All About Seizures in Dogs

Seizure in dogs is a nightmare for owners. Different dog breeds including Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, and Rottweilers, are prone to dog seizures.

What is a seizure in a dog?

Dog seizures occur when there are involuntary movements of a dog’s body due to unusual electrical activity in the brain. Neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, are one of its causes.

What causes dog seizures?

Canine Epilepsy

Canine epilepsy and dog seizures are not the same. Seizures are a symptom of many different diseases and conditions. Canine epilepsy, on the other hand, is a genetic health problem often seen in different breeds of dogs. These dog breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Dachshunds.

This genetic neurological disorder usually develops in dogs 1 to 3 years of age. It is also more prevalent in males.

Viral or Bacterial infections

Canine distemper is one of the viral diseases that can cause dog seizures, particularly when the canine distemper virus reaches the brain. Bacterial diseases, such as ehrlichiosis, a tick-borne disease, can also cause dog seizures.

Cancer and Organ Problems

Brain cancer, blood pressure issues, electrolyte problems, and some diseases in the liver or kidney can also cause seizures in dogs.


Medications, antifreeze, consumption, or contact with bufo toads, and many other things can poison your dog. All these can cause dog seizures.

What are the stages of dog seizures?

There are three stages of dog seizures:

  • Aura – The aura is indicated by symptoms, such as anxiety, crying, trembling, salivation, and strange behavior (hiding, pacing, etc.). This stage can be difficult to identify, as not all dogs experience these symptoms.
  • Ictus – This stage is when the actual seizure occurs. Symptoms include collapsing, involuntary movements, salivation, convulsions, urination, defecation, and in rare cases vocalization. The seizure can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a few minutes depending on the type.Petit mal or temporary seizures usually last no more than a minute. This type of seizure only affects part of the body and is faster for the dog to recover from. Grand mal seizures, on the other hand, affect the entire body. It can last several minutes and takes longer for the dog to recover.
  • Postictal Phase –After a dog has an epileptic seizure, he or she may experience confusion and exhibit abnormal behavior for a couple of minutes. In some cases, this stage can even last several days.

Are dog seizures painful?

Dog seizures can be disturbing to witness. But dogs, generally, do not feel any pain when they are having seizures. Some dogs, however, can feel a sensation when the episode is about to come. For this reason, they may become scared and seek “protection” and affection from their owners.

Are dog seizures dangerous?

A single episode of dog seizure is typically not dangerous. But if it is a long one or recurs every few hours or minutes, dog seizures can be life-threatening. Because there is continuous uncontrolled movement, your dog’s body may overheat. This could result in other health issues.

However, if your dog’s seizures are related to canine distemper, hypoglycemia, ehrlichiosis, liver problems, poisoning, and other dangerous causes, it is necessary to take him to the veterinarian immediately.

What to do if your dog has a seizure?

The first thing you need to know is that your dog cannot swallow his or her tongue while having a seizure. This is just a myth. To prevent your dog from accidentally biting you, it is safer to keep your hands away from the mouth.

Steps you should take when your dog has a seizure include:

  • Move furniture, water bowl, and other objects that can be harmful away from your dog.
  • Place a bedspread or something else that has acts as a cushion and doesn’t retain heat under your dog to protect him or her from the hard floor.
  • Keep track of how long the seizure lasts as well as the symptoms. This information is important for your vet to know.
  • If it is your dog’s first seizure or it lasts more than 5 minutes, call your vet immediately for further instructions.
  • Stay with your dog until the seizure is over, as it can be a frightening experience and he or she will appreciate some affection and reassurance.
  • Offer a bit of water and keep a close eye on your dog until you’re certain the post-ictal phase is over.

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