Dog Seizures: Understanding, Causes, and 5 Treatment Options (2024)

Dog Seizures: Understanding, Causes, and 5 Treatment Options (1)

Table of Contents

Introduction

Dogs are beloved companions that bring joy and happiness to our lives. However, just like humans, dogs can experience health issues, including seizures. Witnessing your dog having a seizure can be a distressing experience, but understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help you provide the best care for your furry friend.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the topic of dog seizures, covering everything from what they are to how to manage and prevent them. Whether you are a concerned dog owner or simply curious about canine health, this article will provide valuable insights into this common condition.

Dog Seizures: An Overview

Dog seizures are episodes of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain that result in abnormal behavior, movements, or sensations. These seizures can manifest in various ways, from mild twitching to full-body convulsions. It is crucial to note that seizures are symptoms of an underlying problem and not a specific disease themselves.

Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for dog seizures is essential for providing the best care for your furry companion. Let’s dive deeper into each aspect.

Causes of Dog Seizures

Dog seizures can have numerous causes, including:

  1. Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. It can have a genetic component and often develops in dogs between the ages of one and five.
  2. Metabolic Disorders: Conditions like liver disease, kidney failure, or imbalances in blood sugar levels can trigger seizures in dogs.
  3. Toxicity: Ingesting certain toxic substances, such as plants, medications, or chemicals, can lead to seizures in dogs.
  4. Brain Tumors: Tumors in the brain can disrupt normal brain function, causing seizures.
  5. Head Injuries: Traumatic brain injuries resulting from accidents or physical trauma can trigger seizures.
  6. Infections: Infections affecting the brain, such as encephalitis, can lead to seizures in dogs.
  7. Idiopathic Causes: In some cases, the exact cause of a dog’s seizures may remain unknown, which is referred to as idiopathic epilepsy.
Dog Seizures: Understanding, Causes, and 5 Treatment Options (2)

Symptoms of Dog Seizures

Detecting the signs of a seizure is crucial for identifying and managing the condition. Common symptoms of dog seizures include:

  1. Muscle Twitching: Mild twitching or tremors in specific muscle groups.
  2. Stiffness: The dog’s body becomes rigid, and the limbs may extend or contract.
  3. Loss of Consciousness: The dog may collapse and lose consciousness during a seizure.
  4. Uncontrolled Movements: Uncoordinated and involuntary movements, such as paddling of the legs or jerking motions.
  5. Excessive Drooling: Increased salivation is common during seizures.
  6. Vocalization: Dogs may yelp, bark, or make other noises during a seizure.

It is important to note that seizure symptoms may vary between dogs. Some dogs may only experience mild episodes, while others may have more severe seizures.

Diagnosing Dog Seizures

If you suspect your dog is having seizures, it is crucial to seek veterinary care for an accurate diagnosis. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination and may recommend additional tests, including:

  1. Blood Tests: Blood work can help identify underlying health issues or metabolic imbalances.
  2. Urinalysis: A urine sample may be analyzed to check for any abnormalities that could be contributing to the seizures.
  3. Neurological Examination: A neurological examination can assess your dog’s brain function and detect any abnormalities.
  4. Imaging Tests: Imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan may be recommended to visualize the brain and identify any structural abnormalities or tumors.
  5. Electroencephalogram (EEG): An EEG measures the electrical activity in the brain and can help determine if the seizures are caused by abnormal brain activity.

Treatment Options for Dog Seizures

The treatment approach for dog seizures depends on the underlying cause and the frequency and severity of the seizures. Here are some common treatment options:

  1. Anti-Seizure Medications: Medications such as phenobarbital, potassium bromide, or levetiracetam are often prescribed to manage and reduce the frequency of seizures in dogs.
  2. Dietary Changes: In some cases, a special diet, such as a ketogenic or low-glycemic diet, may be recommended to help control seizures.
  3. Management of Underlying Conditions: If the seizures are caused by an underlying health issue, such as liver or kidney disease, treating and managing that condition is essential.
  4. Lifestyle Modifications: Ensuring a stable and stress-free environment for your dog can help reduce the occurrence of seizures. Minimizing triggers, providing a consistent routine, and reducing exposure to potential toxins can be beneficial.
  5. Surgical Intervention: In cases where a brain tumor or structural abnormality is identified as the cause of seizures, surgical removal or treatment may be considered.

