If provoked sufficiently any brain can elicit a seizure.
Therefore, an animal may experience a single seizure as
a sign of transient cerebral overload. Only if seizures
become recurrent and are not provoked by systemic disease,
is the animal diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy.
Epilepsy has been recognised in man since ancient Greek
times and has had a variety of suggested treatments including
exorcism, blood letting and mistletoe!Epilepsy is now thought
to be self limiting in up to 40% of canine cases and in
humans is considered to resolve spontaneously or with medication
in the majority of patients. My own brother experienced
a number of childhood convulsions which subsequently disappeared.
Despite this however, patients experiencing prolonged or
a cluster of seizures benefit from early treatment to avoid
brain damage. Border collies in particular can be difficult
to control and often require a combination of drugs.
Bromide which was the very first human anticonvulsant (1850)
has recently been revived within the last 20 years to be
used as a combination therapy alongside phenobarbitone which
remains the drug of first choice for our canine patients.
Whilst the treatment of canine epilepsy can be very involved
it can also be very rewarding. If the disease symptoms can
be controlled with medication so that fitting episodes are
very infrequent then the patient can lead a very full and
"Smithy" Roberts is a high grade athlete that
is currently performing agility trials to a very high standard.
His owner, Great Britain canine agility coach, feels perfectly
comfortable training him alongside his other dogs who have
international status. It is hoped that one day despite his
condition "Smithy" may well represent his country
in agility competition!
Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS
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