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How To Help Your Dog Through A Seizure

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on March 5, 2018

Whether your dog has a diagnosed seizure disorder or is experiencing an episode for the first time, it can be difficult to keep your wits about you. In fact, owners often end up doing more harm than good when trying to help their dog through a seizure.

Dr. Pippa Elliott, a veterinarian with 30 years experience, shared her basic rules for protecting your dog and minimizing the effects of a seizure.

Related Post: The 5 Things You Need To Know About Seizures In Dogs

Keep the Dog Safe

Above all else, it is important to protect your dog from injury during a seizure. Many dogs give off physical and behavioral indicators during the pre-ictal phase (before convulsions begin). If you notice signs of anxiety such as whining, pacing, or panting, take the opportunity to lead your dog to a safe location before the seizure begins.

Open, carpeted spaces away from staircases are best. If possible, clear the area of items that may be knocked over and hard, sharp edged furniture that could potentially cause injuries. If your dog is on the couch or bed, lower him to the floor (if it is safe to do so) to prevent a fall. Hardwood or tile flooring can be made more comfortable with old blankets or towels.

Note: Do not attempt to move your dog if the seizure has already begun as you risk being accidentally bitten. If it is not safe to move your dog to a safer location, improvise by padding the area and blocking off potential hazards with cushions and blankets.


Minimize Stimuli

During a seizure, your dog’s brain is flooded with abnormal electrical signals. Any additional stimuli in the form of light, sound or touch can actually prolong its duration.

While it is instinctual to want to comfort your dog, rest assured, he is not in pain and is most likely unaware of the seizure due to altered consciousness. He may bite his tongue during convulsions, but swallowing or choking on the tongue is not a risk.

Dr. Elliott recommends making the room as peaceful as possible by:

  • Removing other pets and humans
  • Turning off the TV or radio
  • Dimming the lights
  • Closing the curtains
  • Not touching the dog
  • Staying calm


Time the Event

Every second of a seizure can seem like an eternity, but in reality, they usually only last a matter of seconds to a few minutes. Veterinarians recommend timing the duration in order to determine if it is an emergency. It may also help to film the seizure on your phone, as it may provide useful information to your vet.


Know When to See the Vet

Most seizures are not life-threatening, but they do indicate a medical problem. If your dog experiences a seizure for the first time or has possibly been exposed to a toxin, seek veterinary attention immediately.

For dogs with existing seizure disorders, vets consider it an emergency when episodes last longer than five minutes or the dog has more than three seizures in a 24 hour period.


Keep A Diary

For dogs with recurring seizures, it can be helpful to keep a detailed log of any seizure-like activity you may observe to help your vet diagnose the problem and/or determine treatment options.

Include information like:

  • The length of each phase
  • What type of seizure activity you observe (convulsions, “fly-biting” etc.)
  • Whether or not bladder or bowel control was lost
  • Behavior before, after and in-between seizures

Learn more about the types of seizures and their causes here.


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Featured Image via Flickr/sherbonbon



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