Seizures happen due to faulty electrical activities in the brain. This can lead to dogs losing control of their bodies. There is a huge variation in the duration and appearance of seizures, also known as fits.
Poisons, injuries and epilepsy can all lie behind the cause with some dogs only ever suffering one seizure, occasionally without explanation. Other animals may need continuous treatment.
Read on to discover more about a condition that can be frightening to witness and what you should do if your dog experiences a fit.
Common Symptoms of Seizures in Dogs
You must always get in touch with your vet straight away if your dog has been experiencing a fit for the first time.
Not every seizure will look the same. They can affect the entire body or certain parts of it. Here are some of the things to watch for:
- Twitching muscles on any part of the body
- Your dog looks expressionless and/or is unresponsive
- Jerky movements that lack control
- Your dog’s legs go into a paddling motion
- Your dog collapses, loses consciousness, defecates and/or passes urine
- Excess drooling and/or frothing at the mouth
- The eyes roll back or move from side to side
What You Should Do if Your Dog Has a Seizure
The safety of your pet is paramount. You can help by remaining calm and removing others, especially children and pets, from the area. Make space around your dog to reduce the risk of them injuring themselves. Turn off lights, minimize noise and keep your dog cool. Keep a close eye on the seizure by doing the following:
- Make a note of when the seizure started and ended
- Try and take a video: this will greatly help a vet to evaluate the situation later
- Never try to restrain your dog
- When the seizure is over, keep the surroundings quiet and comfortable
- Always speak in a soft, gentle voice
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Why Do Dogs Have Seizures?
Here are some of the most common reasons dogs experience fits.
This is the most common cause of seizures in dogs aged between 6 months and 6 years old. Your dog may have inherited epilepsy from a parent. It’s unwise to breed a dog that has the condition. Epilepsy is more common in certain pedigree dogs, particularly Border Collies.
Although there’s no cure, it’s possible to manage epilepsy with the right medication. Your vet may prescribe anticonvulsants. These are often effective and may stop the seizures from happening completely.
It is likely that once they start treatment your dog may need to carry on taking daily anticonvulsants for the rest of their lives. They may also have to undergo regular blood tests too.
You shouldn’t assume that your dog necessarily has epilepsy because they have had a seizure. It’s not unusual for dogs to experience one or two unexplained fits in their lives.
Chocolate, caffeine and chemical slug baits are classic causes of fits. Chocolate contains theobromine: it is toxic to dogs. As a rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the bigger risk there will be to your dog.
Always use slug pellets that are “pet safe,” especially if your dog likes to scavenge. Keep caffeine pills well out of reach of dogs. Ingesting even one or two tablets can be fatal for a small dog.
3. Head Injuries
Any wound to the head from something like a road traffic accident or a fall can lead to a fit in your dog. Remember that passengers in cars should always hold dogs securely or you should drive with your dog in a pet box if they are small.
4. Low Blood Sugar Levels
If your dog is experiencing very low sugar levels in the blood, they could then have a seizure. Dogs with diabetes and very young puppies that haven’t eaten for a long period of time are at a greater risk of this happening.
5. Liver Disease
It could be that your dog’s liver can’t process toxins and remove them from the blood. This might mean they have some form of liver disease.
Young puppies can be prone to this because of a condition known as a portosystemic shunt. Older dogs are also more likely to suffer from severe liver disease.
6. Lungworm and Tumors
Lungworm is a parasite that can make its home in the heart, lungs or even the brain. Your dog may experience fits if they are unlucky enough to have lungworm in the brain. This is another very good reason to ensure that you deworm your dog regularly.
Tumors in the brain or surrounding areas are not common but can also cause an animal to fit.
Seek the Advice of a Qualified Vet
If your dog experiences a fit, you must always contact a vet. They will diagnose the reason for the seizure and advise you on the best course of action.
Cooper Pet Care’s mission is to protect your furry friend by providing simple, flexible and transparent healthcare solutions for the pet parents of today. So schedule an instant video consultation with one of our qualified veterinarians and get your pet the care they need.