Wellness Center - Articles
Seizures - Naturally Treating Canine and Feline Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
by Darleen Rudnick, B.S.W., M.H.N.
If you have a dog or cat suffering from seizures, you will want to read this article on how to control seizures naturally using a high quality diet, life style changes and supplements.
Canine and Feline epilepsy is a growing concern with pet owners and is a very common problem in veterinary medicine. Epilepsy, sometimes called a seizure disorder, is a sudden, involuntary change in behavior, muscle control, consciousness, and/or sensation. A seizure is often accompanied by an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain.
Common Types of Seizures
"Petit mal" or "partial motor seizures" is a less severe form of epilepsy, which affects only a specific group or groups of muscles. Typical symptoms are staring into space or eye movement.
"Grand mal" or "major motor" seizures are more severe. These could include a loss of consciousness and gross body movements, limbs extend and become rigid, salivation, loss of bladder and bowel control, screaming, and paddling of limbs.
Status epilepticus is defined as a life-threatening condition where the brain is in a state of persistent seizure -- meaning one continuous seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes, or recurrent seizures without regaining consciousness between seizures for greater than 5 minutes.
Cluster Seizures are multiple seizures that all occur in a short time frame (24-hours).
This video shows a dog having a Grand Mal Seizure. This is not for entertainment, but for educational purposes. It is very disturbing to watch this dog suffer from a seizure. You will want to have your volume turned down.
Symptoms Your Pet May Suffer During a Seizure
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of bowel function
- Limbs extend and become rigid
- Vocalization such as screaming
- Sudden, violent shaking
- Muscle twitching or slight shaking of a limb
- Staring, altered vision
Major Causes of Seizures
- Genetic Factors. Some forms of epilepsy are inherited. Sodium, potassium, and calcium serve the brain as ions and produce electric charges that must fire regularly in order for a steady current to pass from one nerve cell to another. If the channels that carry them are genetically damaged, an imbalance occurs that can cause misfire and seizures.
- Brain Tumors. Both cancerous and non-cancerous brain tumors can cause seizures.
- Liver disease. Liver disease is a degenerative inflammatory disease that results in the hardening and scarring of liver cells. The liver becomes unable to function properly due to the scarred tissue, which prevents the normal passage of blood through the liver.
- Severe worm infestation. Parasites release toxins that have an adverse effect on the central nervous system.
- Low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia, which brings on feelings of fatigue and stress, may be a factor in triggering seizures. Scientists have estimated that between 50 to 90 percent of all epileptics suffer from low blood sugar, and 70 percent have abnormal glucose tolerance levels.
- Lead, Chemicals, Additives and Poisoning. Toxic metals such as lead, copper, mercury, and aluminum have also been known to cause seizures. Some pets are very sensitive to such metals, and exposure is common through aluminum cookware, auto exhaust, industrial pollution, household cleaners and copper water pipes. Flea sprays, collars and yard sprays are also toxic to pets.
- Vaccinations. Because vaccines may contain proteins and/or organisms, they may produce an allergic encephalitis inflammation of the brain.
- Infections, cysts and cancer.
- Head Trauma. A blow to the head from an auto accident, abuse or other accident can lead to life-long seizures.
- Renal Kidney Failure. The role of the kidneys is to remove toxins and excess fluid. When the kidneys become diseased or damaged, they may lose their ability to perform these functions, causing a toxic build-up in the body. A toxic build-up can lead to a seizure disorder.
- Vitamin deficiencies. Research points to vitamin and mineral deficiencies as possible causes of epilepsy. The key nutrients that appear deficient in epileptics are vitamin B6, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin D, zinc, taurine, magnesium, and calcium.
- Thyroid problems. It is important to have a blood test done to determine if you pet is suffering from a thyroid problem. See Canine and Feline Seizures (Epilepsy) and Thyroid Disorders
Types of Treatments
Types of traditional treatments such as Phenobarbital, Primidone, Diazepam (Valium), Keppra and Potassium Bromide are typically prescribed by veterinarians for seizure disorders. Although medications can be very effective, some may cause side effects that can eventually lead to other symptoms. Many pet owners are now looking into other methods of treating seizure disorders. A more natural approach is outlined below.
Prevention Plan For Treating Seizures Naturally
A prevention plan is a simple method of enhancing the level of nutrition and making lifestyle changes. It is an attempt to address any special needs your pet may have.
Rule Out Other Health Problems
Rule out other health problems such as Thyroid, Diabetes, Cancer, Liver or Kidney disease. A health problem may be triggering seizures.
Feed Homemade Diet or High Quality Commercial Food
Poor nutrition is a direct cause of many major and minor diseases. Therefore, a commitment to optimum health and longevity for your pet must include a high quality diet.
