My dog has had a seizure, what should I do?

seizures in dogsWhy has my dog had a seizure?

There are many different reasons your dog may have a seizure including epilepsy, low blood sugar levels, calcium deficiency, heat stroke, some infectious diseases, head trauma, liver disease, kidney disease, some poisons, poor circulation of the brain or brain tumours (rare).  If your dog is 8 years old or younger, epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures. In most cases epileptic seizures do respond well to treatment.

What is a seizure and what will I see?

Seizures occur as a result of abnormal electrical activity within the brain. They cause your dog's muscles to contract and relax rapidly. Although they are not immediately life threatening, your dog will lose control of their body, which can be frightening. Prolonged
seizures can be life threatening.

No two seizures look the same but you may see your dog start to tremble, his eyes glaze over, he may fall or lie down and start to jerk violently.  You may also see focal twitching, champing of the jaw and salivation and your dog may pass urine or faeces.

After the seizure, your dog may be disoriented and can appear blind for some time (this is called the “post-ictal” period), this lasts for a variable amount of time, but shouldn’t last more than 2 hours. In recurring cases, you may spot subtle changes in your dog's behaviour before a seizure (called the “pre-ictal” period). 

What should I do?

  1. Try not to panic – although this is much easier said than done.
     
  2. Focus on your dog's needs, as it is unlikely that the seizure is immediately life threatening.
     
  3. Pull the dog away from anything that might harm him but otherwise try to avoid touching your dog especially around the mouth as they may bite you (remember they have no control over their muscles/movement).  Dogs very rarely choke on their tongues although it can occasionally occur with dogs with flat faces e.g. pugs.
     
  4. Make a note of the time the seizure started so you can time how long the seizure lasts for.
     
  5. If the seizure continues for more than four minutes, phone your local vet and arrange for your dog to be seen immediately.  Try to keep your dog as cool as possible (do not wrap in towels or blankets) as they can over heat while seizuring.

This is a very good website for more information on Canine Epilepsy: www.epilepsyindogs.co.uk

Please note:
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not
a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a
guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment
immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are
closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more
about what to do in an out of hours emergency.