Dealing With Canine Seizures and Convulsions

When your dog suddenly looks confused, drops to the floor on her side, and starts kicking her legs as if she is treading water, she is most likely having a seizure. Seizures and convulsions can occur in any breed of dog, though some types of seizures are more common in some breeds than others.

This guide from Diamondback Drugs will help you learn more about seizures and convulsions in dogs, and what you can do if your animal suddenly has one.

A Guide to Seizures and Convulsions in Dogs

Common Causes of Seizures in Dogs

Seizures can be caused by a wide range of potential causes, some more serious than others. In the case of canines, seizures and convulsions are commonly caused by one or more of the following:

  • Poisoning
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Stroke
  • Brain cancer
  • Traumatic injury to the head
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • High or low blood sugar
  • Anemia
  • Encephalitis

Signs and Symptoms of a Canine Seizure

Along with the tell-tale sign of collapse, there are several other signs and symptoms that could help you determine that your dog is having a seizure or convulsion, including:

  • Jerking bodily movements
  • Stiffening
  • Muscle twitching
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drooling
  • Chomping or tongue chewing
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Involuntary defecating or urinating

Quite often, right before a seizure hits, a dog may look dazed, or she may look as if she is staring off into space. The dog may also become unsteady. After the seizure lifts, she will usually appear wobbly and disoriented. The dog may also be temporarily blind and she may try to hide from you.

Types of Seizures Common in Dogs

There are a few different types of seizures that can affect dogs – grand mal seizures, focal seizures, psychomotor seizures, and idiopathic epilepsy seizures.

Grand mal seizures are also known as “generalized” seizures. They are usually caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain and can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.

Focal seizures are similar to grand mal seizures, but they only affect one side of the brain, so only one side of the dog will be affected. Occasionally a seizure that starts out as focal will develop into a grand mal.

Psychomotor seizures usually don’t result in a dog collapsing to the ground. Instead, this type of seizure will cause the dog to exhibit strange behavior, like running around and biting at imaginary objects or excessively chasing her tail.

When a dog suffers from psychomotor seizures, it can be difficult determining whether she is just acting silly or is actually having a problem, but when a seizure does occur, she will exhibit the same odd behavior every time.

Idiopathic epilepsy is a term that’s used to describe seizures that have no known cause. These types tend to happen to dogs between the ages of six months and six years. Certain breeds are more at risk for idiopathic epilepsy, including:

  • Australian shepherds
  • Beagles
  • Belgian Tervurens
  • Border collies
  • Collies
  • German Shepherds
  • Labrador retrievers

What to Do If Your Dog Has a Seizure

If your dog suddenly collapses and starts having a seizure, there are certain things you can do to help her safely through it.

  • Stay calm
  • Carefully move the dog away from anything that might injure her (furniture, the stairs, etc.)
  • Do not touch the dog’s mouth or put anything in it (she could bite you)
  • Speak softly to your dog and reassure her with gentle touches
  • Time the seizure if possible

If the seizure lasts for longer than a few minutes, then there is a risk your dog could overheat. Quickly place a fan near the dog to blow cool air on her and wrap a cool, damp cloth around her paws to help cool her down. If the seizure lasts for more than five minutes, you should take your dog to the vet, or else to emergency clinic if it’s after hours or over the weekend.

When the seizure has passed, call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment for a complete physical evaluation to be performed on your dog.

Taking Your Dog to the Vet in the Event of a Seizure

You can expect the veterinarian to do a thorough physical examination of your dog, complete with lab work to look for any potential underlying causes. If a medical problem is diagnosed, then the vet will treat the problem to see if that helps improve your pet’s condition. In some cases, the vet might prescribe an anti-seizure medication like phenobarbital or potassium bromide.

If your veterinarian prescribes an anti-seizure medication, or other medications, you can receive a free quote for your pet’s medications from Diamondback Drugs. We can help you save money on your pet medications.

As always, be sure to inform your veterinarian about any medications or supplements your dog is currently taking so your vet can make the best treatment decision for your pet’s unique case and help reduce the risk of a potential drug interaction.

Author: Giano Panzarella