If your dog has a seizure it can be distressing for both you and your pet. Today our Rock Hill vets share some of the causes of seizures in dogs, and what you should do if your dog has a seizure.
Dogs & Seizures
Our vets understand that witnessing your dog having a seizure can be upsetting for many pet parents. That said, knowing the causes of the seizure and what to do if your dog does have a seizure may help to make the situation a little less alarming and stressful.
How do I know if my dog is having a seizure?
Seizures in dogs can take many forms, and some are more easily identified as seizures than others. Sometimes if your dog is having a seizure you will notice muscle twitching or uncontrolled jerking movements, but seizures could also appear as a loss of consciousness, drooling, or unusually eye rolling movements. If you notice that your dog is having a seizure it's important to contact your vet to let them know, but you may not always need to take your dog in to the vet for emergency care. When you call your vets office, they will let you know whether an immediate visit to their office is called for.
What causes seizures in dogs?
While there are a number of underlying conditions which can cause seizures in dogs, the seizure itself occurs due to faulty electrical activity in your dog's brain which leads to a loss of control over their body. Some of the main underlying causes of seizures in dogs include:
- Heat Exhaustion
- Low blood sugar levels
- Liver disease.
- Ingested poisons such as caffeine, chocolate
- An injury to the dog's head (such as a road accident)
- Nutritional imbalances such as thiamine deficiency
- Infectious diseases such as canine distemper virus infection (CDV) and rabies
Do certain dog breeds have an increased risk of seizures?
Certainly not all dogs within these breeds will experience seizures in their lifetime, however these breeds tend to be more prone to seizures than others:
- Breeds with short, flat noses such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, and English Bulldogs may face an increased risk experiencing seizures.
- Bull Terriers can suffer from an inherited form of epilepsy which causes behaviors such as tail chasing, irrational fear, and unprovoked aggression.
- Large retriever and herding breeds appear to face an increased risk of seizures, including German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, as well as Labrador and Golden Retrievers.
- Herding dogs with the MDR1 gene commonly experience seizures. These breeds include: Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, German Shepherds, Longhaired Whippets, as well as Old English and Shetland Sheepdogs.
Should I call my vet if my dog has a seizure?
Many pet parents ask us whether a seizure can kill a dog. It's important to note that the majority of seizures are short, lasting less than 3 minutes and with proper treatment, the dog will return to leading a normal life. However, some seizures can be a very serious health concern, and even short seizures could cause brain damage. If your dog suffers a seizure that continues for more than 30 minutes serious permanent brain damage could occur.
Contact your vet immediately if there is a chance that your dog is having a seizure due to poisoning, if your dog's seizure lasts longer than 3 minutes, or if your dogs has more than one seizure in a row.
If your pup has a brief seizure then quickly recovers, contact your vet to let them know what has happened. Your vet may suggest that you bring your dog in for an examination, or they may simply make a note in your dog's records and ask you to bring your dog in for an examination if another seizure occurs. It is not unusual for dogs to have an unexplained ‘one off’ seizure then never have another, however some dogs will continue to have seizures throughout their life due to epilepsy or illness.
What is the treatment for seizures in dogs?
If your dog is having seizures, treatment will depend upon the cause of the seizures. Your vet will run tests to try to determine the cause of your dog's seizures, if no cause can be found the disease will be diagnosed as 'idiopathic epilepsy'. Once your dog has received a diagnosis your vet will work with you to determine the best treatment for your dog's seizures. Treatment for seizures in dogs may include medications or keeping a seizure diary.