Interesting fact: Seizures are one of the most commonly reported neurological conditions in dogs. A seizure is also commonly referred to as a convulsion or fit. It is ultimately a temporary, involuntary disturbance of normal brain function that is usually accompanied by uncontrollable muscle activity. Seizures can simply look like uncontrollable shaking and are capable of lasting from less than a minute to several minutes.
If your pup suffers from seizures, you are not alone! Keep reading to find out more!
Signs Your Dog is Having a Seizure
Seizures look dramatic and are scary for any owner to witness in their sweet pup. Despite the scary appearance of a seizure, seizures are not painful for your dog to experience. Your dog may look dazed, unsteady, or confused before a seizure. Remember that any pooch may feel confusion and perhaps panic after the seizure ends from feeling disoriented, wobbly, or temporarily blind. So be sure to comfort your dog!
One seizure is rarely dangerous, but you should always follow up with a call to your veterinarian. However, if your pup is experiencing multiple seizures within a short period of time, or if one seizure continues for longer than a few minutes, the body temperature in your dog begins to rise. It is important to call your veterinarian to address these problems, as there may be a larger underlying issue.
One myth that continues to be believed is that dogs swallow their tongues during seizures. This is inaccurate information, and if you put your fingers or an object into your dog's mouth, you could potentially get bitten or even injure your fur baby. Most importantly, just remember to focus on keeping your dog from falling or hurting itself on furniture or other objects by keeping your dog on the ground.
The Science Behind Seizures in Dogs
There are many causes of seizures, but idiopathic epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in dogs. Although idiopathic epilepsy is an inherited disorder, its exact cause is unknown. Other possible causes of seizures can include liver disease, kidney failure, brain tumors, brain trauma, or toxins.
Seizures commonly happen during times when brain activity is changing. Some examples include: during excitement or feeding, or as the dog is falling asleep or waking up.
Seizures consist of three parts:
1) The pre-ictal phase: This is a period of altered behavior in which your pup may hide, appear nervous, or seek you out. Your dog may be feeling restless or even nervous. This period can last up to a few seconds or even a few hours. This period occurs before the seizure, almost as if the dog senses that something might happen.
2) The ictal phase: This period is the seizure itself. It can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. During a seizure, you may see some of the signs stated above. A dog may lose consciousness or may just have a change in mental awareness. If the seizure has not stopped within five minutes, immediate medical assistance should be called for.
3) The post-ictal: During the period immediately after the seizure, your dog may experience confusion and disorientation. Researchers have found that here is no direct correlation between the severity of the seizure and the duration of this final phase.
Treatment for Dogs with Seizures
Treatment for seizures usually begins after your dog has experienced one of the following: more than one seizure a month, multiple seizures where one seizure is immediately followed by another or seizures that are severe or prolonged in duration.
There are some common medications to treat these more severe forms of seizures. Two commonly used medications are phenobarbital and potassium bromide. Make sure you talk to your veterinarian if you feel worried or unsettled.
However, once these medications are started, they must be given for the rest of your dog's life. Research has shown that if these medications are started and then discontinued, dogs may have a greater risk of developing severe seizures in the future. Again, just make sure you speak with your veterinarian so that you can get specific instructions and understand what is best for your dog.
By Olivia Gerth
Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 04/06/2020