How to Treat Seizures in Old Dogs

If you’ve noticed that your dog is having seizures, you’re probably very concerned. Seizures can be scary to witness, but it’s important to remember that they are treatable. With the right care, your dog can live a healthy life despite his seizures. Here’s how to provide that care:

Consult with a veterinarian.

Even if you suspect your dog’s seizures are not caused by a serious medical condition, it is best to consult with a veterinarian. A thorough examination is necessary to rule out causes of seizures, including infectious diseases and tumors. For example, the veterinarian may take blood samples for analysis and perform X-rays or ultrasounds to examine the heart and brain for any abnormalities.

The vet will also be able to determine what type of seizure it is (petit mal, absence or generalized) as well as how often the seizures occur (once every two weeks; once per month; etc.). They can also tell you whether or not your dog is at risk for hurting himself during an episode or endangering others due to his impaired mobility during a seizure event—which brings us back around again: let them know if he’s ever bitten anyone before!

Identify the type of seizure.

Most common types of seizures in old dogs are absence seizures and generalized seizures. Absence seizures are brief and can look like your dog is staring off into space or walking with his head down. Generalized seizures come in two types: focal or generalized.

Observe the dog.

It’s important to keep a record of the dog’s seizures so you can share it with your veterinarian and better understand what actions are most effective in treating them.

The more information you have, the better. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • What time of day did this seizure happen? Are they happening at a certain time every day (for example, right after dinner)?
  • How long was each seizure? Did it last for hours or just minutes? Were there multiple seizures over several days, or just one single episode? Was there an apparent cause — such as eating something that disagreed with him — or was it seemingly random and unpreventable?
  • What type of seizure did he have – convulsive (convulsions), tonic-clonic (grand mal), absence or petit mal and complex partial—and how many total did he undergo during his episode (ie: 1 grand mal followed by 4 petit mal)?

Switch to a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.

To determine the optimal amount of fat and carbohydrates for your dog, use this formula:

Dietary fat content = total calories – (total carbohydrates + protein)

For example, if you feed your dog 2,000 calories per day and his diet consists of 60 percent carbohydrates and 15 percent protein, then you can calculate the dietary fat content as follows:

Dietary fat content = 2000 calories – (600 carbs + 150 protein) = 800 kcal/day or 0.80 g/kcal. This means that 80 grams of fat should be fed daily to treat seizures in an adult dog.

Establish a routine for meals and exercise.

Establishing a routine for your dog will help to ensure that he’s not just eating at random times and getting little to no exercise. Establishing a sleep schedule can also make it easier for you to recognize when your dog is having seizures, as they tend to be less common during sleep.

It’s important for dogs of any age to get enough exercise, but older dogs need even more than younger dogs. Dogs are known as “three-dimensional” animals because their body needs space in which it can move around freely—this includes running, jumping and other activities that are emphasized in many canine sports such as agility and flyball (a competitive game involving tennis balls). Older dogs may also benefit from swimming or other water therapy exercises if arthritis pain makes walking painful or dangerous.

Older dogs often have trouble chewing large pieces of food due to tooth loss caused by gum disease (also called periodontal disease). If this is the case with your pet, consider switching him over from dry food onto wet food (canned cat/dog food) since these types of diets require less chewing effort than kibble does.

Administer medications as prescribed by your veterinarian.

  • Follow the veterinarian’s prescription for medications.
  • Your veterinarian may prescribe a combination of medications, including:
  • A sedative (to calm your dog)
  • A supplement (to help regulate metabolism and brain function)
  • Vitamin(s) (for added nutritional support)

Seizures are serious, but they can be treated.

During a seizure, it’s important that your canine remain safe. If they’re not already in their crate, it may be best to confine them to one room so that there are fewer dangers around them.

If you’d like, you can try giving them water or food during a seizure—but this is not recommended until the dog has stopped shaking and appears to be fully conscious again (unless advised otherwise by your vet).

Seizures are serious, but they can be treated. Severe or prolonged seizures may lead to status epilepticus, a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment and is potentially fatal. The causes of seizures in dogs vary widely, from brain tumors to head trauma.


The most important thing is to consult with your vet. Make sure you’re giving them the right diet, and make sure they get a lot of exercise—preferably at the same time every day. Give them plenty of water and monitor their hydration levels. If they have any problems, call your vet immediately so that he or she can recommend treatment options as soon as possible.