What Causes Seizures in Dogs?

What Causes Seizures in Dogs?

If you’re a dog lover and owner, then the thought of your pup having a seizure is enough to send chills down your spine. Do you know what causes seizures in dogs? Seizures in dogs can be caused by many different things, including epilepsy, trauma, shock or poisoning. It’s important to learn about what might trigger seizures for you dog so that you can take preventative measures when possible and provide care should one occur.

What Causes Seizures in Dogs
What causes seizures in dogs?

In this blog post we will explore the causes of canine seizures and discuss some tips on how to handle them if they happen. Read on to learn more about what causes seizures in dogs and what treatment options are available!

What Are Seizures in Dogs?

A seizure, also known as an epileptic episode or fit, is a sudden surge of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This can cause loss of consciousness and uncontrolled muscle movements (such as paddling, jerking or trembling). Seizures in dogs can last anywhere from seconds to several minutes. Afterward your pup may be disoriented and confused and may even be unsteady on their feet.

What Causes Seizures in Dogs?

There are many potential causes for seizures in dogs, including epilepsy, trauma, shock or poisoning. Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that can cause recurrent seizures and affects around 0.5% of all dogs. Trauma (such as a head injury) can also trigger seizures, as can shock from extreme temperature changes or other environmental factors. Poisoning can also cause seizures, particularly if the toxin affects the nervous system.

  • Genetics: Certain breeds, such as terriers and beagles, may have an increased risk for seizure development due to their genetic makeup.
  • Illness or injury: Seizures can also occur when a dog has a serious medical condition, such as kidney disease or a brain tumor. Seizures can also be caused by head trauma or other physical injuries.
  • Medication side effects: Certain medications, including some antibiotics and heartworm preventatives, may cause seizures in dogs.
  • Toxins: Toxins from plants, insecticides and other chemicals can cause seizures in dogs, as well as other health problems.
  • Metabolic disorders: Diseases like diabetes, hypoglycemia and low blood calcium can result in seizures in dogs.
  • Environmental triggers: Changes in the environment or exposure to certain sounds or smells may trigger a seizure.

In some cases, the exact cause of seizures in dogs is unknown – this is known as “idiopathic epilepsy”. If your pup has recurrent seizures, it’s important to consult your vet to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan.

What Are the Symptoms of a Seizure in Dogs?

Common signs and symptoms of a seizure in dogs include:

– Rigid or stiff body posture with or without trembling

– Loss of consciousness and “blank” facial expression

– Salivation, drooling, vomiting, or having difficulty breathing

– Jerking or twitching limbs resulting from involuntary muscle contractions

– Abnormal behavior such as pacing, barking, or hiding

– Incontinence (urinating or defecating during a seizure episode)

– Confusion and disorientation after the seizure has ended.

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, seek medical attention right away. Seizures can be an indication of a more serious underlying medical condition and should always be evaluated by a veterinarian. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most seizure disorders can be managed successfully.

What Should I Do If My Dog Has a Seizure?

If your dog has a seizure, remain calm and call your veterinarian. It is essential that you note how long the seizure lasts and any associated behaviors or activities your dog may have done prior to it occurring. During the seizure, keep your pet away from anything that can harm them such as stairs or furniture. Do not attempt to restrain them or place anything in their mouth.

Once the seizure has ended, keep your pet calm and quiet by placing them in a safe place away from any potential danger. Monitor your pet closely for at least 24 hours after the seizure, paying attention to any unusual behavior or activity. If the seizure persists beyond 5 minutes or if multiple seizures occur within a short period of time, contact your vet immediately.

It is important to know that seizures can be caused by a variety of factors and it is possible for some dogs to have an isolated incident or never experience another episode again. Other times, recurrent seizures may become more frequent over time and require additional medical treatment. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine the cause and best course of treatment for your pet.

Finally, it is always important to keep a seizure diary so that you can track your pet’s episodes over time. This will help your veterinarian get an accurate picture of what is happening with your dog, which will in turn help them develop the most effective treatment plan.

*** If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your pup is having a seizure, stay calm and follow these steps:

– Move sharp objects away from your dog to prevent injury.

– Place a towel or blanket under their head for comfort.

– Monitor the length of the seizure – if it lasts more than 5 minutes, seek medical attention right away.

– Keep your dog in a quiet, dimly lit room until they have recovered fully.

– Speak to your vet to discuss next steps and potential treatments.

What Treatment Options Are Available for Seizures in Dogs?

Treatment options for seizures in dogs depend on the underlying cause, frequency of episodes, and severity of their condition. There are a variety of medications available to manage seizures and reduce their frequency, including phenobarbital, primidone, zonisamide, potassium bromide, diazepam (Valium), gabapentin, and levetiracetam.

