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Dog Seizure Symptoms: How to Know When Fido Is Going Into Shock

By John O'Keefe December 30, 2020

Watching your beloved pet have a seizure for the first time is a scary, emotionally difficult experience. The situation becomes even worse if you're not sure what is happening or how to help. 

Seizures are common in dogs, and unfortunately, there's no guaranteed way to prevent them. Educating yourself about dog seizure symptoms and treatments now will help you stay calm and collected when your pet needs you most. 

Keep reading to learn more about seizures, how to recognize them, and what to do if your canine experiences one. 

How to Recognize Dog Seizure Symptoms

Dog seizures can escalate quickly. One minute your pup is acting normal, the next she's on the floor chomping and shaking uncontrollably. 

To the untrained eye, a seizure might seem to arrive completely out of the blue. There are a few telltale signs that the event is on its way, though. 

Before a seizure, your dog could seem dazed, restless, or anxious. Clumsiness and blank stares are common indicators of the irregular brain activity that causes seizures. Vomiting might also occur. 

Symptoms that a seizure is happening include: 

  • Muscle twitching
  • Shaking
  • Falling down
  • Making paddling motions with the legs
  • Body stiffness
  • Exhibiting unusual behaviors
  • Running in circles
  • Chomping
  • Drooling
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Involuntary urination and/or defecation

Post-seizure, your pup will likely drool more than usual and have trouble balancing. He might feel disoriented and try to hide. Some dogs experience full or partial blindness. 

The after-effects of a seizure can last up to 24 hours. 

Causes of Dog Seizures

There are a number of things that can lead to seizures in dogs. Keep in mind that the cause of your canine's individual condition could end up being hard to determine. 

Seizures are not well understood by scientists. It is known that they are caused by random, rapid bursts of electrical activity in the brain. 

Some diseases and problems that have been linked to canine seizures are:

  • Liver disease
  • Accidental toxin ingestion
  • High or low blood sugar
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Stress
  • Kidney problems
  • Anemia
  • Encephalitis
  • Head injuries
  • Strokes
  • Brain cancer

When seizures happen without an obvious underlying cause, idiopathic epilepsy is often diagnosed. Epilepsy is most common in dogs between 6 months and 6 years old, and it may be genetic. 

Epilepsy is possible in all dog breeds. It seems to be an inherited trait in many collies, Australian shepherds, retrievers, German shepherds, and beagles. Diet can also play a role in determining the likelihood that your dog will experience seizures. 

Types of Canine Seizures

Seizures range from gentle to life-threatening, and there is no reliable way to predict the level of intensity your dog will experience. Understanding the different types of seizures can help you know what to look for and how to react. 

A grand mal seizure, also known as a generalized seizure, affects the entire body. During a generalized seizure, irregular electrical activity is happening throughout the entire brain. Convulsions and loss of consciousness are common. 

Grand mal seizures can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. 

Focal seizures impact an isolated part of the brain, and the symptoms are observed in specific areas of the body. You might notice your dog twitching, or one leg moving in an unusual manner. It is possible for a focal seizure to become a generalized seizure. 

Psychomotor seizures are short-lived and characterized by strange behaviors like chasing a nonexistent toy or acting aggressively. This type of seizure will be the same every time. 

How to Help Your Furry Friend Through a Seizure

If you notice that your canine is having a seizure, take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Know that your dog is not in pain. 

First, slide her away from anything that could cause physical harm – stairs, hard furniture, and sharp corners. 

Keep your distance from the dog's mouth. Dogs do not have control over their movements during a seizure and could accidentally bite you.

Do not attempt to hold the tongue down. It is impossible for your dog to choke on it. 

Speak to your pup while sitting nearby. Use a calming tone. It is fine to gently rub parts of her body that are far from the mouth. 

While the seizure is occurring, try to time it. Also take a video for your veterinarian, if you can.  

If a seizure lasts more than a minute or two, your canine could overheat. A dangerously high body temperature can lead to trouble breathing or brain damage. Point a fan at your dog's body and apply a cold, wet towel to her paws. 

As soon as the seizure ends, jot down every detail you can remember and call your vet for guidance. If the event lasts more than 5 minutes, your dog experiences multiple seizures in a row, or you suspect poisoning, head to the emergency vet ASAP. 

Post-seizure, your pup will probably want to rest. It is fine for her to eat and drink, but don't force it. Play quiet, relaxing music and remain nearby. 

Treatment of Seizures in Dogs

There is no cure for seizures, but the condition can be managed. In some cases, the underlying cause can be treated and the seizures will stop. 

After your dog has a seizure, your veterinarian will complete a general examination and order labwork to look for an obvious cause. 

If it was an isolated, first-time event it is unlikely that your canine will be prescribed medication. Epilepsy drugs have side effects, so most vets will only treat frequent or severe seizures. 

If you do receive a prescription, be sure to ask about the side effects and follow your vet's instructions. Missing a dose can trigger additional seizures.  

Some vets may also suggest alternative or holistic treatments such as acupuncture or hemp-derived CBD. Be patient and realize that it will probably take time and multiple vet visits to return your dog to an optimal state of health. 

Lower the Likelihood of Dog Seizures With CBD

If your dog has experienced seizures in the past, or you are worried about the possibility, consider using cannabidiol, or CBD. Studies have shown that hemp-derived CBD reduces the frequency of seizures. It is one of the most promising treatments available to avoid dog seizure symptoms.

To maintain your pup's good health, also be sure to stay up to date on vaccines. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the likelihood that your dog will suffer from seizures in the future. 

If you are interested in giving your dog CBD to prevent seizures, try our dog bundles. They include safe, artisanal treats and oils your canine will love.


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