Convulsions and Seizures in Dogs

Convulsions and Seizures in Dogs

Convulsions and seizures in dogs cause the muscles to contract and relax rapidly. Although they are not typically life-threatening, the dog will lose control of its body, which can be frightening.  

Type of Seizure or Convulsion

Convulsions and seizures in dogs can be mild or severe.  A mild convulsion may result in the dog having trouble walking.  These convulsions may only last a few minutes.  If you see one it may not be their first event.  If the convulsion last several minutes this may be a very serious seizure.  The legs will become rigid with the claws spread.  The dogs eyes will become dilated and the dog will have trouble breathing.  Their head and body will become hot due to the muscle tension in their body. 

What should you do during the seizure?

Protect the dog away from anything that might harm him (sharp corners of furniture, stairs, etc.).  Keep other animals away.  If the dog is stimulated (sounds, light, movement) this can worsen the event.  Cover the dog’s eyes with your hand or dim the lights in the room and talk soothing to the dog.  This will help the dog to feel secure and safe.  Avoid putting your hands near the dog’s mouth unless absolutely necessary. Dogs do sometimes choke on their tongues, though it is very unusual, often occurring in breeds with flat faces like Pugs and Boston Terriers.

If the seizure goes on for several minutes, call your veterinarian or the local emergency clinic and take the dog in immediately. 

What to Watch For

Loss of body control such as twitching, accidental elimination, dizziness, vomiting and aimless pacing are all common indicators of seizures in dogs. After the episode, your dog may be disoriented for some time.  In recurring cases you may even be able to predict the seizure due to changes in your pet’s behavior.  If the dog has had seizures before where you have helped them they will probably come to you when they feel something is not right.  A good sign something is not right is their eyes are fully dilated. 

What can cause Convulsion or Seizures

There are many reasons a dog may have convulsions, from low blood sugar levels and liver disease to poor circulation of the brain and mineral deficiency. Brain tumors can also lead to convulsions and seizures in dogs and are often the cause of newly developed seizures in an older dog. 

In dogs under 8 years old, epilepsy is a common cause of seizures. Though an underlying cause may not be identified, epileptic seizures do respond well to treatment in most cases.

For many dogs with seizures, a cause cannot be determined.

Seizures are scary for you and your dog.  Be strong for them and help them as much as you can.  They are your best friend.

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