Saturday, July 11, 2009

Can traditional veterinary medicine treat seizures?

There are many causes for seizures in animals. The overall incidence of seizures in dogs is estimated at 1 percent, but goes up to 15-20 percent in purebred dogs.

Should your pet have seizures, a minimum evaluation should include a thorough physical exam, blood work, urinalysis, heart worm test, fecal exam and possibly chest and abdominal radiographs, and abdominal ultrasound.

Sometimes CT or MRI Scans, cerebrospinal fluid tap and analysis, or EEG are performed. Many times after a thorough evaluation, no abnormalities are found and this is called idiopathic epilepsy. In idiopathic epilepsy treatment options include Western drugs, Western herbal medicine, acupuncture, and traditional Chinese herbs.

In most cases, idiopathic seizures can be controlled with Western medications, the most common being phenobarbital. Anti-convulsant medication must be given every day, can cause drowsiness and can have side effects on the liver.

Seizures in Chinese medicine are considered internal wind. There are several causes and the treatment is slightly different. Acupuncture points and Chinese herbs are selected according to the pattern that is diagnosed. This case illustrates the use of traditional Chinese veterinary medicine on a case of idiopathic epilepsy.

A 5-year-old female spayed beagle was presented for seizures of unknown cause. She had been having seizures for almost a year.

Initially the seizures were every two months then started being monthly. The last seizure had been almost a month before presentation. The owner and veterinarian were discussing the possibility of putting the dog on seizure medication.

The owner was concerned about having to give phenobarbital on a daily basis and its side effects. The dog was diagnosed with internal wind due to liver and kidney yin deficiency, excess heat and stagnation.

The dog was treated with acupuncture and scheduled for an appointment a week later. The dog had a mild seizure the night before the appointment. A second acupuncture treatment was done, Chinese herbs were prescribed and food therapy was initiated. Several follow-up appointments were scheduled with increasing time in between. The dog has had no seizures for eight months and is doing extremely well.

The dog is still on a Chinese herbal formula but at a reduced dose and if doses are missed there are no adverse problems. Not all seizure problems can resolve as quickly as this case did but traditional Chinese veterinary medicine gives owners another alternative.

In all cases, a thorough Western evaluation is recommended. Chinese practices can be safely used in conjunction with Western medications and can be used in any species.

Dr. Connie Clemons-Chevis has received certification in acupuncture, Tui-na and Chinese herbology through Chi Institute in Reddick, Fla., and China National Society of TCVM. Alternative Medicine for Pets offers TCVM services in Bay St. Louis, Escatawpa and Pascagoula. Appointments are required and can be scheduled by calling 671-6210.


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