Epilepsy is thankfully uncommon but it can be present in the Vizsla breed and potential owners should be aware of it.
There are no tests for epilepsy breeders prevent by not breeding from effected dogs , however as epilepsy often doesn't present until a dog is 3 years old and can potentially have whelped or sired litters it is hard to completely eradicate.
There are two main types of epilepsy-
1. Idiopathic Epilepsy- Idiopathic epilepsy is when there is no known cause for the condition and it is assumed it may be an inherited condition.
2. Secondary Epilepsy – This diagnosis is used when a specific cause for the seizures can be found. A veterinarian will normally run a variety of tests to rule out possible physiological or toxic causes before diagnosing the dog as having the idiopathic version.
There are several types of seizures that are seen in dogs and there are many times an owner isn’t even aware of the problem. An epileptic seizure is the clinical manifestation of abnormal brain activity in the cerebral cortex.
These abnormalities can create seizures that vary from the mild “petit mal” to the generalized, full body “grand mal.”
An epileptic seizure itself can be broken down into four stages.
1. The Prodome – This stage can last from minutes to hours or even days before the manifestation of the actual seizure activity. This stage is typically characterized by changes in the dog’s mood or behaviour.
2. The Aura – The aura stage is when owners first notice the initial signs. Some dogs will begin pacing, licking, salivating, trembling, vomiting, wandering aimlessly, hiding, whining or urinating. Other dogs may exhibit stranger activities such as excessive barking and attempts to get an owner’s attention.
3. The Ictus- This stage is the actual seizure itself. It is a period of abnormal activity in which the most common symptoms are that the dog may lose consciousness, gnash their teeth or appear to be chewing gum, thrashing about with their head and legs, drooling excessively, crying, paddling their feet as if running as well as losing control of their bladders and bowels. There are stranger types of seizures though.
Some dogs will frantically run in circles, others will just chew gum, some suddenly go blank and stare into space and then there are the ones that only have partial seizures in which the twitching is localized in one area. This could in the face, one leg, in the shoulder or over the hips.
4. The Ictal – This stage occurs immediately after a seizure. Owners often report the dog acts drunk, doped, blind or deaf. Other dogs will show signs of pacing endlessly or drinking large amounts of water. Some will seem to pass out and just sleep.
Some of the physiological reasons a dog may have secondary epilepsy are:
1. Hypoglycemia or “low blood sugar.”
2. Hypothyroidism – A condition in which the thyroid functions inadequately.
3. Disease – Seizures are a common symptom of diseases such as encephalitis and distemper
4. Lead poisoning – This can be seen in dogs that like to chew on items such as painted wood.
5. Brain Tumours – This is the most common cause of seizures that begin after the age of 5.
6. Hydrocephalus – The accumulation of excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the brain.
7. Eclampsia – This occurs when a lactating female’s calcium levels drop to dangerous levels.
8. Toxins – Pesticides, fertilizers, poisonous plants, arsenic, strychnine and chocolate.
9. Trauma – Trauma can occur from some type of severe blow to the head such being hit by a car, bat, kicked or fall.
10. Organ failure – End stage liver or renal failure can often cause
11. Parasitic – Severe cases of intestinal worms, end stage heartworms or even anaemia from fleas and ticks can cause seizures.
Idiopathic Epilepsy is also called primary or hereditary epilepsy.
(c) written by K A Olsson 2005 COPYRIGHT