It is crucial to work closely with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your dog’s seizures. Regular monitoring and adjustments to the treatment regimen may be necessary to ensure the best possible outcome.

Dog Seizures: Understanding, Causes, and 5 Treatment Options (3)

Helping a Dog During a Seizure

Witnessing your dog having a seizure can be distressing, but it’s important to stay calm and take the following steps to help your dog during a seizure:

  1. Ensure Safety: Clear the area around your dog to prevent injury. Move away any objects that could cause harm during the seizure.
  2. Do Not Restrain: It is crucial not to restrain or hold your dog down during a seizure. Dogs cannot control their movements during a seizure, and restraining them may cause more harm.
  3. Time the Seizure: Note the duration of the seizure. Seizures lasting longer than a few minutes or occurring in clusters require immediate veterinary attention.
  4. Protect the Head: Place a soft blanket or towel under your dog’s head to protect it from injury.
  5. Dim the Lights and Reduce Noise: Create a quiet and calm environment by dimming the lights and reducing noise levels around your dog.
  6. Monitor Breathing: During a seizure, dogs may have difficulty breathing. Ensure that their airways are clear and unobstructed.

Remember, even though seizures may appear intense, most dogs recover on their own after the seizure ends. However, it’s crucial to contact your veterinarian if this is your dog’s first seizure or if the seizures become more frequent or severe.

Conclusion

Dog seizures can be a concerning and distressing experience for both dogs and their owners. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for seizures is vital for providing the best care for your furry friend. Remember, seizures are typically a symptom of an underlying condition, and seeking veterinary care is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

By working closely with your veterinarian, following the recommended treatment plan, and providing a safe and supportive environment for your dog, you can help manage seizures and improve your dog’s quality of life.

FAQs about Dog Seizures

1. Can seizures in dogs be fatal?

Seizures themselves are not usually fatal, but the underlying cause of the seizures can have serious health implications. It is important to identify and manage the underlying cause to ensure your dog’s well-being.

2. Are certain dog breeds more prone to seizures?

Yes, some dog breeds are more predisposed to seizures, including but not limited to breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, German Shepherds, and Bulldogs. However, seizures can occur in any breed of dog.

3. How long do seizures in dogs typically last?

The duration of a seizure can vary, but most seizures in dogs last between 1 to 3 minutes. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or occurs in clusters, it is considered a medical emergency.

4. Can seizures in dogs be prevented?

While it may not always be possible to prevent seizures, there are measures you can take to minimize the risk. These include maintaining a consistent routine, providing a balanced diet, avoiding exposure to potential toxins, and managing any underlying health conditions.

5. Can stress trigger seizures in dogs?

Stress and anxiety can potentially lower the seizure threshold in dogs with epilepsy. Minimizing stressors and providing a calm environment can help reduce the frequency of seizures in susceptible dogs.

6. Are there alternative therapies or natural remedies for managing dog seizures?

Some dog owners explore alternative therapies or natural remedies to complement traditional treatment. However, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian before trying any alternative treatments, as not all remedies are safe or effective.

Dog Seizures: Understanding, Causes, and 5 Treatment Options (2024)

FAQs

Dog Seizures: Understanding, Causes, and 5 Treatment Options? ›

The most common intracranial causes are genetic epilepsy, trauma to the brain, tumors, nutritional imbalances, autoimmune disease, or infectious diseases such as canine distemper virus (CDV) and rabies.

What can trigger a seizure in dogs? ›

The most common intracranial causes are genetic epilepsy, trauma to the brain, tumors, nutritional imbalances, autoimmune disease, or infectious diseases such as canine distemper virus (CDV) and rabies.

What can cause seizures in dogs besides epilepsy? ›

What causes seizures? There are many causes of seizures. Idiopathic epilepsy, the most common cause of seizures in the dog, is an inherited disorder, but its exact cause is unknown. Other causes include liver disease, kidney failure, brain tumors, brain trauma, and toxins.

What can I do to help my dog stop having seizures? ›

Phenobarbital. Phenobarbital has been used for decades to suppress seizures in dogs and is typically the first medication prescribed by vets for dogs experiencing seizures. It is estimated that 80% of dogs on phenobarbital experience a decrease in seizure frequency of 50% or more.

