There are many causes that may make a dog begin seizuring. Epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in dogs, but a dog having a seizure does not guarantee the dog is epileptic. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that involves frequent and sudden seizures that affect a dog’s sensory or muscular functions causing twitching, which is usually severe. Other causes may be canine distemper which usually affects younger dogs, genetics, a brain tumor, Lyme disease (transmitted from the deer tick), head injury or environmentaltoxins.
When our Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix was three years old he started seizuring. There were no early signs that something was wrong with him. He seizured for the rest of his life, sometimes often, sometimes going almost a month without a seizure attack. While seizures themselves are usually not life threatening, some causes can be, such as brain tumors.
Medications for Dogs That Seizure
The medication was a true life saver for our dog. The week before we were able to get him to the veterinarianhe was seizuring up to five times a day. The medication took about two weeks to start taking full effects and he was seizuring during that time also.
The first time he seizured weren’t at home but came home to a large mess of poop and pee and a horrible smell and we weren’t aware that a seizure had taken place. After the first seizure he didn’t seizure again until two weeks later. This was the first time we actually saw it happen, and at that time we had no idea what was happening. We thought he was dying. After about three minutes he quit shaking. He laid there for a minute, then slowly got up. You could tell he was disoriented. He stumbled while he walked and had a strange look in his eyes. Temporary blindness may also occur in a dog that has just seizured.
We called the veterinarianand set up an appointment for the next week. They did complete blood count and blood chemistry panel work hoping that would tell us why our dog started having seizures. The blood work unfortunately didn’t have any conclusions. He also didn’t have a brain tumor. Our trip to the veterinarianleft us with no answers to the cause of the seizures. It did however get our dog on Phenobarbital. Once on the medication he went from seizuring at least daily to once a month or so.
Phenobarbitalhas many side effects including weight gain and severe liver disease. We had to give our dog two pills of Phenobarbitaldaily. If we missed one he was likely to seizure within the next few days.
What Its Like When Your Dog Seizures: During the Seizure and Afterwards
A seizure in a dog can happen at any time. There usually is not any pre-seizure signs that a seizure may happen soon, although your dog may whine for a few seconds to a few hours. All at once your dog will fall on his side and start violently shaking his body and a more extreme shaking of the legs. It is scary to watch. The dog may or may not make whimpering sounds.
You do not need to hold your dog’s tongue while they are seizuring like you would a human’s. It’s best that you stay calm during your dog’s seizure. Dogs can sense a human’s emotions, including fear, and being overly fearful, yelling for someone to come help, or crying yourself may just intensify your dog’s fears.
Your dog will defecate itself. They lose control of their bowels and sometimes salivary glands during seizure attacks. If your dog is a male the pee will spray out. Your dog may poop. They may foam or drool at the mouth excessively. The combined smell is terrible and is hard to clean off of fabrics or carpet. It cleans easily on hard surfaces such as tile.
Adapting Our House to Life With Unexpected Dog Seizures
When our dog first started having seizures he always defecated during them. As he got older, even though the seizures became more frequent he no longer pooped during them. The smell and mess was still terrible, along with the effects the seizures had on our dog after the seizures.
The smell was bad when he seizured. We have carpet throughout our house. Since our dog could seizure at any time without any signs beforehand we had to move him into our large kitchen blocking off the rest of our house with a baby gate. Although the solution was not ideal, it was better than giving him to an animal shelter or locking him outside in the yard.
There were many times when he would seizure multiple times during the day, while we were at the store, right as we come home and are unloading the groceries, or in the middle of the night. It is a hassle to clean up, especially when you wake up at 3 am and smell the stench. It has a distinct and unmistakable smell. Then of course you have to bathe your dog as the mess will be all over them.
Seizures in Your Dog as They Age
As our dog got older the seizures became more frequent even with increased amounts of medication. They also started to last longer. When we first put him on medication the seizures went from multiple times a day to about once a month. As he got older he was lucky to go one week without a seizure. There were times he would seizure twice in a day, or once a day but two days in a row. The amount of time that he was disoriented after a seizure also increased from just a few minutes to about ten minutes. Although the seizures were a hassle to both us and our dog, they didn’t lower his quality of life.