Dog Health

Seizures in Dogs: Types, Causes and Symptoms

Seizures in Dogs: Types, Causes and Symptoms

Seizures in Dogs: Types, Causes and Symptoms

If your dog has ever had a seizure, you’ll know that it can be a scary experience for both you and your pet. Dogs suffer seizures for a variety of different reasons, and the most important thing is to identify the exact cause so you can get them proper treatment.

In this article, Pedigree looks at types of dog seizure and what owners can do if their pet suffers one.

What is a seizure?

A seizure is a neurological condition that causes your dog’s brain activity to be temporarily disrupted. Also known as a fit, a seizure causes your dog to momentarily lose control of their limbs. If your dog suffers repeated seizures, they may have epilepsy. With epilepsy, seizures may occur multiple times over a certain period. 

Seizures can happen at any time and may appear to be completely random. However, they can also be caused by changing brain activity; for example, when your dog is playing, eating, or waking up. 

Causes of seizures in dogs

There are several reasons why your dog might have a seizure. These include:


  • Epilepsy
  • Eating something poisonous
  • Head injuries or brain tumours
  • Low blood sugar
  • Heatstroke
  • Parasites

It is believed that some breeds are more likely to suffer from seizures, and epilepsy may even be hereditary. 


Symptoms of dog seizures


If your dog has a seizure, it will probably be obvious that something is wrong. These are the common symptoms:


  • Staring
  • Losing consciousness
  • Losing control of bodily functions, e.g. the bladder
  • Jerking muscles/limbs, or paddling legs
  • Falling over
  • Paralysis
  • Foaming at the mouth


If your dog is going to have a seizure, there will likely be certain signs that you can use to identify a potential fit before it happens. These include seeming worried, nervous, or restless, accompanied by drooling, shaking, or confusion.

What to do if your dog has a seizure

When your dog has a seizure for the first time, it’s understandable that you might panic. However, the important thing is to remain calm. Despite how they look, seizures aren’t painful – the only thing you might need to worry is your dog banging into furniture or knocking something onto themselves. Try to gently move items of furniture away from your dog, or gently move them away from any nearby stairs. Don’t be tempted to touch your dog’s head, or put something in their mouth, as they could bite you without meaning to and give you a nasty injury. Dogs can’t choke on their tongues, so there is no need to try and prevent this from happening. Instead, talk to your dog throughout and reassure them.

You should also do your best to time the seizure. If it lasts longer than a few minutes, your dog risks overheating, so you’ll need to cool them down by putting a cloth soaked in cold water on their paws or using a fan. If you can, take note of anything else you notice, including the lead-up to the seizure itself. If your dog has more than one seizure, how much time passed in between each?

After the seizure is over, your dog may seem confused and wobbly on their feet. Sometimes dogs can bite themselves during the seizure, which may cause some bleeding to the mouth. You should take your dog to the vet immediately and report exactly what happened, especially if the fit surpassed five minutes. 

Treatment for dog seizures

Your vet will give your dog a thorough check-up and do tests to determine the exact cause behind the seizures. Once you have a diagnosis, your vet will advise the best treatment plan for your dog. Some seizures can be treated using medication; however, medication will usually be given only if your dog has regular or severe seizures. 

Your vet will instruct you on when to give your dog their medication, the correct dosage to use, and any potential side effects. Never stop treatment without consulting a vet first, even if your dog appears to have stopped having seizures.