Epileptic seizures in dogs: Five guidelines for dealing with a seizure

by Candid Tails on Apr 21, 2022

Epileptic seizures in dogs: Five guidelines for dealing with a seizure

Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder in dogs, with about 0.75% of dogs being affected. Furthermore, epileptic seizures can be as impressive as those seen in humans, with falls, rapid movements and excessive salivation. Although it is a manageable condition, no one likes to see their pet suffer and we all want to be as prepared as possible to handle our dog's epileptic seizures.

Canine epilepsy: what is it?

Epilepsy is a disease that causes recurrent seizures and impairs a dog's well-being and quality of life. In turn, seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain, almost like a storm in your dog's brain. This causes altered movements, behavioural changes, or even changes in consciousness. Canine epilepsy can be of 3 types: idiopathic, structural or of unknown cause.

Epileptic seizures: What causes them?

According to the International Veterinary Epilepsy Task Force, idiopathic epilepsy is the most common epilepsy in dogs and is due to a genetic cause. This means that some breeds are more prone to epilepsy, particularly pure breeds such as German Shepherds, Cocker spaniels, Beagles and Poodles.

Structural epilepsy is due to a diagnosed brain pathology, including vascular, inflammatory, traumatic or even neoplastic defects.

Finally, epilepsy of unknown cause is still a field of study for the veterinary community. Certain metabolic abnormalities, such as low blood sugar or toxin exposures can also cause epileptic seizures.  

Epilepsy in dogs: Symptoms

Like their owners, dogs are also very individual beings. Therefore, the manifestations of a disease, such as epilepsy, can vary. However, it is useful to know the most common symptoms of this condition, as it is our responsibility to take care of our beloved pet and understand what he is trying to communicate. When suffering an epileptic seizure, your dog may:

- Run in circles

- Fall helplessly to the ground

- Have muscle spasms and stiffness

- Make repetitive, rhythmic movements

- Salivate excessively

- Lose consciousness

- Stare at a fixed point

- Drool and self-bite

- Urinate or defecate uncontrollably

Epileptic seizures in dogs: Five guidelines for dealing with a seizure

Watching your dog having a seizure is not a pleasant experience. But bear in mind that they are going through something much worse. As a pet owner, you can educate yourself to stay calm, relaxed and prepared, allowing you to act as quickly as possible in these situations to help your pet. To help you through this stressful time, here are some tips from the American Kennel Club on what to do when your dog is having an epileptic seizure:

- Stay calm.

- Gently move him to a safer place and stay close by; consider petting or gently comforting him.

- Time your dog's seizures. This will provide your veterinarian with crucial information about your dog's symptoms.

- Do not try to grab his tongue, as your dog may bite you unintentionally.

- After the seizure, be sure to visit your vet or call the emergency room. You can also cool off your dog by applying cold water or wet towels, as longer seizures put dogs at risk of overheating.


Always consult your vet for the best treatment for your dog or cats.