Dog seizures are unexpected and terrifying, even for a pet owner. To see your companion suffer through a seizure without being able to vocalize their feelings can be crippling for even a prepared owner. However, learning more about why seizures occur, what to do and if your dog breed is prone to seizures, like Miniature Schnauzers and others, can help prepare both you and your pet. Gaining knowledge to prepare yourself is the first step towards controlling the seizures.
Dog seizures can occur due to a large number of genetic and physical conditions. The age of your dog when he first experiences a seizure tells a lot about how likely it is that he will suffer one again, how badly and how frequently. Once your pet has suffered a seizure, it is essential to make an appointment with your vet to protect your pet’s health. There are three kinds of seizures—if you come with a description of the seizure, your vet will have a better idea of what the cause is: environmental or genetic.
- Generalized (Grand Mal) Seizures
- Most common form of seizures in small animals
- Uncontrollable stiffness in the entire body
- Animal loses consciousness and control of bladder and bowels
- Partial Seizures
- Muscle spasms or stiffness is focused in one part of the body
- The seizure is “partial” to one area based on the seizure occurring in a particular part of the animal’s brain
- Psychomotor Seizures
- Seizure categorized by the animal involuntarily snapping, howling and moving erratically shadowed by a generalized seizure
In addition to being equipped with information regarding the type of seizure and length, having a reference of how quickly the dog seizures occur is valuable as well. The frequencies with which the seizures occur determine when treatments should begin. If a dog’s seizures occur in clusters or one after another or more than one in a month, you should consult with your veterinarian to protect your dog’s health. However, if you own a German Shepherd, St. Bernard, Irish Setter or Golden Retriever, you should see a veterinarian immediately as these breeds have a history of difficult to manage seizures.
During dog seizures, make sure your pet is in a safe location to “weather the storm”. However, unless they are in a dangerous location, do not move them as it could aggravate the seizure and worsen it. And don’t’ worry about our dog suffocating during an episode, they cannot swallow their tongues.
Once you take your dog into the vet, they will likely conduct lab tests including blood tests to see blood sugar levels, poisons; brain, kidney and liver health and infectious diseases in addition to genetic factors. After determining the cause of your dog’s seizures, there are several treatment options:
- Surgery if there is a brain tumor
- Medication—both long-term and short-term
- There is a wide variety of drugs available to treat the range of seizures that commonly occur including phenobarbital, Clonazepam and others
- Once your veterinarian prescribes medication, ask questions about the side effects as some of them can be significant
Epilepsy and other causes of dog seizures may not be cured, but only managed. An early recognition and treatment of dog seizures is vital in maintaining pet health. Contrary to intuition, younger dogs are more in danger from the dangerous forms of epilepsy. If you notice signs of epilepsy while your dog is young, it is critical to take them to the vet so the medical issues are addressed and your dog becomes as comfortable as possible during examinations and treatment.
An attentive eye and keen observations can help protect your dog against future seizures. A dog seizure can be a scary episode but noting the behavior during, length of, and severity of the instance will help the vet treat and ensure your pet’s health.