Published: 13 February 2019
Seizures in dogs can be a frightening experience but if you know what is happening and how to deal with it, you are less likely to panic and will be able to deal with situation calmly. Take a look at our advice below and join us on a First Aid for Dogs course to get the complete low-down.
Why has my dog had a seizure?
There are many different reasons why your dog may have a seizure including epilepsy, low blood sugar levels, calcium deficiency, heat stroke, some infectious diseases, head trauma, liver disease, kidney disease, some poisons, poor circulation of the brain or brain tumours (rare). If your dog is 8 years old or younger, epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures. In most cases epileptic seizures respond well to treatment.
What is a seizure and what will I see?
Seizures occur as a result of abnormal electrical activity within the brain. They cause your dog's muscles to contract and relax rapidly. Although they are not immediately life threatening, your dog will lose control of their body, which can be frightening. Prolonged seizures can be life threatening.
No two seizures look the same but you may see your dog start to tremble, his eyes glaze over, he may fall or lie down and start to jerk violently. You may also see focal twitching, champing of the jaw and salivation and your dog may pass urine or faeces.
After the seizure, your dog may be disoriented and can appear blind for some time; this lasts for a variable amount of time, but should not last more than two hours. In recurring cases, you may spot subtle changes in your dog's behaviour before a seizure.
What should I do?
Try not to panic – as with many emergency situations, you may find yourself distressed and in a state of panic initially, but it is important to move past that as you will be of best assistance to your pet if you are in control and rational.
Focus on your dog's needs, as it is unlikely that the seizure is immediately life threatening.
Pull the dog away from anything that might harm him but otherwise try to avoid touching your dog especially around the mouth as they may bite you (remember they have no control over their muscles/movement). Dogs very rarely choke on their tongues although it can occasionally occur with dogs with flat faces e.g. pugs.
Make a note of the time the seizure started so you can time how long the seizure lasts.
If the seizure continues for more than three minutes (or the time directed for your pet) or is its first fit, phone your local vet and arrange for your dog to be seen immediately. Try to keep your dog as cool as possible (do not wrap in towels or blankets) as they can over heat while fitting.
We hope you find this information useful. To get hands on, practical experience of how to deal with seizures, as well as other first aid emergencies, join us on our First Aid for Dogs course. We have courses coming up in London, Sussex (Crawley, Angmering, Brighton & Hove), Surrey (Guildford and Woking) and Oxfordshire (Chilton near Didcot).