dog having seizure

A dog seizure is a frightening event to witness. If your dog has one, you may feel panicky and confused, or else helpless to do something to make them feel better. Your dog may have a chronic seizure disorder like epilepsy, or a seizure may come on suddenly for the first time. 

During a seizure, your dog cannot control their muscle activity. Seizures are a disturbance in normal brain activity, also referred to as a convulsion. Since seizures in dogs are commonly diagnosed, your friends at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services want to tell you more about this neurological condition.

What Causes Seizures in Dogs?

There are lots of causes of seizures in dogs, but the most common form of this condition is referred to as idiopathic epilepsy, which is an inherited condition. Seizures can occur as one convulsive episode or as clusters. Poison, strokes, head injuries, liver or kidney disease, and toxicity are some of the conditions that can cause seizures.

There are three phases to dog seizures. These are:

  1. Pre-ictal phase (aura) — During this stage, your pet may become withdrawn, whine, hide, shake, or salivate. They may seem more restless and have changes in their behavior. 
  2. Ictal phase — This phase includes what you might consider the actual seizure, with loss of consciousness, muscle paralysis, and uncontrolled defecation or urination. This phase can be a grand mal seizure, which is full-blown, versus status epilepticus or a prolonged seizure.
  3. Post-ictal phase — This is the phase of recovery post-seizure. Your dog can experience restlessness, disorientation, temporary loss of vision, and confusion.

Symptoms of Dog Seizures

  • Pacing or running in circles
  • Twitching, looking like they are treading water
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Drooling 
  • Biting
  • Urinating/defecating
  • Falling to ground

5 Steps to Help a Dog with Seizures

If this is the first time your dog has had a seizure, have someone call your vet clinic right away while you remain with your pet. A quick response is necessary if the seizure is a result of a brain tumor, liver disease, or poisoning. Your veterinarian will want to see your pet to diagnose the cause of the seizure and offer a treatment plan for them.

During a seizure, follow some basic steps to keep your dog safe and secure.

  1. Remain calm and speak in a soft, even tone.
  2. Sit next to your dog, but avoid being close to their mouth. Do not attempt to open the mouth or stroke their face since this can result in an accidental bite.
  3. Time the seizure if possible, so you can relay this information to your veterinarian.  If the seizure continues after 5 minutes, consider this an urgent situation and take your dog to your veterinary emergency hospital.
  4. Make sure your dog is safe and not on the edge of the bed or couch. Move furniture and other objects out of the way. It’s best if your dog is on a soft spot, such as a rug.
  5. Make sure to give your dog a comfortable place to rest after a seizure. Comfort them by petting them and providing verbal reassurance.

A dog seizure is a scary and stressful experience for both you and your furry loved one. Many dogs, though, live a happy, healthy life with epilepsy if it is managed. Please call us if you have any additional questions about seizures in dogs, or would like to schedule a consultation.