Canine Seizures

Canine seizures may be caused by epilepsy, or other health problems involving different organs such as the kidneys, liver, or the brain. This page explains the states of a grand mal seizure and a partial seizure. It also looks at the possible causes, symptoms, and treatment of seizures in dogs. Natural remedies can be used to control and manage seizures.

Canine Seizures Seizures are frightening not only to the dog having the seizure attacks, but to the owner as well.

If your dog unfortunately has problems with seizures, be sure to consult a veterinarian to find out the underlying cause(s).

Very often, when the underlying cause is addressed and dealt with, the dog will no longer suffer from seizures.

Before we look at the causes, lets look at the different states of a seizure.

A dog can have a generalized seizure or partial seizure.

Generalized Seizures

Also known as "grand mal seizures" or "tonic-clonic seizures", a generalized seizure has three states:

  • Aura: The first state is the "aura" which happens before the seizure itself. A dog in the aura state usually has some noticeable changes in his behavior.

    For example, the dog will become anxious and restless; he may look scared and may even cry out.

  • Seizure: The seizure itself happens immediately after the aura state. The seizure usually consists of two phases - the "tonic" phase and the "clonic" phase.

    In the "tonic" phase, the dog becomes unconscious and collapses with rigidly extended limbs. This may last for 10-30 seconds.

    Then the "clonic" phase begins with a "running or paddling in place" motion, sometimes accompanied by drooling, chomping, or chewing. The dog may also lose control of his bowels.

  • Post-Seizure: This is the state when the dog regains consciousness but remains disoriented. He may stumble into a wall or walk into furniture. This state may last for minutes or even hours.

Partial Seizures

Also known as "focal motor seizures", this type of canine seizures involves only one area of the dog's body, e.g. a limb, or one side of the dog's face may be affected.

Partial seizures can be either "simple" or "complex".

  • Simple Partial Seizures: This type of seizures affects the area of the brain that controls movement. Typically, one side of the dog's face is affected, resulting in twitching or blinking. The dog is usually alert and conscious.
  • Complex Partial Seizures: This type of seizures affects the area of the brain that controls behavior. Therefore, a dog suffering from a complex partial seizure may show abnormal behavior, such as unprovoked aggression, or irrational fear.

    The dog may be running around hysterically, biting his limbs, or smacking his lips.

Possible Causes of Canine Seizures

There are many varied dog illnesses that can cause a dog to have seizures, it is therefore important to consult a vet for a proper diagnosis.

Some possible causes include:

Additionally, according to some veterinarians, a dog being constantly choked by a neck collar can develop seizures.

The reason is that, the first cervical vertebra (C1) in dogs articulates with the brain stem. If the neck is choked by a collar, there will be increased pressure in C1 which puts increased pressure on the brain stem. This can lead to a seizure. Therefore, choke collars can pose a danger to puppies and dogs.

Also, if you tether your dog outside most of the day, use a harness instead of a collar to prevent your dog from running out the length of the leash and being choked by the collar.


Idiopathic Epilepsy and Glutens

According to Dr. J. Symes, a veterinarian who has spent a great deal of time researching the relationship between glutens and canine illnesses, idiopathic epilepsy in some dogs may be caused by gluten intolerance (celiac disease). Be sure to visit this page for more information.

Symptoms of Canine Seizures

Immediately before a seisure, the dog may be:

  • anxious or frightened
  • restless
  • extra "clingy" to his owner

During a seizure, the dog may:

  • have violent muscle contractions
  • lose motor control
  • faint
  • lose bladder or bowel control

Here is a video clip that gives an overview of the causes, symptoms, and treatment of canine seizures:

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Handling a Dog in Seizure

Here are some of the things to remember when handling a dog during an epileptic episode:

  • Do not try to restrain the movement of a dog in seizure since he may injure himself during violent convulsion if he cannot move freely.
  • Keep your hand away from the dog's mouth to avoid being bitten inadvertently by the dog.
  • Protect the dog's head from hard or sharp objects by removing the objects if possible.
  • Try speaking to the dog softly to ease his fear and anxiety.
  • When administering homeopathic remedies to a dog in seizure, rub the remedies on the dog's ears. Do not give the dog any pills or liquid in the mouth as he will choke on them.

Conventional Treatment

Anticonvulsant drugs such as phenobarbital are the conventional medication for dog seizures. These drugs may be effective in suppressing or stopping a seizure, they are however ineffective in dealing with the underlying cause(s).

If your dog has more than one grand mal seizure a month, then drug therapy is justified. However, tests should also be done to try to identify if there is a root cause.

Side effects of phenobarbital are rare but may sometimes occur in some dogs, which include increased thirst, urination, and appetite.

Also, sometimes potassium bromide is given in combination with, or in place of, phenobarbital for dogs who do not respond well to phenobarbital.

Natural Remedies for Canine Seizures

In addition to conventional treatment, consider using natural seizure remedies (e.g. herbs, dietary change and supplements, etc.) to help manage and control the condition.