What foods can trigger seizures? ›

Stimulants such as tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, sweets, soft drinks, excess salt, spices and animal proteins may trigger seizures by suddenly changing the body's metabolism. Some parents have reported that allergic reactions to certain foods (e.g. white flour) also seem to trigger seizures in their children.

Are dogs suffering when they have seizures? ›

Is a pet seizure painful? Pets have no awareness of pain while seizing because of the enormous amount of electrochemical activity occurring in the brain, and because they're unconscious or semiconscious. Although your pet may whine, meow, or bark during a seizure, this has nothing to do with feeling pain.

What dogs are most prone to seizures? ›

Common breeds that have a higher rate of epilepsy include Beagles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Border Collies, Boxer Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, Irish Wolfhounds, Keeshonds, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, St.

How long do dogs with seizures live? ›

Approximately 40-60 percent of dogs with epilepsy have one or more episodes of cluster seizures or status epilepsy, and a mean lifespan of only 8 years, compared to 11 years for those with epilepsy without episodes status epilepsy.

What are the most common seizure alert dogs? ›

WHAT DOG BREED IS USED FOR ALERT DOGS FOR Seizures? At CPL, we primarily train Labrador retrievers as alert dogs. Other breeds that we train at CPL include: golden retrievers, poodles, & labradoodles.

How can I stop my dog from having seizures naturally? ›

Some of the most common home remedies include adding coconut oil or fish oil to the dog's diet, as these are believed to help reduce inflammation in the brain. Other supplements such as turmeric, valerian root, and chamomile may also help reduce seizures.

What would cause a seizure all of a sudden? ›

Anything that interrupts the normal connections between nerve cells in the brain can cause a seizure. This includes a high fever, high or low blood sugar, alcohol or drug withdrawal, or a brain concussion. But when a person has 2 or more seizures with no known cause, this is diagnosed as epilepsy.

What can I give my dog after a seizure? ›

Give a Snack

After dogs come out of a seizure, a little all-natural vanilla ice cream, honey, or natural maple syrup will help to raise their sugar levels back up. Follow with a protein such as little kibble, cheese stick, a spoonful of cottage cheese, chicken, etc. to help stabilize those sugar levels.

Can CBD help with dog seizures? ›

The research found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.

Can anxiety trigger seizures in dogs? ›

Dog Seizure Triggers

Seizures are, for example, often triggered by: Stress. Anxiety. Diet (where a specific type of food or a change of diet may, for instance, trigger an episode)

Can a dog with seizures be left alone? ›

Postictal: Immediately following the seizure. Pets are confused, disoriented, restless, temporarily blind and want to drink a lot. Pets should not be left alone during this time and should be kept away from stairs. Can last anywhere from one hour to one to two days.

What are 5 common triggers of seizures? ›

Missed medication, lack of sleep, stress, alcohol, and menstruation are some of the most common triggers, but there are many more. Flashing lights can cause seizures in some people, but it's much less frequent than you might imagine.

What is the biggest trigger for seizures? ›

Triggers can differ from person to person, but common triggers include tiredness and lack of sleep, stress, alcohol, and not taking medication. For some people, if they know what triggers their seizures, they may be able to avoid these triggers and so lessen the chances of having a seizure.

What is the best food to avoid seizures? ›

A low glycemic index diet focuses on foods with a low glycemic index, meaning they affect blood glucose levels slowly, if at all. Although it's not understood why, low blood glucose levels control seizures in some people. Foods on this diet include meat, cheese, and most high-fiber vegetables.

Do seizures damage a dog's brain? ›

Yes, seizures can cause permanent damage in dogs. Seizures can cause damage to the brain, leading to problems with memory, communication, and coordination. Seizures can also cause physical damage, such as tremors or loss of muscle control. In severe cases, seizures can even cause death.

What do dogs think after a seizure? ›

After the seizure ends, dogs often experience post-seizure signs. These can differ but can include restlessness, weakness, disorientation, panting, hyperactivity, fatigue, and even unprovoked aggression. These signs can last anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours.

Should I let my dog sleep after a seizure? ›

Let Your Dog Sleep

After your dog is alert and awake again, he may be very tired. Let him sleep; you may check up on him periodically, but it's best to let him rest.

