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What is a seizure?

A seizure (also known as a fit) is a sudden short episode of abnormal brain activity that will often involve some loss of body control.

Depending on the type of seizure your dog is having, watching this happen can be one of the scariest things to experience particularly if this is the first time.

A seizure can be caused by a poison, illness or injury.

Your dog may only ever have one in its lifetime or it could be the start of a condition called epilepsy.

What is Epilepsy?

This is a condition that causes regular seizures or fits due to the abnormal activity in the brain. Some can be triggered by the dog's environment such as, loud noises, bright lights, stress and even over excitment.

There is no cure for epilepsy and it is still not clear why some dogs suffer while others don't. The good news is that episodes can usually be well managed with the right medication, addressing any environmental issues and regular check ups.

Unfortunately some breeds of dogs are more prone to go on to develop epilepsy than others. These include; Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, German Sheperd Dog and Irish Setters.

What do seizures look like?

Some dogs may act strangely or out of character prior to a seizure, for example, they may become restless, anxious, stagger and appear disorientated. Some dogs will lay on the ground. The actual seizure itself may be a full blown body convulsion or possibly smaller localised spasms. During the seizure, your dog may also exhibit the following:

  • Trembling

  • Dribbling

  • Whinning

  • Paddling with feet

  • Muscle temours/tense muscle/twitching

  • Wee/poo

A seizure can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. A seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes needs to be seen by a vet as soon as possible. While your dog is experencing a seizure, there isn't actually much you can do except keep them safe and comfortable.

Don't be tempted to place your hands near their mouths as they could inavertently bite you. Contrary to advise given for seizures in humans, dogs cannot swallow their own tongues.

What to do if your dog has a seizure.

  • Call your vet straight away especially if this is the first one your dog has experienced

  • Stay calm (easier said than done, I know)

  • Remove any other pets/children from the room/area

  • Remove any near by objects/furniture so your dog does not injure themselves

  • Turn off any lights/noise (tv, radio etc)

  • Keep your noise to a minimum

  • Open a window to allow good ventilation

  • Time or even video the seizure. This provides vital information for the vet.

  • Do not restrain or even touch your dog

On Recovery

Your dog will probably be dazed and confused on coming around from a seizure. Continue to keep the enviroment cool and quiet. Speak softly and quietly. Follow any advise given by your vet and allow your dog plenty of time to recover before visiting your vet. As with the length of a seizure, recovery times can vary too.

The topic of seizures is just one of many we discuss on our dog first aid courses.


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