top of page

Is Your Pup Experiencing a Seizure?

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

sleeping German shorthair pointer on dog bed

Seizures are a common occurrence in medical clinics, and they represent a neurological condition characterized by disruptions in the electrical activity of the nervous system, often manifesting as uncontrollable muscular movements. These episodes are sometimes referred to as convulsions or fits and are generally associated with abnormal brain function.

But what if the subject of concern is not a human but your beloved four-legged companion?

swimming dog underwater photography

Picture a scenario where your faithful canine friend suddenly becomes unresponsive, lying down on the floor, and starts moving its legs as if treading water. This atypical behavior can be deeply unsettling for pet owners, as it deviates from their furry friend's usual demeanor. Naturally, questions arise about the well-being of your pet and what steps can be taken to alleviate or prevent these distressing episodes.

In this comprehensive article, we aim to shed light on all aspects of canine seizures, encompassing their causes, symptoms, methods of management, and strategies for prevention. So, take a moment to relax, and delve into the world of canine seizures to better understand this phenomenon affecting our loyal companions.

What are the types of canine seizures?

If your dog often shows abnormal muscle movement, he may be suffering from a seizure. Another name for seizure is epilepsy. This is when abnormal electrical activity occurs inside your furry friend's brain, which results in different abnormal movements.

The type of movement depends on the part of the brain performing the abnormal activity. Most commonly, seizures look like the twitch or shaky movements of limbs, but there are many other characteristic movements your furry friend can express.

dog with generalized seizure

Generalized seizure

This is the most common type of seizure in dogs. During a generalized seizure, there is a widespread electrical disturbance that affects the entire brain. As a result, the dog's entire body experiences convulsions or twitching. The movements are not specific to any body part but involve the entire organism.

Duration: Generalized seizures can vary in duration, typically lasting from a few seconds to several minutes.

Impact: These seizures can be highly distressing for dogs and their owners. The dog may lose awareness during the episode, and it may be disoriented or confused afterward.

dog with focal seizure

Focal seizure

Focal seizures are characterized by localized electrical disturbances within a specific area of the brain. This results in abnormal muscle movements or convulsions in a particular part of the dog's body.

Progression: Focal seizures often start as the initial type of seizure in dogs, later potentially evolving into generalized seizures as the condition advances.

Impact: The impact of focal seizures can vary depending on the part of the brain affected. It can lead to anything from mild twitching in a limb to more severe symptoms involving specific body regions.

dog biting tail because of neurological conditions

Psychomotor seizure

Psychomotor seizures are distinct in that they manifest as unusual and typically brief behaviors in dogs. These behaviors can include chasing invisible objects, sudden tail-chasing, or other strange and repetitive activities.

Duration: Psychomotor seizures typically last for only a few seconds.

Significance: These seizures are considered abnormal unless they become frequent or repetitive, which may indicate an underlying neurological issue.

German Shepard dog may be prone to seizures

Idiopathic seizures

Idiopathic seizures are characterized by having no clear, identifiable cause. While the precise origin remains uncertain, they often occur in dogs between the ages of six months and six years.

Breeds: Certain breeds, such as Australian shepherds, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherds, are more prone to idiopathic seizures, suggesting a potential genetic component.

Diagnosis: The diagnosis of idiopathic seizures is usually one of exclusion, meaning other possible causes of seizures must be ruled out through veterinary evaluation.

Cluster seizures

Cluster seizures involve multiple seizure episodes occurring within a short time frame, typically within a 24-hour period.

Significance: Cluster seizures can be extremely concerning and exhausting for both dogs and their owners. Immediate veterinary attention is often necessary to manage these recurrent episodes and address any underlying issues.

Causes: Cluster seizures can be triggered by various factors, including stress, medication adjustments, or other medical conditions.

Understanding the different types of canine seizures is crucial for pet owners and veterinarians to determine the appropriate course of action, whether it be diagnosis, treatment, or management. Each type of seizure may require specific interventions, and being aware of their distinctions helps ensure the best care for your beloved furry friend.

What are the causes of canine seizures?

First of all, you should understand that a seizure is not a disease; instead, it is a symptom. There can be many causes for canine seizures. Most of the time, epilepsy is the cause of canine seizures in your dog. When the cause of the canine seizure is unknown, it may be referred to as idiopathic seizures. When your veterinarian is not able to diagnose any apparent cause of the seizure, there may be a genetic abnormality with your dog.

