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Epilepsy in Dogs

Updated on June 15, 2011

Nightmare diagnosis but there is hope

Alternative Treatments - Canine epilepsy is an extremely distressing condition, both for the animal patient and for the human family but especially the family.

When this diagnosis is pronounced by a vet, there is usually great heart-sink, with a very gloomy outlook offered. It is often stated by professionals that the dog is faced with progressively worsening fits, leading eventually to brain damage and death. At best, a life-time of suppressive depressant drugs is offered.

It does seem that some breeds are more prone to fits, giving rise to the belief that the condition is hereditary. In most cases, we find that it is not inherited in itself but the tendency may be, awaiting external triggers before the disease manifests itself.

Many patients come to us with the diagnosis Primary Hereditary Idiopathic Epilepsy but, when a good proportion recover under homeopathic treatment, how can that be true?

Happily, alternative medicine, especially in the shape of homeopathy (homoeopathy), appears to offer hope for a somewhat better outlook. In our experience, at the AVMC, about 80% of treated dogs recover, usually to the extent of ceasing the fits altogether and with no need for ongoing drug treatment.

This is as near to the definition of cure as we can get.

German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherd Dog

The Treatment of Canine Epilepsy

Homeopathic approach

While a diagnosis, of most cases of epilepsy that visit us, often after expensive MRI scans, is 'primary idiopathic* hereditary epilepsy', we find that the huge majority have their first fits within three months of a vaccination event, whether the primary vaccination course or one of the annnual boosters. Often, there has been a history of itchiness, ear problems or skin problems, before the fits emerged, which may have been suppressed by steroid drugs, ointments or lotions.

We set about choosing a homeopathic medicine for each patient, according to the patient's personality, symptoms and constitution. We also look into diet, since we believe that natural feeding is very important as a platform for health and healing. We may use herbs as an adjunct to treatment.

We look into lifestyle and environment since these factors can be very important 'obstacles to cure'.

In those patients who have been treated successfully, when the correct medication has been found (not always at the first attempt), we have often observed a steady diminution in frequency and severity of the fits, along with emergence of itchy skin (pruritus) or even skin lesions. This tends to prove the supposed link between skin problems and epilepsy. These usually eventually clear, as the case progresses.

In the unlucky few who do not respond, we believe that these are the true epilepsy cases, the others having an identifiable cause despite the specialist 'hereditary' diagnosis given at the outset.

Some important triggers for epilepsy:





Garden chemicals


Suppression of skin disease

Status epilepticus

In some cases, a cluster of fits can occur. When the patient emerges from one fit straight into another, we call it 'status epilepticus'. This is reputed to be a very bad sign, increasing the likelihood of a bad outcome. This has not always been our own experience, however. We avoid administration of Diazepam-type drugs, since we have found these to increase the likelihood of a bad outcome, in the patients we have seen.

*Idiopathic is a word dreamed up to sound good, whereas it just means something like 'we don't know where it comes from' or 'it just happens'. In our experience, epilepsy doesn't 'just happen'.

A homeopathic vet should be able to explain your treatment options.

Border Collie
Border Collie

Various treatment options

Alone or combined in an integrated therapeutic programme





Natural Feeding Information

Some commonly used homeopathic medicines

in alphabetical order

In the homeopathic treatment of epileptic dogs, we use a great many different remedies, depending upon the individual constitution, nature and demeanour of the patient.

Here is a list of some of the most commonly used medicines:



Bufo rana

Calcarea carbonica

Cuprum metallicum





Morgan Bach

Nux vomica






Prognostic indicator?

Happily, the vast majority of those cases labelled 'hereditary epilepsy' (and therefore carrying a pretty hopeless prognosis) are, in fact, unlikely to be hereditary, since we have seen such a good recovery rate. However, there are few indicators at first encounter, to give a clue as to likely outcome.

We have found one possible indicator over the years. It appears to hold true that those cases that have definitely responded to the administration of the drug 'phenobarbitone' (i.e. reduction in severity or frequency or both) are much more likely to cease fitting altogether when the correct homeopathic medicine can be found.


Epilepsy can be very distressing for owners and family. Dogs rarely suffer when fitting.

The disease is only very rarely fatal.

Diet and vaccination can play a large part in the disease.

About 80% of cases appear to recover, following alternative medicine input.

The author is independent of commercial interest or sponsorship and cannot endorse any products or advertising material attached to this lens.

For more information, visit AVMC's information website (over 600 pages).

Chris Day - holistic vet - runs the Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre in Oxfordshire (AVMC) in Oxfordshire, UK.


In our experience, epilepsy is rarely dangerous if heavily suppressive drugs are avoided.

Labrador acupuncture
Labrador acupuncture
The Homeopathic Treatment of Small Animals: Principles and Practice
The Homeopathic Treatment of Small Animals: Principles and Practice

Homeopathic treatment of dogs, cats and other pets explained and described.


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    • ChrisDay LM profile imageAUTHOR

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      @ColorPetGifts: Thanks so much for your visit, your encouragement and, most of all, for the juicy Blessing - you're an Angel!

    • ColorPetGifts profile image


      8 years ago

      Squid angel blessings to you - many thanks for the awesome pages you write about animal health. Good to hear there are alternative measures for epilepsy in dogs.

    • ChrisDay LM profile imageAUTHOR

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      @MargoPArrowsmith: Thanks so much - you're an angel!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      8 years ago

      Lensrolled to Born to Be Angelic and Angel Blessed

    • ChrisDay LM profile imageAUTHOR

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      @annieangel1: You're very kind. To me, the holistic approach is the only one that can really make sense.

    • ChrisDay LM profile imageAUTHOR

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      @anonymous: You're very welcome and thanks for visiting.

    • annieangel1 profile image


      8 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      very interesting. I love how you describe yourself as a holistic vet - so few are. kind regards

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very useful and informative lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • ChrisDay LM profile imageAUTHOR

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      @sousababy: None taken!

    • ChrisDay LM profile imageAUTHOR

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      @sousababy: Thanks so much for your valuable support!

    • ChrisDay LM profile imageAUTHOR

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      @sousababy: There are some recorded fears of using those oils in epileptic people. I have not verified this. Yes to vaccination ++++.

    • ChrisDay LM profile imageAUTHOR

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      @rwoman: Grand mal is usually characterised by collapse, loss of consciousness, frothing at mouth, jerking movements of legs and eyelids and sometimes voiding of faeces/urine. Petit mal can be anything from a dog 'going a bit strange' or looking 'distant', to being twitchy but usually conscious.

    • sousababy profile image


      8 years ago

      Gosh, I keep forgetting to tell people this, lensrolled to 3 of mine. Wonderful work Dr. Day!

      Sincerely, Rose

    • sousababy profile image


      8 years ago

      Extremely, I have a couple of questions, given your connection between skin problems and epilepsy, has omega 3-6-9 or even (old fashioned) cod liver oil found somewhat effective? I suspected vaccination, garden chemicals and head injury to be more likely than diet. Fascinating, indeed. Are there tests for liver toxicity that you routinely do to find the source? (Or perhaps any enzyme deficiency?) Oh and by-the-way, I define idiopathic as "pathetic idiot that hasn't figured it out, yet" just like WNL (formerly "within normal limits") as "we never looked." Great lens, I'll try to keep up. Warmest regards, Rose

    • rwoman profile image


      8 years ago

      What are the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs?

    • rwoman profile image


      8 years ago

      What are the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs?


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