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What is Epilepy
Epilepsy means repeated seizures due to abnormal activity in the brain. It is caused by an abnormality in the brain itself. If seizures occur because of a problem elsewhere in the body, for example heart disease, which stops oxygen reaching the brain, this is not epilepsy. Your vet may do tests to try to find the reason for the epilepsy but in many cases no cause can be identified. Epilepsy affects around 4 in every hundred dogs. In some breeds it can be passed through the generations and may be more common in particular families.Some dogs seem to know when they are about to have a seizure and may behave in a certain way. You will come to recognise these signs as meaning that a seizure is likely. Often dogs just seek out their owner’s company and come to sit beside them when a seizure is about to start.

What happens during a seizure

Once the seizure starts the dog is unconscious - they cannot hear or respond to you. Most dogs become stiff, fall onto their side and make running movements with their legs. Sometimes they will cry out and may lose control of their bowels or bladder. Most seizures last between 1 and 3 minutes - it is worth making a note of the time the seizure starts and ends because it often seems that a seizure goes on for a lot longer than it really does.

After a seizure dogs behave in different ways. Some dogs just get up and carry on with what they were doing, while others appear dazed and confused for up to 24 hours afterwards. However most often dogs will show disorientation for only 10-15 minutes before returning to their old self. Dogs often have a set pattern of behaviour that they follow after every seizure - for example going for a drink of water or asking to go outside to the toilet. If your dog has had more than one seizure you may well start to notice a pattern of behaviour, which is typically repeated in any subsequent seizures.

When will seizures occur?
Most epileptic seizures will occur while your dog is relaxed and resting quietly. It is very rare for a seizure to occur at exercise. Often seizures occur in the evening or at night. In a few dogs seizures seem to be triggered by particular events or stress. It is common for a pattern to develop, which you will recognise as specific to your dog. However in some epileptic animals seizures continue to be unpredictable.

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