Seizures in dogs are scary to watch, but there are things you can do to ease any distress your dog is feeling and get them the treatment they need. Learn more about possible causes of seizures in dogs, symptoms, and how to treat seizure disorders.
What Are Seizures in Dogs?
Seizures are a common neurological condition that can affect dogs, just as they can affect humans. Seizures occur when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain and result in involuntary muscle contractions and behavior changes. These episodes usually last for only a few minutes and are not life-threatening to your dog.
Seizures can be caused by many things, such as trauma or injury, metabolic disorders (such as liver failure), inflammatory diseases (such as encephalitis), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and epilepsy. Seizures may also be triggered by certain drugs or toxins—for example, insecticides such as organophosphates used to kill fleas on animals; household cleaning products containing ammonia; some lead-based paints; excessive amounts of vitamin D3 supplements given too quickly over time; chocolate ingestion.
Types of Seizures in Dogs
Seizures are divided into two categories: generalized and partial.
Generalized seizures involve both sides of the brain, start and end quickly and affect muscle tone, behavior and consciousness. If a dog has a generalized seizure, he will lose consciousness, fall down on his side or back with all four legs paddling out like he’s swimming. He may salivate excessively or foam at the mouth while he’s having a seizure. He may twitch his limbs or make chewing motions with his mouth as well as vocalize loudly before becoming unconscious for several minutes after the seizure ends.
Partial seizures only affect one part of your dog’s brain — usually one side — which prevents him from fully losing consciousness during these episodes but does result in loss of motor control and other symptoms such as facial tics (twitching) or an ear flop (where one ear moves to rest flat against a side). Partial seizures often last longer than generalized ones because they’re less severe; they can even last up to an hour if they aren’t treated immediately after they begin.”
Causes of Seizures in Dogs
- Infections can be the underlying cause of seizures in dogs.
- Tumors in the brain or other parts of your dog’s body can cause seizures. This includes brain tumors, cancer and lymphoma.
- Viral infections, such as distemper virus, may lead to seizures as well as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects many animals including dogs, cats and ferrets. Other types include measles and rabies which are both found in wild animals like raccoons and bats respectively..
- Brain injuries are another potential cause for your dog’s seizure activity including epilepsy caused by head trauma from being hit by cars or falling off high places like roofs or balconies onto concrete.
Symptoms of Dog Seizures
Seizures in dogs can vary in intensity. Some seizures are mild and brief, while others may be long and difficult to control. Seizures can also be infrequent or frequent. If a dog has a seizure that lasts for less than 5 minutes, it is considered “mild.” When the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, it becomes “severe” or “long-lasting.”
Seizures can also vary in frequency and duration. Some dogs have seizures only once or twice over an extended period of time; these are called “focal” seizures because they occur in one part of the brain only (the area where they start).
Diagnosing Seizures in Dogs
If you think your dog is having a seizure, watch for the following signs:
- Muscle spasms and/or jerking of the head, neck and back.
- Stiffness in the limbs (the legs may appear as if they were made of wood).
- Unresponsive eye movements. This can be dangerous because many dogs will fall on their faces or even hit their heads when they are having a seizure. You should always keep your pet safe during this time by keeping them away from hard surfaces and making sure they don’t hurt themselves when falling down if it happens to be mild enough that they haven’t fallen over completely yet!
If you notice any of these signs in your own pet, contact us immediately so we can discuss treatment options with you further!
Treating Dog Seizure Disorders
Medications: If your dog has seizures, they’ll likely need to take medications to reduce the frequency and severity of their symptoms. The most commonly used medications are phenobarbital, potassium bromide and diazepam (Valium). These drugs work by altering neurotransmitters in the brain that cause seizure activity. They can be effective in reducing or preventing seizures for many dogs but should not be used with other drugs that affect brain chemistry such as anti-seizure medications for humans or other veterinary products like NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Diet: A low-fat diet may help reduce the severity of seizures caused by high blood cholesterol levels (hyperlipidemia) in some dogs with epilepsy. Carbohydrates from grains can also trigger epileptic episodes in certain dogs so it’s important to monitor what you feed them closely when treating this condition.
Your dog’s seizures may be scary, but veterinary care and proper monitoring can ensure that your pet lives a long and happy life.