A convulsion is the violent irregular motion of limbs or body caused by involuntary contraction of muscles. Common signs are loss of consciousness, incontinence and vocalisation. Other terms that may be used are seizures or fits, with Epilepsy confined to disorders characterised by repeated fits of unknown origin.
Common causes of convulsions include:
The most common type of convulsion is known as Idiopathic Epilepsy, the cause of this is unknown.
What to do if your pet has a fit:
The most important rule is, do not panic! It is usual for a fit to last several seconds only. Approach the animal with care. Roll your pet onto a blanket away from furniture and drag clear from any possible harm such as an open fire. Do not handle your pet. It is important to remove all stimuli, dim the lights, switch off the radio and keep quiet. Observe the patient well as your observations can be of great assistance and help your vet to make a diagnosis. It is usual for the convulsions to settle after 1-3 minutes and recovery is usually complete within minutes to hours. During this time there is little that you, the owner, can do to help. Telephone your Veterinary Surgeon at a suitable time for an appointment to have your pet examined should this be necessary.
Your Veterinary Surgeon will try to find an identifiable cause of the convulsions so that specific treatment can be given. However, most cases do not have an identifiable cause and anti-convulsant therapy may be instituted. This may not happen straight away and will be started at the discretion of your Veterinary Surgeon.
The following are important points to note in the treatment of epilepsy:
It is important to understand that medication for epilepsy is not given in order to cure but rather to control the disease and your pet may still continue to have fits on a regular basis. It is hoped that medication will reduce the number and severity of future fits. The first fit is always the most unnerving for the owner and once an understanding of the medical situation is gained, the pets health can be maintained very satisfactorily in most cases.