What should dogs with seizures avoid? ›

According to the ASPCA, caffeine, dark chocolate, mushrooms, theobromine, ethanol, and xylitol can cause your dog's seizures. Theobromine is what makes chocolate toxic to dogs.

What is the mortality rate of a dog having a seizure? ›

On average, dogs with structural epilepsy died at an age of 9.1 years (range 1–17 years) and dogs with reactive seizures 8.2 years (range 1–18 years). In 2/12 cases with pSUDED death occurred shortly after a seizure event (minutes to hours).

How often is too often for a dog to have seizures? ›

If your dog continues to have seizures and they're getting to the point where they're once a month or two to three times a month, at some point the frequency is going to warrant medication.

What happens if dog seizures go untreated? ›

Dogs who are having seizures need veterinary attention. Left untreated, seizures tend to get worse, which can lead to permanent neurological damage or death. But with appropriate care, many dogs who have seizures can live long and happy lives.

Can dogs live happy life with seizures? ›

Yes, epilepsy is a scary thing, but it's not a death sentence. Your dog can live a happy, healthy and wonderful life despite their diagnosis. You can still camp, swim, hike and cuddle with your epileptic pup! This shouldn't change any of the fun things you do together.

What is considered good seizure control in dogs? ›

Phenobarbitol, levetiracetam (Keppra), zonisamide and potassium bromide are all good first choices for treatment. There are several different anticonvulsants available for dogs. Zonisamide and levetiracetam have become popular because they work well with minimal side effects.

Does exercise help dogs with seizures? ›

In conclusion, our study found that seizure frequency slightly, but significantly, increased during periods of prescribed physical activity in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy receiving AED therapy, compared with dogs without an increase in physical activity over a 3-month period.

What deficiency causes seizures in dogs? ›

While selenium deficiency may be just as likely to cause seizures in dogs as humans, dogs are more likely to eat a commercial, balanced diet, and none of the patients in this study were exhibiting selenium deficiency.

Does gabapentin help dogs with seizures? ›

Gabapentin is commonly prescribed to combat pain, anxiety, or seizures in dogs.

What are 4 common causes of seizures? ›

Causes of seizures can include:
  • Abnormal levels of sodium or glucose in the blood.
  • Brain infection, including meningitis and encephalitis.
  • Brain injury that occurs to the baby during labor or childbirth.
  • Brain problems that occur before birth (congenital brain defects)
  • Brain tumor (rare)
  • Drug abuse.
  • Electric shock.
  • Epilepsy.

What are the 4 stages of a seizure? ›

The four phases of seizure are:
  • Prodromal.
  • Early ictal (the “aura”)
  • Ictal.
  • Postictal.

Can infection cause seizures in dogs? ›

Infection – Viral or bacterial infections can cause seizures in dogs if it affects the brain.

How many days does it take for a dog to recover from a seizure? ›

Seizures typically last approximately one to two minutes, although prolonged seizures can occur and require treatment. Once the seizure has ended, the dog will have a prolonged post-ictal recovery period, lasting up to 24 hours depending on the individual dog.

Can you give a dog Benadryl for seizures? ›

Benadryl may be contraindicated with certain health conditions. It should be used with caution in dogs who have seizures in dogs, heart disease in dogs, or high blood pressure (i.e. hypertension in dogs).

How do I know if my dog has brain damage after a seizure? ›

Common symptoms include:

A dazed or disoriented appearance. Paralysis of one or more limbs. Abnormal or different sized pupils. Vision deficits or blindness.

How many mg of CBD should I give my dog for seizures? ›

“As is the case with any medication, success has everything to do with dosing,” Dr. Richter says. Studies on using CBD for dogs with arthritis or seizures generally use a dose between 2-8 mg/kg, with most papers erring on the lower side of that estimate (roughly 1-2 milligrams per pound of body weight), twice daily.

What vitamins are good for dogs with seizures? ›

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are also beneficial supplements for dogs suffering from seizures. Working with a veterinarian nutritionist, you can create specialized home-prepared meals that could eliminate the allergens that cause seizures.

