Dogs are great companions. They make us smile, laugh, and love. But sometimes, dogs get sick. And when they do, we feel helpless. We worry about our dog’s health and safety.
There are many causes of seizures in dogs. Some are genetic, others are caused by illness, injury, or poisoning. In any case, it’s important to know how to treat a dog who has had a seizure.
I’ve compiled a list of common symptoms of seizures in dogs and how to treat them. This will help you understand what to look for and what to do if your pet has a seizure.
What Are Seizures in Dogs?
Seizures are a common problem for dogs. They occur when the brain is suddenly overstimulated and goes into an uncontrolled state of electrical activity, causing muscle twitching or shaking (convulsions).
What Causes Seizures in Dogs?
A seizure is a sudden, involuntary change of activity in the brain that results from an electrical imbalance between neurons. The cause may be genetic or environmental and can affect any part of the nervous system. Some seizures are caused by disease, such as epilepsy; some are caused by trauma, like a head injury; and some are caused by poisoning or other toxins.
Some diseases that affect the brain can also lead to seizures. These include:
- Epilepsy – A condition where there are repeated seizures. It usually starts during early childhood and continues throughout life. There are two types of epilepsy: focal and generalized. Focal means that only one area of the brain is affected. Generalized means that all parts of the brain are affected.
- -ncephalitis – An inflammation of the brain. It can happen after being exposed to certain viruses or bacteria. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. If left untreated, encephalitis can result in death.
- Stroke – When blood flow to the brain stops completely for a few minutes or longer. This happens because of bleeding or a blockage in the arteries supplying blood to the brain. Strokes can be either hemorrhagic or ischemic. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding into the brain tissue itself. Ischemic strokes are caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Traumatic injuries to the brain can also cause seizures. These include:
- Head Injury – Damage to the skull resulting in bleeding inside the brain.
- Brain Tumors – Growths on the surface of the brain.
- Intracranial Abscesses – Infection of the brain tissue.
- Hydrocephalus – Overproduction of cerebrospinal fluid.
- Meningitis – Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain.
- Arteriovenous Malformations – Abnormal connections between arteries and veins.
How Do I Know My Dog Has Had a Seizure?
The first thing to do is observe your dog carefully. Look at his behavior. Does he seem confused? Does he have difficulty moving around? Does he drool excessively? Does he appear to be having trouble breathing? If so, call your veterinarian immediately. If you notice these signs, it’s time to take action. Your goal is to prevent further damage to your dog’s health. You don’t want him to suffer unnecessarily.
Symptoms of Dog Seizures
Dog seizures are a common problem in dogs. They can be caused by many different things, including:
- Severe injury to the brain or spinal cord
- Brain tumors
- Infection or inflammation of the brain
- Head trauma
- Seizure disorders (such as epilepsy)
Treatment for Dog Seizures
If your dog is having a seizure, there are several steps that should be taken right away. These include:
- Immediately stop whatever activity was causing the seizure. For example, if your dog was running around, he needs to be stopped immediately.
- Call your veterinarian. Your vet may need to examine your dog to determine the cause of his seizure. He may also give him medication to prevent future seizures.
- Keep your dog calm. If possible, keep him on a soft bed. Do not move him until the seizure passes.
- Give your dog water or food.
- Do not try to wake up your dog. It could worsen his condition.
- Do not use force to shake your dog awake. You may accidentally hurt your dog.
Time Your Dog’s Seizures
You can tell when your dog has a seizure because he will appear stiff and unresponsive. His eyes will roll back into their sockets, and his tongue will fall out of his mouth. Some dogs have multiple seizures during one episode. Others only have one. The length of time between episodes varies from person to person. However, most people report that their dog has at least two seizures per day.
It takes anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour for a dog to recover after a seizure. During this recovery period, your dog will be confused and disoriented. He may even vomit. Afterward, he will usually be fine.