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Seizures in Dogs: What You Need To Know

Seizures in Dogs: What You Need To Know | BetterVet

Did you know that about five percent of all dogs will experience a dog seizure? That's around one in 20 dogs. Without prompt medical attention, dog seizures can be fatal. 

As a responsible pet parent, it’s essential to educate yourself about this serious condition and take necessary precautions to protect your furry friend. Keep reading to learn more.

Dog Seizure Symptoms

The most common dog seizure symptoms include:

  • Muscle spasms or tremors: During a seizure, your dog may experience involuntary muscle spasms or tremors that can affect their entire body or just certain parts of their body, such as the legs or head. These spasms or tremors can be violent and cause the dog to shake uncontrollably.
  • Lack of awareness or consciousness: Dogs may seem dazed and unresponsive to their owner's touch or voice in addition to losing consciousness.
  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth: When a dog has a seizure, they may drool excessively or foam at the mouth.
  • Paddling or jerking of the limbs: Increased activity in the brain’s motor neurons that control movement during a seizure can cause a dog to paddle or jerk their limbs.

What Causes Seizures in Dogs?

There are a number of different things that can lead to dog seizures, including:

  • Idiopathic epilepsy: This genetic disorder commonly causes dogs to have seizures. This means that dogs with a family history of epilepsy may be more likely to develop this condition.
  • Infections or inflammations: Infections or inflammations in the brain, such as meningitis or encephalitis, can alter brain functioning and lead to abnormal electrical activity, eventually causing seizures.
  • Metabolic or electrolyte imbalances: These conditions, including low blood sugar and calcium levels, are another factor that can impact the brain’s function and cause a seizure.
  • Poisoning or toxicity: Common culprits include pesticides, medications, and household chemicals.
  • Brain tumors or lesions: Tumors or lesions in the brain can affect brain functioning and lead to abnormal electrical activity that triggers seizures.

Types of Seizures in Dogs

There are several different types of seizures in dogs, including:

Grand mal seizures

Dogs are most likely to have grand mal seizures, which are accompanied by these symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Convulsions
  • Stiff limbs
  • Uncontrollable shaking 

Focal seizures

This type of seizure is often referred to as a partial seizure because it only impacts one part of the brain. This causes abnormal movements in one limb or side of the body.

Cluster seizures

Two or more seizures in a row are known as cluster seizures. These seizures can be particularly dangerous and you should contact the vet ASAP.

Status epilepticus

When a puppy has a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes or many seizures without regaining consciousness, it's known as status epilepticus. This condition can cause permanent brain damage or even be fatal if left untreated.

Diagnosis of Seizures in Dogs

If your dog has been having seizures, you may be wondering what the next steps are. During the diagnostic process, the veterinarian may perform:

Treatment of Seizures in Dogs

Dog seizure treatment options include:

  • Anticonvulsant seizure medicine for dogs: The most common treatment for seizures in dogs is anticonvulsant medication.
  • Dietary changes and supplements: For example, a ketogenic (low carb, high fat) diet has been shown to significantly reduce the frequency of dog seizures.
  • Alternative therapies: Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic care, are additional options that can be used to treat seizures in dogs.
  • Surgery or radiation therapy: In the most serious cases, a dog will need to have surgery to treat the underlying cause of their seizures.

What to Do When a Dog Has a Seizure?

“What to do if my dog has a seizure?” is a common question. It’s important to stay calm and take the appropriate steps to keep your furry friend safe. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Protect your pup’s head and body by placing a soft towel or blanket underneath them to prevent injury. Don’t put your hands anywhere near their mouth, as they may inadvertently start biting during the seizure
  • Time the seizure. Timing how long the seizure lasts can help your vet make an accurate determination of what caused the seizure
  • Contact a veterinarian

What Not to Do When a Dog Has a Seizure

Never do any of the following after your dog has a seizure or during the seizure:

  • Don’t restrain the dog or try to stop the seizure in any way
  • Put your hands near your dog’s mouth
  • Offer food or water immediately
  • Assume that your dog is back to normal immediately
  • Ignore the seizure

Preventing Seizures in Dogs

While there’s nothing you can do to prevent some types of seizures in dogs, there are some measures that pet parents should know about to help reduce the risk of dog seizures, such as:

  • Making sure your pup takes all prescribed medication and attends regular checkups with the vet.  
  • Helping your dog avoid certain seizure triggers, like stress or certain foods.
  • Removing hazards from the home to keep them safe.

BetterVet Can Help

If you suspect your dog is experiencing seizures, it’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately. At BetterVet, we are committed to providing the best possible care for dogs with seizures. Our experienced veterinarians are available to answer any questions you may have and provide expert advice on managing your dog’s condition. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your dog with seizures live a happy and healthy life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a dog be OK after a seizure?

Many dogs will recover fully after a seizure, although it may take some time for them to regain their balance and normal behavior. It’s important to monitor your dog closely after a seizure and seek veterinary care if necessary.

What dog breeds are more prone to seizures?

Certain dog breeds are more prone to seizures. Some of these breeds include Basset Hounds, Collies, German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

What can I give my dog after a seizure?

You shouldn't give your pooch anything until you speak to the vet.

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