Epileptic seizures in dogs can happen at a moment’s notice and pet owners might wonder what to do if the time comes. Just like in humans, seizures in dogs can be unpredictable and scary, which is why it is crucial to understand what canine seizures look like and what to do if your furry friend experiences a seizure.
What are Canine Seizures?
Dog seizures look similar to those that we see in humans and are the result of erratic brain behavior. Your dog may suddenly fall to the floor and twitch their legs, much like treading water. Other symptoms include chopping their jaws, foaming at the mouth, drooling, or loss of consciousness. Seizures can last a minute or more and will likely make your dog groggy and spacey afterwards.
There are different types of seizures, including idiopathic epilepsy and those caused by environmental or internal conditions.
- Idiopathic seizures are those that may not have an identifiable underlying cause. Some breeds, such as Shetland Sheepdog or Labrador Retrievers, may be predisposed to these types of seizures. The good news? Generally, dogs with idiopathic epilepsy can live a long and otherwise relatively healthy life.
- Unlike idiopathic seizures, seizures caused by another internal disorder, such as cancer, are harder to treat and may be more serious. These kinds of seizures may come later in your dog’s life because of age and other medical deteriorations.
- The other type of seizures, those caused by environmental factors, may present themselves differently and are caused by things in a dog’s external area. Outlined below are some common causes.
What Can Cause Canine Seizures?
There are many factors that can contribute to an epileptic episode, including chronic disorders and environmental factors. If your dog is experiencing a seizure, they may have experienced or be experiencing one of the following:
- Eating something they are allergic to or is poisonous
- An internal disease, such as a kidney disorder or brain cancer
- Blood sugar irregularity, including blood sugar levels too high or too low
- A head injury, which may cause internal issues such as a concussion or internal bleeding
- A stroke
These scenarios may seem scary and it is important for pet owners to understand the reasons behind their dog’s seizures in order to act appropriately and quickly.
What to Do During a Seizure
The first thing to remember if your dog is having a seizure is to not panic! Just as with our human loved ones, staying calm is key.
Do not move your dog while they are having a seizure. Because their muscles are convulsing at such a rapid and intense rate, moving your dog could cause more serious problems. It is better to let a dog going through a seizure relax as much as possible and moving them may prevent that. Unless your dog is in danger, such as near stairs or a fire, don’t move them.
Next, try to clear the space. The last thing you want is for your dog to get more hurt by hitting themselves against a table, chair, or other hard object.
Lastly, try to take a video or document the seizure as best as you can. If you end up having to take your dog to the vet, a video will help the doctor determine the type of seizure and potential causes. You may also want to time the seizure for future documentation.
What to Do After a Seizure
Because a canine seizure can be shocking to both the dog and owner, you may feel the need to rush to the emergency vet. By all means, make the trip if it will give you that peace of mind, but this might not be necessary. Most vets recommend going to the emergency room if the seizure lasts for more than five minutes or if multiple seizures take place within a 24-hour window.
Otherwise, schedule a future appointment with your vet to discuss the behavior. Some seizures can be determined more thoroughly with a simple blood test, while some may require further guidance. You can likely expect your vet to perform lab work, physical exams, and further recommendations. They may recommend a change in diet and exercise and close, continual monitoring.
No pet owner wants to see their beloved furry baby go through something as traumatic as a seizure, but it’s important to understand the different types of seizures, potential causes, what to do if your dog has a seizure, and follow-up care. As always, if you have concerns about your dog’s health or condition, contact your vet right away.