I didn’t know dogs could have Epilepsy. I was 12 years old, about ready to perform the Nutcracker in front of all of my friends and family when my dog at the time, Kylo, named after Kylo Ren from Star Wars, started having them. They were small at first, he would stop mid walk, his body would stutter, glitch almost, and then he would keep walking. That was December 2015. He went from having those small, Focal Seizures, (which I will explain later), to Grand Mal Seizures in less than 3 months.
Before Chewie, I had Kylo. Kylo was a beautiful Black Lab puppy mixed with something we were never able to figure out. He was 13 months old when we had to say goodbye to him, although it was for the better. I didn’t understand why that was happening back then. I was young, and I thought the vets were just doing the wrong things. As I got older, I understood more that the Seizures he had were either genetic- something went wrong in his body- or it had to do with his surroundings. I wanted to figure out what the causes of seizures were, and make them known to others, so they would never have to go through what I did.
There are two basic types of seizures, generalized and focal. Generalized seizures are apparent on both sides of the body and involve both sides of the brain. They can be observed as involuntary muscle movements. Focal seizures occur in a distinct part of the brain and a specific part of the body. They can present themselves as facial twitches, behavioral signs, or vomiting.
There are many different kinds of seizures, but, what are they? A seizure is a result of a disease called Epilepsy. Epilepsy is a diverse disease characterized by the presence of “recurrent and unprovoked” seizures resulting from a deformity of the brain (AKC). The condition can be inherited, but it can also come from an unknown cause. There are different causes of each kind of epilepsy. Structural epilepsy- epilepsy caused from malformations in the brain- is caused by traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, infections, strokes, and conditions of that nature. Idiopathic epilepsy is epilepsy without a structural cause, therefore assuming it is inherited or genetic. Epilepsy of unknown cause describes epilepsy where a structural cause is suspected, but has not been found.
Epilepsy is such a difficult disease, both to witness and to deal with. Overall these articles have helped me understand more about the disease, and made me realize it was most likely something in his genes and biology that caused him to get sick. Fly high big boy!
- Löscher W. (2022). Dogs as a Natural Animal Model of Epilepsy. Frontiers in veterinary science, 9, 928009. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2022.928009
- AKC (2021). Canine Health Foundation Understanding Canine Epilepsy, https://www.akcchf.org/canine-health/top-health-concerns/epilepsy/understanding-canine-epilepsy.html.