You are probably aware of what seizures are and that they are a serious medical concern for humans, but did you know they can happen to dogs as well? It’s true. The prospect of your dog having a seizure may be scary, but after you read this, at least you will be better informed and equipped to deal with it if it were to ever happen.
Dog Seizure Symptoms
Symptoms of seizures for a dog are not unlike those in humans. Like humans, when a dog has a seizure it will fall to the floor and lose consciousness, while convulsing uncontrollably. In dogs, this may appear as though the dog is treading water. They may also lose control of their bowels and urinate uncontrollably.
Other symptoms of a seizure are as follows:
• Muscle jerking
• Muscle stiffening
• Drooling/foaming at the mouth
• Biting tongue/lips
Dogs also exhibit pre and post seizure symptoms. Before a seizure happens, your dog may appear to be lost in its own head. It can show confusion, lose their footing, or just stare at nothing in particular. After a seizure, dogs tend to appear disoriented and even have temporary blindness.
Why do Dogs have Seizures?
Canine seizures occur as a result of surges of electrical activity in the brain, which can be attributed to a variety of causes. Some of these are genetic and cannot be avoided, while others are due to outside causes. Certain breeds are even at higher risk for seizures than others. These include Shetland sheepdogs, beagles, Labrador/Golden retrievers, and Belgian Tervuren.
If your dog has any of the following issues, it may be susceptible to seizures.
• Brain Cancer/Tumor
• Kidney Disease
• Head Injury
• Abnormal Blood Sugar Levels
• Liver Disease
Your dog may also be at risk for seizures if it has recently eaten poison or suffered from heat stroke.
Different Types of Seizures
Generalized or grand mal seizures are the most commonly experienced seizures in dogs. This usually comes in the form of loss of consciousness and convulsions lasting less than a few minutes.
Focal Seizures are seizures which are concentrated on one part of the brain. These often translate to symptoms which only impact one part of the dog’s body like a single limb shaking or one side of the body behaving erratically.
Psychomotor seizures are harder to spot as they do not typically manifest themselves in traditional seizure behavior. Instead, a dog suffering from a psychomotor seizure may suddenly start behaving strangely. For example, it might try to attack a non-existent threat. Watch out for repeated odd behavior, as a dog which suffers from psychomotor seizures always exhibits their psychomotor seizures in the same way.
What to do if Your Dog has a Seizure
If your dog has a seizure, the main thing you need to focus on is keeping you and your dog safe. Do not put your hands near your dog’s mouth as your dog may clamp its jaws down on you. There is no need to put anything in the dog’s mouth as dogs are not at risk of swallowing their tongues. You should also make sure to move the dog away from anything that could hurt it, as it may be flailing with its legs wildly.
One of the best things you can do while your dog is seizing is to pet it in a soft and soothing manner while speaking to it gently.
If you can, try to time the seizure to see how long it lasts. If a seizure lasts longer than 2-3 minutes, your dog’s core temperature may be dangerously high. You can help to remedy this by wetting your dog’s paws with cold water and cooling it down with a fan.
Once the seizure ends, you should call a vet to get care for your dog. And if your dog experiences a long term seizure (over 5 minutes) or a many seizures in succession, you should contact a vet immediately. Seizures of this manner put your dog at serious risk of overheating and brain damage. For more details one what to do if your dog has a seizure, a veterinarian explains in the video below.
How to Treat a Dog who Suffers from Seizures
Depending on the underlying cause of the seizures, your vet will recommend a number of different actions and strategies for treatment. You may have to alter the dog’s diet in order to compensate for the impacts to your dog’s weight caused by seizure medications. You may also be advised to forbid your dog from swimming, as a seizure while swimming can cause the dog to drown.