Seizures in older dogs and younger dogs can be caused by several factors ranging from heat exhaustion to epilepsy. Today, our Greenbrier-Springfield Animal Hospital vets help you to understand more about seizures in dogs.
Our veterinarians are aware of how upsetting it can be to witness your dog having a seizure. To make the situation a little less stressful for you and your pet, you might want to learn more about the reasons behind your dog's seizures and how to handle them.
Seizures in Dogs
Seizures can be very mild or they can result in violent convulsions when the cerebral cortex of the brain malfunctions, losing control over the body. Dog seizures can happen just once and never happen again, or they can happen frequently.
What causes seizures in dogs?
There are two types of seizure causes, extracranial and intracranial.
Extracranial causes of seizures come from outside the brain, but they can still have an impact on the dog's brain and result in seizure activity. The most frequent extracranial causes are liver disease, hyperthermia, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia, hypothyroidism, and ingested toxins like caffeine and chocolate.
Intracranial causes of seizures are diseases that cause either structural or functional changes inside the dog's brain. The most common intracranial causes are genetic epilepsy, trauma to the brain, 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 may progress into generalized seizures. As a result, it's critical to pay attention to the behaviors and symptoms of your dog. Try to recall what your dog was doing just before the seizure started if your dog starts to show signs of a seizure, and call 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.
It's crucial to notify your veterinarian right away if your dog exhibits symptoms of a seizure. While not all veterinarians will advise it, depending on how severe the seizure is, an examination may be advised.
Can my dog die from a seizure?
If you think your dog might be experiencing a poisoning seizure, if the seizure lasts longer than three minutes, or if your dog has multiple seizures in a row, go to the closest emergency animal hospital! Seizures that last longer than five minutes may seriously harm the brain permanently.