Can dog seizures cause death? Here’s What to Expect

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Clients are typically concerned about whether or not their dog can die from a seizure. The answer is yes, and risk factors largely depend on the underlying cause for the seizure, as well as the type and duration of the seizure. Some causes can be fatal, and seizures that involve more parts of the body or are longer in duration are the most dangerous.

A seizure, also known as a confusion or fit, is a sudden and excessive firing of neurons in the brain that results in abnormal movements, behaviors, or sensations.

A seizure is considered a symptom, which means it can be caused by many different diseases and problems. Some causes can be easily treated (such as a low blood sugar) and other causes can be fatal (such as from a toxin, head trauma, or a brain tumor.) A seizure can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes or even hours.

5. How do you treat my dog’s seizures? There is no cure for idiopathic epilepsy; however, we try to control the frequency, length, and severity of seizures with medication.

Every patient is different, but often, these are the factors that your veterinarian considers when deciding whether or not to prescribe medication for your pet’s seizures.

If your pet is having seizures, don’t despair. 70% of dogs can be well-controlled with treatment. Please ask your family vet for help or a referral to the Neurology Service at AERC.

If your pet is experiencing active seizures, cluster seizures, or status epilepticus, these are considered “RED” – or true emergencies – on our Fast Track Triage system. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

7. How quickly does medication take effect? It can take months to get seizure activity under control, and your pet can continue to have seizures while on medication. Based on your pet’s seizure activity and the therapeutic blood levels of the medication, adjustments in dosage may be necessary. Remember, these medications are not a cure for seizures. The seizures will likely continue, but hopefully, they will be less severe and happen less often. About 70% of dogs are able to be well-controlled; unfortunately, that means there is additional 30% of dogs that are not able to be well-controlled.

When To See Your Vet For Seizures in Dogs

Hyperthermia is an emergency and, if a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or there are multiple seizures, you should head to your veterinarian or your closest veterinary emergency clinic immediately. It is best to see your veterinarian for the following:

  • Any seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes
  • When there are more than three seizures in a 24-hour time period
  • Seizures that begin before your pet has completely recovered from the previous seizure
  • Abnormal signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, or bleeding
  • How long will a dog seizure before it dies?

    A dog can still lead a normal life even if they are suffering from epilepsy. However, the seizures could be fatal in some cases.

    A seizure that lasts for one or two minutes will not harm your dog. But any seizure that lasts for too long (five minutes or more) could result in death.

    Having more than one seizure in a day, which is referred to as cluster seizures, could also be fatal.

    Medics warn that dogs with cluster seizures or seizures that last more than five minutes have a 25% more mortality rate than those that don’t.

    In addition to duration and frequency, the probability of a seizure resulting in the death of a dog is also largely dependent on what caused it.

    If the seizure is a result of a brain tumor, head trauma, toxins, organ malfunction, or some other serious health issue, the chances of the seizure resulting in death are quite high.

    If the dog is suffering from idiopathic epilepsy, the probability of death from seizures is significantly lower.

    Also, studies have shown that some breeds are more susceptible to seizures than others.

    We can therefore infer that the breeds that are more susceptible to seizures are also more likely to die from seizures.

    Dogs with the highest prevalence of seizures are Pugs, Border Terriers, Boxers, Border Collies, Basset Hounds, Springer Spaniels, Shetland Sheepdogs, St. Bernards, Poodles, Keeshonds, Vizslas, Labrador retrievers, Irish Setters, Golden retrievers, Dachshunds, Belgian Tervurens, and Beagles.