What happens during a seizure?
In 2015, the International Veterinary Epilepsy Task Force (IVETF) presented a consensus report on the definition of epilepsy, classification of epileptic seizures, and terminology used therein. I’ve based this post on their report.
In layterms, an epileptic seizure basically means that the brain goes into overdrive and starts shooting off excessive neural messages simultaneously, resulting in different types of behaviours or movements (e.g. convulsions, facial ticks, extreme anxiety). There are two main phases to an epileptic seizure: the ictal phase, and the postictal phase. The ictal phase is the seizure itself, and the postictal phase is the recovery after the seizure. With Odin, the latter is usually characterised by extreme hunger and thirst, and sometimes he runs around in a kind of frenzied way for a short period until I get him to settle. Some dogs experience temporary blindness or other sensory loss, or even temporary paralysis! The longer the seizure lasts, the higher the risk of permanent damage.
Some people say they know when their dogs will have a seizure because they’ll be extra clingy, whiny, vocal, or otherwise exhibit different behaviour in the hours or days preceding a seizure. This is called a prodrome and is considered a pre-ictal phase. I didn’t include it in the main phases because it’s not that common. Odin has his weird days but there’s no correlation I’ve noticed between the strange behaviour (e.g. sometimes he gets extra sensitive to sound or movement) and when his seizures occur. Brief phenomena that occur in the seconds or minutes prior to a seizure (such as lip smacking - typical for Odin) are now considered as part of the ictal phase where a focal seizure (abnormal activity on one side of the brain) develops into a generalised seizure (both sides of the brain affected). More info on the different types of seizures tomorrow.
For more info see Berendt et al. BMC Veterinary Research (2015) 11:182