Seizures in Dogs

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Seizures in Dogs

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Just like humans, dogs can suffer from seizures. Seizures and convulsions are neurogenic crises which are the most common nerve-related emergencies in dogs. These situations combine disturbed motor activity with impaired sensitivity and consciousness. Seizures in dogs can have many causes, each of which require different treatment and care.

It can be very stressful and even traumatizing for an owner to see their dog having seizures, and we usually don't know how to react. In this AnimalWised article we will explain the causes and treatment of seizures in dogs so that you have a better understanding of this alarming situation.

You may also be interested in: Why is My Cat Having Seizures?

Causes of seizures in dogs

  • Traumatic causes: Cranioencephalic trauma can sometimes cause seizures at the time of the trauma, or after it takes place. If your dog suffers from seizures, try to remember if they have suffered a head trauma and tell the vet.

  • Tumoral causes: Brain tumors may be responsible for convulsive episodes, especially in adult dogs. In these cases, seizures may be accompanied by other neurological disorders such as difficulties in walking and seeing, abnormal behavior, and strange head positioning. The tumor theory should be considered if no other cause has been found.
  • Metabolic causes: In dogs, hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia and other metabolic disorders are important factors to consider in seizures. Your vet will probably perform some blood tests to rule out any possible metabolic disorders.
  • Infectious causes: Some infectious diseases can cause convulsions during the illness, or as a later consequence of the infection. These include rabies, pseudo-rabies and distemper. If you find a dog having a seizure without knowing its origin or if it has been vaccinated, act very carefully.
  • Congenital causes: Brain deformities regularly cause seizures and convulsions in puppies, with hydrocephalus being the most common. This is characterized by an excess volume of cerebrospinal fluid, and can lead to epilepsy. This deformity is more common in particular breeds, such as Miniature Poodles, Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers, and is manifested at birth through a domed skull. Another very notable deformity that can lead to seizures is lissencephaly, which particularly affects dogs from the Lhasa Apso breed.
  • Poison causes: A serious intoxication by a medicine or product designed for human use can cause your dog to have seizures and convulse. If after conducting a thorough clinical examination and the necessary tests the vet fails to determine the cause of the seizures, these seizures without any apparent cause will be considered as idiopathic seizures.
Seizures in Dogs - Causes of seizures in dogs

What to do if your dog has a seizure

  1. If your dog has a seizure, the most important thing is to stay calm. Make sure that your dog's surroundings cannot cause it any harm while it is having the seizure. Check that no objects can fall on your dog or, if it is on the sofa or the bed, carefully place it on the floor on top of a soft blanket.
  2. You must urgently call your vet, since serious and long convulsive episodes can have fatal consequences.
  3. Children or other animals should be taken to another room.
  4. Watch your dog so that you can tell your vet whether the episode lasts longer than 3 minutes, or if the episodes continue to occur.
  5. After calling the vet, stay by your dog's side to comfort it once the episode finishes. Surround your dog with cushions without moving it, so that it doesn't do itself any harm when it bangs its head against the ground. Make sure your dog doesn't have its head back and ensure that it doesn't swallow its tongue.
  6. Don't try to make it stop, as it can't hear or understand you at this time. Avoid any sound or light stimuli that poses an additional stress, as it could lead to a prolonged seizure: dim the light in the room as much as possible, and don't shout.
  7. Take it to the vet, or get them to come to your house to help your dog.
Seizures in Dogs - What to do if your dog has a seizure

Treatment of seizures in dogs

Your vet will establish a treatment according to the cause, which will be determined in the diagnosis. Unless the seizures are caused by exceptional circumstances, such as an intoxication, it is impossible to completely eradicate seizures in an epileptic dog. Your vet will determine an acceptable seizure frequency for your dog's particular case, which will be the target of the treatment.

If you start an anti-epileptic treatment for your dog, you cannot stop it. Otherwise, you could cause a serious rebound effect and more seizure episodes. You can't miss a single dose of your dog's anti-epileptic drug, or get waylaid and administer it an hour later: you need to be very precise and punctual when it comes to giving your dog medication for this type of problem.

Seizures are a serious problem for dogs, and episodes are usually very shocking for the owner. However, you can help your dog by following your vet's advice and giving your dog the appropriate treatment and care for the cause of the seizures.

We at AnimalWised encourage you to discover life together with a dog with epilepsy, taking it positively and healthily for your dog's better well-being.

Seizures in Dogs - Treatment of seizures in dogs

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Seizures in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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