Is My Dog Having A Seizure?

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Because a lot of dog owners do not fully understand how seizures affect animals and how to identify them, they often mistakenly diagnose an attack as merely a canine idiosyncrasy such as whining or pacing. When your pooch cannot tell you that he needs to see the doctor, you have to be the one to know when things are going wrong. Being attentive and educated about the health of your pet is just as vital as those visits to the dog park.

Stages of Seizure

1. Prodome stage. The stage prior to the actual attack. Changes in a dog’s mood can be observed such as display of neediness, excessive panting, pacing, and whining.
2. Ictal stage. The actual seizure itself. Some symptoms include temporary paralysis, loss of consciousness, air-pawing, teeth-chomping, bowel movements, and uncontrollable urination.
3. Post-ictal stage. The moment the dog’s attack is over, he will quickly snap back into consciousness. While the signs in ictal stage only last a few seconds or minutes, here, the symptoms may last for a couple of hours. Behavioral signs may include excessive consumption of food and water, temporary blindness, confusion, drooling, and walking into the wall or objects.

If your dog seems to have suffered from a seizure, seek medical treatment immediately as these can result to permanent damage to his brain. Your vet will be able to diagnose the cause and work with you to determine the best course of treatment.

Common Causes of Seizure

Seizures occur for numerous reasons. Vets will normally recommend various diagnostic tests to find the cause of the problem. This usually begins with blood tests that may lead to advanced brain tests such as MRI, CT, and CSF. The following could likely be the source of canine seizures:

1.       Developmental or structural abnormality
2.       Reaction to allergen or toxin
3.       Systemic disorder such as thyroid disease or liver shunt
4.       Viral or bacterial infection
5.       Brain tumor, benign or malignant
6.       Poor diet and/or reaction to low quality pet food

What to Do

If you believe your dog is having an attack, try to remain calm and keep him out of danger. Start moving any object that may get in the way or may fall on your dog, should he bump into it. Try blocking off stairways and any area that may present safety threats. Never place your hand or anything in or near your pooch’s mouth as you may get seriously injured. Yes, he may bite his tongue, but he surely will never swallow it. In other words, simply try to steer clear of your pet until the attack is over.

How to Manage the Condition

In cases where brain abnormalities are identified, treatment options will vary according to the specific diagnosis as well as severity of the disorder. Luckily, attacks in epileptic dogs can be regulated with dietary changes and/or medications. There are numerous anti-convulsive drugs that your veterinarian may use to prevent seizures. Most vets, however, would not recommend medication if the attacks are mild or if it takes place less than once a month. Like any other drug, these pharmaceutical treatments have side effects. Nevertheless, if they help in controlling your pooch’s seizures, you may find that the benefits overshadow the risks.

Has your dog ever had a seizure? How do you comfort your dog and help him when one happens? Share your tips with our readers!


The following video shows Tanner, a senior Golden Retriever, going through a fairly severe seizure. It may be difficult for some to watch, but Tanner’s human does a great job of remaining calm and describing what is happening while making sure she is safe in her environment. This dog has had extensive veterinary care, but has suffered with seizures throughout her entire life.

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When I adopted my shepherd mix, Molly, from a local shelter 12 years ago, I had no idea the impact she would have on my life. Through Molly, I've learned to be more patient, experienced unconditional love, been alerted to the mailman and every squirrel within a block radius of the house, and ingested enough fur to build 3 or 4 more dogs! When I lost Molly to cancer just a few months ago, I adopted Olive, a 13 week old Golden Retriever. Together, we smile at least a hundred times a day!


  1. my female carin terrier is 14..I am concerned ab h er health..i tHink it may be time to let her Go..She hs suffered more seizure-like episodes in the last month or so..She always acts hungry and thirsty..She has a stranGE behaVIOR OF , TURNING AROUND, AND HIDING HER FACE IN THE CORNER, AS IF AFRAID…iS SHE DYING / HER NAME IS LEXI..PLEASE HELP ME

  2. addendum to previous post on pugs, Bert & Ernie….they were 7 yrs old when diagnosed diabetic..had seemed healthy. both on heartworm med and eating dry packaged dogfood, with some home cooked for treats. their area in yard was never sprayed w/pest control. never any diagnose for epilepsy. no mri or other such equipment available in my large city w/any vets,

