It is important to know how to treat a dog having a seizure. Keeping your dog, and the people in the surrounding area, safe is the goal. Simply put, seizures are typically caused by the neurons in the brain being overloaded by too much activity for some reason, and as a result of that overload of stimuli they start to fire off all at once in a very excited fashion. This abnormal brain activity can occur in just one area of the dog's brain, or it can occur throughout the brain. Seizures in dogs can be caused by a number of factors, including injury to the head such as when a dog is hit by a car. Other causes can be linked to an underlying disease or condition that is triggering seizures. Another potential cause is some type of poisoning. This typically occurs when the dog ingests some type of poisonous substance.
- If your dog is having a seizure, it will usually fall over onto its side. Its legs may move about like it is running, although its movements may be somewhat jerky. Sometimes a dog will urinate, defecate, or vomit during a seizure. Your dog will not respond to your touch or voice. Many times dogs will bark or growl, particularly toward the end of their seizures. Some dogs will look behind them, or at their sides, or give some indication that a seizure is about to occur, although many do not display this behavior.
- It is important to try to stay calm if your dog starts having a seizure. Try to move items that could injure your dog out of its way. For example, move any tables that can be bumped into by your dog during its uncontrolled movements or cords that are attached to appliances that can be pulled down on top of your dog. For the safety of nearby people, keep them, particularly any small children, away from your dog for the duration of the seizure.
- Give your dog plenty of room for unfettered movements. Do not try to hold your dog's limbs still or restrict movements of any kind, unless the dog is likely to hurt itself or a nearby person. In that case, clear a large area so that your dog has a safe area in which to finish its seizure. It is also important to resist the urge to put your hand in your dog's mouth in order to prevent it from swallowing its tongue. This simply does not happen, and when trying to prevent it your dog could inadvertently bite you quite badly due to the involuntary body movements that occur during a seizure.
- After a seizure, your dog might be very tired, and want to rest and sleep for a good portion of the day. Keep an eye on your dog in order to note any residual effects from the seizure, such as confusion or difficulty eating, drinking, or walking.
- If this is your dog's first seizure, schedule a visit with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will want to run a series of tests as well as ask you questions about the period of time before the seizure occurred and your dog's history in order to determine the cause of your dog's seizures. Depending on the cause, your dog might be prescribed an anti-convulsant medication to lessen the severity, duration and rate of occurrence of seizures. If testing indicates that an underlying condition is responsible for the seizures, treating that condition will often lessen, or even halt, the seizure activity.
Many dogs can continue to live long, and happy, lives in spite of having seizures. For most dogs, there is not a noticeable shortening in the life span, although these dogs are more likely to die from injuries sustained during a seizure than dogs that do not have them.