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Seizures in Dogs

While uncommon, one of the situations that you may experience with your dog is seizures. There are many different types of seizures that your dog may experience and they all vary in severity and length. Today, our Citrus Heights vets discuss what seizures are and the different types of seizures in dogs.

What are Seizures in Dogs

If your dog experiences a seizure, it can come on very unexpectedly and can last for a varying amount of time. some seizures may only last seconds while others can last minutes.

There are many different types of seizures that your dog could experience and it is possible for your dog to experience more than one type of seizure. Not only that but how each type of seizure affects individual dogs can also be very different.

While you may find yourself concerned with your dog potentially hurting themself during a seizure, the odds of them hurting themself is highly unlikely. Nonetheless, if your pup has a seizure it's important to contact your veterinarian to let them know. While some seizures require urgent veterinary care many do not.

Simple & Complex Focal Seizures in Dogs

Focal seizures in dogs, also called partial seizures, only affect one half of the brain, and within a particular region of that half. When focal seizures are diagnosed, they will either be described as simple or complex, depending on your dog’s level of awareness during the seizure. During a simple focal seizure dogs usually remain conscious, whereas dogs typically lose consciousness during a complex focal seizure.

Signs of a Simple Focal Seizure in Dogs

Focal seizures in dogs can be difficult for pet parents to spot since these seizures often present as strange behaviors. If your dog is experiencing a simple focal seizure  your pet could display one or more of the following signs:

  • Hallucinations (Your dog may bark, growl or moan at nothing, bite at the air or behave fearfully for no apparent reason)
  • Signs of vision or hearing changes
  • Fur standing up
  • Dilated pupils
  • Specific muscles may contract and relax
  • Balance problems
  • Involuntary movements

Generalized Seizures in Dogs

A generalized seizure occurs within both sides of the dog's brain. These seizures often begin as a focal seizures then evolve into a generalized seizures. Typically, dogs experiencing a generalized seizure will lose consciousness and may urinate or defecate while unconscious.

Types of Generalized Seizures Seen in Dogs

Where focal seizures only affect one specific region on one side of the dog's brain, generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain and are characterized by movement on both sides of the body. Different categories of generalized seizures include:

  • Tonic: Muscle contraction or stiffening
  • Clonic: Involuntary rapid and rhythmic muscle contractions or jerking
  • Tonic-Clonic: Tonic phase followed immediately by a clonic phase (see above)
  • Myoclonic: Sporadic jerks or movements on both sides of the body
  • Atonic: Often called 'drop attacks' these seizures will sudden cause the dog to collapse
  • Cluster: Two or more seizures within a 24-hour period with the dog regaining full consciousness between seizures
  • Status Epilepticus: Either a single seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes, or a number of seizures over a short period of time without regaining full consciousness between each seizure. If your dog suffers from a Status Epilepticus seizure call your vet immediately for advice. Seizures lasting longer than 5 minutes can be life-threatening.

Focal Seizure Into Generalized Seizure

Focal seizures which develop into generalized seizures are the most common type of seizures seen in dogs. The focal seizure which begins the episode is often so short or subtle that the signs are missed by pet parents.

If your dog has a generalized seizure, try to remember exactly what they were doing right before the seizure began. Was there an unusual behavior right before the seizure? Provide your vet with a detailed explanation of what your pup was doing before the generalized seizure occurred. The more information your veterinarian has, the better able they will be to diagnose the type of seizure your dog had and its possible cause.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog has suddenly started to experience seizures, contact our Citrus Heights vets at Family Friends Veterinary Hospital to have them assessed immediately. 

New Patients Always Welcome

Family Friends Veterinary Hospital is happy to accept new patients! Our vets are passionate about improving the health of Citrus Heights companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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