Epileptic Seizures in Puppies

If you own a dog, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter a seizure at some point in your life. My own pup has had several—and they can be extremely scary to witness. It’s important to know what to do if your dog has one in order to help ease their discomfort and get them the care they need.

Seizures in dogs can be difficult to deal with, but there are lots of ways to help your dog.

You can also help your puppy by providing a safe place for him to convalesce. Seizures can be frightening for owners, but they’re not usually dangerous in and of themselves. The most important thing you should do is make sure your pet is safe from harm when he’s having a seizure, like falling down stairs or getting hit by objects that may fall from tables or countertops.

Some dogs with epilepsy will have no noticeable symptoms at all; others may experience mild tremors or muscle twitches that come and go quickly without causing any problems.

Seizures can cause a variety of symptoms.

  • Inappropriate urination or defecation
  • Drooling, or foaming at the mouth
  • Whimpering, whining and crying
  • Stiffening of the body, especially of back legs (known as paddling)
  • Muscle twitching (sometimes severe)
  • Shaking with seizure activity – head, neck and trunk may be jerked away from side being stimulated by a hand held by the owner.

Seizures in dogs can vary widely.

Seizures in dogs can vary widely. Some seizures are very short and last only a few seconds, while others last for more than five minutes.

Seizures may be characterized by flailing limbs and paddling motions, or they may involve just the head and neck.

Some epileptic dogs are aware of what’s happening to them during a seizure and respond accordingly; others appear unaware of their surroundings when they have a seizure.

And some epileptic dogs recover fully between episodes, while others are incapacitated for much longer periods of time following their seizures.

There are several types of seizures.

  • Grand mal seizures are the most common type of seizure. They’re also called tonic-clonic seizures, because they involve a combination of muscle rigidity (tonic phase) and loss of consciousness (clonic phase). During this type of seizure, your dog will fall to the ground and begin to twitch, shake or urinate.
  • Petit mal, or focal onset seizures are less severe than grand mal seizures and are often preceded by signs like unusual behavior or staring off into space. Your dog may briefly lose consciousness during this type of seizure but won’t lose control over his limbs as he does with grand mal seizures. He may make chewing motions with his mouth during petit mal seizures.
  • Absence seizures are another form of focal onset epileptic seizure that involves staring into space with unresponsiveness for anywhere between 20 seconds and two minutes at a time; there’s no twitching or convulsions associated with absence seizures like there is in other types of epileptic episodes.
  • Myoclonic epilepsy causes small muscular spasms throughout the body that can affect one part or all four legs; these movements only last for a few seconds but can occur frequently throughout the day.
  • Clonic epilepsy features strong contractions that affect only one part or all four legs; these contractions typically last about 30 seconds to several minutes apiece.
  • Tonic-clonic epilepsy includes both myoclonic jerks followed by tonic stiffness (the “tonic” phase) followed by rhythmic activity (“clonus”) in which muscles twitch rapidly (the “clonic” phase).

Epilepsy can be managed.

Managing your dog’s epilepsy can be as simple as medication and diet. For example, you can give your dog a daily dose of phenobarbital or potassium bromide with food.

However, if the medication alone doesn’t control your pet’s seizures, you might need to add other things into his treatment plan. These could include supplements such as vitamin E and selenium or surgery to remove part of the brain tissue that’s causing seizures.

Dogs with epilepsy require long-term treatment.

If your puppy has epilepsy, he will most likely require long-term treatment. Medication can help prevent seizures and lessen their impact on your dog’s quality of life. However, there are many factors to consider when deciding what medication is right for your pup. Side effects need to be considered, as well as any other health issues that could make certain medications unsafe or ineffective.

  • Supplementation therapy may also be necessary in some cases to support the body’s natural healing abilities during an episode.
  • Exercise is important for both physical health and mental wellbeing; however, it should not be strenuous exercise until seizures have been completely controlled with medication.
  • You should also consider feeding your puppy a diet that is high in omega fatty acids (which can often help reduce the frequency of seizures), low in carbohydrates (which may lead to hypoglycemia), low in salt content (as this could cause electrolyte imbalances), rich in antioxidants (which can reduce oxidative stress on brain cells) and supplemented with vitamin B6 and magnesium sulfate (both of which have been shown to reduce seizure activity).


A dog’s epilepsy may be controlled by medication, but that doesn’t mean the animal is cured. Many dogs are able to come off medication after the initial period, but this won’t necessarily last forever. Some dogs may need to stay on medication for life, while others may only need it for a specific amount of time. Your vet will help you determine what’s best for your pet and how long he or she will need to take the medicine in order to keep their seizures under control.

You might not be able to prevent your dog from getting epilepsy, but you can help them live a long and happy life by taking proper care of them. If you notice any of the signs that we listed above, make sure to get your pup checked out by a licensed veterinarian. They can test for epilepsy and other conditions that may cause seizures so that you can find the best treatment possible for your dog.