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What causes Convulsions & Seizures in Dogs and Cats

Convulsions & Seizures in Pets is the violent irregular motion
of limbs or body caused by involuntary contraction of muscles.

Common signs are loss of consciousness, incontinence and vocalization.
Other terms that may be used are seizures or fits, with Epilepsy
confined to disorders characterized by repeated fits of unknown origin.

Common causes of convulsions include:

Infections such as: Distemper and tetanus.
Poisoning such as: Metaldehyde (slug bait) and ethylene-glycol (anti-freeze).
Head injury such as: Following a road accident.
Metabolic disease such as: Low circulating levels of blood calcium
in, for example, eclampsia (milk fever).
Pressure on the brain sac such as: Cancer and blood clots.

The most common type of convulsion is known as Idiopathic Epilepsy,
the cause of this is unknown.

What to do if your pet has a fit:

The most important rule is, do not panic! It is usual for a fit
to last several seconds only. Approach the animal with care.
Roll your pet onto a blanket away from furniture and drag clear
from any possible harm such as an open fire.

Do not handle your pet.

It is important to remove all stimuli, dim the lights, switch
off the radio and keep quiet. Observe the patient well as your
observations can be of great assistance and help your vet
to make a diagnosis.

It is usual for the convulsions to settle after 1-3 minutes
and recovery is usually complete within minutes to hours. During
this time there is little that you, the owner, can do to help.
Telephone your Veterinary Surgeon at a suitable time for an
appointment to have your pet examined should this be necessary.

Your Veterinary Surgeon will try to find an identifiable cause
of the convulsions so that specific treatment can be given.
However, most cases do not have an identifiable cause and
anti-convulsant therapy may be instituted. This may not happen
straight away and will be started at the discretion of
your Veterinary Surgeon.

The following are important points to note in the treatment
of epilepsy:

Your Veterinary Surgeon's instructions on the frequency of
treatment must be followed exactly. Missing a treatment may
cause a fit in a controlled case.

Medication may have to be given for the rest of your pet's life.
If a fit occurs ask your vet's advice.

Some medication must be given over several days before it
becomes effective.

Record the date and duration and severity of all fits since
the pattern of altered behavior is very helpful during
Veterinary Assessment.

It is important to understand that medication for epilepsy is
not given in order to cure but rather to control the disease
and your pet may still continue to have fits on a regular basis.

It is hoped that medication will reduce the number and severity
of future fits. The first fit is always the most unnerving
for the owner and once an understanding of the medical
situation is gained, the pets health can be maintained very
satisfactorily in most cases.

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