  3. had 2 sweet pugs, brothers…both diagnosed diabetic & put on human insulin…(problem is no way to check blood sugar level, as in humans). little Ernie began having seizures, & finally went into coma…died in car on way to vet. vet said he thought Ernie must have had a stroke or maybe encephalitis. i think i had overdosed him on insulin with no way to check how much to give…i think vet just “guessed” at how much i should give. i still grieve for Ernie. brother, Bert, missed & grieved for Ernie…began turning gray haired on his face…and showing symptoms like Ernie….he began walking into walls (clearly blind), peeing wherever he stood b/c he couldn’t find where he needed to go. I had him EU b/c he had no quality life left & he had been so macho & grand, i could not bear to see him go down like Ernie did. i still grieve for both…they taught me what love is more than any human ever did. i am 73 now….they have been gone
    15 yrs. (& p.s….vet would not let me stay with Bert while he was being euthanized..& i never was sure the crematory gave me the correct ashes.)

    • There is no way your vet should have stopped to be with your when euthanized! Did you ask him why? This is so wrong! So very wrong.
      I just had my 14 year od cross border collie mix put to sleep yesterday and my heart is breaking! I was at the vet with my adult daughter lying beside Tyler and the vet was also sitting next to him touching his brown ears. Two young assistants came in and gently and caring shaved his front leg about 2 inches to inset a small tube ( forgot the word), hugged him and left the room. The Dr. gave him 2 needles to put him to sleep. After a while, 10 mnts, he gave him the barbiturate to end his life. He just looked like he was sleeping. So much caring …the vet had a couple of tears and said it never gets easy and looking at Tyler….he said he was sorry! My poor baby had diabetes, he was also blind, almost deaf, had weak hindlegs….it was time. I am so very sorry you didn’t have the same experience. Take care.
      After a while the Dr. told us Tyler was asleep

  4. Thanks for sharing. My peke suffers from a seizure every couple of months, instead of dosing her with drugs that long term could do more harm than good I hold her, say her name in loud calm voice and rub her firmly. She usually comes out of it in 2-5 minutes. I am definitely going to check into white shake dog syndrome, her food and alternative medicine. p.s. I will bet money that is not a child screaming in the background, it is a parrot squawking.

  5. As a person who has seizures herself and also has a dog who has seizures, THAT I CHOSE because it brought me closer to her knowing shed be there for me and id be there for her. it is hard to see any animal going through this. so the TV was on and so what? yes she could have shut it off, but she gave us valuable information that i however did need and it has enlightened me and helped me understand more. I thank tanner for her help with showing us this. However i do wish she did not have to go through it and i wish she could get better but she clearly stated in the video that the medicane had no effect anymore. sometimes its best to let it happen and just be there for the animal. I personally wish we could save every animal and human going through this, but it is not painful while you are going through one. It is painful after. WHICH EVEN AFTER THE MEDICANE it would still hurt. if dogs are the same as humans i suppose. i dont know much about dogs, but i am assuming that it is the same value. When i go through mine i do not feel a thing until afterwards, even if i get meds to help me calm down it is still very painful afterwards. so the fact that she took time and watched her precious dog suffer a little bit to help us out and not be so ignorant should be appreciated! Thank you tanner and the wonderful owner for guiding me and showing me more information.

    I could hardly sit thru that video! I can’t believe YOU ( and ur useless vet) put that poor dog thru that seizure for NOTHING! All you needed to do was rectally administer an amp of Valium! Within 30 secs to 1 minute poor Tanner would have been relaxed and out of pain! You even said your in the medical field… Ya NOT! If u were in the field u would be able to recognize her stages.. Which u clearly don’t! And you also would have a good idea that Valium would have helped!
    You even put her thru the child screeching in the back ground, tv on … Which is extremely bad because of the flickering and flashing of lights… After u said keep everything calm!
    The pain u put her thru!!! So u can make this f’n video! I get u thought it would help first time ” parents” to see what a seizure looks like…BUT, it would only terrify them needlessly! PLEASE either get a better vet or enlighten them , all u need is A VIAL OF VALIUM ! Sorry but it just sickened me to watch you put her thru all this pain and suffering for NOTHING!!! Get a decent vet!
    PS.. My dog lived to 19 years 11 months, seizuring on occasion.. But NEVER, NEVER,NEVER FOR MORE THAN 3 minutes ( which included time to draw up the Valium, remove the actual needle, K Y the small syringe and insert the Valium into rectum)
    I would also like to add , my fur baby passed from old age.. Not from a 15 minute seizure which kills brain cells every time they seizure and especially the length of it!

