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What Causes Seizures in Dogs

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What Causes Seizures in Dogs

Although most people are aware of seizures in humans they don’t know that dogs also can also suffer from them. Seizures are in fact an extremely common neurological condition in dogs and can be stressful for both the dog and their caregiver, especially the first time it happens. As a pet owner you can educate yourself as to what causes seizures as a preventative measure and know what to do should your dog show symptoms.

What is a seizure?

A seizure is a disturbance in activity in the brain which is why muscle spasms, drooling and other signs of lack of control occur. Dogs that have frequent seizures are likely to have epilepsy, which can happen either predictably in certain environments or out of the blue. As someone with an epileptic dog knows, it is important to know the symptoms and how to treat them.

Why is my dog having seizures?

There are quite a few reasons why dogs have seizures with the most common being epilepsy which is hereditary. Other causes include:

  • Liver and renal problems
  • Blood sugar level disturbances
  • Neurological problems through injury or disability
  • Electrolyte instability
  • Stroke
  • Poisoning

One of the main symptoms, when dogs have seizures, is that they happen at specific times of brain activity changes. This can include bedtime, exercise, feeding time and overstimulation. It is possible that in-between the seizures the dog seems to display normal behavior.


Seizure symptoms in dogs

Although the symptoms of seizures in dogs can vary including the time the seizure lasts, the behavior that you deem normal for your dog could change significantly.

The main symptoms include:

  • Twitching or jerking
  • Stiffness of the body
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Collapsing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Foaming or drooling
  • Chewing of tongue
  • Incontinence

Signs that your dog is about to have a seizure include seeming confused, having a glazed and fixed expression, and unsteadiness. They could bump into things, bite their tongue or walk in a circular motion.

If a full blown seizure takes place the whole body is likely to be affected and your dog may lose consciousness altogether. The whole body is likely to contract and spasm causing your dog to fall over to one side and move their legs in a paddling motion. If the seizure continues over 5 minutes it is deemed an emergency and medical attention should be sought.


Different types of seizures in dogs

A focal seizure is when only a part of the dog's brain is affected, which can cause one limb or body area to be affected. They usually last a few seconds but can worsen to a grand mal seizure.

A psychomotor seizure is where the dog displays odd behaviors such as attacking the air, chasing their tail or similar unusual behavior. This makes it harder to diagnose but the same behavior will occur with each episode.

Idiopathic seizures are those that happen without a known cause. They usually occur between the ages of 6 months to 6 years and are usually breed specific including beagles, Australian and German shepherds and border collies.


Do the seizures hurt my dog?

Although scary for the owners, seizures are not painful. Don’t worry about your dog swallowing their tongue, as this is a myth. Do prevent your dog from hitting surrounding objects by moving them out of the way and seek medical attention if it happens for more than a few minutes at a time or frequently. Speak calmly and remain calm yourself and if you can put a fan on to keep them cool.

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