Diagnosing Seizures in a Dog: Is It Epilepsy?–Cletus’ Story. What Would You Do if It Was Your Dog?

Seizures in dogs can have many different causes. Diagnosing seizures in a dog isn’t always straightforward.

Veterinarians use the term epilepsy to describe any illness that causes recurrent seizures. That is, however, different from inheritable idiopathic epilepsy which is a seizure disorder with an unknown cause. Above all, assuming the cause cannot be known is that an identifiable problem might get missed.

Diagnosing Seizures in a Dog: Is It Epilepsy?--Cletus' Story

Cletus’ story

Cletus was a 2-year-old Bloodhound mix. His dad adopted Cletus as a puppy. For the first 8 months of his life, Cletus was a normal, happy, lovely puppy.

The first seizure

When he was approaching a year of age, Cletus had his first grand mal seizure.

In the middle of the night, Cletus’ dad woke up to the banging sounds. Cletus was seizing and knocking against a china cabinet. His dad rushed Cletus to an emergency clinic where they diagnosed Cletus with epilepsy.

Wasn’t Cletus a bit too young? The age of onset of idiopathic epilepsy is usually 3 to 5 years of age. And could that be a correct diagnosis after a single seizure?

More seizures

As time went on, Cletus’ seizures increased in frequency and severity. Eventually, cluster seizures followed.

Back at the emergency veterinarian, Cletus’dad insisted on an MRI scan. Instead, the veterinarian decided to keep Cletus overnight for observation. Their theory was a combination of epilepsy and ear infection.

It is true that Cletus did start tilting his head to one side and walk drunkenly. However, through the night he also started to have other serious proprioception deficits. This, finally, landed Cletus in the neurology department for an MRI scan.

What do you think was wrong with Cletus? Do you feel he did have epilepsy or a different problem? What would you do if Cletus was your dog?

Find out what the diagnosis was. Read Cletus’ story here.

Related articles:
Really Angry Vet: Winston’s First Seizure

Further reading:
Diagnosing Seizures in Dogs

Categories: ConditionsDog health advocacyGrand mal seizuresMisdiagnosesReal-life StoriesSeizuresSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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