What is a Seizure?
A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain causing involuntary contraction of muscles. They are a symptom of an underlying neurological dysfunction. Seizures may be caused by situations within the brain (such as trauma, tumor, or infection) or by situations centered outside the brain (such as low blood sugar, circulating metabolic toxins, hypothyroidism, or external poisons). Most epileptic seizures will occur while your dog is relaxed and resting quietly. It is very rare for a seizure to occur at exercise. Often seizures occur in the evening or at night.

Keeping a journal of seizures and possible seizure triggers will help you identify anything that might contribute to seizures in your dog.

    General phases of a seizure:
  1. Pre Seizure - abnormal behavior possibly lasting for several hours fear, nervousness, disorientation, attention seeking.
    Aura – a short phase of abnormal behavior immediately prior to the seizure. The dog may become aloof or clingy, may appear vacant or twitchy.
  2. Seizure – loss of consciousness, limbs rigid or paddling, salivation, chomping of the jaw, possible urination or defecation.

  3. Post seizure – excited or depressed, pacing, restless, excessive eating and drinking, staggering, apparent blindness

What should I do while my dog is having a seizure?
The most important thing is to stay calm and DON'T PANIC!.

Remember that your dog is unconscious during the seizure and is not in pain or distressed. The seizure itself is likely to be more distressing for you. Most seizures will be very brief. They may seem to go on forever, but the average seizure lasts less than 2 minutes. Looking at a clock and timing approximately how long the seizure lasts will be helpful. By observing exactly what your pet does during the seizure, you may be able to provide your veterinarian or the neurologist with important clues to what is going on, so watch carefully. Make sure that your dog is not in a position to injure himself. Never try to put your hand inside his mouth during a seizure or you are very likely to get bitten.

What should we do after the seizure?
Often they will be hungry immediately after a seizure. If lower blood sugar is suspected as a cause of the seizure, your veterinarian may recommend giving some honey or corn syrup to bring the blood sugar up quickly. Most dogs will appear disoriented and blind for a period up to several hours after the seizure( see below Post Ictal period). Usually just leaving the pet alone and ensuring that they won't injure themselves until they get back to reality is the best approach. Sometimes reassuring words and petting can calm them.

Keep records of seizures
Since your veterinarian or neurologist may not witness your pet's seizures, they will rely on you to provide a description of the episode(s). Accurate records will help them judge the effectiveness of the therapy. Keep a notebook or a calendar where you can document seizure activities. If you can, make a videotape of the episode to show your veterinarian or the neurologist.

When do you seek immediate care?
If your pet has a seizure that has lasted more than 5-10 minutes without stopping, they need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Within 30 minutes of continuous seizing, there is a risk of brain damage, and it will take time to get to your veterinarian or the emergency clinic. Don't confuse the post-ictal behavior (blindness, pacing, agitation, etc.) with the seizure itself. The post-ictal behavior can frequently continue for hours (see below).

Clusters of seizures have a tendency to progress to continuous seizures (status epilepticus). If you pet has 3 or more seizures in a day, they also need to be seen by your veterinarian or the neurologist immediately.

What are the different types of epileptic seizures?

Petit Mal: (aka Absence Seizure) View Video:They cause little uncontrolled movement. this can be a simple as momentarily staring into space, or upward eye movement. We're not sure if petit mal seizures really occur in pets. Most of the seizures that are called petit mal seizures in pets are actually focal seizures. Note: video takes a minute to load.

Partial (focal)Seizures: Movements are restricted to one area of the body, such as muscle jerking, movement of one limb, turning the head or bending the trunk to one side, or facial twitches. A partial seizure can progress to (and be mistaken for) a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, but the difference can be established by noting whether or not a seizure starts with one specific area of the body. Partial seizures are usually associated with secondary epilepsy.

Complex Partial Seizures
: (aka Psychomotor or Behavioral) lip-smacking, chewing, fly biting, aggression, vocalization, hysterical running, cowering or hiding in otherwise normal animals. Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distress, salivation, blindness, unusual thirst or appetite, and flank biting are other signs. There is an obvious lack of awareness though usually not lack of consciousness. Abnormal behaviors may last minutes or hours and can be followed by a generalized seizure. Complex partial seizures are usually associated with secondary epilepsy.

Grand Mal: (Tonic-clonic) View video below: This may occur for 1-3 minutes and is most often followed by a period of restlessness, pacing, bumping into objects and loss of balance. In the grand mal seizure, the tonic phase occurs as the animal falls, loses consciousness, and extends its limbs rigidly. Respiration also stops (apnea). This phase usually lasts 10-30 seconds before the clonic phase begins. Clonic movements include paddling of the limbs and/or chewing. Other signs that appear during the tonic or clonic phase are dilation of the pupils, salivation, urination, and defecation. After the episode is over, he will likely be disoriented for a short time. Note: video takes a minute to load.

(Post Ictal period)View video below:The altered behavior following a seizure (post-ictal behavior) can often be as disturbing as the seizure itself.The dog is conscious but may appear deaf, blind, pace endlessly and eat or drink excessively. Great care must be taken to prevent the dog from injuring itself at this time. after the seizure, the dog may pace endlessly, appear blind and deaf and eat or drink excessively. Note: video takes a minute to load.

Cluster: Cluster seizures are even more serious as they can be life-threatening. Cluster refers to the fact that multiple seizures within a 24-hour period time. You dog will suffer another one before he has had adequate time to recover from the previous one. It is often difficult to distinguish between the Status Epilepticus and clustering therefore veterinarian assistance is imperative. Rectal Valium is extremely useful in breaking cluster seizures. Your veterinarian may recommend giving diazepam (either rectally or orally) or extra oral phenobarbital if the dog is clustering.

Status Epilepticus: Like the cluster variety, status epilepticus refers to multiple seizures within a short time frame. The difference is that they never stop, but occur as one continuous episode. This condition is an extreme emergency and requires veterinarian assistance quickly.


What is epilepsy
How common is epilepsy
How is epilepsy treated
What is a seizure
During a seizure
After a seizure
Keep a record of seizures
Types of seizures
Controlling seizures
Why is blood work done
How to read a lab report
Liver Disease
What does the liver do
What causes liver disease
Signs of liver disease
How is liver disease treated
Why is blood work done
What should I feed my dog
What is a Hepatic support diet
Liver cleansing recipe
Canine Life diet
Commercial food
Wheat free treats
Natural remedies
What is SamE?
How does SamE work?
How much SamE is given?
The benefits of Milk Thistle?
Other important vitamins
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