Dog Seizures

Nobody wants to see their dog having a seizure, but let’s put that aside and learn for a moment. There are some safety tips you can learn to prevent injuries during a dog seizure, and other things you can learn to minimize harm.

If you see your dog laying and thrashing, eyes rolling back into his head, drooling, or becoming non-responsive, it may be a seizure. Seizures are caused by the brain “misfiring,” sending strange commands all over the body.

If your dog’s been known to have seizures, he’ll try to tell you when a seizure is coming. He’ll whine, become restless, or want to cuddle and rest his head on you. In short, he’ll start acting scared.


What are the Different Kinds of Dog Seizures?


First thing to know: The most serious cases are called “Status Epilepticus.” If your dog’s seizure lasts almost 30 minutes, that’s very serious. Take your dog to a veterinarian or emergency hospital immediately.

It’s much more common for a dog to have a generalized dog seizure. When having a generalized dog seizure, your dog will either pass out when the seizure sets in, or will begin “swimming” on the floor, drooling, and may lose bladder and bowel control.

Another common type of dog seizure is the focal seizure. Here, a much smaller part of the brain is affected, meaning that the outward signs will affect only part of the body. Twitching, blinking, or snapping at the air are all signs of a focal dog seizure. This can sometimes develop into the generalized dog seizure mentioned above.

Once the dog’s seizure ends, he will usually be confused and upset for anywhere between a few hours, up to a week.

Why Do Dog Seizures Happen?


In short, the dog is either born with a condition that leads to seizures, or something happens during life to cause that condition. A seizure disorder can be hereditary, or can happen because of complications during pregnancy or birth, or due to different factors later in life. Head injuries are a very common cause.

Some of the specific causes of dog seizures include:

  • Brain tumors and defects in the structure of the brain.
  • Excessive brain fluids, aka hydrocephalus, will compress the brain.
  • Dietary problems and problems with metabolism, such as liver disease.
  • Various kinds of poisons and toxins can cause sudden seizures.
  • Any infection that spreads to the brain can cause seizures, among other symptoms.
  • Of course, dog seizures can be a sign of epilepsy, just as with humans.

Diagnosing Dog Seizures

Diagnosing a dog’s seizures can take some time and money, because of the amount of detail your veterinarian will need in order to make the right diagnosis. Your vet will ask for a great deal of historical information and minute details, and may also order X-rays, blood tests, urine and stool tests, CAT scans, and a spinal tap.

With any luck, your answers to the dog’s historical work-up will give your veterinarian a clue about the cause of the dog’s seizures, and he can skip straight to confirming that suspicion with fewer and less expensive testing.

Treating Dog Seizures

What To Do When Your Dog Has a Seizure

First, stay calm. Don’t raise your voice or shout across the house. Loud noises and stressful activity can make the dog’s seizure worse. Clear the furniture and other objects away from where your dog is, and find something soft to protect his head. Don’t use your hands for this unless absolutely necessary; your dog may accidentally bite you as a result of his seizure. But, you do need to find a way to make sure your dog doesn’t beat his head against a hard floor.

You should time the length of the dog’s seizure, because your veterinarian will need to know. It’s going to seem like it lasts forever, but in fact a normal seizure will be over within about five minutes. If the dog’s seizure lasts longer than that, you should call the veterinarian, who might want you to bring the dog in for a sedative.

Once the seizure is over, your dog should visit the veterinarian ASAP. Every seizure makes the next seizure more likely to happen, so your vet will want to start a treatment plan right away. That treatment will likely involve medications, and there may be some trial and error in finding the right medication for your dog’s seizures. Blood work will be necessary to make sure the medication doesn’t damage your dog’s liver.

Preventing Dog Seizures

Here are some notes about how to prevent dealing with dog seizures in your life:

  • Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are complete and up-to-date.
  • Puppy-proof your house, and especially make sure any harmful chemicals are out of reach.
  • Female dogs who have seizures must be spayed; being in heat increases the risk of seizures.
  • Never breed a dog who has had seizures.
  • Be extra-careful in selecting a puppy from the following epilepsy-prone breeds: Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles.
  • Follow all the dog health care advice you can find – remember, if an infection spreads to the brain, that heightens the risk of a dog seizure.
  • Never let your dog go off-leash, so that he can’t eat things he shouldn’t.
  • For the same reasons, make sure your yard is fenced.

Dog Seizures – In Closing

Thankfully, some dog seizures are isolated incidents. However, they’re always serious. Veterinary medicine has reached the point where ongoing dog seizures can be treated, and most dogs can live a happy, normal life after that treatment. Just remember to have dog seizures investigated right away, because each seizure makes the next seizure more likely.

Learn about dog training, or go back to dog health care.

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