In severe cases, surgical procedures may be recommended to remove the underlying cause of the seizure activity, such as a tumor or cyst. Additionally, diet changes can help reduce the frequency of seizures in some dogs by eliminating ingredients that could trigger an episode.

Finally, some owners have found success in trying alternative treatments for their dog’s seizures, such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbal remedies, and aromatherapy. It is important to consult with a veterinarian before attempting any alternative treatments to ensure safety and efficacy. With the proper diagnosis, treatment plan, and follow-up care from your veterinarian, most dogs can live normal lives despite having seizures.

Never too late to start treating your dog’s seizures. With the right combination of medications, diet changes, and holistic treatments, you can help reduce the frequency and severity of your pet’s episodes and keep them happy and healthy.

Are Seizures in Dogs Dangerous?

Yes, seizures in dogs can be dangerous. Seizures are the result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain, and they can affect your dog’s behavior, body movements, consciousness levels, and even breathing. If a seizure lasts longer than five minutes or if your dog experiences multiple seizures within a few hours, it is considered an emergency situation and they should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.

Seizures can cause serious health issues for your dog, including potential permanent damage to the brain or other organs. Seizures may also increase the risk of developing secondary problems such as aspiration pneumonia (caused by inhaling vomit during the seizure), and dehydration or overheating if the seizures are prolonged. 

The prognosis for a dog with seizures depends on the underlying cause. In many cases, seizures can be effectively managed with anticonvulsant medications; however, in some cases, the condition may be progressive and could eventually lead to death. 

Seizures that are caused by metabolic disorders or brain tumors usually have a poorer prognosis. Regular monitoring, prompt medical attention and ongoing care are essential for the best possible outcome. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s advice and not attempt any at-home treatments without the approval of a licensed veterinarian. 

Can Seizures in Dogs be Cured?

The answer to this question depends on the underlying cause of the seizures. In some cases, such as when the cause is an infection or injury, treatment can completely stop the seizures.

In other cases, such as with epilepsy and metabolic disorders, there may not be a cure but medications and lifestyle changes can help manage the seizure activity and reduce its frequency. It is important to work closely with your veterinarian to identify the best treatment plan for your dog and follow their advice regarding medications, diet changes, and lifestyle modifications.

In some cases, surgery may be recommended if the cause of the seizures can be identified and removed. However, it is important to keep in mind that surgery is not always successful in eliminating seizures and can be associated with significant risks. As always, it is important to discuss the pros and cons of surgery with your veterinarian before making any decisions. 

How to Prevent Your Dog from Having Seizures

1. Regular Check-Ups:

It is important to take your dog for regular check-ups and follow the advice of the vet with regard to any necessary treatments or medications. Make sure to set up routine visits for vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, heartworm medication, and other preventative care measures.

2. Healthy Diet:

Feeding your dog a high-quality, nutritious diet is essential for preventing seizures. This includes avoiding highly processed foods, switching to organic ingredients when possible, and supplementing with necessary vitamins and minerals.

3. Exercise:

Regular exercise can help keep your dog healthy and fit, which helps reduce the risk of seizures. As with humans, regular exercise helps keep the body and mind active.

4. Avoid Environmental Triggers:

Certain environmental triggers can increase your dog’s risk of having a seizure, such as loud noises, bright lights, and certain chemicals. Make sure to avoid exposing your dog to these risks and be aware of any potential hazards in your home.

5. Medication:

If your veterinarian has prescribed medication for your dog to help prevent seizures, make sure to keep up with regular doses and monitor any changes in behavior or appetite.

6. Stress Management:

Excessive stress can increase the risk of a seizure for your dog. Make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for your pup to relax and take part in activities that reduce stress.

By following these tips, you can help ensure your dog has the best possible chance of avoiding seizures. With proper care, love, and attention, your pup will be able to enjoy a happy and healthy life.

FAQs Related to What Causes Seizures in Dogs

How many seizures can a dog have in a day?

The number of seizures a dog can have in a day varies greatly from dog to dog. Factors such as the type and severity of the underlying condition causing the seizures, how well the condition is controlled by medication or other treatments, and even environmental factors like stress levels can all affect how many seizures a dog can experience in one day.

Generally speaking, most dogs will have no more than three seizures a day, but this is not always the case. In some cases, a single seizure can last for hours or even days. Therefore, it is important to speak with your vet if you notice any signs of increased seizure activity in your dog.

Are there any new treatments for seizures in dogs?

Yes, there are a few new treatments for seizures in dogs. Many veterinarians are now prescribing anti-seizure medications to help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures. These medications can be used with lifestyle changes or dietary modifications that may also help minimize seizure activity.