The veterinary community is not quite sure about the cause of the canine seizure. Since it is a neurologic disease, there are speculations about its relation to a genetic abnormality.

confused dog could experience neurological issues

However, the recent rise in the number of dogs affected with canine seizures poses serious attention to scientists.

It is also believed that some possible triggers, including genetic abnormality, like toxins (fertilizers, plastic, sprays, etc.), cancer or tumors, brain damage, certain medicines, and hormonal imbalance, may increase the risk of canine seizure.

There can also be some other causes of canine seizures. Other causes include electrolyte imbalance, abnormality in blood composition like low blood sugar level, anaemia or other metabolic diseases. In most cases, veterinarians focus on the treatment rather than the cause.

How can I identify a seizure? What are the symptoms of a canine seizure?

Abnormal electrical activity occurs inside the brain, which leads to strange chemical alterations in the muscles. Muscles express irregular contractions and relaxations, which express themselves in different forms. Identifying a canine seizure can be distressing but is crucial for ensuring your dog's well-being and seeking appropriate medical care. Canine seizures are characterized by a series of symptoms and behaviors that can help you recognize when your furry friend is experiencing an episode:

  • Abnormal Electrical Activity: Seizures in dogs are fundamentally caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which leads to chemical alterations in the muscles.

  • Muscle Contractions and Relaxations: During a seizure, your dog's muscles undergo irregular contractions and relaxations, resulting in various physical manifestations.

  • Collapsing: Dogs often collapse or fall to the ground when a seizure begins. This is typically one of the first noticeable signs.

  • Muscle Twitching: Muscle twitching is a common symptom. Your dog's limbs or other body parts may twitch involuntarily.

  • Tongue Chewing: Dogs experiencing seizures may bite down on their own tongue or mouth, leading to potential injury.

  • Stiffness: Seizures can cause stiffness in various muscle groups, such as the jaw or abdomen, making your dog's body rigid.

  • Loss of Consciousness: The most prominent symptom is the loss of consciousness. Your dog may appear dazed, confused, or numb. Their gaze may be fixed on a point with no apparent reason, indicating an altered state of awareness.

  • nvoluntary Bodily Functions: Dogs suffering from seizures may uncontrollably urinate or defecate during the episode, as the normal control over bodily functions is compromised.

  • Drooling and Foaming: Excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth can be observed during a seizure and may continue afterward.

  • Post-Seizure Behavior: After the seizure, your dog may exhibit postictal behavior. This includes behaviors such as walking blindly in circles, stumbling into objects, or attempting to hide in a safe place. These behaviors may persist for a brief period as your dog recovers.

It's essential to observe and document these symptoms to provide your veterinarian with accurate information. If your dog experiences seizures, consulting a veterinarian is crucial to determine the underlying cause and establish an appropriate treatment plan. Keep in mind that while seizures can be distressing to witness, with proper care and guidance from a veterinarian, many dogs can live happy and fulfilling lives despite this neurological condition.

Is seizure painful or harmful for my dog?

Seizures in dogs are not typically painful for the dog itself during the seizure, primarily because they lose consciousness and are unaware of their surroundings. However, there are important nuances to consider:

dog laying down after seizure
  • Loss of Consciousness: During a seizure, the dog's brain experiences abnormal electrical activity, resulting in the loss of consciousness. As a result, the dog doesn't experience pain or discomfort during the actual seizure.

  • Risk of Self-Injury: While the seizure itself is not painful, there is a risk of the dog hurting itself during the episode. This can happen if the dog falls and hits an object, or if there's involuntary muscle contractions that could cause discomfort or injury.

  • Multiple Seizures and Complications: A single, isolated seizure may not necessarily be harmful, but if your dog experiences frequent or prolonged seizures, it can have detrimental effects. For example, multiple seizures can lead to exhaustion and may cause other complications over time.

  • Myths About Swallowing the Tongue: There is a common myth that dogs can swallow their tongue during a seizure. In reality, this is not possible. Attempting to put your fingers or an object into the dog's mouth during a seizure can be dangerous, as the dog may inadvertently bite or injure you. It's generally best to keep a safe distance and ensure there are no hazards in the immediate environment.

