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Why do Dogs Have Seizures?

Q&A: Why do Dogs Have Seizures?

Here are the most common reasons dogs have seizures:

  • Low blood sugar
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy, also known as Dog Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Low blood Calcium
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Ingesting chocolate, caffeine, strychnine or some other poisonous substance
  • Heat Exhaustion
  • Imbalances caused by nutritional deficits
  • Disease that are infectious by nature (distemper, rabies, or disease caused by virus, bacteria or protozoa)
  • A disease that is congenital in nature, such as hydrocephalus
  • Tumors in the brain, or brain degeneration
  • Brain trauma

…but keep reading for a more complete “why do dogs have seizures?” answer, including:

CC Image “My Fräulein” courtesy of Jesse! S?/Flickr – Thx Fräulein (and Jesse)!

If you have ever seen your dog, or any dog for that matter, having a seizure, you know how scary it can be!

A million thoughts run through your mind.

You think about how to keep him safe, what you need to do, whether or not you can stop it and a thousand other things.

But it probably isn’t until the seizure is over that you actually ask the one question that so many other people do as well:

Why do dogs have seizures?

The good news is, we’ve decided to do that research for you!

Keep reading to find out why they do, what causes it and what you need to do while it’s happening.

Types of Dog Seizures (& What Causes Them)

There are actually a couple different kinds of seizures, and the signs can be different, depending on which one is happening.

1. Extracranial Seizures

These actually start somewhere throughout the body, but still manage to affect your dog’s brain and bring about a seizure.

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Some of the most common causes of this type of seizure include:

2. Intracranial Seizure

The other kind of seizure is an intracranial seizure, where the seizure is caused from something changing inside your dog’s brain. The most common causes of an intracranial seizure are:

  • Imbalances caused by nutritional deficits
  • Disease that are infectious by nature (distemper, rabies, or disease caused by virus, bacteria or protozoa)
  • A disease that is congenital in nature, such as hydrocephalus
  • Tumors in the brain, or brain degeneration
  • Brain trauma

What Can Trigger A Seizure In A Dog?

While it seems that most seizures happen without any rhyme or reason, there are things that can trigger seizures or make them more likely to happen.

In fact, to a dog that has a history of seizures, any type of stress is a potential trigger.

For some dogs, the following can trigger a seizure:

  • Riding in the car
  • Being left alone
  • Visiting the vet
  • Thunderstorms
  • Angry voices
  • Flashing lights on the television

Other dog’s seizures are triggered by:

Still other dogs might be provoked into seizure by certain strong scents, like:

  • Candles
  • Perfume
  • Cigarette smoke

For an even larger list of possible dog seizure triggers, check here.

And remember, if your dog is prone to seizures, try to keep a diary or log of all the foods he eats, medications he takes and any other changes that happen in the home. You’ll also want to write down specifics if you happen to take him out for a walk.

Sometimes a seizure trigger can be so small that we often overlook it!

How Can You Help Your Dog When He’s Having A Seizure?

The fact is, a seizure can happen at any time, to any breed, no matter what the age.

It’s a scary fact, and even scarier still to actually see it happen.

You’re likely to feel completely helpless, not knowing if something you try to do for your dog will help or make things worse. To help you feel a bit less helpless, we want to offer a few things you can do to help when your dog has a seizure.

1. Remain Calm

The first and most important step is to remain calm and try to keep your dog, and yourself, safe.

Dogs are unaware of their surroundings as well as their behavior when having a seizure, and often get agitated and very anxious.

You might not realize it, but some dogs even go blind during and after a seizure.

When this happens, even though they might not mean it and normally wouldn’t, they can cause serious injury to you at this time.

2. Prepare Surroundings

Make sure you dog remains as safe as possible.

Block access to any stairs that happen to be nearby and try not move nearby objects so he won’t knock anything over on himself.

If you have other pets in the home, or nearby, remove them to another location.

3. Take a Video

Taking a video might not be your first thought, but if you remain calm, a video can be helpful when trying to explain the seizure to your vet.

It definitely much easier to show than to tell and your vet will also be able to tell if it is, in fact, a legitimate seizure or something else all together.

Do I Need To Take My Dog To The Vet After A Seizure?

It can be really hard to watch your dog have a seizure, and scary too, but it doesn’t mean that you have to get to a vet immediately.

Of course, you will want to phone your vet, especially if it’s the first time he’s ever had a seizure.

However, two particular types of seizures are emergency room situations:

1. Any Seizure that Lasts More Than Five Minutes

This is known as “status epilepticus” and needs immediate attention.

2. Repetitive Seizures

The other a situation in which your dog has had repetitive seizures in less than twenty-four hours, also known as cluster seizures.

In either of these cases, your dog will need medical attention, as hospitalization is sometimes necessary to stop the seizures.

 Are Dogs In Pain During A Seizure?

Seizures look very violent and dramatic sometimes.

However, professionals tend to agree that seizures do not cause a dog any physical pain during or after it happens.

What he’s most likely to feel is a great deal of confusion, fear and possibly panic.

This is why it’s very important to practice safety when dealing with a dog’s seizure.

A terrified dog is much more apt to bite or scratch.

Another concern is that, during a seizure, dogs swallow their tongues, but this isn’t true either.

Putting you fingers or some type of object in his mouth means you dog could possibly be injured or begin to choke. It also means you might be badly bitten!

How Are Dog Seizures Prevented and Treated?

In some instances, seizures can sometimes be prevented.

Making sure your dog has quality, nutritional food will help to keep nutritional imbalances from happening.

It’s also a great way to make sure blood sugar levels are maintained and not dipping too low.

In some instances, it may be necessary to have your bet check for brain tumors. As dogs get older, they are sometimes prone to develop tumors known as meningiomas, which can trigger seizures.

In severe cases, when nothing else helps and your dog’s seizures are becoming too much, they can be treated with medication. Most often, Phenobarbital or potassium bromide is used to do this. However, make sure medication is the last option for seizures that can’t other wise be managed.

Most vets agree that once a dog going on antiseizure meds, they can never stop taking the medication. Evidence suggests that if they are taken off at some point, they run the risk of having seizures that are much worse and potentially life threatening.

In Closing

Have you ever experienced your dog having a seizure? What did you do? Was it a one-time issue or did you find there was an underlying and ongoing cause? Since seizures can be caused by and triggered by so many different things, we’d love to hear your own personal story. Be sure to take a moment to tell us about it!

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