Understanding Dog Seizures: Causes, Symptoms, and Care

Dog Seizure

A seizure is an abnormal and uncontrolled burst of electrical activity in the brain. It causes a range of physical and behavioral changes, which can vary in severity and duration. Seizures can affect dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes, and they may be caused by various underlying health conditions. Witnessing your beloved furry friend have a seizure is something most of us aren’t quite prepared for. While it can be a terrifying experience, with knowledge and proper care, you can help them through these episodes. 

Causes of Dog Seizures

Epilepsy: Epilepsy is one of the most common causes of seizures in dogs. Epilepsy is defined as 2 or more seizures, at least 24 hours apart, resulting from a nontoxic, nonmetabolic cause. It is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures without an identifiable underlying cause. While the exact reason behind epilepsy remains unclear, certain breeds have a higher predisposition to the condition.

Brain tumors: Tumors in the brain can disrupt normal brain function and trigger seizures. The severity and frequency of seizures depend on the size and location of the tumor. If you suspect a brain tumor, immediate veterinary attention is essential.

Infections: Infections such as canine distemper, encephalitis, or meningitis can lead to seizures in dogs. These infections can cause inflammation in the brain, resulting in abnormal electrical activity.

Toxicity: Ingesting certain toxic substances like chocolate, pesticides, or certain medications can cause seizures. It is crucial to keep all potential toxins out of your dog’s reach.

Metabolic disorders: Conditions like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), liver disease, kidney failure, or an imbalance of electrolytes can trigger seizures. Proper diagnosis and treatment of the underlying metabolic issue are necessary to manage seizures effectively. Most metabolic causes of seizure are not a form of epilepsy because the brain itself is normal and reacting to an external factor, which once eliminated, stops the seizure (todaysveterinarypractice.com).

Symptoms of Seizures in Dogs

Seizure symptoms can vary from mild to severe and may include:

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Muscle twitching or jerking

  • Stiffening of the body

  • Uncontrolled paddling or pedaling of the legs

  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth

  • Unresponsiveness to external stimuli

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

  • Temporary blindness or disorientation

  • Vocalization or excessive barking

  • Dazed behavior post-seizure

It’s important to note that some dogs may exhibit warning signs or a “pre-ictal” phase before a seizure, such as restlessness, pacing, or anxiety. These signs can provide a valuable opportunity to prepare and protect your dog during the seizure.

Caring for a Dog During and After a Seizure

During a seizure, it’s crucial to remain calm and focused. Here are some steps to take:

  • Ensure safety: Move any objects or furniture that could harm your dog away from their immediate surroundings. Cushion their head with a soft towel or blanket to prevent injury.

  • Do not restrain: Never try to restrain your dog during a seizure. This can lead to accidental injury to both you and your pet. Allow the seizure to run its course naturally.

  • Time of the seizure: Note the duration of the seizure. If a seizure lasts longer than five minutes or your dog has multiple seizures in a row, seek immediate veterinary attention.

  • Reduce stimulation: Keep the environment quiet and dimly lit to minimize sensory input that could potentially trigger further seizures.

  • Offer comfort: Speak softly and soothingly to your dog, letting them know you’re there. However, avoid touching them unless necessary, as it may prolong the seizure or inadvertently cause harm.

After the seizure:

  • Create a calm environment: Allow your dog to recover in a quiet, comfortable space. Keep other pets and children away to minimize stress.

  • Monitor vital signs: Observe your dog’s breathing, heart rate, and overall behavior. Contact your veterinarian if you notice anything concerning or if this is your dog’s first seizure.

  • Note seizure details: Keep a seizure diary, documenting the frequency, duration, and any potential triggers or patterns. This information will assist your veterinarian in making an accurate diagnosis.

  • Consult your veterinarian: Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss the seizure and determine the underlying cause. They may perform diagnostic tests like bloodwork, imaging, or electroencephalography (EEG) to aid in the diagnosis.

Witnessing your dog experience a seizure can be a distressing experience, but remember that you are not alone. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and providing a safe environment during and after a seizure, you can provide the best possible care for your beloved canine friend. Remember, always consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

Beds-N-Biscuits has years of experience caring for dogs that require daily seizure medications. For complete peace of mind during your next trip without your pet, contact our reservation specialist at 303-940-9188 so we can learn more about your pet today.