What To Do When a Dog Has a Seizure
If you think your dog is having a seizure, the first step you need to take is the hardest—don’t panic! Most seizures only last for a minute or so and don’t cause any long-term damage. But there are times when seizures can be dangerous. Get to a veterinarian immediately if your dog experiences any of the following:
During the seizure, simply remove anything from your dog’s surroundings that might pose a risk (a lamp that might be knocked over, for example) and let the seizure run its course. If your dog is in a risky situation, like at the top of the stairs or in the street, try to gently move them to a safer spot.
Don’t put anything in your dog’s mouth, because you may inadvertently make it hard for them to breathe. Honey, maple syrup, or sugar water will help dogs only if they are having seizures due to low blood sugar levels.
After the seizure is over, keep your dog in a safe area and monitor them until they come out of their post-ictal phase. Once they are steady on their feet and are mostly back to normal, you can give them a little water and take them outside for a potty break. Wait a bit longer before you offer some food.
Are Certain Dog Breeds More at Risk for Seizures?
The reasons why some dogs develop primary epilepsy are not fully understood, but genetics is certainly involved. Any dog can have seizures, but the following breeds are at a higher-than-average risk for developing primary epilepsy:
What should you do if your dog is having a seizure?
The most important thing is to ensure your dog does not fall or become injured while convulsing; try to keep your dog on the floor and away from stairs for their safety. Never put your fingers in a dog’s mouth during a seizure, as you could accidentally be bitten. Try to remain calm. Keep track of how long the seizure lasts and what you are witnessing. If your dog has not had a seizure before, taking a video of the event to show your veterinarian can be very helpful. During the postictal stage, observe and approach your dog slowly until he or she recovers and is back to normal behaviorally.
How to Spot Canine Focal Seizure Symptoms
Epilepsy, or seizures, in dogs is a disorder caused by erratic behavior in the brain and can come unexpectedly. According to Canine Epilepsy Resources, the most common kind of seizure can occur in up to 5.7% of dogs and certain breeds are more prone to the disorder than others.
Because of this rate, it is important to understand what canine seizures are, the most common types, and what they look like. By understanding these principles, you can then know what to do if this emergency strikes your furry friend.
There are many contributing factors to canine seizures and each seizure can present itself differently. According to most vets, though, there are two types of seizures: focal and generalized.
Focal (sometimes called partial) seizures are those that affect only part of the dog’s brain and exhibit themselves as one side of the dog’s body convulsing. If your dog is having a seizure and you see that only part of their body is convulsing, it is likely a focal seizure.
Generalized seizures (sometimes known as grand mal seizures) affect the dog’s entire brain. Therefore, when a dog is experiencing a generalized seizure their whole body will likely be convulsing. This type of seizure is also more likely to cause loss of consciousness.
Just as there are different types of seizures, there are different causes for these seizures and they can generally be classified into two categories, genetic and idiopathic seizures.
Genetic seizures are those that affect dogs based on their genetic makeup and breed. These seizures usually occur in younger dogs and can start as young as 3 months of age. Some breeds are more likely to experience genetic seizures, including:
There are many reasons why these breeds may experience seizures more often. Some vets suggest that they have multiple genes and inherited recessive traits that cause erratic brain activity. For example, some English Springer Spaniel breeds will exhibit a recessive trait, but it won’t affect all branches of the breed.
Idiopathic seizures are those caused by factors other than genetics, including internal disorders or external factors. This includes structural brain lesions, concussions, kidney damage, and more. Other causes of idiopathic epilepsy include:
These are all serious conditions and if you think your dog is experiencing any of the above, go see your veterinarian immediately.