Research has shown that a low quality diet -- meaning a diet loaded with chemicals, fillers, stabilizers, coloring agents, sodium nitrate (found to produce epileptic-like changes in the brain activity of rats that ate it regularly) and by-products -- can lead to allergies, nervousness, hypertension, diabetes, weight problems, dry skin, and many other common ailments.
Rule Out Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is a medical term meaning low blood sugar, a condition that is becoming more common in pets and especially pets suffering from seizures.
It is recommended that pets suffering from seizures follow the suggestions given below to rule out hypoglycemia.
- Feed a high quality diet to maintain proper blood sugar levels.
- Keep stress to a minimum.
- Exercise moderately.
- Supplement with high quality vitamins.
- Feed small frequent meals.
Symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack
- Staggering or collapse
- Glassy eyes, staring, dazed looked
- Seizure - If this happens, it is essential to administer a source of glucose. The best source is honey. Honey, is made up of 35% protein & contains half of all the necessary amino acids. It is a highly concentrated source of many essential nutrients, including large quantities of carbohydrates (sugars), some minerals, B complex, and C, D, and E. Therefore, honey will immediately raise the blood sugar putting the body in balance and stabilizing the blood sugar level. If honey is not available use jelly, karo syrup or maple syrup. Put a small amount of one of these directly into the mouth. It will be quickly absorbed.
Regardless of whether your pet suffers from Hypoglycemia, it is VERY important WHAT you feed and WHEN you feed! I recommend the following feed schedule.
7:00 AM: Breakfast - high quality dry food or home cooked meal
10:00 AM: Snack - See suggestions below.
1:00 PM: Lunch - high quality dry food or home cooked meal
4:00 PM: Snack - See suggestions below.
7:00 PM: Dinner - high quality dry food or home cooked meal
11:00 PM: Snack -- this should be a high protein, high carbohydrate snack. For example, two plain rice cakes with peanut butter in the middle, egg and toast, chicken and brown rice, etc.
- Bran crackers
- Rice cakes
- Hard Boiled eggs
- Scrambled eggs
- Cottage cheese
- Plain yogurt
- Homemade meatballs
The goal is not to put weight on your pet, but to balance out the body, stabilize the blood sugar level and ultimately control the seizures.
Eliminate Toxins in the House, Yard and on your Pet
Many household cleaners contain formaldehyde (also known as embalming solution), which could cause severe irritation to eyes, throat and skin. Some floor polishes contain chemicals that can cause cancer as well as damage to the heart, kidneys, liver and central nervous system. It is important to keep your pets in a well-ventilated area when cleaning.
Exercise helps with muscle development, digestion and overall health. A well-conditioned body will work and perform better and increase the ability to carry blood and oxygen to muscles. Exercising burns fat and increases your pet's metabolism.
Be sure your pet gets at least an hour of exercise every day. However, age, health and weather should be taken into consideration. Do NOT over exercise older pets, or pets suffering from hypoglycemia, epilepsy, heart problems, etc. Pets suffer from exhaustion just as humans do.
Purely Pets does not recommend discontinuing traditional medications cold turkey or discontinuing them at all. This is YOUR decision based on how the following program works. We highly recommend you work closely with your veterinarian.
Vitamin C is known as the king of vitamins and absolutely essential to the living process. Dogs do produce Vitamin C, but stress, separation from the mother, relocation to a new home, neutering, immunizations, sickness, skin problems, ear crops, de-worming, heartworm pills, teething, weather changes, seizures and other ailments quickly deplete the little amount they produce. Medical science has described Vitamin C as one of the least toxic substances known. It is the single most important thing you can do for the health of your pet.
Vitamins and minerals are necessary to build the immune system and strengthen your pet. They have the power to neutralize the possible harmful effects of impurities and toxins present in a pet's food or environment. They will also ensure against possible dietary deficiencies and provide extra nutrition in times of stress. Supplements make a tremendous difference in improving the quality of a pet's life. Mega Pet is recommended for pets 25 lbs. and over because these are fairly large capsules. Nupro YEAST FREE is recommended for pets 25 lbs. and under or finicky pets. This is a powder that you sprinkle on soft food.
This powder supplement is an alternative to the traditional medicines being used to control seizures. It has long been known that a deficiency in the B complex vitamins can cause seizures in any species. EpiPlus contains high dosages of B complex vitamins and herbs. It is an all-natural product and should be given on a daily basis. There are no known side effects unless your pet is allergic to one of the herbs in the product. If this is the case, EpiPlus can be tailor-made to fit your pet's needs at no extra charge. EpiPlus has had success in eliminating seizures completely or cutting them down dramatically. The time factor depends on the individual pet and its individual biochemical status.