  • Hyperthermia: Prolonged seizures, known as status epilepticus, can lead to a dangerous increase in body temperature, a condition called hyperthermia. This can have serious consequences, including brain damage. It's crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention if a seizure lasts for more than a few minutes or if your dog experiences a series of seizures in close succession.

In summary, while the seizure itself is not typically painful for the dog, there are potential risks associated with seizures, including self-injury and complications due to prolonged or multiple seizures. It's important for pet owners to focus on keeping their dog safe during a seizure, seeking veterinary care when necessary, and working with a veterinarian to manage the condition effectively to ensure the best possible quality of life for their furry companion.

What should I do when my dog is having a seizure?

Whenever your dog suffers from a seizure, you need to calm your dog. You should not panic and do anything rash. If you are not used to such circumstances, you need to follow these instructions.

First, if you see your dog suffering from a seizure, you need to clear the area surrounding your dog. There may be anything that can damage your dog because your dog is not in his senses. He may hit something while he convulses and something sharp can harm him.

Secondly, you need to stay away from the mouth or head of the dog. In most cases, dogs try to bite anything they find during the wave of seizures. Your dog can harm you or bite you in this case. Therefore you need to be vigilant.

Third, if your dog remains in the seizure state, his body temperature starts to increase. After a few minutes, the body temperature may rise to harmful levels. You need to put some water on the limbs or paw pads to cool down your dog.

You can pat or hold your dog from the abdomen to calm your dog. But you need to be vigilant to protect yourself from biting. You can talk to your dog to let him feel secure. Call your veterinarian after the seizure ends.

What to Expect During Your Vet Visit for Canine Seizures

When you take your dog to the veterinarian after a seizure, you can expect a thorough evaluation and appropriate guidance for managing your pet's condition. Here's what you can anticipate during your visit to the vet:

dog with a vet getting check up
  • Physical Examination: The veterinarian will begin with a comprehensive physical examination of your dog. This helps them assess your dog's overall health and may reveal any immediate concerns or visible symptoms related to the seizure.

  • Medical History: The vet will inquire about your dog's medical history, including any prior seizures, underlying health conditions, medications, and recent changes in behavior or lifestyle.

  • Diagnostic Tests: Depending on the severity and frequency of the seizures, the veterinarian may recommend various diagnostic tests to understand the underlying cause. These tests can include blood work, urinalysis, and, in some cases, advanced imaging such as an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or a CT (Computed Tomography) scan to examine the brain for lesions or abnormalities. These tests can help pinpoint the cause of the seizures.

  • Discussion and Counseling: The vet will have a conversation with you about the diagnosis and its implications. This discussion may include an explanation of the type of seizure your dog experienced and potential causes. If the seizures are idiopathic, your vet may provide information on how to manage the condition.

  • Medication: If your dog's seizures are frequent or severe, the veterinarian may prescribe anticonvulsant medications. These drugs are aimed at controlling and reducing the frequency and intensity of seizures. It is essential to follow the prescribed medication regimen carefully and not miss any doses.

  • Monitoring and Follow-Up: The vet will recommend regular follow-up appointments to monitor your dog's progress and make adjustments to the treatment plan if necessary. During these visits, the vet will assess how well the medication is working and whether there are any side effects.

  • Lifestyle and Care Recommendations: Your veterinarian will provide guidance on how to care for a dog with seizures. This may include advice on creating a safe environment to prevent injury during seizures, recognizing seizure triggers, and ensuring that your pet receives proper nutrition and exercise.

  • Emergency Care Plan: In case of cluster seizures or exceptionally long seizures (status epilepticus), the vet may provide instructions on what to do in an emergency, including when and how to seek immediate medical attention.

  • Regular Checkups: For dogs with a history of seizures, routine veterinary checkups are essential to monitor their condition and adjust the treatment plan as needed. These checkups help ensure the best possible quality of life for your dog.

It's important to communicate openly with your veterinarian, ask questions, and follow their recommendations closely to manage your dog's condition effectively. With the right treatment and care, many dogs with seizures can lead happy and healthy lives.

Acupressure: A Holistic Approach to Seizures

happy pomeranian getting an acupressure session

Acupressure, a holistic therapy deeply rooted in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), has gained recognition for its potential in addressing a wide range of health issues. TCM has been utilizing this ancient practice for centuries to alleviate various ailments, and many individuals have witnessed its remarkable effectiveness.

