If your dog suffers from epilepsy, then read up on the below to learn more about the benefits of natural remedies to help treat their seizures. Dr Andrew Jones explores the topic.

Conventional treatment typically consists of two veterinary drugs: phenobarbital and potassium bromide. Both of these have numerous side effects. This article will cover the types of seizures in dogs, causes, and the most important holistic remedies that can be used as one means of managing the condition.

What is a dog seizure?

A seizure is defined as abnormal muscle activity as a result of uncontrolled messages from the brain. There is a sudden, brief change in how your dog’s brain is working. When the brain cells are not working properly, your dog has the physical changes called a seizure.

Dog seizures are classified as either grand mal seizures, or localised. Grand mal seizures affect your dog’s entire body. Generally the legs are extended and paddling and the head is rigid and extended. They may go through cycles of being stiff then relaxed. Some dogs may lose bowel/bladder control, and if the seizure occurs at night, this is all you may see in the morning. Localised seizures affect only certain areas of your dog’s body. Typically you may see their head shake or their jaw chatter.

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What causes seizures?

In the majority of cases the cause of the seizure is unknown, and it is then called epilepsy. Some of the other possible causes include: cancer (i.e. brain tumour), infections, brain trauma, poisoning, low blood sugar, or hypothyroidism. Your veterinarian can discuss a variety of diagnostic tests such as blood work, x-rays, CT scan, MRI, Spinal fluid tap, etc.

The age at which the seizure starts will give you a fairly good idea as to the underlying cause. For pets less than one year old, most are caused by brain infections (i.e. meningitis); some dogs though will develop epilepsy as puppies. For pets between the ages of 1-5, the most common diagnosis and seizure cause is epilepsy. If your pet has their first seizure over the age of five, the most common cause is a brain tumour.

Natural remedies

There are reports that show a link between diet and seizures in dogs. One human study showed a marked reduction in seizure activity with patients on the Atkins diet. Every seizure-suffering pet should at least try a commercial hypoallergenic diet for 12 weeks; most alternative practitioners strongly advise a holistic diet that is naturally preserved, free of grains, and consists primarily of animal protein.

There is one acupressure point that can be particularly helpful. GV26 is the most important one, as it can help stop a seizure. It is where the nose meets the upper lip (immediately below the nostrils). This is a key point to identify during CPR and seizures. Activating this pressure point during CPR can trigger your pet to breathe again, while holding the point for one minute during a seizure can help to alleviate the uncontrolled messages.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) may potentially decrease brain inflammation. Here you want to have high doses / therapeutic levels of the the EFAs; the dose being 1000mg per 10lbs (4.5kg) of body weight daily. That equates to 1 tablespoon of flax oil per 50lbs (22.7kg) daily.

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Homeopathic remedies

There are 2 homeopathic remedies that have been reported to be helpful by some holistic practitioners. Belladona can be given twice daily in addition to the conventional medication; the dose being one 30C tab per 30lbs twice daily. Aconite is useful for sudden conditions ( such as during a seizure), dosing it at one 30C tab per 30lbs every 15 minutes.

Choline is used for certain human nerve disorders; it helps make a nerve chemical called acetylcholine. A specific choline product that can help seizures in dogs is called Cholidin. It can be given with conventional medication, at a dose of 1-2 pills daily for a small dog, and 2-4 pills given daily for a large dog.

In summary

You should now have a good understanding of seizures in dogs, and the classification of grand mal or localised. Most causes of seizures are unknown; they are then called epilepsy. If you have a seizuring dog, I encourage you to try some of the holistic options in conjunction with your veterinarian. You may be able to decrease the frequency of the seizures, or lower the amount of conventional medication.

Dr Andrew Jones

Check out Andrew’s blog for more valuable animal-related content.

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