Seizures are one of the most common neurological disorders in dogs, and can be frightening to witness. A seizure is the result of an abnormal burst of electrical activity in the brain, and can be caused by numerous things (poisons, injury, infections and diabetes).

  Dog lying on floor.
  Seizures are one of the most common neurological disorders in dogs.

Idiopathic epilepsy (seizure of an unknown cause) is most commonly seen in our otherwise healthy pets. It is diagnosed when other causes of seizures have been ruled out.

Recognizing the signs of a seizure is the first step to effectively dealing with them. Typical signs include:

  • falling over to one side
  • convulsions
  • loss of consciousness
  • excessive salivation
  • stiffening and paddling motion of limbs
  • uncontrolled urination and defecation
  • vocalizing

You cannot stop a seizure in the process, but remember to stay calm and try to keep your animal safe. Move them from any sharp corners or areas where they can get hurt; placing a blanket or towel near their head can help to avoid any injuries. Never put your hand near your pet's mouth as they are unconscious at this time and they may accidentally bite.

Most seizures last less than 3-4 minutes. It is important to know that it is uncommon for a dog to die during a seizure, however, if it lasts for more than 3 minutes, take your dog to an emergency clinic or veterinarian immediately. All pets that have experienced a seizure, should be evaluated by a veterinarian to check for any underlying causes and to initiate treatment if needed.

Dr. Alia Habhab ("Dr. Alia") has been working at Animal House of Chicago since July 2013. A recent graduate of Ross University Veterinary School, she finished her clinical year at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in May 2013. Dr. Alia has a special interest in exotic animal medicine.