Additionally, there is growing evidence about the benefits of using medical cannabis oil or cannabidiol (CBD) to help reduce seizures in dogs. This may be something that you can discuss with your veterinarian if other treatments have not been successful. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these alternative treatments should only be used under the guidance of a trained and licensed veterinarian.

What are the 4 types of seizures in dogs?

Seizures in dogs can be classified into four main types: primary generalized seizures, focal/partial seizures, cluster seizures and status epilepticus. 

Primary generalized seizures often involve the entire body and both sides of the brain, and can include jerking or twitching movements as well as loss of consciousness. 

Focal/partial seizures are limited to one area of the brain, and may cause localized jerking or twitching movements. Cluster seizures are multiple seizures that occur back-to-back within a short period of time, while status epilepticus is an extended seizure lasting more than 30 minutes. 

Treatment for seizures in dogs often consists of anticonvulsant medication, but depending on the cause, other treatments may be necessary as well.

What dog breeds are more prone to seizures?

Several breeds of dogs are more prone to seizures than others. These include Beagles, Belgian Tervurens, Border Collies, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Pood, Saint Bernards and Wheaten Terriers. Although any breed can experience a seizure, these breeds have a higher probability due to their genetic makeup.

What can I give my dog after a seizure?

After a seizure, it is important to give your dog time to recover. This includes providing them with a quiet and comfortable place to rest, free from distractions. You may also want to offer them some extra water and food if they seem interested in eating. If the vet recommends medications or supplements, be sure to follow those instructions as well. Lastly, if you notice any lasting symptoms such as disorientation or fatigue, it is best to contact your veterinarian for further advice.

Are dogs aware when they have seizures?

Yes, dogs are aware when they have seizures. Seizures can vary in severity and duration, but they all involve a change in behavior or responsiveness. During a seizure, your dog may experience a sudden loss of consciousness, uncontrollable shaking or twitching, stiffening of their limbs, drooling or foaming at the mouth, and confusion or disorientation after the seizure has ended.

While they may not experience pain during a seizure, dogs can be aware of the physical changes they are going through and will usually feel scared and confused afterward. It is important to stay calm during your dog’s seizure and provide comfort when it passes, as this will help them regain their composure.

Do seizures damage a dog’s brain?

Seizures can cause physical damage to a dog’s brain, especially if they occur frequently or last for an extended period of time. During a seizure, the neurons in the brain become overly excited and fire too quickly. This overexcited state causes a disruption in the normal electrical flow within the brain and can lead to inflammation, scarring, and even cell death. If seizures are not properly managed, the damage may become more extensive over time.

As a result, it is important for pet owners to consult with their veterinarian in order to develop a management plan that will reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures and protect the health of their dog’s brain.

How much does it cost to treat seizures in dogs?

The cost of treating seizures in dogs can vary greatly depending on the type of seizure and its severity. Treatment for epilepsy, which is the most common form of seizure disorder, typically involves medications such as phenobarbital or potassium bromide.

These medications can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per month, depending on the dosage needed. Diagnostic tests such as blood work and imaging, if needed, can cost several hundred dollars. Additionally, long term monitoring to determine the effectiveness of treatment can also be costly depending on the frequency of visits to your veterinarian.

What not to feed a dog that has seizures?

When a dog is having seizures, it’s important to avoid certain foods, as some of them may trigger further episodes. Foods that should be avoided include chocolate, caffeine and alcohol, as well as any fatty or greasy foods. Additionally, dogs with epilepsy should avoid foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates such as breads, pastas, and sweets. Other foods to avoid are garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and any type of nut. It is also important to avoid any artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes. Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) should also be avoided.


In conclusion, there are a variety of factors that can cause seizures in dogs, including genetics, toxins and viruses, metabolic disorders, liver or kidney disease, head injuries, and even certain medications. While some underlying causes may be difficult to identify and treat, it is important to make sure your pet receives regular veterinary check-ups and treatment for any medical issues that could lead to seizures.

Additionally, it is important to remember that not all seizures are necessarily caused by an underlying medical condition; many dogs experience idiopathic or “unexplained” epileptic events for which there may not be a clear cause.

We hope this post helped you understand about what causes seizures in dogs and more. By understanding the various causes of seizures in dogs and taking proper precautions, you can help ensure your pet stays healthy and happy for years to come.

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To provide you with the expert assistance you need, Vet Ranch with licensed veterinarians can answer your health-related pet issues. For the purpose of sharing knowledge with each other, we have jointly created this website, where you can get useful information from us and also where we expand our knowledge through your comments from you.