One of the scariest conditions that Silky Terrier owners, or any dog owner for that matter, have to sometimes deal with is canine epilepsy. This is a neurological disorder in which the dog experiences seizures, ranging in severity from very mild to very severe, while the owner stands by, feeling helpless. It seems like the tendency to develop epilepsy is inherited in the Silky Terrier breed, as well as in other breeds; some dogs only have one or a few seizures throughout their life, while other dogs unfortunately experience seizures regularly.
Essentially, epilepsy involves convulsions that are triggered by brain neurons firing suddenly, excessively and in an uncoordinated manner; this firing cause involuntary contractions of muscles and/or strange behavior. Though the exact cause of the uncoordinated firing is unknown, many experts believe that it may be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters, the chemical substances responsible for transmitting messages from one neuron to another. If your dog experiences an epileptic episode, he could present with a variety of behaviors, including a far-away look, twitching, barking, falling, defecating, paddling his limbs or urinating. These seizures can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and usually appear quite suddenly.
There are actually three general parts to a seizure. The first part is called the Aura and this is the time when signs of a forthcoming seizure start presenting themselves; these signs may be very subtle and you might not even notice them. The signs could last for days, though many dogs give no indication of the onset of a seizure. Then comes the Ictus phase, which is when the seizure proper happens; again, a seizure could last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Lastly, there is the Post-Ictial phase, which follows the seizure and which sees the dog somewhat disoriented and quite confused; he may pace or wander around trying to figure out what just happened. In this state, he may still be unresponsive and wish to be alone, or he may search for comfort. This confusion could last for a few days.
If a seizure lasts for more than 10 minutes or if you notice your dog having more than 2 seizures per 24 hour period, then you should immediately seek emergency veterinary care; you should also seek emergency care if your dog begins another seizure before he has had a chance to recover from the previous seizure. Your veterinarian will give your dog a complete physical and neurological exam to determine if there is any underlying disease that could have caused the seizures. Epilepsy cannot be fully eliminated and treatment is aimed at alleviating the seizures and their side effects; drugs such as anticonvulsants are often prescribed. Some owners prefer alternative treatments, such as acupuncture and herbs and vitamins.