August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Most seizures last one to two minutes and resolve on their own. If your dog has a seizure for more than two minutes, and/or if there is more than one seizure observed, your dog needs emergency veterinary care.

Signs of Seizures

  • Jerking of the limbs and body
  • Muscle twitching
  • Accidental pooping and peeing during the episode
  • Disorientation (e.g. does not seem responsive to you, seems confused)
  • Inability to stand
  • Profuse drooling

What You Can Do if Your Dog Has a Seizure

  • Check your watch, to record how long the seizure lasts.
  • Keep your dog from hitting his/her head on anything hard like furniture or walls. Carefully move your dog away from those things, and/or provide a barrier with pillows or bedding.
  • Keep your dog away from stairs and from high areas that he/she could fall from.
  • Record additional information about the seizures (whether there was jerking of the limbs or muscle twitching of body parts, whether your dog pooped or peed during the episode, etc.). A video of the seizure may also be useful.
  • Check your household for any evidence that your dog ingested something toxic. Have any plants been chewed on? Did the dog get into any chemicals or medications?
  • If your dog is a puppy, rub his/her gums with a cotton swab soaked with Karo syrup or maple syrup.

Common Causes of Seizures

  • Ingestion of toxic substances (e.g. poisonous plants, medications, chemicals)
  • Idiopathic epilepsy (no medical reason found for the seizures)
  • Canine Distemper Virus
  • Low blood sugar (common in puppies, rare in adult dogs)
  • Brain tumors

Treatment of Seizures

  • A dog actively having a seizure is usually given an anti-seizure medication intravenously to stop the seizure.
  • If the seizures were from a poisonous substance, your dog will likely be treated with intravenous fluid therapy, and may be given activated charcoal by mouth to prevent further absorption of the poisonous substance.
  • If the seizures have happened more than once, and no medical reason for the seizures is found, then your dog will likely be started on oral anti-seizure medication to prevent further seizures.

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