What kind of CBD for dog seizures? ›

16 Best CBD Oils for Dogs with Seizures
  • Penguin CBD Oil.
  • Everest Full-Spectrum CBD Oil.
  • Verma Farms Salmon CBD Oil.
  • Medterra Pets CBD Tincture.
  • FOCL Premium Pet CBD Drops.
  • Joy Organics.
  • Holistapet CBD.
  • BATCH CBD Bacon Oil.
Jun 2, 2023

How can dogs sense seizures before they happen? ›

Some trainers and researchers believe the dog is able to alert by detecting subtle changes in human behavior. While others assert that a dog's heightened sense of smell enables it to detect an oncoming seizure.

What do dogs feel during a seizure? ›

Symptoms can include collapsing, jerking, stiffening, muscle twitching, loss of consciousness, drooling, chomping, tongue chewing, or foaming at the mouth. Dogs can fall to the side and make paddling motions with their legs. They sometimes poop or pee during the seizure. They are also not aware of their surroundings.

Can bad dog food cause seizures? ›

Toxic Levels of Added Nutrients

We all need a steady intake of nutrients to keep ourselves happy and healthy but just like us, our pets can suffer from excessive amounts of added nutrients. Upper levels of nutrient or mineral intake risk leading to adverse effects on the body, including seizures.

Should you crate a dog with seizures? ›

Even the best of your dog's fur friends may perceive the twitching, paddling, and other strange behavior as threats and attack their ailing buddy. Likewise, when your pets are unsupervised, keep them separated—by a closed door, crate, or pet gate—in case your dog has a seizure while you're away or asleep.

Should I pet my dog after a seizure? ›

Stay with your dog, but away from their mouth. You may calm your dog by speaking softly and petting them. Be ready to go. If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, call your veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic immediately.

Do dogs ever stop having seizures? ›

It usually is not possible to stop the seizures altogether. It's important to keep in mind that, whether your dog is experiencing mild or severe seizures, there is help for both of you. Work with a veterinary professional with whom you feel a good rapport, and educate yourself on seizures and their treatment.

Can dogs suddenly develop seizures? ›

Some dogs have more than one type of seizure, and not all seizures involve convulsions. Most epileptic fits usually: Happen quite suddenly without warning. Last a short time (often only a few seconds or minutes)

Can stress bring on a seizure in a dog? ›

Dog Seizure Triggers

Seizures are, for example, often triggered by: Stress. Anxiety. Diet (where a specific type of food or a change of diet may, for instance, trigger an episode)

What dog breeds are more prone to seizures? ›

Common breeds that have a higher rate of epilepsy include Beagles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Border Collies, Boxer Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, Irish Wolfhounds, Keeshonds, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, St.

What are 3 triggers that may cause a seizure? ›

Triggers can differ from person to person, but common triggers include tiredness and lack of sleep, stress, alcohol, and not taking medication. For some people, if they know what triggers their seizures, they may be able to avoid these triggers and so lessen the chances of having a seizure.

Can foods trigger seizures in dogs? ›

Food that causes seizures. According to the ASPCA, caffeine, dark chocolate, mushrooms, theobromine, ethanol, and xylitol can cause your dog's seizures.

Can dehydration cause seizures in dogs? ›

The most common cause of seizures is overheating and dehydration. Your dog's body can react to overheating, and a lack of hydration with a seizure, and this can be dangerous, even fatal.

How long can a dog live with seizures? ›

Approximately 40-60 percent of dogs with epilepsy have one or more episodes of cluster seizures or status epilepsy, and a mean lifespan of only 8 years, compared to 11 years for those with epilepsy without episodes status epilepsy.

How many seizures is too many for a dog? ›

Generally speaking, any seizure that occurs more than three times in a 24-hour period is considered too frequent. Treatment options available to help reduce the frequency of seizures in dogs typically include anti-seizure medications, dietary changes, and holistic treatments.

What is the most common dog seizure? ›

The most common kind is the generalized seizure, also called a grand mal seizure. A dog can lose consciousness and convulse. The abnormal electrical activity happens throughout the brain. Generalized seizures usually last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Duane Harber

Last Updated:

Views: 5352

Rating: 4 / 5 (71 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Duane Harber

Birthday: 1999-10-17

Address: Apt. 404 9899 Magnolia Roads, Port Royceville, ID 78186

Phone: +186911129794335

Job: Human Hospitality Planner

Hobby: Listening to music, Orienteering, Knapping, Dance, Mountain biking, Fishing, Pottery

Introduction: My name is Duane Harber, I am a modern, clever, handsome, fair, agreeable, inexpensive, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.