Understanding the Concept

In the realm of TCM, seizures are believed to result from an imbalance of "wind" within the body. While this concept might seem unfamiliar, it can be demystified by drawing a parallel with the natural world. Imagine a strong wind rushing through a forest, causing leaves and branches to sway chaotically. Now, picture this same metaphorical wind coursing through the body, traversing from one joint to another, from muscle to muscle. Just as it incites disorder in the natural world, TCM suggests that it can disrupt the internal balance of the body.

TCM further postulates that abnormalities in the liver can compromise the body's vital energy, known as "chi" or life energy. When the liver is adversely affected, it creates a gateway for this metaphorical wind to enter the body, potentially leading to chaotic disturbances and seizures.

The Role of Acupressure

Acupressure plays a pivotal role in TCM by restoring, retaining, and harmonizing the flow of chi in the body. This ancient therapy aids in healing, rejuvenating the damaged chi, and mitigating the risk of canine seizures. By enhancing the body's ability to maintain its vital life energy, acupressure acts as a preventive measure against seizures.

Benefits of Acupressure Sessions

canine acupressure practitioner with dog

Acupressure sessions can be a valuable addition to your pet's wellness routine, offering both preventative and supportive advantages. When administered regularly, they fortify your pet's inherent ability to resist external factors like wind and other pathogens. Moreover, these sessions can be particularly beneficial for dogs already experiencing seizures, as they complement veterinary recommendations and holistic strategies.

In conclusion, acupressure provides a holistic approach to addressing seizures in dogs. Its ability to harmonize chi and fortify the body's defenses makes it a valuable tool for promoting your pet's well-being. Whether you seek to prevent seizures or support a dog dealing with them, acupressure can be a complementary and effective component of your pet's healthcare regimen.

Dietary Supplements for Canine Seizure Management

In the pursuit of holistic care for dogs experiencing seizures, dietary supplements can play a significant role. While dietary supplements are not a sole solution for managing seizures, they can complement other treatment strategies and contribute to your pet's overall well-being. Here, we explore some of the dietary supplements that have shown promise in helping dogs with seizures:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, often derived from fish oil, are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties. In some cases, seizures in dogs may be triggered or exacerbated by inflammation in the brain. Omega-3 supplements can help reduce inflammation, potentially leading to a decrease in seizure frequency and severity.

  • CBD (Cannabidiol): CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis plants, known for its potential therapeutic benefits. While research on the use of CBD for seizure management in dogs is ongoing, some pet owners report positive outcomes. It's essential to use high-quality, veterinarian-recommended CBD products and consult with your vet before introducing CBD into your pet's regimen.

  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in brain function. A deficiency in vitamin B6 can sometimes be associated with seizures. Consult your veterinarian to determine if a vitamin B6 supplement is necessary for your dog.

  • Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral that contributes to overall health. Some dogs with seizures have shown improvement when given magnesium supplements. However, magnesium supplementation should only be administered under the guidance of a veterinarian, as excessive magnesium intake can lead to health issues.

  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium can help protect the brain from oxidative stress. By reducing oxidative damage, these supplements may support neurological health and potentially reduce the risk of seizures.

  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal supplements like valerian root or chamomile may have calming effects and can be beneficial for dogs prone to anxiety-related seizures. Always consult your vet before using herbal supplements, as they can interact with other medications.

  • Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. In some cases, melatonin supplements may help reduce the frequency of nighttime seizures in dogs. Dosage and timing should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Before introducing any dietary supplements to your dog's regimen, it's vital to consult with a veterinarian. They can assess your dog's specific needs, recommend appropriate supplements, and ensure there are no contraindications with any existing medications or conditions. Additionally, dietary supplements should complement, not replace, other seizure management strategies, including prescribed medications and a holistic approach to overall well-being.

Remember that the use of dietary supplements should always be approached with caution and under professional guidance to ensure the safety and well-being of your furry companion.

Final thoughts

Canine seizures are increasing day by day, and more and more dogs are affected by this condition. If you find your dog suffering from a canine seizure, you should protect him from damaging himself and take him to the veterinarian when the seizure ends. Be proactive to prevent conditions like this by setting up acupressure sessions and providing your pup the best care.

happy corgi is safe from seizures

123 views0 comments


bottom of page