(PET CARE/DOGS) Many pet guardians misdiagnose a dangerous seizure as simple canine idiosyncrasy, like pacing or whining, because they don’t understand how seizures affect animals and how to spot them. When your dog can’t tell you he/she needs a visit to the doctor, you have to be the one who knows when things are wrong.

Being diligent and educated about your pet’s health is just as important as those trips to the dog park. Ciara Black is a Global Animal contributor from the Dog Help Network, a resource for dog health related websites.

Read on to learn about how seizures affect dogs, and what you can do to help. — Global Animal

How can you tell if your dog is having a seizure? Photo Credit: Matthew Collingwood, Dreamstime
How can you tell if your dog is having a seizure? Photo Credit: Matthew Collingwood, Dreamstime

By Ciara Black

A seizure is described as an abnormal burst of activity in the brain. Some seizures in dogs may last a few seconds, to a few minutes, some even last hours at a time. There are four main types of seizures in dogs:

  • Generalized seizures
  • Focal seizures
  • Cluster seizures
  • Status epilepticus

Although seizures may affect any dog at any time, there are some things to keep in mind. About 70% of dogs between the ages of 1 and 6 will suffer from a seizure at least once. This may be caused by an unknown illness and may be a one-time occurrence, or may be a life-long ailment that requires medical attention. There are a number of different health issues that may cause seizures, including brain disorders such as worms, canine distemper and heat stroke.

Stages of a canine seizure:

The severity of a canine seizure depends on different symptoms you may witness. There are a few different types of seizures, but most display similar signs and progress in stages. Keep an eye out for the following signs during the different stages of a canine seizure:

Prodome stage – This is just before the actual seizure. You will notice a change in your dog’s mood or behavior. Some changes include neediness, pacing, excessive panting and whining.

Ictal stage – This is the actual seizure itself. Symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the seizure. Most seizures only last a few seconds to a few minutes, and anything over five minutes long must be discussed with your veterinarian. Some signs of a seizure include losing consciousness, temporary paralysis, teeth chomping, pawing the air and uncontrollable urination and bowel movements.

Post Ictal stage – Once your dog’s seizure is finished, your dog will instantly snap back into consciousness. However, the symptoms of the post-ictal stage may actually last for a couple hours. Some behavioral signs may include excessive water and food consumption, confusion, temporary blindness, walking into objects or walls, and drooling.

If a seizure lasts more than five minutes at a time, or your dog suffers more than one seizure in 24 hours, it is important to seek medical treatment from your veterinarian as soon as possible, as these cases may cause permanent brain damage.

For more information about seizures in dogs, epilepsy, heat stroke and more, visit www.seizuresindogs.net.