Four year old Bentley’s seizures are managed with acupuncture as a sole anticonvulsant therapy, Chinese herbals, diet and exercise. In the perfect world, anticonvulsant medication would completely eradicate all clinical seizure activity in all cases. Unfortunately, that is almost never the case.
Seizures in Dogs
by Dr. Rachel Addleman, DVM, DiplABVP, CVA
Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, Dr. Addleman has advanced training and Board Certification in feline medicine. She practices in Houston, Texas and can be found at AnimalFixer.com
The entire veterinary clinic was running as we had trained. I stepped over the gurney resting on the floor and surveyed my patient. A male German shepherd, middle aged, and ninety pounds at least. His head was thrown backwards, his body twisted in a seizure so fierce that two animal technicians could barely hold it on the floor. They were covered in hair and drool, and their arms were now marked with long red toenail scratches from holding down the dog.
Training called for placement of an intravenous catheter (IV) in the leg so anticonvulsant medication could be given. The German shepherd was so violent with its kicking, the nurses abandoned placing the IV catheter, and I called out the order for the first dose of medication to be given rectally. The anticonvulsant medication can be absorbed somewhat through the membranes. This slowed the seizure long enough for a proper IV to be set and medications to be started.
While I am tending to the German Shepherd, the technician is speaking with the owner and gathering valuable information.
How old is the patient and when was the first seizure? Congenital epilepsy generally develops between six months to six years of age. Schnauzers, Basset hounds, Collies, and Cocker spaniels have epilepsy two to three times as often as other breeds. Young animals could have a bacterial infection or a viral infection, like canine distemper or feline infectious peritonitis. I would also consider a liver shunt, a condition in which the liver does not metabolize the toxins in the body.
Are there any other existing medical conditions? If the German shepherd was diabetic, treatment with too much insulin would cause seizures if the blood sugar dropped too low. Animals in the final stages of kidney disease can seizure.
Was there any exposure to a toxin? I’ve seen my share of dogs who ate snail bait. Some cat owners apply over the counter flea treatments intended for dogs to their cat. This will certainly cause seizures. The Japanese Yew, methomyl fly bait, strychnine, and certain types of fungus can cause seizures. I a patient is older, then I consider a tumor growing off the skull and pressing on the brain, a meningioma. Some tumors are operable if found early.
History and blood testing helps to determine what treatments are needed. Congenital epilepsy is often a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning, that no other cause is identified.
Anticonvulsant medication is often required. In the perfect world, anticonvulsant medication would completely eradicate all clinical seizure activity in all cases. Unfortunately, that is almost never the case.
Other treatments of seizures include 1) Experimental Surgery to remove the epileptic center in the brain as is sometimes done in humans. 2) Vagal nerve stimulation, where an electrical stimulator is implanted 3) Acupuncture, as either a sole anticonvulsant therapy or in conjunction with traditional therapy and 4) Homeopathy.
Anticonvulsant therapy is not a recipe--the exact same approach will not work for all patients. It is a balance of the individual needs of the patient and the side effects of medications.