Seizures in dogs both older and younger can be caused by a number of factors ranging from heat exhaustion to epilepsy. Today, our Stuart vets help you to understand more about seizures in dogs.
Our veterinarians understand how upsetting it can be to witness your dog having a seizure. Understanding the causes of your dog's seizures and how to respond to them, on the other hand, may help to make the situation less stressful for both you and your pet.
Seizures in Dogs
A seizure occurs when the cerebral cortex of the brain malfunctions, resulting in a loss of control over the body. Seizures can be subtle or violent convulsions. Seizures in dogs can happen once and never happen again, or they can happen repeatedly.
What causes seizures in dogs?
There are two types of seizure causes, extracranial and intracranial.
Extracranial causes of seizures originate elsewhere in the body but are still able to affect the dog's brain and cause seizure activity. The most common extracranial causes are hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia, hyperthermia, hypothyroidism, liver disease, or ingested poisons such as caffeine, and chocolate.
Intracranial causes of seizures are diseases that cause structural or functional changes in the dog's brain. The most common intracranial causes are genetic epilepsy, brain trauma, tumors, nutritional imbalances, autoimmune disease, or infectious diseases such as canine distemper virus (CDV) and rabies.
What are the signs and symptoms of seizures in dogs?
There are several types of seizures in dogs, and varying symptoms. Some symptoms are more noticeable than others.
Partial or focal seizures only affect a particular region within one side of the brain. Symptoms of focal seizures can include, hallucinations that lead the dog to growl at nothing or bite at the air, hackles standing on end, dilated pupils, or coordination issues. These types of seizures can be difficult to recognize and can often be perceived as strange behavior.
Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain and the most common symptoms are muscle contractions, jerking, or a sudden collapse and loss of consciousness. These types of seizures are more noticeable and will affect both sides of the dog's body.
If the initial seizures are not treated, partial or focal seizures can progress into generalized seizures. As a result, it is critical to pay attention to your dog's behaviors and symptoms. If your dog begins to exhibit seizure symptoms, try to recall what the pet was doing just before the seizure began and notify your veterinarian.
Are there breeds of dogs that are more prone to seizures?
Some dog breeds are more at risk for experiencing seizures:
- Large herding and retriever dogs, including German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Labrador and Golden Retrievers.
- Herding dogs with the MDR1 gene, including Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, German Shepherds, Longhaired Whippets, as well as Old English and Shetland Sheepdogs.
- Breeds with short, flat noses such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, and English Bulldogs.
- Bull Terriers can have an inherited form of epilepsy which causes behaviors such as tail chasing, irrational fear, and unprovoked aggression.
When should I call a vet?
Most seizures are short, lasting only a few minutes, and with proper treatment, your dog can lead a normal life. However, seizures can be a serious health concern and even short seizures could cause brain damage.
If your dog appears to be having a seizure, contact your veterinarian immediately. While not all veterinarians will advise you to bring your pet in for an examination, it may be recommended depending on the severity of the seizure.
Can my dog die from a seizure?
If your dog is having a seizure as a result of poisoning, if the seizure lasts longer than 3 minutes, or if your dog has more than one seizure in a row, contact your veterinarian immediately or go to the nearest emergency animal hospital! Seizures lasting more than 5 minutes may result in permanent brain damage.