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Dog Seizures

by | April 14, 2020 | Pet Care

Puppy stands outdoor

If your dog seems agitated, falls over, goes stiff, or starts to make uncontrolled motions, they’re likely having a seizure. You’re likely to feel helpless and frightened watching your precious pet go through a dog seizure. Educate yourself on the causes and treatments of dog seizures and steps you can take to help your dog safely through a seizure.

What is a Dog Seizure?

Seizures in dogs are a sign of abnormal activity in the brain. They are a neurological disorder that causes dogs to have sudden, uncontrolled movements or stiffness, along with a variety of other symptoms. A loss of consciousness may accompany the seizure. It’s important to identify the underlying cause, if possible. Seizures can be hereditary, but may indicate a more serious problem.

What Causes Seizures in Dogs?

Vet checking dog's eye

Because many serious conditions can cause seizures in dogs, you must get your pet checked out if you notice seizure-like behaviors. Dog seizures can be caused by

  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Trauma
  • Exposure to chemicals or environmental toxins
  • Brain tumors
  • Blood disorders
  • Systemic or organ problems
  • Illness
  • High or low blood sugar
  • Electrolyte problems
  • Anemia
  • Medications or vaccinations
  • Heatstroke
  • Or many other reasons

Occasionally, the causes of dog seizures can’t be determinedand the seizures are labeled idiopathic.

Dog Seizure Symptoms: What do Dog Seizures Look Like?

Chinese Crested dog lies on a blanket

Often there are warning signs before a seizure; your pup’s mental state may be altered, and they may appear stressed, frightened, dazed, or worried. They might experience visual disturbances, seek help from you, or hide. Dog seizure symptoms often begin with uncontrolled movements in the limbs; your pup may fall over or lose control of their bowels or urination.

Dog seizures usually last from 30 to 90 seconds and will subside as quickly as it began. Most seizures occur when the dog is asleep or resting, but if your dog is awake, they may lose consciousness. After the seizure passes, your pup may seem confused and disoriented for a period of time. They may begin wandering aimlessly or pacing obsessively. Some dogs experience a period of blindness after a seizure.

Recovery following a dog seizure can be immediate or may take up to a day. Your pet may have increased thirst and appetite in the meantime.

One seizure does not mean that your pet will have more. Usually, seizures in younger dogs are more severe and recur, but they’re more likely to respond to medication. A dog who has several seizures is likely to have more.

Types of Seizures in Dogs

There are three types of seizures in dogs:

  • Grand mal seizures or generalized seizures
  • Focal seizures, also known as partial seizures
  • Focal seizures with secondary generalization

Grand mal seizures are the most recognizable type of seizures in dogs. The seizure involves the entire body and usually involves uncontrolled jerking or twitching and often the loss of consciousness.

Focal seizures in dogs occur in several ways, but they may look like an involuntary twitch. Only one limb or one side of the body will be affected, or the face may exhibit involuntary movements or expressions. Focal seizures often progress to grand mal seizures as the dog ages.

What to Do If Your Dog is Experiencing a Seizure

Two vet techs checks a dog

When your pup has a seizure, you need to act quickly to keep your dog safe and collect information to help your vet understand what happened. Take mental notes about your dog’s seizure and how long it lasted. If possible, record the seizure on your phone to show your vet later.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Your dog is not in pain, even if he is vocalizing or acting like it.
    • They are likely unconscious and unaware of what is happening.
  • Dogs can’t swallow their tongue during a seizure.
    • Don’t try to interfere; you could get bitten.
  • Your dog may drool excessively or froth at the mouth during the seizure.
  • If necessary, move the dog away from stairs or off furniture where they could fall off.
  • Comfort your dog and calm him gently as he regains consciousness.
  • If the seizure goes on for more than 2 to 3 minutes, your dog may overheat.
    • Cool them with a wet cloth or cold water around the neck, groin, paws, and head.
  • Call your vet after your dog’s seizure, even though they seem to have recovered completely.
  • Take your dog to the vet immediately if the seizure lasts longer than 2 to 3 minutes or if they have more than one seizure within 24 hours.
  • Keep track of your pup’s seizures, including the date, time, length, and any suspected triggers.
    • Give this information to your vet to help them figure out the causes of your pet’s seizures.

Medications for Dog Seizures

Cute dog shows sad expression

Treatment for dog seizures depends on the underlying cause. If your dog has idiopathic seizures or epilepsy, your vet may prescribe a seizure medication such as phenobarbital, potassium bromide, primidone, diazepam, or others.

On-Going Care for Dogs with Seizures

If your dog is having seizures, it is vitally important to see your vet immediately. They will prescribe the best course of care for your dog’s general health and wellbeing. Keep all vet appointments, since your dog’s condition must be monitored, especially if they are on medications.

Visiting the Vet

A visit to the vet is immensely important when your dog is having seizures. Your vet will need a complete history and as much information as you can provide on the seizures. Your dog’s history, age, and health records help your vet determine the causes of your pet’s seizures and which lab tests are required.

Your vet will require:

  • A complete blood cell count
  • A blood chemistry profile
  • A urinalysis
  • Additional blood testing as needed

These tests will tell your vet about your dog’s general health and rule out some causes of seizures in dogs. Also, your vet may order x-rays or radiographs to rule out cancer and other causes before proceeding to more expensive testing, such as cerebrospinal fluid analysis (CFS), diagnostic imaging of the brain, and an electroencephalogram (EEG), if necessary.

The Cost of Testing

Woman in the military holds a black puppy

Dog seizures are a health crisis for your pet and they deserve immediate attention. Unfortunately, the diagnostic tests and treatments are expensive and can be a burden on the pet parent. Initial blood tests run $60 to $100 or more in addition to the vet fees. X-rays and further testing will be more expensive, with the cost depending on your location and vet.Ongoing medicines are approximately $20 to $40 a month, depending on which medicines are prescribed, and annual follow up tests cost $100 to $150 or more in addition to the vet fees.

The cost may seem enormous to you, but it is worth every penny to ensure your pet’s health and safety. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the costs of veterinary care for your pet. One of the best ways to offset these costs is to purchase health insurance for your pet.

Pet insurance protects your pet’s health with budget-friendly payments so you can afford to get the very best care for your pet. It protects your pet and budget from large, unexpected expenses that might otherwise ruin your budget.

Protect your pet and your budget with a free quote from Prudent Pet today. You can enjoy the peace of mind knowing your pet’s health is secure.

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Diane

Diane loves all animals and has parented dogs, cats, pigs, goats, chickens, sheep, and four children over the years. She is currently owned by Lucy, a senior Chow who always wants to stay close to her people. Lucy is a retired guide dog who is happiest when a child is nearby.