One of the scariest experiences for a pet owner is when their dog has a seizure in front of them. I know the first time I saw a seizure, I was scared, and it wasn’t even my dog. I wanted to know what to do if I ever saw it happen again.
So, how do you stop a dog from having a seizure? If your dog has a seizure, take a deep breath and move them away from anything they might hurt themselves on. If your veterinarian has given you medication to give, administer it to your dog. You’ll also want to work with your veterinarian on future ways to prevent seizures.
Seizures cause a pet to lose the ability to be aware of their surroundings and respond to things normally. As such, they can hurt themselves by falling down stairs or off of the couch.
Your job is to keep them safe until they’re able to move around like they normally would. These are neurologic disorders that can be caused by a multitude of different factors.
What are Seizures in Dogs?
Seizures in dogs are neurological abnormalities triggered by electrical, chemical, or physical abnormalities within the brain.
The most common cause of seizures is idiopathic epilepsy.
This means that veterinarians don’t know the exact cause of the seizure, and it occurs most commonly in dogs between 1 and 6 years old.
Metabolic abnormalities can also cause seizures, such as low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. This can common in young puppies or in unregulated diabetic pets.
Trauma to the head can cause a seizure, such as if your dog falls down the stairs or gets hit with a baseball when playing fetch.
Brain tumors can also cause seizures, and these are most common in older dogs.
What Does a Seizure Look Like?
Seizures are generally described as convulsions:
- Your pet may fall over and urinate or defecate on himself.
- His limbs may stick straight out while he shakes back and forth.
- His tongue may hang out of his head, and his eyes may roll back into his head.
All of which can be very scary to see.
Some seizures are more localized or less obvious:
- Your dog’s jaw may chomp in what is known as a “bubblegum seizure“.
- He may also stare off into space and not respond (but not convulse either).
Stopping a Dog Seizure
The first thing you should do when dealing with a dog seizure is to stay calm. Panicking will not help your dog and it can cause you or your dog to get injured.
Get your dog into a position where they will not hurt themselves or another person, but be careful:
Seizuring dogs can bite without meaning to.
Time the seizure while you’re trying to help your pet, as your veterinarian may need the information.
If you can get your dog to the veterinarian, do so. Otherwise, make the environment as calming as possible to help keep your pup calm.
If your pet is seizuring for more than a couple of minutes, they may overheat. Putting a fan on and using cooling towels may keep their temperature down to prevent overheating.
Once again, it’s important to get them to a veterinarian, as medication may be needed to stop the seizure and control their symptoms.
Medication to Stop Dog Seizures
If your pet has a history of seizures, your veterinarian may prescribe a medication for you to give to help stop the seizure when it happens.
The most common medication used for this purpose is diazepam, and it is not usually given orally as your pet could bite you or choke on the medication.
Instead, you usually have to give the medication rectally, such as with a suppository.
If you are not comfortable doing this, you need to let your veterinarian know before your pet has a seizure so that you can go over other options.
If your pet has a history of seizures, your veterinarian will likely start him on an anti-convulsant or anti-seizure medication.
There are many different options for this, and your veterinarian may have to try different ones to find one that works best for your pet.
A commonly used medication is phenobarbital.
This can make your dog sleepy and cause him to gain weight. Levels of the medication have to be monitored carefully with regular blood work.
Newer medications tend to have less side effects and include leveteriacetam, or Keppra, and zonisamide. These still need routine blood work to check the status of your dog’s kidneys and liver, but the levels don’t have to be monitored quite as routinely.
CBD Oil for Dog Seizures
CBD oil is a newer method that appears to help treat and prevent seizures.
It’s important to note that this, while made from the hemp plant, is not marijuana. It is also less studied that other methods as it is a newer treatment for pets.
You’ll want to follow the product’s directions for usage.
Many products are used prophylactically to help prevent seizures, similar to anti-convulsant drug therapy. Some can be given when your pet starts having a seizure to try and control it.
It’s important to discuss this medication with your veterinarian to ensure it won’t interact with anything else they’re taking.
CBD oil binds to endocannabinoid receptors in the brain to modulate their effects. The most profound change is on C1 receptors, which are located in the central nervous system.
Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact way that this medication affects pets with seizures, but we do know they don’t help all causes of seizures.
Other Methods to Help Your Dog
There are other things that you can do to help prevent seizures in your furry friend.
Some pets have seizures triggered by external stimuli, events around them such as loud noised and flashing lights.
If your pet is affected by these, eliminating them as much as possible can help prevent seizures from occurring.
How do you know what triggers a seizure?
Another important component of home care is keeping a seizure journal.
This is a log of events that occur around seizures, as well as specifics about the seizures themselves, such as how long they lasted.
It can help you pinpoint triggers, such as your dog getting excited when you come home from work and having a seizure.
Some diets are designed to help prevent seizures in pets.
The primary one is Purina NeuroCare, so this might be something to discuss with your veterinarian.
The food is formulated to help promote brain health, with high levels of medium chain triglycerides and other components that help minimize seizure occurrence.
What can trigger a seizure in a dog? Many things can trigger a seizure in dogs. In addition to metabolic problems, stress and overstimulation can trigger seizures. Some pets have trouble breathing and seizure after getting excited, especially short-nosed or brachycephalic breeds such as pugs.
What to do after a dog has a seizure? After your dog has a seizure, it enters a period known as the post-ictal period. He might be disoriented and confused, so it’s important to keep from disturbing him. It’s always a good plan to take your pet to visit his vet after he has a seizure to check him over.