unfortunately a few weeks later Cassie started acting strangely again, this time she refused to lower her head and didn't seem comfortable lying down. Once again we rushed her straight to the vets (our vets are amazing!). Now there is a condition in Cavaliers known as syringomyelia (SM) where the brain becomes too big for the skull (see syringomyelia here). However, the vet did some physical tests, bending the head to see any discomfort etc. and Cassie was absolutely fine.

What we were told was that we had actually seen the final stage of the seizure, and that there were three stages:
  1. The beginning: mood changes, dizziness, headache, nausea...
  2. The middle: confusion, shaking, tremors, stiffening and loss of consciousness...
  3. The final stage: the transition back to normal which may take hours...
It has been over six months since Cassies last seizure but there is no saying if she will have another although our vet thinks this is likely. If she experiences more seizures they are easy to treat through medication.

Here are some facts about epilepsy in dogs:
  • When your dog fits they will actually be unconscious so they cannot hear you or respond
  • Most dogs become stiff, fall onto their side and make running movements with their legs
  • Sometimes they will cry out and they may lose control of their bladder
  • Most fits in dogs last between 1 and 3 minutes
  • Seizures in some dogs are triggered by particular events or stress.

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