Seizures in dogs

A seizure is a sudden electrical disturbance in the brain. A focal seizure affects only part of the brain and the dog remains conscious.

A generalised seizure, which is more common in dogs, affects the entire brain, and includes loss of consciousness.

Dogs usually show behaviour signs beforehand and afterwards, which differentiate a seizure from fainting or a dizzy spell.

What are common seizure signs in dogs?

Signs of an impending seizure include:

  • Staring into space 
  • Nervousness, neediness, or other behaviour changes

Focal seizure signs include:

  • Fly biting, or sudden tail chasing
  • Repetitive motions in one part of the body

Generalised seizure signs include: 

  • Falling over, with loss of consciousness
  • Stiffness of legs, or paddling 
  • Urination and defecation
  • Vomiting and salivation
  • Disorientation after the seizure

A dog staring into space, or appearing disoriented, could be a sign of seizure.

How are seizures managed in dogs?  

Ideally, you should pursue diagnostics and specific treatments for any possible underlying conditions that may be causing your dog to seizure. Anti-epileptic medications can be prescribed to reduce the severity and frequency, but may not eliminate seizures entirely. 

Medication is lifelong, and regular diagnostic testing is needed to monitor your dog’s status and prognosis.    

What is the prognosis for dogs experiencing seizures?

The prognosis depends on whether the seizures are idiopathic, or due to a specific cause and your dog’s treatment response. Most dogs will respond to anti-epileptic medication, but some may experience refractory seizures or adverse side effects, and have a poorer prognosis. 

Management tips for dogs experiencing seizures

At-home needs include:

  • Consistency with medications
  • Easy access to food, water, and a safe location
  • Prescription diets and supplements that promote brain function
  • Caution with handling, and avoiding sudden movements, or other stimuli
  • Keeping track of seizure length, time, and day, and taking a video for your vet

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately contact your vet if your dog has a seizure lasting longer than two minutes or has multiple seizures in one day, collapses and does not recover, or vocalises in pain. 

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your dog‘s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. Our services can even be pre-paid to help ease the financial burden at the time of your pet’s passing. 

To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give us a call on 1800 953 619 or visit our website

This article was reproduced with permission from Goodbye Good Boy advisor Dr Dani McVety, of Lap Of Love.