As a dog owner, there are few things more terrifying than watching your pooch have a seizure. Unfortunately, canine seizures are all too common, affecting up to 5.7% of dogs. While it may be scary to see your dog have a fit, you may not need to worry. Many seizures are harmless, one-off events. Not sure whether your dog's seizure is a cause for concern? Try conducting your own diagnostic test with these 3 questions.
Is it actually a seizure?
It's only natural to be a 'panicky parent' to your fur-baby. Many dog owners mistake harmless trembling for a seizure. Luckily, it's easy to tell the difference. During a seizure, your dog will lose control of their body – they'll convulse uncontrollably, and they may even pee, poop, or salivate. A dog who is simply shivering will be in full control – they'll respond to your voice and they'll be able to make eye contact. While shivering can be caused by illness, it's not usually something to be concerned about. Most dogs shiver because they're scared, cold, or seeking attention.
How long does it last?
Seizures can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Unsurprisingly, a shorter seizure lasting a few seconds is less likely to be a serious concern than a longer seizure lasting up to 5 minutes. You should also note how often your dog is having seizures. A one-off seizure is usually harmless, but more than one seizure a month could require medicinal treatment. The most dangerous seizures are ones that last more than 5 minutes, and ones that are "clustered" together (one after another). Severe seizures like these can cause brain damage and even death, so in these cases it is a vet emergency and you should consult an emergency vet as soon as possible.
How old is the dog?
Seizures are generally more of a concern for older dogs than younger dogs. In puppies less than one year of age, seizures are usually caused by brain anomalies like hydrocephalus, or illnesses and diseases. While inherent abnormalities are impossible to control, serious illnesses like parvovirus and canine distempter are easily prevented by vaccination. In an older dog under 5 years old, the primary cause of seizures is Idiopathic Epilepsy (a seizure disorder with unknown causes). With the help of anticonvulsant treatments, dogs with this condition can live a healthy and happy life. In dogs over 5 years old, seizures are often caused by more dangerous illnesses like tumours or degenerative conditions. Seizures in older dogs warrant medical attention as soon as possible.
Regardless of the relative cause for concern, it's always a good idea to consult a veterinarian if your dog has suffered a seizure. Even if there's nothing to worry about, seeing a vet will give you peace of mind, as well as a head start at catching any serious health problems.
When you have a dog or a cat, they become a treasured part of the family, and you don't want to leave them at any cost. This is true even if you move or travel abroad. Hi, my name is Katie, and I traveled with my dog for nearly 10 years before his passing one year ago. I loved every moment we had together, but I also learned a lot of important things about the type of veterinary care travelling animals need. If you want to learn about veterinary care or tips for travelling animals or just in general, I invite you to explore my blog.