There’s no doubt about it, when you hear about dog seizures, you’re more likely to hear “it’s the dogs” or “they’re getting their nails done.”
And it’s true.
According to the National Dog Rescue Association, about 4,000 dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the U.S., including 1,200 from the United States alone.
So why are people still hesitant to talk about dogs with seizures?
One reason could be that the people who are most at risk are people who have pets and know them well.
The association estimates that only 5% of Americans are able to say they have a pet who has a seizure.
In the case of dogs, the majority of these dogs have been born and raised in the United Kingdom, so there’s a lot of information out there.
And there are plenty of good dog-to-dog friends around.
But the fact is, we need to talk more about seizures and dog seizures and the human experience in order to prevent them from happening to other people.
“It’s the whole reason we have a national seizure registry,” says Lauren Wiercioch, a clinical director at the American Veterinary Medical Association, the nation’s largest veterinary medical association.
“When you see that there are people getting euthanased, you think it’s a result of a dog.
And when you see dogs with convulsions, you might not think it is.”
As part of her work as a clinical associate professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wiercoch has studied the causes and treatments of seizures, which she has described as “unnatural and unhygienic,” in the context of the dog and cat world.
“Most of these seizures are actually related to chronic stress and stress in the human body,” she says.
“A dog with an epileptic seizure is probably not going to have a seizure when you’re in the same house.
They’re not going through a full episode of a seizure.”
The same goes for people who live in a dog-crazy environment.
For example, the dog owner might have a dog who has seizures that they’ve developed as a result, and the dog might have had a seizure in the past.
“They might have an emotional issue, which is why they might be afraid of a house that’s too loud,” Wiercock says.
Or the dog could have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to developing seizures, because the dog has inherited a predisposition to seizures.
“If you’re trying to do a home quarantine, you don’t want to put dogs in a house with other dogs,” Wiecioch says.
And yet, as Wierczows dogs grow up, they get increasingly anxious, even anxious enough to be seizure-prone.
“The fear of a fearful situation is the trigger,” she explains.
And what’s more, as dogs age, their seizure triggers may change, too.
In fact, studies have shown that seizures in puppies are more common in puppies who have been in the household for several years than they are in dogs who have never been in a home.
The more time you spend with the dog, the more likely your dog will develop seizures, says Wiercik.
“Your dog will have to experience this fear in order for you to get the best results from him,” Wiestcioch explains.
So the question becomes, how do you make sure your dog is safe from seizures and can live a full life?
“The first step is understanding what your dog’s environment is,” Wiedcioch recommends.
“We want to make sure he has a safe environment that is in keeping with what he’s learning.”
So Wierckys dogs are placed in a room, a crate, and a play area.
They are fed a diet of treats, treats that aren’t really treats, but are instead the product of dog-specific bacteria and other ingredients.
Then Wierciaks dogs are given medication that doesn’t cause seizures.
Finally, Wieczys dogs have access to a veterinary assistant who is trained to administer the medication.
But this isn’t the end of the training.
Wiercs dogs are taught to be quiet, to stay in their crates and play with other dog-owners.
Then, the vet has the option of giving them a medication that can trigger a seizure, Wiedcik says.
The medication works by slowing down the seizure.
This is a combination of medications that will slow the seizures in your dog, and also prevent the dog from going into an epileptiform seizure.
So your dog can play with you, eat treats, and be relaxed and calm.
“But they also have to learn how to be on their own,” Wiescik explains.
“So you have to give them time to understand that they can’t be in control of their own body.”
The first step to making sure your pet is safe is