What to do When Your Dog is Having A Seizure in Kittery, ME
Watching a beloved pet in the clutches of a seizure can be terrifying, especially if it’s the first time it’s happened. When you don’t know if your furry friend will be okay, that feeling is like no other. Every pet owner should learn about seizures and what they should do to help their pet. Hopefully, you’ll never need this information.
But if you do, you’ll understand what’s happening and what you should do to help your dog, in the moment, and afterward. This article will discuss seizures in depth so you’ll know what they are, and what to expect, and what to do.
Stages of Dog Seizures
Dogs most commonly experience generalized, grand mal seizures. Though generalized seizures don’t always follow this pattern, they often happen in three stages for many dogs. The beginning stage is the pre-ictal (or aura phase). This is when your dog may sense that something is going to happen. He may act out of sorts and experience any of the following:
- seek attention
- appear dazed
- visual problems
These are signs that your dog is going to have a seizure. This can pass quickly, a few seconds, or it can last a few hours.
When the ictal stage begins, a standing dog will collapse and he may:
- lose consciousness
- become stiff
- drool or foam at the mouth
- limbs involuntarily jerk or paddle
- chomp jaw
When a seizure lasts more than five minutes, or if there are multiple seizures in a short amount of time before the dog becomes fully conscious, it is status epilepticus. This is life-threatening. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
Right after a seizure, the post-ictal phase, is when your dog may experience:
- aimless wandering
- increased thirst and/or appetite
- compulsive behavior
- temporary blindness
The severity of the seizure doesn’t affect how long this phase lasts. The time will vary but can take up to 24 hours.
Causes Of Seizures In Dogs
There are many reasons why dogs have seizures, including the following:
- head injury
- brain tumors
- blood or organ problems
- genetic abnormalities
- consuming toxic substances:
- cleaning products
- toxic plants
This isn’t an exhaustive list and sometimes seizures happen for unknown reasons. These are called idiopathic seizures.
Types Of Dog Seizures
Besides generalized, grand mal seizures, there are other kinds as well. Mild seizures, which are similar to generalized seizures, but without a loss of consciousness or such pronounced spasms. These seizures include:
- Petit mal seizures which can be difficult to spot. Watch for short periods of unconsciousness, blank stares or upturned eyes.
- Cluster seizures are multiple seizures happening within a 24-hour period. It’s possible the individual seizures may be brief, however, cluster seizures are considered life-threatening and you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Partial seizures (focal seizures) happen when there is irregular activity in just one area of the brain. These seizures can remain partial or spread to the rest of the brain where they develop into generalized seizures. Symptoms include twitching or jerking on one side of the body. Also with distractedness and restlessness.
- Complex partial seizures happen when the dog’s consciousness is more impaired, but isn’t fully lost.
Seizures In Small Dogs
Small dogs and puppies can be prone to seizures. Some outgrow them, others will have them for the rest of their lives. These seizures are sometimes caused by disease, but the most common cause in puppies and young dogs is epilepsy. Epileptic seizures commonly show up between the ages of six months and six years.
Seizures in Older Dogs
Older dogs that have never shown signs of epilepsy are unlikely to develop it. Seizures are more likely to be caused by a disease in older dogs. Some illnesses can cause seizures. Including but not limited to, brain cancer, low or high blood pressure, encephalitis, kidney or liver disease, and anemia. Keep in mind, older dogs can be frail and are more likely to get hurt during a seizure and be disoriented afterward. Take extra care with older dogs to keep them safe and as comfortable as possible.
Recurrent seizures are known as epilepsy. When there is a known cause, it’s secondary epilepsy. Unexplained recurring seizures are idiopathic epilepsy or primary epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy in dogs isn’t treatable, but symptoms can be managed through anti-seizure medication and lifestyle changes.
Breeds Prone To Seizures
These breeds are known to be seizure prone.
- Belgian Tervuren
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- English Spring Spaniel
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Irish Wolfhound
- Labrador Retriever
- Shetland Sheep Dog
What To Do If Your Dog Has A Seizure
If your dog has an unexplained seizure, take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Likewise, if the seizure was caused by an illness, your veterinarian will need to see your dog to treat the underlying cause and not just the symptoms.
Some things to do to help your dog if he has a seizure:
- Move everything possible away from your dog. You don’t want him hitting something and hurting himself.
- Don’t move your dog unless he is in immediate danger.
- Keep track of how long the seizure lasts. If it’s more than five minutes, call your veterinarian immediately.
- Comfort your dog with your voice and gentle stroking (keep hands away from his mouth).
- Make sure food and water is available afterward for increased hunger and thirst.
- Watch your dog afterword and if you’re concerned, contact your veterinarian.
Seizures can be scary for you and your dog, but they can be managed. Your dog will be able to live a good quality life once your veterinarian determines what kind of seizures your dog is having and begins the appropriate treatment. When seizures happen, remain calm and do your best to comfort your dog and make sure he can’t harm himself. Then just be there for him afterward. That’s what he needs most.
If your dog is experiencing seizures, please call our vet at (207) 439-2661.