What to Do If Your Dog Has a Seizure

23 February, 2019
What should you do if your dog has a seizure. We've got everything you need to know here
 

Epilepsy in dogs is a hereditary condition. It is more common in certain breeds including German Shepherds, St. Bernards, Setters, Beagles, Poodles, some Dachshunds, and Basset Hounds. So, what should you do if your dog has a seizure? Read on and find out more.

A dog’s first seizure usually occurs between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.

Dog owner looking for signs of a seizure.

Important steps if your dog has a seizure

If you see your dog having a seizure follow these steps:

  • Remain calm. When the dog is having a seizure it isn’t conscious of you or its surroundings. Make sure the dog isn’t in a high place where it could suffer a fall and keep it away from other dangers the dog would normally avoid such as an open flame.
  • Now find a soft surface for the dog to lie on. You can use a mattress, couch cushions, a carpet, or anything that will prevent the dog from hurting itself while it convulses.
  • It isn’t a good idea to grab the dog’s tongue. Even a dog that would never intentionally bite could easily bite your hand as a result of involuntary muscle contractions.
  • After the seizure passes, let the dog recover somewhere quiet. The ordeal can be very physically exhausting and the dog will need time to recuperate.
 
  • You will need to go to the veterinarian. The vet can determine if the dog needs a muscle relaxant such as valium, administered rectally.

To be prepared for future attacks, you can keep some medication on hand, ready to be administered rectally or orally as soon as the symptoms appear.

Anticipation of a dog’s seizure

The severity of the seizures can vary. There are some tell-tale symptoms to be aware of. If your dog is behaving more anxious or nervous than usual it could be a sign that it is about to have a seizure. There is no harm in beginning to prepare for a seizure as soon as you see the signs.

Treatment

Usually, a dog’s seizure will only last one minute or two, but for its frightened owner, the attack can seem to last an eternity. After it’s over, the dog will feel exhausted and disorientated.

If you are going through this with your pet, it will be helpful to remain calm. Keep in mind that the seizure will not be fatal, even though the outward signs of the seizure can be dramatic and frightening.

Also, there are normally no lingering after-effects. The most common danger is that the dog will fall on a hard surface or bite its tongue.

There is no cure for idiopathic epilepsy in dogs. It’s likely that an epileptic dog will need treatment over the course of its life. There is also no test or scan to diagnose canine epilepsy.

In most cases, the dog will not require urgent medical attention. However, if the dog is suffering repeated seizures in a short amount of time this can be dangerous and warrant medical intervention.

 

Experts assure us that the animal doesn’t suffer during the seizure. It’s also extremely rare for a dog to die from having a seizure. If the seizure is being caused by a tumor or ischemia (a blockage of an artery) an operation can be performed. If the seizures are frequent, then treatment can be prescribed by your vet.

The bottom line

A happy Golden Retriever.

Epilepsy is a chronic disease and won’t go away. Once a dog has a seizure, the recommended treatment will normally continue for the rest of the dog’s life.

The first time you think your dog is having or has had a seizure you should go to the vet. Once you have the vet’s advice, be sure to follow their recommendations to the letter.

Whenever possible, an epileptic dog should live in a relaxed environment. Stress is often a factor in triggering a dog’s seizure.

 

Charalambous, M., Brodbelt, D., & Volk, H. A. (2014). Treatment in canine epilepsy – A systematic review. BMC Veterinary Research. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-014-0257-9