Seizures in dogs : Know the Signs, Causes and What you can do

Seizures in dogs

You are playing with Coco, and suddenly, your happy-go-lucky dog seems shaky and confused. Within seconds, Coco flops to the floor and looks like she is treading water. Sadly, Coco is having a seizure. Seizures in dogs can be a terrifying and disturbing thing to watch. However, being aware of the signs and causes can help you comfort your dog and handle the situation appropriately.

Why do seizures happen, and what can you do? Read on to know all about seizures in dogs.

What is a seizure or epilepsy ?

One of the most common conditions veterinarians see in neurology is seizures.

In simple terms, a seizure is a sudden and temporary disturbance in the normal brain function which usually causes uncontrollable muscle actions. This outburst of abnormal electrical activity takes place between neurons (also called brain cells or nerve cells) in the front part of the brain called the cerebral cortex.

The term ‘seizure’ is often called a ‘fit’ or ‘convulsion’, and repeated episodes of a seizure is described as an ‘epilepsy.

When a dog has epilepsy, the seizures can occur in singles or in groups, many times in a day at regular intervals, or they can be unpredictable and infrequent.

A seizure affects the brains and can cause twitching or a change in sensation, such as a strange taste or smell.

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Seizures in dogs symptoms

What do seizures in dogs look like? Since a seizure tells us that there’s a problem with the brain, so the symptoms looks like there’s a problem within the brain.

A dog having a seizure may fall and seem dazed, confused, disoriented, or look like they are staring at something that actually isn’t there. Other seizures can cause a dog to twitch, shake, tremble, wobble, and become unconscious and unaware of what’s going on around it.

Seizures in dogs can include these symptoms:

  • Collapsing
  • Jerking
  • Stiffening
  • Muscle twitching
  • Drooling
  • Chomping
  • Tongue chewing
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Paddling motions with legs
  • Poop or pee during the seizure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Disoriented 
  • Temporary blindness
  • Walking in circles
  • Bump into things
  • Hiding in corners
  • Seeming needy or attached to you

Every dog is different, so is every seizure. Additionally, a seizure may last somewhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

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What causes seizures in dogs

There are many factors that can trigger seizures in dogs. These factors can be present outside or inside the brain and cause a seizure to occur, or can be immediate. The three categories of why seizures happen in dogs include these factors.

External Factors

The first broad category is something that is outside of the brain that secondarily (indirectly) affects the brain to cause a seizure. Scientifically, these factors are called extra-cranial or metabolic causes.

These include:

  • Low blood sugar
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Toxins

Internal Factors

The second broad category of causes of seizures is something physically wrong inside the brain. Some neurologists call these intra-cranial or structural problem within the brain.

The examples of causes that are inside of the brain affecting the brain to cause a seizure are:

Idiopathic Epilepsy

Idiopathic Epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in dogs. An idiopathic seizure happens when the first seizure comes on between 1 to 5 years of age.

Usually, idiopathic seizures are generalized, which means they are whole-body seizures. These seizures are known be an inherited disorder.

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Share this very informative article with all the dog lovers out there.

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