Just before you think your pet will have a seizure, OR after a seizure, give Calm & Relax --1 drop per 5 lbs. of body weight in something soft. DO NOT GIVE IT UNDILUTED. So for example if your pet has a seizure at 1 p.m. you give Calm & Relax. If your pet has a seizure the same day at 3:00 p.m. you give it again and continue dosing for 24 hours.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Positive thinking reaps positive results!! Talk positive to your pet, and be a positive person in your own life.
What to do When a Seizure Occurs
- If there is forewarning, administer honey. Give about one tablespoon. For smaller pets use 1 teaspoon. In many cases, this will lessen the severity of the seizure.
- Remain calm. This is very important as YOU will prolong the seizure if you scream or get upset.
- Turn off all lights, TV and music. Get to a quiet, dark room and hold your pet in a comforting reassuring way. Say only positive things, "You will be okay, you will be better."
Factors That May Trigger a Seizure
Below is a list of factors that most commonly trigger seizures. This does not mean your pet will have a seizure each time it comes in contact with one. EACH pet is different and sensitive to certain things. This list does not apply to every pet.
Some of these factors are impossible to avoid, but are listed for your knowledge.
- Hair spray - Do not spray when pet is in the same room.
- Wool - Wool blankets, wool sofas, etc.
- Heartworm pills - A seizure may occur 1 to 1 ½ wks. after administering heartworm medication.
- Cigarette smoke
- Environmental Pollution from chemical plants
- BHA - A preservative commonly used in dog foods, read - "Additives in Pet Foods "
- BHT - A preservative commonly used in dog foods.
- Sodium nitrate - Proven in research studies to cause severe seizures. Sodium nitrate is found in many foods we eat. Read the ingredient labels carefully.
- Carpet powders
- Air fresheners
- Fabric softeners - If exposed to clothes that have fabric softener on them.
- Dryer sheets - If exposed to clothes that have been in the dryer with the dryer sheets.
- Salt, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Monosodium Glutamate - in excess.
- Sugar - Sucrose, corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar.
- Low quality commercial dog biscuits and treats. Healthy Treat Options
- Low quality canned food
- Plastic bowls - All plastics release some undetectable fumes, especially when heated. This out-gassing means the fumes can pass into the foods that are served or stored in the bowl or container. Stainless steel or glass bowls are recommended.
- Cheap ceramic bowls - Cause the same problem as described above.
- Fumes from all bathroom cleaners
- Fumes from bleach
- Fumes from dusting products
- Household cleaners - Pine cleaners should be avoided.
- All toxic flea products - If the product states "Hazardous To Humans And Domestic Animals", it is hazardous to your pet.
- Toxic shampoos
- Toxic flea collars
- Dust - Change air filters in your home once a month, and wash curtains twice yearly.
- Eating cat or dog feces
- Lyme vaccine
- Lyme encephalitis
- Rabies vaccine
- Head trauma
- Worm infestation
- Lead - Pets like to lick lead because it tastes sweet, and lead poisoning can result from licking or eating wood chips on which there is lead paint. This can be checked when doing regular blood work, but it must be specified that you would like a LEAD POISONING TEST which is not part of a normal blood work.
- Paint fumes
- Paint chips from lead based paint
- Excessive exercise
- Abuse or neglect
- Rawhides - Many are dipped in a solution of salt and bleach. Healthy Treat Options
- Cheap painted pet toys
- Loud noises - Yelling, fighting, doorbell ringing
- Scented candles
- Vitamins with high sodium level
- Inconsistent routine
- FALL - Research studies have shown that more seizures occur in the fall. This is due to mold and bacteria in the air.
- Blinking lights - Christmas lights, bright lights, etc.
- Pine cleaners
- Red food dye
- Fungi, Bacteria and Germs
- Foam mattresses - foam is made from petroleum-based chemicals. Some researchers detected very high levels of toxins, like arsenic and phosphor compounds in the memory foam.
- Mobile Phones - Research carried out on animals suggests that mobile phone emissions may trigger seizures. Check out this site - Epilepsy and Mobile Phones
- Hereditary Factors
- Thyroid problems
An epileptic seizure is something no one likes to watch and even more disturbing for the pet because he doesn't know what is happening to his body. Therefore, it is up to you to find all the answers and learn what is causing the seizures and how to prevent them.
The above program does not apply to every pet and therefore it is important to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian. If you decide to seek natural methods, Purely Pets recommends a consultation with our on-staff nutritionist.
A consultation will include a personalized diet and holistic program suggestions, all custom-tailored to your pet's personal needs. This is particularly imperative in pets with complicated health issues, or if you've done outside reading and have conflicting information.