Seizures in Dogs: Causes and Symptoms of Dog Seizures

Canine seizures are abnormal occurrences and may be a sign of a serious illness. When dogs experience this condition, it is prudent to consider visiting the veterinarian in order to diagnose the causes and provide the necessary treatment. Fortunately, most dogs respond to medication and allow them to live productively without any complications.

Seizures in dogs are caused by a surge of electrical activity in the brain. It is broadly classified into 2 categories - Generalized and Focal (or partial) – depending on the nature and location of the electrical activity. Generalized seizures involve an upsurge of electrical activity everywhere in the brain at the same time. Focal seizures, on the other hand, involve only a certain portion of the brain.

Generalized seizures are further categorized into Major Motor seizures (or Grand Mal) and Absence seizures (or Petit Mal). The Major Motor seizure is what we generally identify as a classic seizure and is identifiable by the following:

-          The pet falls to his side, loses consciousness, and kicks erratically.

-          While he remains unconscious, he may whine, drool, empty his bladder and bowel, or even discharge his anal glands.

-          Afterwards, he may begin a rhythmic movement involving his jaws and legs.

When the dog recovers, he may be temporarily disoriented, weak, or even exhibit blindness for several minutes. The generalized seizures normally last only for about 2 minutes.

Focal seizures affect only certain portions of the body and normally originate from the area of the brain that controls movements (Simple Focal seizures) or emotions and behavior (Complex Focal seizures). Simple Focal seizures generally affect only the face and may start off as a twitching of the lips and mouth or of the eyelids. It may spread down to the limbs on the same side where the facial twitching started and may cause buckling of the legs. In Complex Focal seizures, the dog may exhibit unusual or bizarre behavior like running around in circles or engage in repetitive actions. Sometimes, bodily functions may be affected. While Focal seizures may last only in a short while, it sometimes lead to Generalized seizures

There are instances when the dog experiences seizures that exceeds more than 5 minutes or seizes repeatedly within a 24-hour period. Should this happen, he should be rushed immediately to the veterinarian for medical intervention as this may indicate a more serious underlying illness.

There are several causes of seizures. The most common condition is epilepsy which affects 2%-3% of cases. Other causes may be head injury, brain tumor, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, distemper, renal diseases, and hypo- and hyperglycemia.

To help the veterinarian in diagnosing the dog’s condition, it is important for the owner to take note of the symptoms and the behavior of the dog before, during, and after the seizures. Tests and procedures will be conducted by the veterinarian in order to establish the true cause or causes of the condition. Luckily, advancements in human medicines, especially in diagnostics, can now be used on pets.

It is important to remember that seizures in dogs should be taken seriously. There are no home remedies available for the condition and only the training and experience of professionals can help in pinpointing or even stopping the condition. With your help, your pet can enjoy a better, happier, and safer life.

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