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What Causes Dog Seizures?

By September 30, 2020November 5th, 2020Pet Emergency

Dog seizures can be triggered by several factors, including heat exhaustion and epilepsy. Some dogs will quickly recover from a seizure and never experience another. In fact, ‘one-off’ seizures with no apparent explanation are quite common. However, other dogs may continue to experience seizures over their lifetimes. 

What Do Dog Seizures Look Like?

Some canine seizures are more obvious than others, but most are very brief. If your dog is having a seizure, you may notice uncontrolled jerky movements or muscle twitching. However, a seizure could also include unusual eye movements, drooling, and even a loss of consciousness. 

What Causes Seizures in Dogs?

All dog seizures happen because of faulty electrical activity in the dog’s brain resulting in a loss of control over the body. The issues that may trigger a seizure include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Heat Exhaustion
  • Heartworms
  • Liver disease 
  • Tumors
  • Diabetes and low blood sugar levels
  • Thiamine deficiency
  • Infectious diseases such as rabies and CDV (canine distemper virus)
  • Ingested poisons such as chocolate or caffeine
  • Head injuries

Are Some Dog Breeds More Prone to Seizures?

The following breeds tend to be more prone to dog seizures than others.

  • Large retrieving and herding dogs and dogs who have the MDR1 (multidrug resistance mutation) gene, including Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Longhaired Whippets. 
  • Breeds with short, flat noses – Boston Terriers, English Bulldogs, Pugs.
  • Bull Terriers can have an inherited type of epilepsy, which results in behaviors such as irrational fear, tail chasing, and unprovoked aggression.

When to Call the Vet?

Fortunately, most seizures last less than three minutes. However, even a short seizure could cause brain damage. And, if your dog has a seizure that continues for more than thirty minutes, permanent brain damage could result. If your dog has a brief seizure and then quickly recovers, contact your vet and report what happened. Your vet may ask you to bring your dog in for an exam or request that you bring him in if it happens again. Some dogs will continue to have seizures throughout their life due to underlying conditions.

What Is the Treatment for Dog Seizures?

Your vet will run several tests to ascertain why your dog is having seizures. If no definitive cause is found, your dog will be diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. Treatment may include medications and/or keeping a diary to track your dog’s seizures and overall health.

Can a Dog Die From a Seizure?

If you think your dog is having a seizure because of poisoning, if your dog’s seizure continues longer than five minutes, or if your dog has multiple seizures one after another, contact your vet immediately. If your primary care veterinarian is unavailable, rush your dog to the closest emergency veterinary hospital. If you live in or near Columbia, SC, CVETS is here to help 24/7 with a dog seizure or any other kind of emergency situation.