Seizures in Dogs: What to Do When Your Pet Has One

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Seizures in pets can be frightening. Seemingly without warning, your dog may suddenly start convulsing or shaking uncontrollably. Knowing what to do – and what can be done about it – can help you get your pet the proper care.

Seizures are one of the most common neurological conditions that dogs face. They’re caused by a temporary, involuntary disturbance of normal brain function, which leads to uncontrollable muscle activity. The interruption in brain function, in turn, could be a result of inherited epilepsy, toxin ingestion, brain tumor, trauma, liver disease, or kidney failure.

Signs & Symptoms

Sometimes, dogs will show early signs that a seizure may be about to happen. Other dogs may hide or display behaviors that show stress, like whining, drooling, or shivering. You may not realize something is wrong until the seizure occurs.

Seizures can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. Here is what may happen:

  • Mild seizure: The dog may shake, lick his lips, and look dazed.
  • Grand mal seizure: This is characterized by full loss of consciousness and body control. The dog will fall down and his legs will move as though running. His head will often tilt backwards, and he may drool excessively, urinate, or defecate.
  • Status epilepticus: Prolonged seizures lasting more than five minutes are veterinary emergencies. Dogs experiencing them need immediate care to avoid permanent brain damage.

What to Do If Your Dog Has a Seizure

The biggest health risk to a dog that is having a seizure is injury from nearby objects. Move furniture and anything else away from your pet until the seizure is over. Additionally – and we know this might sound odd – grab your phone and take a video of the seizure. It can be extremely helpful for your veterinarian to see what exactly is happening to your pet, and it can help you track how long it lasts. If you’re approaching the five-minute threshold, call your veterinarian immediately on next steps. If it’s after normal business hours, call the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital like Guardian Veterinary Specialists.

Once the seizure is over and your dog is comfortable, call your veterinarian, who will likely schedule an examination. Even if the seizure was mild, your pet should be seen quickly, because often one seizure will lead to more. Your pet should be monitored for additional seizure activity.

Seizures can happen to any dog, and many dogs will experience them with no harmful or lasting effects. Most of the time, concern arises if a dog experiences more than one seizure a month, or they are severe and prolonged.

Guardian’s Neurology Specialists Are Here to Help

Diagnosing and treating a neurological disorder can be complex, which is why your primary care veterinarian may refer you to a board-certified neurologist like one of the three here at Guardian Veterinary Specialists. Our Neurology/Neurosurgery Department is led by three specialists who have completed years of advanced clinical training.

If your dog has been experiencing seizures, call us at 914-704-3400 to schedule a neurology consultation. As with many conditions, the earlier a neurological problem is diagnosed, the more promising your pet’s prognosis may be.

Filed Under: Blog, Pet Health

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