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25 May 2011

Fits in pets

Fits (also called seizures) are the result of uncontrolled neurological activity in the cerebral cortex area of the forebrain and there are numerous different causes.

Fits (also called seizures) are the result of uncontrolled neurological activity in the cerebral cortex area of the forebrain. There are numerous different causes including kidney disease, liver disease and idiopathic epilepsy.

  • Within the skull (intracranial)
    • Structural lesions (eg encephalitis, traumatic injury, tumours)
    • No structural lesion (primary or idiopathic epilepsy)
  • Diseases localised outside the skull (extracranial or reactive seizures) ie the animal has a normal brain which is reacting to disease in other parts of the body. There are many potential causes including:
    • Liver disease - liver failure or portocaval shunts (due to high blood ammonia concentrations)
    • End-stage kidney failure - due to toxins in the bloodstream
    • Poisoning - various toxins
    • Low blood sugar concentrations (hypoglycaemia) - eg following insulin overdosage, or insulin secretion by a pancreatic tumour
    • Low blood calcium concentrations - as with eclampsia (lactation tetany, or milk fever) in lactating bitches.

Isolated fits usually only last 1-3 minutes and, although patients are somewhat dazed and show abnormal behaviour for a few hours after the fit, there are usually no long term adverse effects. However, sometimes a series of seizures occurs together - a state called called "status epilepticus" - which  is potentially life-threatening.

 
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