One minute your dog is playing like normal, and the next he appears to be unconscious, though his legs are doing the doggie paddle.
This horrifying scene can send any puppy lover into a panic. Your dog is having a seizure.
Dog seizures occur in four distinct stages. While you can’t keep an eye on your dog every second of the day, learning to recognize the symptoms of a dog seizure before it occurs can prepare you from what’s to come.
While these episodes seem to last for hours, they pass fairly quickly. Seizures range from a couple of seconds to several minutes.
There’s nothing you can do to prevent or treat a seizure yourself. However, understanding the stages of a seizure can help you make accurate notes of your dog’s symptoms and report them to the vet when it’s over.
If your dog has multiple seizures while unconscious, don’t wait for them all to be over before getting help.
Stage 1: Prodome
Not all dogs will go through all stages of a seizure at once. Sometimes the brain will fail to communicate properly without going into a full-blown seizure.
This early stage, commonly known as the Prodome phase, can happen for years by itself before a full seizure emerges. Your dog may have a very short episode of odd behavior and then be fine for days or months afterward. But your pooch senses something is wrong.
Your puppy could feel nervous, be extremely clingy, or avoid people altogether.
Stage 2: Aura
At this stage your fur baby knows something isn’t right. The symptoms become more intense. Your dog is likely more anxious than before, and may begin to whine, shiver, or pace. These symptoms can last much longer than the seizure itself, sometimes appearing hours before the seizure begins.
This stage is many times grouped with the first, since it is part of the pre-seizure symptoms.
Stage 3: Ictus
The actual seizure is part of the ictus phase. The seizure usually begins when your dog falls to one side and begins paddling or convulsing.
Extremely mild seizures may not last more than a couple of seconds and may begin at this stage.
If your dog has seizures for more than five minutes, you’ll need to get medical attention right away. After five minutes your dog’s body temperature will rise significantly, so your vet may advise you to keep him cool.
Be careful not to approach your dog during a seizure, as you could get bitten.
Stage 4: Post-Ictus Phase
Once the seizure is over, your dog enters the post-ictal phase. They may be confused, dizzy, or even temporarily blind. There is no set amount of time for this phase, and the length of the seizure doesn’t indicate how long this phase will last.
Do Seizures Hurt My Dog?
Even though seizures appear to be painful, your dog won’t feel a thing. At least not any physical pain. However, seizures can cause your fur baby to be anxious or panic.
What Should I Do If My Dog Has a Seizure?
If you’re lucky enough to notice an upcoming seizure while your dog is still in one of the pre-ictal phases, get them to a safe place. Keep them calm and comfortable until the seizure occurs.
Once the seizure starts, stay away from the dog and keep track of how long it lasts. Talk to her in a calm and reassuring voice.
After the seizure, call your vet. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes, don’t wait until it’s over. Get help immediately.
No one wants to see their dog go through something as traumatic as a seizure. But remember that not all dog seizures happen frequently.
The important thing is to pay attention to your dog’s symptoms and seek help from the vet immediately if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or appeared in a cluster. Only a medical professional will be able to determine the underlying causes of your dog’s seizure.
If it’s due to an underlying illness, your vet will treat the illness first to see if this stops the problem.
Medication is a last resort for seizures, and usually only occurs if there is more than one seizure per month, or a cluster of seizures in a row.
Don’t feel overwhelmed if it turns out your dog has a seizure disorder. Just follow the vet’s instructions and keep calm.