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Seizures in Dogs

Seizures in Dogs

Seizures can be triggered in dogs due to several factors ranging from heat exhaustion to epilepsy. Here, our Vancouver vets discuss seizures in dogs and how you can help your pup.

Seizures in Older & Younger Dogs

Witnessing their dog have a seizure can be upsetting for a pet parent. Some dogs recover quickly from seizures and never have another, whereas others may have seizures for the rest of their lives due to illness or epilepsy.

What Seizures Look Like in Dogs

Seizures in dogs can take many different forms, some more obvious than others, but the majority are very brief. You may notice muscle twitching or uncontrolled jerking movements in your dog if he is having a seizure, but a seizure can also include loss of consciousness, unusual eye movements, or drooling. If you believe your dog has had a seizure, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Causes of Seizures in Dogs

Regardless of the underlying cause of the seizure, all seizures are caused by faulty electrical activity in the dog's brain, which results in a loss of control over the body. Seizures in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Epilepsy
  • Heat Exhaustion
  • Liver disease 
  • Heartworms
  • Tumors
  • Ingested poisons such as caffeine, chocolate
  • Diabetes, Low blood sugar levels
  • An injury to the dog's head
  • Nutritional imbalances (thiamine deficiency)
  • Infectious diseases such as CDV and rabies

Dog Breeds Prone to Seizures

Every dog within these breeds will not experience a seizure in their lifetime, however, the following breeds tend to be more prone to seizures than others.

  • Large herding and retriever dogs may be prone to seizures, including German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, as well as Labrador and Golden Retrievers.
  • Seizures are common in herding dogs with the MDR1 gene. Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, German Shepherds, Longhaired Whippets, and some Sheepdogs are among these breeds.
  • Breeds with short, flat noses such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, and English Bulldogs can also be more prone to experiencing seizures.
  • Bull Terriers can suffer from an inherited form of epilepsy which causes behaviors such as tail chasing, irrational fear, and unprovoked aggression.

Fatality of Seizures in Dogs

If there is a chance that your dog is having a seizure due to poisoning, if your dog's seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or if your dog has multiple seizures in a row, then the seizure indicates a serious health threat. Contact your vet immediately, or your closest emergency veterinary hospital.

When to Seek Veterinary Assistance

Most seizures are short, lasting less than 3 minutes, and with proper treatment, the pet can lead a normal life. That said, seizures can be a serious health concern and even short seizures could cause brain damage. If your dog suffers a seizure that continues for more than 30 minutes serious permanent brain damage could result.

If you see your dog having a brief seizure and then he or she quickly recovers, notify your veterinarian. Your vet may recommend that you bring your dog in for an examination, or they may simply make a note in your dog's records and ask you to bring your dog in if it happens again. Seizures that are not explained are common in dogs, but some dogs will continue to have seizures throughout their lives due to underlying conditions.

Treating Seizures in Dogs

The treatment of seizures in dogs is determined by the underlying cause. Your veterinarian will perform a series of tests to determine the cause of your dog's seizures; if no cause is found, the disease will be classified as idiopathic epilepsy. Following a diagnosis, your veterinarian will collaborate with you to determine the most effective treatment for your dog's seizures. Medication or simply keeping a seizure diary to track your dog's seizures and overall health may be used as treatment.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition.

If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact our Vancouver vets immediately.

We Welcome New Patients

Columbia River Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients by referral and for emergency services. Our experienced emergency vets  and specialists are passionate about the health of Vancouver companion animals. Ask your vet today about a referral.

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