MIAMI – Epileptic seizures not only affect humans, but can also happen to dogs and cats.
Ileana Puig will never forget when her dog Kaylee had an epileptic seizure two years ago.
"All of a sudden, I heard a sound and I looked and she was on the floor. It took me a second to realize it was a seizure and I started panicking when I realized what it was," said Puig.
Seizures are just the symptoms," said Dr. Beatrix Nani with Miami Veterinary Specialists. "That is the clinical sign and then we try to break it down to different things that can cause seizures."
Animal seizures can be caused by toxins, such as secretions from Bufo toads or exposure to snail bait. In some cases, an animal may have to be put into a drug induced coma until the toxin wears off. While Bufo toads are more likely seen in South Florida, Poison Control confirms with Channel 4 they have had calls after people have come into contact with Bufo toads in Northeast Florida.
Also, those Poinsettia plants you had over the holidays, they are also toxic to pets and are a common source of seizures.
Seizures in dogs and cats may also be the result of congenital malformations of the brain, metabolic disorders, inflammatory diseases, infections, brain tumors, or a stoke.
"The point is that, with any patient with seizures, we need to go to the bottom of the disease because all of the diseases should be treated differently, completely differently," said Nani.
In some cases, the cause of the seizure is never defined.
"She did have an MRI and the MRI came out clean, so, no, I don't think they have any idea as to why it happened," said Puig. "And even in her litter, as far as I know, she's the only one," said Puig.
For the past two years, Kaylee has been taking an anti-seizure medication and hasn't had an episode.
Seizures can be mild, evidenced by only a small twitch of the face or a limb, or they can be severe, causing the animal to spasm violent and become rigid. A change in behavior may also be a warning sign of a seizure.