As a pet parent, watching your furry friend experience a seizure can be a terrifying and overwhelming experience. Seizures can occur in dogs for a variety of reasons, and it’s important to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available. In this article, we’ll explore all you need to know about seizures in dogs.
What is a seizure in dogs?
A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain that causes temporary changes in a dog’s behaviour, movements, and/or sensations. Seizures can vary in severity and duration, and can be a one-time occurrence or a recurring condition.
Causes of seizures in dogs
Seizures in dogs can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions, including:
- Epilepsy: A neurological disorder that causes seizures in dogs with no underlying cause.
- Trauma: Head injuries, such as those caused by car accidents or falls, can lead to seizures.
- Toxins: Ingestion of toxins, such as rat poison, can cause seizures.
- Infections: Infections in the brain, such as meningitis, can cause seizures.
- Metabolic disorders: Low blood sugar, liver disease, or kidney disease can cause seizures in dogs.
- Brain tumours: Tumours in the brain can cause seizures.
- Idiopathic: In some cases, the cause of seizures in dogs remains unknown.
Symptoms of seizures in dogs
The symptoms of seizures in dogs can vary, but may include:
- Convulsions: Rapid, uncontrolled movements of the body, such as jerking or twitching.
- Loss of consciousness: Dogs may become unresponsive during a seizure.
- Foaming at the mouth: Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth may occur during a seizure.
- Urinary or faecal incontinence: Dogs may lose control of their bladder or bowels during a seizure.
- Vocalisation: Dogs may cry out or make other noises during a seizure.
- Confusion: After a seizure, dogs may be disoriented or confused.
Types of seizures in dogs
There are several types of seizures that can occur in dogs, including:
- Generalised seizures: These seizures involve the whole brain and can cause convulsions, loss of consciousness, and other symptoms.
- Focal seizures: These seizures involve a specific area of the brain and may cause unusual movements or behaviours.
- Psychomotor seizures: These seizures cause repetitive movements, such as chewing or licking.
- Status epilepticus: This is a medical emergency and occurs when a seizure lasts longer than five minutes or multiple seizures occur without a break in between.
Diagnosing seizures in dogs
If you suspect that your dog is experiencing seizures, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. The vet will perform a physical exam and may also recommend blood tests, urinalysis, or imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan.
Treatment options for seizures in dogs
Treatment for seizures in dogs will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the seizures. Options may include:
- Anticonvulsant medication: Medications such as phenobarbital or potassium bromide can be prescribed by a veterinarian to help control seizures in dogs. It’s important to follow the prescribed dosage and monitoring for any side effects.
- Diet: Some dogs with seizures may benefit from a special diet, such as a ketogenic diet, which has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in some dogs.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove brain tumours or other structural abnormalities that are causing seizures.
- Alternative therapies: Some pet parents have reported success in treating their dog’s seizures with alternative therapies, such as acupuncture or CBD oil. However, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian before trying any alternative therapies.
Preventing seizures in dogs
While some causes of seizures in dogs, such as epilepsy, may not be preventable, there are steps pet parents can take to reduce the risk of seizures. These include:
- Keeping your dog away from toxins, such as rat poison or insecticides.
- Monitoring your dog’s blood sugar levels, especially if they have diabetes.
- Providing proper nutrition and exercise to maintain good overall health.
- Regular veterinary checkups to catch any underlying medical conditions early.
Living with a dog with seizures
Living with a dog with seizures can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that seizures are a medical condition and not a reflection of your dog’s behaviour or training. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to manage your dog’s seizures and provide them with a safe and comfortable environment.
Seizures in puppies
While seizures in puppies are relatively rare, they can occur. Puppies may experience seizures due to congenital defects, infections, or head trauma. If you suspect that your puppy is experiencing seizures, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Seizures in senior dogs
Senior dogs are more likely to experience seizures due to underlying medical conditions, such as brain tumours or organ failure. If your senior dog experiences seizures, it’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.
Natural remedies for seizures in dogs
While some pet parents have reported success in treating their dog’s seizures with natural remedies, such as CBD oil or herbal supplements, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian before trying any alternative therapies. Some natural remedies can interact with medications or cause harmful side effects.
When to see a vet
If your dog experiences a seizure, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Seizures can be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition, and prompt treatment is essential for your dog’s health and well-being.
Seizure first aid for dogs
If your dog experiences a seizure, there are several steps you can take to keep them safe:
- Stay calm and try to keep your dog away from any objects that could cause injury.
- Do not try to restrain your dog or put anything in their mouth.
- Time the seizure and make note of any unusual behaviour or symptoms.
- Once the seizure is over, provide a quiet and comfortable environment for your dog to rest.
Seizures in dogs can be a frightening experience for pet parents, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, many dogs with seizures can live happy and healthy lives. If you suspect that your dog is experiencing seizures, it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Seizures in dogs cannot be cured, but they can often be managed with medication and other treatments.
Yes, seizures in dogs can be fatal in some cases. It’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if your dog experiences a seizure.
During a seizure, it’s important to keep your dog away from any objects that could cause injury, do not try to restrain your dog or put anything in their mouth, time the seizure, and provide a quiet and comfortable environment for your dog to rest. After the seizure, take your dog to a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.