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Canine Epilepsy in Older Dogs

Updated: Apr 18

Canine epilepsy is a neurological disorder that can affect dogs of all ages, including older dogs. As our beloved companion's age, it's important to understand the unique challenges and considerations that come with managing epilepsy in senior dogs. In this article, we will explore causes, symptoms, and management strategies. By understanding this condition comprehensively, we can provide the best care for our senior dogs, ensuring their health and well-being.

Older dog with canine epilepsy

Causes of Canine Epilepsy in Older Dogs

Age-related changes in the brain:

  • Brain Structure: Aging can lead to structural changes in the brain, including shrinkage and alterations in the connectivity of neural networks. These changes may disrupt the normal electrical activity and increase the likelihood of seizures.

  • Cellular Function: With age, there can be a decline in the function of cells responsible for regulating neuronal activity, such as ion channels and receptors. This imbalance in cellular activity can lead to abnormal electrical discharges and seizures.

  • Blood Supply: Reduced blood flow to the brain in older dogs can impact oxygen and nutrient delivery, potentially affecting neuronal health and triggering seizures

Underlying health conditions:

  • Kidney or Liver Disease: Impaired kidney or liver function can result in the accumulation of toxins in the body, affecting brain function and potentially leading to seizures.

  • Brain Tumors: Older dogs may develop brain tumours, which can disrupt normal brain activity and trigger seizures.

  • Metabolic Imbalances: Imbalances in electrolytes, glucose levels, or thyroid hormones can contribute to the development of seizures in ageing canines.


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Symptoms of Canine Epilepsy in Older Dogs

Generalized seizures: These involve the entire body and may manifest as involuntary muscle contractions, loss of consciousness, and uncontrolled movements.

Focal seizures: These seizures affect specific areas of the body, such as a limb, and may cause twitching, shaking, or repetitive movements. Learn how to Recognise a Focal Seizure.

Altered behaviour or confusion: Older dogs with epilepsy may exhibit changes in behaviour, disorientation, confusion, or prolonged periods of restlessness.


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Management of Canine Epilepsy in Older Dogs

  1. Veterinary evaluation: If your older dog experiences seizures, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination, including blood work and imaging tests, to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

  2. Medication: Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) may be prescribed to control seizures in older dogs. It is important to follow your veterinarian's instructions regarding medication administration and dosage adjustments.

  3. Regular monitoring: Regular check-ups and blood tests are necessary to monitor the effectiveness of the medication and assess your dog's overall health.

  4. Environmental modifications: Creating a safe environment for your older dog is essential to minimize the risk of injuries during seizures. Remove sharp objects or hazards, and provide a comfortable and stress-free living space.

  5. Supportive care: Senior dogs with epilepsy may benefit from a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a consistent daily routine to promote overall health and reduce stress. Read our post on The Best Diet for Dog's with Epilepsy. Read our post on How to Support Liver Function in Dogs with Epilepsy.

Conclusion: Canine Epilepsy in Older Dogs

Canine epilepsy can affect older dogs, presenting unique challenges in their management and care. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and appropriate management strategies, we can provide the best possible support for our senior dogs with epilepsy. Regular veterinary care, appropriate medication, and creating a safe and comfortable environment are key to promoting their health and well-being. Remember, if your older dog experiences seizures, consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.

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