Epilepsy and Seizures

Epilepsy is a central  nervous system disorder characterized by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, and it’s associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures are defined as sudden attacks of illness, but we usually think of a seizure as an attack of epilepsy, also  called a fit.

scratchingdog Signs of a Seizure:

  • Stiffness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden, violent shaking
  • Muscle twitching or limb shaking
  • Staring or dilated pupils
  • Salivating or foaming
  • Urinating
  • Groaning

Epilepsy and seizures are becoming a common problem in dogs, and are somewhat unusual in cats. An epileptic seizure is disturbing to watch, but even more disturbing for your dog or cat because your pet doesn’t know what’s happening to its body.

There are many  possible causes of epilepsy. To properly treat the condition, you have to put effort  into finding the source of the problem. Holistic novaccinationsveterinarians believe that vaccinations  are directly linked to epileptic seizures. They also agree that improper diet is a cause. Mineral deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies, and certain toxic  substances can trigger a fit. The following is a list of potential causes:

  • Vaccinations. Well documented studies show that epilepsy has been triggered by  annual shots, particularly rabies and distemper. Allergic encephalitis is a sometimes hidden inflammation of the brain caused by a reaction to  proteins and organisms in the vaccine. Symptoms of mild encephalitis are headache, fever, confusion,  drowsiness, and fatigue. When our pets have these symptoms, we don’t usually  notice, or we don’t think it’s anything serious. But when the allergic  encephalitis becomes more advanced, say with another dose of vaccinations,  seizures are one of the symptoms that we do take notice of.
  • Genetic factors. Your pet’s brain is constantly transmitting  energy from one neuron to another. Sodium ions, calcium ions, and potassium  ions send electrical charges through channels in the brain. puppiesSeizures may result  when there is something genetically wrong with this encephalic system. Pets  with epilepsy ought to be neutered or spayed. Unfortunately, though, the  problem is worsened by intensive breeding and the breeders may not care  and may not tell their buyers. Inbreeding is a known proliferator.
  • Low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia, symptomized by fatigue and  stress, may instigate seizures. Scientists estimate that up to  ninety percent of all epileptics have low blood sugar.
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Nutrients that appear deficient in  epileptics are vitamin B6, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin D, zinc, taurine,  magnesium, potassium, and calcium. In a May of 1996 article in the Journal of the American  Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Martin Schulman reported that a  ironfencecommon contributor to seizures is a lack of minerals. He found that his  patients with epilepsy had a remarkably high correlation with pica, a disorder  characterized by symptoms such as obsessive licking of wrought iron fences. In  dogs, this is cured when the diet improves.
  • Brain tumors. Both malignant and benign brain tumors can cause seizures.
  • Head trauma. A blow to the head from an  accident or abuse can lead to life-long seizures.
  • Worms. Internal parasites release toxins that have an adverse effect on  the central nervous system.
  • Lead, chemicals, additives and poisons. 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 doglivercommon through aluminum cookware,  auto exhaust, industrial pollution, household cleaners and copper water pipes.  Flea products and yard sprays are also toxic to pets.
  • Kidney disease. When the kidneys are damaged, they lose  their ability to remove toxins from the body, causing a toxic buildup, which can  lead to an epileptic disorder.
  • Liver disease. The liver is a vital organ with a number of  functions including detoxification and protein synthesis. Damage to the liver  can result in a nervous system disorder.
  • Distemper. Not just the disease, but the treatment can cause seizures.
  • Infections, cysts and cancer.
  • Malnutrition during the mother’s pregnancy.

The following is a list of triggers that may bring on a seizure if your pet has epilepsy. Every  case is different, though, and not all of these irritants will instigate a  seizure.

