6 Causes of Dog Seizures: Signs And Prevention

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Dogs are some of our greatest companions and valuable extensions of the family. As a result, when our lovable friends experience severe issues like seizures, it can be hard to know what to look out for or even to see what you can do for them.

What we may not realize is what can cause our beloved pets to have seizures, and unfortunately, while we can prevent a lot of the causes, we can’t avoid them all. In this article, we’ll take a look at different reasons that can spur on a seizure in your dogs and what to look out for when your dog starts seizing.

What Are The Signs of Dog Seizures?

Knowing the signs of a seizure is an excellent way to recognize that there is a problem long before the actual seizure begins. Symptoms of a seizure can start up to several hours before the actual seizure begins.

Your dog may appear anxious, whining and searching for the comfort of you or another family member. During the actual seizure, your dog’s symptoms can vary from case to case. Typical signs include:

  1. Jerking or spasms
  2. Drooling
  3. Foaming at the mouth
  4. And a loss of bladder control

While it’s not painful to experience, your dog will be understandably confused and scared by the experience. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian about what to do and how to handle a situation if your dog ever experiences a seizure again.

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What Trigger Dog Seizures?

For something to qualify as a trigger for your dogs’ seizures, the event had to have occurred within 30 hours of your dog’s attack. The only exception to this rule is if a vaccination happens to be the source of the trigger, which can affect your dogs up to 45 days after the vaccine administration.

Environmental triggers include pesticide sprays, extreme temperature changes and plants could also create triggering responses. Changes in routine can cause seizures in dogs; examples include something as simple as feeding time changes, new work schedules, and even changes in walks could set off a seizure.

Extreme weather conditions could add triggers to your dog. Flashing lights from lightning or loud sounds associated with massive storms have affected dogs in the past and the nervousness that comes with it and other scenarios.

Eating poison

It’s not as simple as eating things that we know to be poison. Dogs are unable to eat a lot of different things that humans can eat, in fact, many of the things that we try to feed our dogs are not safe for them. There are over 100,000 cases of pet poisoning in the U.S alone, and many of those cases are accidents.

The number one position that most dogs get a hold of every day is prescription medication. While they may be alright for people to take, a dog’s body weight and anatomy are not good matches for the dosing. Antidepressants are the ones that are the most likely to create seizures if your dog gets ahold of them.

Keeping your medicine off of the floor and out of reach is the best way to keep your dog safe from eating it by accident. If you ever suspect that your dog has eaten a prescription medication, get them to a vet immediately to be evaluated.

People food is another bad thing for your dog to ingest. Chocolate contains methylxanthines which induce vomiting and darker chocolate in larger concentrations can cause seizures and death. Other things like the following can cause serious problems:

  1. Avocados
  2. Grapes and raisins
  3. Macadamia nuts
  4. And xylitol – A sweetener found in candy

Plants are another substance that contains poisons for dogs. Sago palms, in particular, have been linked to seizures in dogs as well as vomiting and even liver failure. It’s important to study up on things that could potentially cause problems for your pets, and try to keep them out of your dogs reach to prevent poisoning.

Liver Disease

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Liver disease is a nasty issue, and if your dog is experiencing seizures one of the leading causes behind that could be liver disease. Changes in their behavior and appetite are one of the main signs that people see in their dogs. Aside from that, vomiting and lethargy are also strong indications.

When your dog experiences seizures or extreme cases of behavior illness, your dog may be suffering from a more extreme example of a liver disease which requires immediate veterinary care.

Treatment is all dependant on the cause of the liver disease. Some cases are much easier to work with than others, and as a result, different treatment options may come recommended for your dog.

Electrolyte Problems

Electrolyte disturbance in dogs, or otherwise known as hypophosphatemia, is an imbalance found commonly in dogs who suffer from diabetes. While that’s not the only qualification that can land your pup with hypophosphatemia, other common factors play in on why your dog is having these issues in the first place.

Seizures are a common symptom that occurs when a dog is dealing with the early onset of hypophosphatemia. Other symptoms include uneven heart rates, muscle pain and weakness, lethargy and more. If you notice strange behaviors with your dog that seem to raise the alarm, it may be time to see a veterinarian about treatment options.

If your electrolyte disturbance is related to an ongoing problem such as diabetes, then the treatment will be a lifelong process with no visible signs of a cure. Causes such as vitamin D deficiency are more likely to have happier endings where your dog is expected to make a full recovery.


If your dog has seizures that are accompanied by pale gums, vomiting, weight loss, or a heightened respiratory rate, your dog may be displaying signs of anemia. Anemia is a condition where there is a noticeably lowered count of red blood cells which could be the result of blood loss or reduced production of red blood cells.

While your dog can get anemia at any age, it’s a more common problem in older dogs. It’s important to recognize the symptoms as early as you can and have a vet analyze your dog if you feel like your dog is suffering from anemia, as other diseases can directly cause anemia in dogs.


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While strokes and seizures have their similarities, strokes caused by blockages that prevent blood flow to the brain are one type of stroke, while the other is when an artery has broken, and there are signs of dramatic loss of blood.

Seizures, however, are a result of an electrical imbalance in the brain and muscles. Strokes can cause seizures in people as well as dogs, and if your dog is at risk of a stroke, it’s best to consult your veterinarian about care and signs to look out for.

Some of the more common signs of a stroke in dogs are signs like:

  1. Sudden inability to walk
  2. An exaggerated head tilt
  3. Falling to one side
  4. Strange behavior
  5. Unconsciousness

These symptoms can seemingly come out of nowhere and affect your dog within moments. Veterinarians have stated that strokes more commonly occur in older dogs who are already suffering from a disease that enhanced the risk of blood clots like diabetes and heart disease to name a few.


There isn’t much evidence that supports why certain dogs are more prone to epileptic episodes than others. While epilepsy can develop at any age in a dog, the risk of developing it increases up until six years of age. Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to seizures than others as well, such as the following are all commonly plagues with epileptic episodes.

  1. Australian and German shepherds
  2. Beagles
  3. Collies – standard and border
  4. And labrador retrievers

While the risk is higher in these breeds, you can offset the possibility by adopting mixed breed dogs instead of a purebred dog. Even if you have a purebred dog that hits the list, you shouldn’t immediately assume that your dog is going to have problems.

Only one in 200 cases involve epilepsy issues. So even if the chances are higher because of the breed, your dog is not necessarily at greater risk of experiencing them.

When To See A Vet

While it’s overwhelmingly apparent that many of these scenarios should spur you into taking your dog to the vet, but your dog may only have a one time fit and never have another seizure again. It’s recommended that if your dog has more than one seizure a month, or if your dog has a series of seizures in a row, then you should take your dog to the vet for treatment options.

Depending on their triggers, environmental or otherwise, your pet’s veterinarian will be able to prescribe medication based on this information to help. While your dog is experiencing a seizure, it’s best to avoid touching them until they have finished because there’s the danger that they may accidentally bite you without realizing it.

Instead, you’ll want to be around your pet and speak words of encouragement. If his seizure is lasting longer than normal, place a fan on his body to cool off the core temperature and apply ice water to the pads of his paws. Doing this keeps the seizures from causing brain damage, an unfortunate complication.

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