Get Your Dog Care Questions Answered by Experts ASAP
Hello and thanks for researching this very important question!
Bear with this long discussion, but I'd like to give you as much background info as possible so that you can understand and work with your vet as a partner!
Some seizure disorders have a cause, such as previous illness (diabetes, kidney or liver failure, hypoglycemia), toxins, tumors or physical injury (like being hit by a car) that has damaged the brain.
Some seizure disorders are what we call "Idiopathic" (sickness without a known cause). Sometimes a dog will have one seizure, and never another. Most dogs with simple epilepsy can be well treated with drugs. Epilepsy seems to be hereditary in many breeds, and usually arises within the first two years of a young dog's life.
Seizures can have a lot of ways that they affect the body, depending on where in the brain the problem is: some seizures cause paralysis of the legs or whole body, some seizures do not. Some seizures cause complete loss of consciousness, while other dogs remain aware of everything around them the entire time.
Seizures can be brief (sometimes there is not even loss of consciousness), or prolonged. They can be mild in their appearance or physically violent. The more vigorous and the more prolonged a seizure is, the more dangerous it is to the brain.
An older pet experiencing a violent seizure, or repeated seizures, is more likely to be harboring a serious health problem, such as cancer, brain hemorrhage/tumor, or organ failure.
Diagnosis can be as simple as running some blood tests, or as complicated as undergoing an MRI to find a tumor or other brain-threatening condition. Deciding what tests to run, or whether to seek the opinion of a Veterinary Neurologist are very individual decisions that depend partly on your pet's ability to undergo the testing and partly on your family's finances.
"Encephalitis" is the medical word to describe inflammation and swelling of brain tissue. A variety of symptoms of brain dysfunction can be seen, including motor (movement) problems and coma.
Mosquito-borne infective agents are most prevalent in the southeastern U.S. (where mosquito populations are most stable all year round). There are various organisms that can affect many mammal species (and even reptiles!). This is a really comprehensive list of the commonly found viral agents actively found in the U.S.:
Other causes of encephalitis include dog-borne illnesses (such as canine distemper virus), and infective agents carried by ticks:
The most common cause of encephalitis in pet dogs is an immune condition discussed here. Treatment is available and is very effective if started early enough:
There is a terminal condition that is genetically inherited in Pugs as an autoimmune illness, commonly known as "Pug Dog Encephalitis". In order to assign this diagnosis to a case, the dog should be younger than 6 years of age at onset.
Little is known about how this condition develops to the brain-damaging phase, so treatments are confined to controlling symptoms until a "point of no return" is reached in the disease's progression.
***To find the true cause of these seizures, your dog should be screened to rule out the treatable conditions above; many people visit a licensed Veterinary Neurologist who can perform the most direct tests in the quickest amount of time.***
You can search for a Neurologist here if your regular vet does not have a local referral name for you:
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