Witnessing a seizure in your dog can be a scary event. No dog owner wants to see their beloved fur friend experiencing a seizure. Knowing more about their cause can help ease fears we face as pet owners. Seizures in dogs are a type of brain disorder, and there are multiple reasons why a pet may be having them. 

The team at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services is here to clarify this condition and provide insight into the causes of and treatments for seizure.

What Is a Seizure?

A seizure is abnormal brain activity, a rapid occurrence of electrical impulses of the brain and uncontrolled muscle spasms. We don’t completely understand the exact mechanisms of this condition, but there are a number of factors linked to seizures. A seizure can either be a grand mal seizure, affecting all four limbs, or a focal seizure that impacts one side of the body.  

Common conditions that create a seizure episode:

Idiopathic epilepsy is an inherited disorder that starts to display symptoms between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. This form of epilepsy is diagnosed in certain breeds more often, such as Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, and Beagles, among others.

What Happens During a Seizure

If your dog has a prolonged seizure, these occur for more than 5 minutes. Cluster seizures are when two or more seizures occur within a 24-hour time span. 

A seizure has specific phases associated with their symptoms and duration. The first stage accompanies behavior changes that produce restlessness and anxiety. 

From there, stage two is when the seizure is happening. Seizures can last between a few seconds to several minutes. 

Stage 3 concludes the seizure. During this recovery time, your dog may be disoriented, uncoordinated, anxious, and salivate more. Some pets experience temporary blindness.

Diagnosing and Treating Seizures in Dogs

To diagnose your canine, your veterinarian performs a thorough examination, as well as ordering lab testing. Treatment includes medication combined with supportive care and complementary therapies like acupuncture. There are a few medications on the market that effectively treat seizures. These include Phenobarbital and Zonisamide.

Another type of treatment relies on what your dog eats. A diet that includes medium-chain fatty acids as a fat source may be able to decrease seizures in some dogs.

When Your Dog Has a Seizure

During the seizure, you can help keep your dog safe and calm by following these instructions.

  1. Remain calm and keep your dog as calm as possible by using a reassuring voice and touch.
  2. Keep track of the time it begins and finishes, so that you can pass the information on to your veterinarian.
  3. Do not attempt to hold down your dog or grab their tongue (despite the popular myth, they do not swallow it).
  4. Cushion your pet’s head and remove any obstacles around them, while stroking their fur.

Your dog may sound like they are in pain or defecate or urinate, but they aren’t in pain and elimination is a result of the muscle spasms. Call your veterinarian after the seizure to discuss the episode for their medical records.

If you would like more information about seizures in dogs, or would like to schedule an appointment, please phone us. A seizure can look frightening to a pet owner who loves their canine companion. But there are many ways we can treat them to give your furry friend the best possible life.