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Narcolepsy in Dogs

Narcolepsy in Dogs

If your dog was running around or playing and then it suddenly passes out it could be a sign that your dog has narcolepsy. Today, the Veterinary Referral Associates vets will explain narcolepsy in dogs and the signs to look out for.

What is Narcolepsy in Dogs

Narcolepsy is a disease that affects the nervous system that usually affects younger dogs but can be seen in middle-aged to older dogs. This disease causes your dog to collapse and lose movement suddenly.

Your dog will just fall asleep even if they are active. Usually, these dogs wake up just like nothing has happened. This usually occurs when your dog is playing or eating.

This is usually considered a genetically inherited condition and is often associated with obesity so it is important to maintain a healthy diet for your dog!

Signs of Narcolepsy in Dogs

If your dog has narcolepsy the first thing you will notice is your dog will pass out or fall asleep out of nowhere. The usual signs that you will see if your dog does have narcolepsy are:

  • Quick and sudden collapse without any warning
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden paralysis of your dog’s head, limbs, and body
  • Eye movement, muscle twitching, and whimpering lasting up to 30 minutes
  • The episode ends when you stimulate them or make a loud noise.

How to Diagnostic Narcolepsy in Dogs 

If you see your dog pass out you need to contact your Veterinary Referral Associates right away for an appointment. This can be a sign of several serious health issues. When you see your vet they may want to order a series of tests for your dog including:

  • Blood chemical profile: This test will check your dog’s organ function and make sure that the liver and kidneys are functioning properly. It will also check your dog’s protein levels and blood sugar as all of these could cause sudden collapse
  • Complete blood count (CBC): A CBC will check your dog’s blood level and make sure that they are not anemic and adequately hydrated.
  • Urinalysis: This will make sure that your dog does not have a bladder infection and will give some indication of how well the kidneys are functioning.
  • Electrolyte Panel: This will help make sure that there are not any electrolyte imbalances causing your dog to pass out.

How to Treat Narcolepsy in Dogs

Unfortunately, there currently is no treatment for narcolepsy in dogs but if you can stop the signs/symptoms of a possible episode you can tell when it is going to happen. If you see the signs happening you can get your dog to a safe place while it has its episode. Make sure it is a place away from any object that your dog can injure itself on or a place it can fall (like steppes). 

In very severe cases, your vet may be able to prescribe oral medications that may help a dog who is dealing with frequent and severe attacks. 

How Long Can A Dog Live With Narcolepsy?

Most dogs can live normal life even if they have narcolepsy.  You will need to be more attentive and aware of your dog’s behavior during exciting or stressful events.  During these times,  calm your dog down with calming words to help the episode resolve quickly.

Try to avoid any stressful events, and try to keep your dog calm at all times will help decrease these events from happening. 

While a narcoleptic episode may be scary, this disease is rarely fatal and not painful at all. Most dogs will suddenly collapse and, after a few minutes, will be back to normal.

While there are other diseases such as heart failure that can mimic these signs, it is always best for your vet to look at your dog as soon as this happens to make sure that there is not nothing else going on. 

Your vet can help give you advice on signs to look for and what to do to help stop these episodes from happening. Sometimes there are medications that your vet can prescribe to help keep your dog calm. By following your vet’s advice and being aware of the trigger signs, you can help your dog live a long and healthy life with narcolepsy. 

If your dog has suddenly passed out/fallen asleep, please contact the Veterinary Referral Associates vets right away!

New Patients Welcome

Veterinary Referral Associates is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gaithersburg companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (301) 926-3300