Brain Disease in Dogs: Seizures, What to do at Home

A seizure is a result of disease in dogs characterized by a brief disturbance of brain function thatBrain Disease in Dogs: Seizures, What to do at Home is sudden in onset, ceases spontaneously, and has a tendency to recur.  Most seizures are generalized and involve the loss of consciousness and severe involuntary muscle contractions.  Active jaw motion, salivation, pupil dilation and urinary or fecal excretions are common.  Partial seizures vary from limited limb activity to episodic behavioral changes and can become generalized.  Click here to learn more about the different types of seizures. Most seizures are of a short duration and do not require immediate treatment.  However, many people who witness a seizure in their pet panic, as the event is very stressful and shocking to pet owners.  Most pet owners panic and do not know what to do.  Fortunately, since most seizures resolve spontaneously, if an owner allows the seizure to follow its normal course, usually no long term ill effects will result.  Seizures are an emergency situation when they are continuous in nature, a condition called status epilepticus.  Click here to learn about the phases of a seizure, so that you will better know what to expect if your dog has one.

Factors that constitutes an emergency seizure disease in dogs.

Status epilepitcus, meaning continuous seizures, is an emergency situation in which there is usually no time for an extensive diagnostic work-up.   This is a state of continuous seizure activity lasting longer than 30 minutes or repeated seizures with impaired consciousness, as the rate of seizure episodes does not allow time for an animal to return to consciousness.  Other guidelines that suggest seizure disease in dogs are an emergency include: a seizure lasting longer than 5-10 minutes in duration, if a dog has more than one seizure per hour for 3 consecutive hours, regardless of length; or if the dog has more than three seizures per day, regardless of seizure length.  In any of these circumstances, a pet owner should make every attempt possible to seek the help of a veterinarian immediately.

What pet owners should do at home for seizure disease in dogs.

If your dog has a seizure at home, the best thing to do is not panic and to call your veterinarian’s office.  Avoid getting too close to your dog’s mouth as you may get bitten.  Owners may fear that their dog might bite his/her tongue or swallow his/her tongue and have trouble breathing.  Rarely do issues related to the tongue cause problems for the dog and it is more likely that an owner will be bitten and severely injured if they get close to the dog’s mouth.

If you are concerned about your dog hurting itself, consider throwing a large blanket, pillow or light mattress over the dog to help protect the dog and to help protect you from getting bitten.  If the dog is in an area where he/she could injure his or herself, such as falling down stairs or into a pool, try and move the dog away from the dangerous area, using the animal’s tail end or rear legs to drag it to a safe location.  Try not to restrain the dog too much as muscular activity is normal with seizure disease in dogs and restricting that activity could cause injury to the dog.  If there are objects near by that could injure the dog, try and move them away.

If the dog appears to have continuous seizures (status epilipticus) lasting more than 5-10 minutes in duration, the seizure could be life threatening and getting your pet immediate care is extremely important.  However, this is not a common problem and is more likely to occur in animals that have ingested some toxin or an older animal with a disease in dogs (metabolic or cancer condition) that is causing the seizures.

After the seizure, the dog will often be disoriented.  Try and keep the dog in a quiet peaceful environment with few items that can cause injury to the animal.  If the dog has never had a seizure before, make arrangements to have him seen by a veterinarian.  Seeking appropriate medical advice for seizure disease in dogs can be very successful in controlling your dog’s seizures.  If he/she has been diagnosed with seizures and is being treated by a veterinarian, follow the doctor’s advice, and click here to learn more about what you can do at home.

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Dr Stephen Atwater

Stephen W. Atwater, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (oncology) is a board-certified veterinary oncology specialist. His professional interests include utilizing emerging therapies for difficult to treat cancers.

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