Epilepsy and Seizures


LabWhat is Epilepsy?               

Epilepsy is a chronic brain disease of recurrent epileptic seizures. An epileptic seizure is the clinical sign of excessive, abnormal brain electrical activity. The aura is the initial manifestation of a seizure. The ictal period is the actual seizure event manifested by involuntary muscle tone or movement, and/or abnormal behavior lasting usually from seconds to minutes. The post-ictal period occurs after the seizure with periods of disorientation and/or vision and behavior changes.

How is Epilepsy Diagnosed?

The most important aspect of the diagnosis is to determine if an underlying cause is present. Initial laboratory testing is performed to see if there is a problem in your pet’s vital body functions. If these tests are normal, then a MRI brain scan is often recommended to visualize any brain changes.  Idiopathic epilepsy is diagnosed if no underlying cause for the seizure can be identified. Symptomatic epilepsy is due to a direct change in the brain tissue, such as encephalitis, tumors, or strokes.  Reactive epileptic seizures occur when a normal brain reacts changes in the body, such as low blood sugar or liver disease.

How is Epilepsy Treated?

The goal of antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy is to decrease in the frequency, severity and post-ictal complications of seizures. Balancing the quality of your pet’s life with seizure control is an important factor.  Many drugs are now available to use in pets that are designed for better control and less side effects. Advances in treatment now allow many epileptic pets to share a long life with their owners.  The key to a successful outcome is working with your veterinarian to establish a treatment plan early in the course of the disease.