Dog seizures can be frightening eventsfor anypet parent. Whether you have just welcomed home your first pup or you’ve been a pet parent for many years, it is important to know what to do if your dog experiences a seizure. Petco can help you find answers, whether you are seeking advice on managing your dog’s newly occurring seizures or need new ways to approach your dog’s long-occurring seizures or epilepsy.
There are different types of seizures that can affect dogs, including neurological grand mal, focal, psychomotor or idiopathic seizures. No matter the type of canine, whether you have a new or old dog, seizures can strike in nearly any pet—but certain breeds are more susceptible. Some of the more susceptible dog breeds are German Shepherds, Border Collies and Beagles.
Common dog seizure symptoms can include the following:
- Foaming at the mouth or excessive drooling
- Repetitious chewing and gnashing motion
- Muscle twitching
- Urinary and bowel incontinence
- Limb stiffening and jerking body movements
- Falling over and inability to control limbs
- Lack of awareness of surroundings, unresponsive to stimuli
If you suspect your dog has suffered a seizure, immediately seek out veterinary services and emergency care—particularly if your pet has an episode lasting longer than a few minutes or is experiencing multiple attacks in succession.
How do I know if my dog is having seizures?
Seizures are one of the most common issues pet parents might face when it comes to the neurological health of their dog. When your pet has a seizure, they may drop to the floor and suffer a fit of convulsions. Other telltale signs that your pup is suffering from a seizure include a temporary loss of control over brain and motor function, as well as muscle spasms or tremors. If you notice your dog staring blankly, becoming imbalanced or unsteady, drooling or becoming rigid, your pup might be about to experience a seizure. Rhythmic barking and repetitive muscle movements can be some other dog seizures signs.
If your dog is prone to seizures, these episodes can occur at any time. You may see dog seizures during sleep, while waking up or when your dog’s brain is shifting activity.
What causes dog seizures?
Several factors can cause dog seizures, including:
- Genetic disorders, including those common in certain breeds
- Brain tumors
- Brain damage or trauma
- Exposure to toxins
- Liver failure
- Electrolyte or blood abnormalities
- Severely low blood sugar
- Liver shunts
There have also been reports of tonic Lyme disease seizures in dogs who have recently contracted the illness from tick bites. Lyme disease can spread throughout a canine’s body and affect numerous systems—including the nervous system.
As a pet parent, it can be heartbreaking to imagine your dog suffering such intense neurological episodes. Consulting your veterinarian is the best way to understand why your pup may be experiencing seizures. Since there can be a wide range of causes for dog seizures, treatment is usually determined after physical and neurological screening tests.
How do I help my dog with seizures?
One of the most important things toremember when your dog is having a seizure is to calmly keep them away from sharp objects, furniture and stairs. Reduce stimuli as much as possible—turn off the lights and do not pet or talk to them. It is hard to resist comforting your pet during a seizure, but it can prolong the episode. Dogs do not typically experience pain during seizures, and they often bounce back much more quickly than humans who suffer from this condition.
Excluding a dog’s mini seizures, regular episodes can sometimes last more than three minutes. If your pet experiences multiple seizures within 24 hours—also referred to as dog cluster seizures—call your vet for an emergency visit. It is important to monitor the time, length and date of the seizure, any objects your dog hit and any unusual characteristics of the episode. If you are able to catch a video of the seizure, that can be very helpful to your veterinarian as they work to get to the bottom of the cause.
Can dog food have an effect on seizures?
You may be wondering what, if any, dietary changes you should make to help treat dog seizures. After all, switching to a veterinary diet can be helpful for other health conditions and a good way pet parents can be proactive. According to a study published in the National Institute of Health, scientists foundthat a ketogenic diet can be a great tool for managing both human and dog seizures. The high-fat, low-carb diet calls for moderate protein and has been used to force dogs into a state of ketosis—using mainly ketone bodies instead of glucose for cell energy.
The study—which included 21 dogs—showed that seizures were significantly reduced over three months in dogs fed a ketogenic medium-chain triglycerides diet. Dogs fed standard diets saw no reduction in episodes over the three months. A separate case study shows that an increase of omega-3 fatty acids reduced seizures by 85%. The studies conclude that a high-fat ketogenic diet—directed and monitored by licensed veterinarians—had a generally positive result on dogs suffering from seizures.
It’s not recommended that you change your dog’s diet without first consulting your vet. It could be that medication for dog seizures or medication in addition to dietary management may be more appropriate for your pup’s condition.
What are the best dog foods for dog seizures?
Consult your veterinarian before altering your dog’s regular food to implementa keto diet. At Petco, we offer a variety of high-quality ketogenic dog foods that may work well in combination with other treatments for dog seizures.
When discussing with your vet whether to provide specialty homemade foods orother possible diets for your dog, also consider the long-term time commitment or cost associated with those changes.
What is the treatment for dog seizures?
There are several different treatment plans for dogs experiencing seizures. The kind of treatment or medications your vet prescribes will depend on various factors, including the severity and frequency of your dog’s seizures, any concerns unique to your dog’s current health, potential side effects, drug interactions with current medication or supplements, cost of a treatment plan and your dog’s breed, age or other circumstances.
Some of the most common medications prescribed for dogs with seizures are zonisamide, levetiracetam, phenobarbital and potassium bromide. These are all different types of anti-epileptic drugs—or AEDs—that can be used alone or in combination and are available in injectable or oral forms. You can find many of these medications for dog seizures in Petco’s dog pharmacy. Your vet may adjust the regimen of your pet’s medication over time to find the dosage and schedule that are the most effective.
It’s important to keep in mind that the management of dog seizures can be a difficult, long-term process. Most dogs who experience seizures don’t become 100% seizure-free, and some are drug-resistant and don’t respond to these prescribed treatments. It’s vital that you take your pup to the vet right away at the first instance of a seizure. They will do a full evaluation, and you may even be referred to a veterinary neurologist for further testing. Prolonged seizures can be life-threatening, and if left untreated, the seizures tend to worsen over time. However, by working with your vet and following an AED therapy protocol, you can help reduce the chances of a life-threatening seizure happening in your dog.