Seizures are more often than not unexpected and very frightening. They can happen with any breed at any age, and you may feel like a helpless observer, but you are far from it.
Here are three things you can do to help even as your pet is in mid-seizure:
1. Stay safe and try to keep calm – and let your pet handle the seizure
Your pet will likely be completely unaware of surroundings or even his or her behavior during and immediately after a seizure. This also applies to cats having seizures, but dogs, in particular, can be very anxious, agitated, and even blind immediately following a seizure. Please do not try to hold or pet your animal during a seizure. Even the mildest of pets can seriously injure you even as you try to comfort them.
2. Clear space and calm the surrounding environment
Make the environment as safe and quiet as possible for your pet. Block nearby stairs or other dangers.
3. Take a video
In order to be able to describe what happened to your primary vet, recording a video of your pet's seizure is smart idea. Other conditions, such as balance problems, pain, weakness, and certain behaviors can look like a seizure. Having the video – even a simple one taken with your cell phone – can help your veterinarian discern the difference.
Does my pet need to see the vet immediately after a seizure?
While watching your dog have a seizure is never easy, a seizure doesn’t always mean you need to rush your pet to the emergency clinic, although it’s a good idea to check in with your veterinarian or chatting with Pawp vets if this is a first-ever seizure.
There are two seizure situations that warrant immediate emergency action:
- Status Epilepticus (a seizure lasting over 5 minutes)
- Cluster Seizures (multiple seizures that occur within 24 hours of one another)
In each situation, medical intervention and an overnight hospitalization are often required to stop the seizing and otherwise stabilize your pet.
Why did my dog have a seizure?
By far the most common cause of seizures in dogs is idiopathic epilepsy, which means that no underlying cause can be found for the seizures. Some breeds are actually predisposed to having idiopathic epilepsy due to a genetic cause.
If your pet is diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy, this is actually relative good news since many dogs live an otherwise long and happy life once seizure management programs are in place.
The alternative reasons for seizures are much less common. These include:
- Infectious disease
- Inflammatory brain diseases (encephalitis)
- Metabolic derangements
- Brain tumors
- Often, but not always, dogs with one of these other causes of seizures will exhibit other signs, such as behavior changes, being dull or lethargic, circling, getting stuck in corners, or trouble walking.
How long does it take for a dog to recover from a seizure?
Seizures typically last approximately one to two minutes, although prolonged seizures can occur and require treatment. Once the seizure has ended, dogs will have a prolonged post-ictal recovery period. This period may last up to 24 hours, depending on the individual dog.
As always, you can chat with or video call Pawp vets if you have any questions about why your pet is having a seizure and what you can do to help.