Paint fumesHair Spray

Mold

Eating feces

Wool

Heartworm pills

Cigarette smoke

Pollution

Nitrates

Carpet powders

Air fresheners

Fabric softeners

Dryer sheets

Salt

Sugar

Ferrous Sulfate

Copper Sulfate

Calcium Iodate

Loud noises

Scented candles

Blinking lights

Pine cleaners

Flea products

Toxic shampoos

Stress

Worms

Head trauma

VaccinationsBHA – used in pet foods

BHT – used in pet foods

Ethoxyquin – used in pet foods

Red food dye

Plastic bowls

Painted/shellacked bowls

Monosodium Glutamate

Lyme encephalitis

Paint chips from lead based paint

Excessive exercise

Overheating

Abuse or neglect

Rawhides – some are dipped in bleach

Cheap painted pet toys

Vitamins with high sodium level

Fumes from cleaners

Fumes from bleach

Inconsistent routine

Fungi, bacteria, and germs

Mobile phones

Low quality pet treats

Low quality dry food

Low quality canned food

Dust

Lead

Crabgrass

 

Also, be aware that foam is made from petroleum-based chemicals. High levels of  toxins, like arsenic and phosphor compounds, have been found in memory foam. So be wary of the materials used around your house, leafparticularly in the areas where your pet sleeps.

Additionally, research has shown that more seizures happen in the autumn, perhaps because of  increased mold and bacteria in the air.

When a seizure occurs

  • Remain calm. This is extremely important because you will prolong the seizure  if you scream or get upset.
  • If there is a forewarning,  give a teaspoon to a tablespoon of honey. In many cases, this will lessen the  severity of the seizure.
  • Turn  off lights, TV, and music. In a quiet, dark room, hold your pet in a  comforting, reassuring way. Say positive, calming words such as “everything’s  okay.”

Herbal and  Naturopathic Help

First and  foremost, make sure to eliminate toxins in your house and yard, and on your pet. Throw out cleaners that have toxic ingredients, and replace them nofleaspraywith  natural products; there are many available nowadays. Don’t use flea collars, flea sprays, air fresheners, or carpet powders that have toxic ingredients.

Research has shown that many of the ingredients commonly found in commercial pet foods cause illnesses, including nervous system disorders. For epileptic pets, you must feed a high quality diet. With dogs and cats suffering from seizures, you have to be especially careful about the ingredients. Nutrition should be focused on preventing the intake of substances that irritate brain tissues.

Normally dogs and cats ought to have organic, raw organ meats about once a week. However, even  high quality liver and kidney may contain toxins such as pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and heavy metals because these are the organs that  filter those substances in the body. So don’t feed liver and kidney to an epileptic pet.

Food bowls should be stainless steel, glass, or quality ceramic with no toxic paints or shellacs, and they ought to be cleaned with soap and hot water, or in a dishwasher, after each meal. Give your pet filtered water.

The B vitamins are very important with central nervous system disorders. A vitamin B6  deficiency is commonly linked with seizures, but you want to feed a natural B complex   supplement. If you feed only one B vitamin, the body will become deficient in other B vitamins. Liquid colloidal  minerals including pumpkinzinc, probiotics, and digestive enzymes should also be part of the therapeutic diet.

Intravenous  vitamin C is a therapy still being researched, but some holistic veterinarians  swear by it, particularly when the seizures are brought on by treatments for  other conditions. There are documented cases where doctors have cured seizure  and other disorders with high doses of vitamin C. Professional medical  organizations, however, state that there is no evidence of the efficacy of high  dose vitamin C as a treatment, and we don’t advocate using it as a sole  treatment. But adding extra vitamin C to your pet’s diet is good. Excess  vitamins C and B get flushed out of the body, so you don’t need to worry about  a buildup, as you do with fat soluble vitamins.

boywalkingwithdogYour pet should  get at least an hour of exercise each day. However, age and health should be taken into consideration. Do not over exercise older pets, or pets  suffering from hypoglycemia, epilepsy, or heart conditions. They still need  moderate exercise, but keep in mind that overexertion and stress can trigger a  seizure in an epileptic pet.

Conventional  veterinarians often prescribe the barbiturate, phenobarbital, for epilepsy. If  your pet is on that or another drug, talk to a holistic veterinarian. Don’t just make a switch to herbal,  naturopathic, or homeopathic treatment on your own. Potassium  bromide is often substituted for phenobarbital, and is safer on the liver.

Go to a holistic  veterinarian and get a thorough diagnosis. Find out whether the seizures are  caused by hypoglycemia, cancer, diabetes, or a disease of the liver, kidney, or  thyroid. frankatthevetLyme disease and lead poisoning ought to be ruled out, as well. Lead poisoning can result from licking or eating wood chips on which there is lead paint. Dogs like the sweet taste. When you get regular blood work done, you must specifically ask for a lead poisoning test because it’s not included in  normal blood work.

