FAQs About Seizures in Labradors

Neurological conditions may lead to seizures in Labradors. Your dog may experience muscle movement difficulties due to the temporary disturbance in the normal brain function. However, contrary to popular belief, a seizure is not a disease but a symptom of multiple misfiring of nerves in the brain. Epilepsy, on the other hand, is the term that refers to repeated episodes of seizures.

Dogs of any breed or age may suffer from epilepsy, but those above 5 years are more likely to have it. The time, the frequency, and the length of each seizure episode are unpredictable, although some owners report seeing definite patterns in their dogs’ episodes.

 

Are Labradors prone to seizures?

Labradors do have a higher incidence of idiopathic seizures, compared to many other dog breeds. This suggests that the likeliness of a dog to experience seizures may also be inherited.

 

What causes seizures in Labradors?

Seizures in Labradors may occur due to idiopathic, structural, or reactive reasons. The condition is suspected to be a result of various triggers, including toxins, viral infections, bacterial diseases, poisoning, hypoglycemia, abnormal electrolyte levels, trauma, high fever, tumors, and genetics.

 

What are different types of seizures in Labradors?

Partial Seizures

Partial seizures impact one or a few parts of the body, such as legs or jaw. This type of seizure may be caused by lesions in the brain.

Generalized Seizures

This type of seizure affects the whole body. The generalized seizure has two subtypes – the grand mal and the petit mal.

With grand mal seizures, affected dogs may fall on their side – kicking or “running” with their legs involuntarily. Dogs having grand mal seizures may defecate, urinate, or salivate oblivious of what they are doing. Grand mal seizures are also more common than petit mal seizures.

Dogs who suffer from petit mal seizures become unconsciousness. Some dogs lose muscle tone and experience blank stares. Dogs do not really experience uncontrolled muscle movements and convulsions. Petit mal seizures happen very briefly making them rarely discernible in dogs.

Status Epilepticus

This type of seizure is considered the worst. Status epilepticus refers to the incidence of one or more nonstop grand mal episodes. This type can last for hours – making it a life-threatening type of seizures. Dogs experiencing this type of seizure needs immediate medical attention.

Cluster Seizures

Cluster seizures refer to the type of seizure that makes a dog experience two or more episodes within a 24-hour period. This type of seizure is seen in around 33% to 75% of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Bull Terriers seem to be more prone to this type of seizure. Although brief and mostly isolated, cluster seizures are considered life-threatening.

 

Is it possible to know when your Labrador will have a seizure?

There is no way to predict when a seizure episode will happen. However, your Labrador may show some unusual behavior when he feels an impending seizure. A close observation over a period of time may help identify such preceding symptoms.

 

What are the phases of seizures in dogs?

During this period, your Labrador “feels” the potential arrival of a seizure. He may appear nervous, start looking for places to hide or walk toward you seeking comfort. The pre-ictal phase lasts for a few seconds to a few hours.

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Ictal

This is when the actual seizures happen. The ictal phase lasts up to five minutes to hours depending on the type of seizures.

Post-ictal

The post-ictal stage immediately follows the ictal phase. During this period, your Labrador may look confused and disoriented. He may also feel exhausted or become temporarily blind.

 

How does your Labrador feel when he has seizures?

Dogs do not feel pain during the actual seizures. But they can feel a sensation and becomes scared of it.

 

Is your Labrador in danger when he is having seizures?

One single seizure is not dangerous. However, multiple and long seizures, such as cluster seizures and status epilepticus – an acute and protracted epilepsy – can be life-threatening. When your Labrador has prolonged or multiple seizures, his body temperature starts to rise. This could lead to hyperthermia and other health issues.

 

How are seizures in Labradors treated?

After your Labrador has a seizure episode, the vet may ask you questions about his health history, recent activities, accidents, and possible contact with or ingestion of poisonous items.

Blood and urine samples are also sent for laboratory tests to check if there are any problems affecting internal organs. An electrocardiogram (ECG) may also be performed. Further procedures, such as CT scan and MRI, may be performed depending on test results and frequency of seizures.

The reason behind seizures must also be determined. Treating seizures begin with addressing the root cause. For cases of multiple and prolonged seizures, anticonvulsants, such as phenobarbital and potassium bromide, are often given as maintenance medication.

Sadly, treating epilepsy and seizures in Labradors can be stressful, and emotionally and financially exhausting.

 

What should you do if your Labrador is having seizures?

It can be nerve-wracking and heartbreaking to see your Labrador suffering from frequent seizures. However, it is important to stay calm and composed at this testing time. Here are some tips on what to do when your Labrador is having seizures.

  • Stay calm.
  • Remove any sharp objects near your Labrador.
  • Move your Labrador to the floor or carpet if he is having an episode on the couch, bed, or any elevated area.
  • Send children and other pets to another room.
  • Avoid putting your hand in your cat’s mouth.
  • Keep a close eye on your Labrador and call your veterinarian if he experiences cluster or prolonged seizures.

Contrary to what most people think, dogs don’t swallow their tongues during seizure episodes, but they can bite it at times. Even so, do not attempt to put your hand in your Labrador’s mouth to fix his tongue.

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