What would you do if your pet had a seizure right in front of you?

Like people, dogs and cats can get seizures.  They can get them from when they are very young, or not have their first till a couple of years old … or older.

The first thing to do is to recognize a seizure.  This is probably the hardest part of the whole experience.  Not all seizures are alike, but they are all terrifying to watch your pet go through.  Here are some of the things to look for.

  • Falling over
  • Paddling  or jerking of limbs as if swimming.
  • Jaw movements like chomping or grinding of the teeth
  • Pupils in both or just one eye may appear dilated and unresponsive as if unaware of the surroundings. Staring or altered vision. Or eyes darting back and forth in rapid eye movement
  • Frothing at the mouth. Begins salivating or drooling.
  • Stiff or rigid joints
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • involuntary urinating or defecating.
  • violent shaking.
  • Muscle twitching or slight shaking of a limb, lose control of hind quarters.
  • Vocalization through growling, whining, barking or whimpering.

So imagine you see your lovable, active, friendly pet suddenly take on some or all of these symptoms.  SCAREY and thinking what on earth is going on with my buddy!!!

What is going on is a disruption in brain activity – the signals are getting crossed for some reason or another – it could be poisons, skull injury, brain tumor, viral and bacterial infections, congenital malformations, heat stroke, parasites, fungal infections, low blood sugar (diabetics), and so on.  Once the seizure is over your vet will do a complete physical exam and blood work which will either confirm or eliminate these possibilities.

  • Stay calm – your pet feels your upset and anxiety and this will not help them.
  • Keep your hands away from their mouth.  Involuntary jaw chomping, chewing and clenching can cause serious injury and then you are no good to your pet at all.
  • Talk to your dog in a calm and loving voice, soothing them.
  • Time the seizure – this information will be helpful to the vet.
  • Although tempting do not try to help them through it, there really is nothing you can do.
  • Do not attempt to give them food or water try and coax them to get up.

Once the seizure is over it may take a short time (10-15 minutes) up to several hours for your pet to appear “normal” again.  It is important to keep a log of the following information to take to your vet.  This should include, what your pet was doing before the seizure started, how long it lasted, what symptoms you observed and how long after the actual seizure did your pet appear normal again.  Your vet will do the necessary tests to find out what may have caused the seizure.   If there was a specific reason for the seizure your veterinarian will treat the cause, hopefully eliminating any further episodes.  If no specific reason was found for the seizure it is unlikely that your veterinarian will put your pet on seizure medication right away, instead asking you to keep a journal and keep them updated.

So what did we learn today – Seizures happen, they are terrifying, keep yourself and your pet safe during the seizure, provide your vet with as much information as possible.

We have witnessed several dogs having seizures, some on a regular basis, others occasionally, it is not nice and it is even worse knowing there is nothing you can do to stop it or help your pet while you they are going through it, but your calm and steady presence will help them.

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