Not much is scarier for a dog or cat owner than watching a beloved pet have a seizure. You may not even realize that is what is occurring because seizures can vary so greatly in their severity and duration. Most people are familiar with generalized or grand mal seizures during which affected animals are unaware of their surroundings, fall to the ground, become stiff or paddle their legs, and maybe lose bladder or bowel control. Partial seizures are more difficult to recognize because they typically only result in abnormal movements or behaviors like randomly snapping at the air.
Seizures are evidence of abnormal electrical activity within the brain. They may be caused by physical abnormalities (e.g., brain injuries or tumors), metabolic disturbances (e.g., low blood sugar levels), or exposure to toxins. In cases where diagnostic testing does not reveal an underlying problem and seizures reappear over a period of time, a veterinarian will make a diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy. This condition is much more common in dogs than it is in cats.
If seizures are mild treatment may not be necessary, but if they occur frequently or last for a long period of time, a veterinarian will prescribe anticonvulsant medications. In severe cases, combinations of several different drugs may be required to reduce seizure activity to an acceptable level.