If worms are the problem, your holistic veterinarian can help you with a plan that protects your pet’s body from the effects of the worming medicine. Most naturopaths use B and  C vitamins and other supplements.

Some seizures that were caused by allergic reactions to food or environmental pollutants stopped when those triggers were eliminated.

In her book, The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care, CJ Puotinen describes the work of American herbalist John Christopher.   Dr. Christopher had much success treating epileptics with a tincture of blue  cohosh, black cohosh, blue vervain, lobelia, and skullcap. He put the tincture  in his patients’ ears, and plugged the ears with cotton, having the patients  sleep this way overnight. Doctor Christopher’s son, David, now runs The School  of Natural Healing, which was founded by his father.

David Christopher  uses his father’s remedy, called B&B tincture, on humans using this dosing:

  • Four drops in each  ear twice a day
  • One dropperful  massaged into the skin at the base of the skull every hour during the day
  • Two dropperfuls  ingested orally three times a day

For your pets,  you would vary this schedule proportionately by the animal’s weight. A sixty pound  dog, for example, would be given half these amounts. David Christopher advises pet owners to begin with lower dosages, and work their way up to the required  amount within one week. The maximum dosage is to be given for three weeks. If  the pet has been seizure free during this time, the dosage may be gradually tapered  off to two dropperfuls orally once a day. skullcapIf you’re interested in this therapy,  first discuss it with your holistic veterinarian and then check out The School  of Natural Healing’s website. Do not use these herbs to treat your pet by yourself. If you’re interested, contact an  expert. Used incorrectly, some of the ingredients may be toxic to your pet.

Because stress and overexertion can trigger a seizure in an epileptic pet, herbals that support the body under such conditions are helpful. Skullcap, valerianoat grass, and passion flower are all appropriate at times when your pet is dealing with anxiety or exhaustion.

Homeopathy

Talk to your  holistic or homeopathic veterinarian before starting a treatment plan or  discontinuing current medications. The following are some homeopathic treatments that are often quite useful.

If seizures are associated with dilated pupils and throbbing pulse, and the animal feels hot, give Belladonna 30c, two or three pellets, one time. Allow no food an hour before or after treatment. Wait one month. If the seizures have not diminished, discuss other therapies with your holistic veterinarian. If the seizures go away, continue naturopathic treatment as directed by your holistic veterinarian. If the symptoms go away but come back, dose the same way with Belladonna   and after one month give one dose of Silicea 30c.

If your pet has  symptoms that are similar to those described for Belladonna treatment, but also  shows premonitory signs of staggering, particularly falling toward the left side,  give Stramonium 30c   instead of Belladonna.

hyoscyamusIf seizures are preceded by shaking of the head and unsteady gait, indicating vertigo, spasmodic eyelid shutting, and flecks of foam on the mouth, give Hyoscyamus 30c.

If seizures are  triggered by a vaccination, give one dose of Thuja 30c.   Allow no food  an hour before or after treatment. Wait one month. If the seizures have not  diminished, discuss other therapies with your holistic veterinarian. Because  vaccine-induced seizures are often related to encephalitis, Cuprum  metallicum 30c   may work well after Thuja. Cuprum met   is a strong antispasmodic.  The symptoms of encephalitis are difficult for a pet owner to notice, but you  may see your dog or cat’s head lowered or being pressed against objects.

Also for  encephalitis-induced seizures, if your pet’s head and neck is leaning toward one side of the body, try Cicuta virosa 30c.

If seizures are  the result of a head injury, and you are sure of this, Arnica 30c   once every  twelve hours for three treatments may help.

If seizures occur  while your pet is sleeping, look into trying Bufo 30c.   Other  indications for this treatment are a howl preceding the fit, and possibly nose  bleeds.

ignatiaIf the trigger to  the seizure is anxiety or grief, and the fits include loss of consciousness and  possibly shaking of the head to and fro and hysterical turning, try Ignatia  6c.

Oenanthe crocata 6z   has been used for sudden convulsive attacks  accompanied by twitching of the face and head muscles. Lock jaw may also be  present.

If fits are preceded by excitement and various twitching, the pupils are unevenly dilated, and the animal tends to face backward, give Absinthum 6c.