    • I totally agree with the above comment “You even put her thru the child screeching in the back ground, tv on … Which is extremely bad because of the flickering and flashing of lights… After u said keep everything calm!” My vet told me to turn off all lights & anything that made sounds. That during this time they are the scared to death, because they are unsure of what is happening to them. While at the end of the video you seem to console her, my vet recommended to do that in a soft low voice during the seizure. I could not sit there and just watch her in a seizure without trying to console & comfort her. We do not hold her down either. We gently rub her letting her know we are with her. She sometimes tries to get up, but can not walk well, most of the time she wobbles back in our laps. We have decided against the seizure medicine at this time, due to the side effects of it. She has not gone into the full twitching or Charlie horses, but she has had bowel movements & her eyes get blood shot red. I would suggest that you do like earlier stated, turn off lights & all noises. Instead of holding her down, gently rub her & talk to her more. Hope she gets better. Thanks for the video-

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  12. My Dog started having seizures at age 14. The Vet though she may have a tumor. They were going to put her on some meds although before they did I asked them If I could try something on my own. They said yes of course. I then took her off her flea medicine which was Comfortis and I also took her off her heart worm pills, I then took her off BB dog food and put her on Natural balance LID. Within 1 month her seizures stopped. The Vet could not believe it esp. since my dog had been taking the flea meds and dog food for a couple of years. She is not 16 years old and still no seizures. Thanks GOD.

  13. this is so difficult to watch :( i could not even imagine having to watch my baby go through this… 20 minutes of seizing… i could not even imagine :((( she is lucky to have such great owners who love her so much that they are willing to do everything possible for her!

  14. Our dog Abner began to have seizures a year before his death. He had one a month for six months and then they stopped for the next five to six months. They generally took place in the morning while he was still in his dog bed. Twice they happened before a walk when he was waiting expectantly for the door to be opened. He would freeze in place, his eyes open but clearly not focusing, and his four legs would slowly slide out from under him in four directions like a dog in a cartoon, and he would simultaneously urinate. When it happened in his bed, we could only tell afterward because his bed would be wet. The seizures lasted 10 – 20 seconds. When he came out of it, he would be a little spooked, as if he realized something happened, but he was behave more or less normally. After his first nap following a seizure, he was completely normal. As he was adopted as an older dog, it was suggested we not get an expensive MRI to try and determine the cause. We did know that a few years before he had undiagnosed Lyme disease for some weeks or months before he was admitted to a veterinary hospital and started with anti-biotics for a full two weeks. After his last seizure he was normal, though we could tell by his behavior that his back was hurting him, either from encroaching arthritis or from neurological damage from the Lyme disease. In October, he went off his food and seemed ill. He was admitted to our Vet’s where they gave him intravenous fluids and some steroids and appetite enhancers, which helped him rally, though we were told that it seemed old age had caught up with him at last. We had a glorious final month with him where we hugged, kissed and spoiled him the whole time. He was getting intravenous fluids every few days from the Vet, and he was close to normal afterward. Finally on the Sunday a month to the day that he had been admitted to the Vet, he seemed weak and sick. We resolved to end his misery the next day, but later that Sunday he had another seizure, his last. He made a odd sound, and it happened in the middle of a dry bowel movement (something he would NEVER have done in the house). We rushed him to the Vet, and he was put to sleep in our arms. His eyes had been open, and he’d blinked occasionally, but as with his other seizures, he didn’t seem to hear or see us. It seemed he had a final stroke, just as an elderly human might have.

  15. We have an adorable 14 yr old Shitzu Malt x and of late she has been wanting to go to the garden every 5 minutes or so and keeps this up for an hour or more so I’m wondering whether it could be diabetes and should I take a test strip of her urine? She is on special dietary food which consists of tinned food and pellets which are very expensive but she sometimes regurgitates the dry food or totally rejects it? She is quite blind and becoming deaf, but has not experienced a seizure to our knowledge. Can anyone suggest what could be causing this behaviour?