Pets & Animal Veterinary Medicine

If a Dog Is Having Seizures What Should I Do?


    • A seizure occurs when the dog's brain begins to rapidly misfire nerves. The nerve signals are overexcited, resulting in muscle tremors throughout the body and skeletal rigidity. This overexcitement of the brain and nerve endings can be caused by several things. It can be idiopathic, meaning of unknown origin, or the result of a toxin, like snail bait that is accidentally ingested. Idiopathic seizures are usually short lived but reoccur, while induced seizures will continue until fatal.

    First Aid

    • For a dog that is seizing due to the ingestion of a toxin, seek medical attention immediately. The tremor will typically not stop without medication. The ongoing muscle tremors can raise the dog's body temperature to a degree that will start to kill brain cells. If left unchecked, the brain will become so damaged the dog can die. Your vet can administer medications to calm the rapid-fire nerves and stop the seizures. The vet will also work to cool the dog as quickly as possible, stopping further damage to the brain. It will often be necessary to hospitalize the dog overnight to ascertain the extent of the damage.

      If the seizure is idiopathic in nature, it will typically resolve within a few minutes. During the seizure, the dog can injure himself by falling on something or inadvertently hitting his head during the tremors. When the dog begins to seize, hold his head so that it does not hit the floor repeatedly. Keep your hands away from the dog's mouth, as he may inadvertently bite you during his tremors. When the seizure begins to pass, calm the dog by petting him and talking to him. Try to keep him on the ground until all neurological symptoms pass. If this is a first seizure or a reoccurring one, contact your vet to discuss a treatment plan. When dogs have a history of seizing, your vet may give you medications to have on hand to administer during a seizure.


    • Idiopathic seizures can often be controlled on medication that is given twice daily. The medications, like phenobarbitol, sedate the brain and lower the seizure threshold. Medication needs to be given consistently and at the same times so that the dog's brainwaves while on the drug remain constant.

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