Are Seizures in Dogs Common

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Are Seizures in Dogs Common

by Scott LeRoy

Few people expect to see seizures in dogs, but they are just as susceptible as humans, and can get seizures for a variety of different reasons, from disease to canine epilepsy. Just as in humans, it can be difficult to recognize dog seizures. Look for the following:

? The appearance of choking (be careful ? reaching down his throat for the suspected blockage can result in his jaws snapping shut on your arm)

? Abrupt behavioral changes from relaxed to head shaking, air-batting, fly-catching (when the dog snaps in the air as if at a fly). This may signify the beginning of a seizure, and is likely to be a pattern.

? Tremors, excess drooling, a loss of balance, whining, and spontaneous urination

? Violent convulsions, foaming at the mouth, contortions, uncontrolled urination and/or defecation, scrambling paws, and loss of consciousness

? New symptoms at seizure end like blindness, loss of bladder/bowel control, deafness, confusion, and fear.

The best thing you can do during dog seizures is observe. Move anything that could harm your dog out of reach, and don?t put anything in his mouth. Write down his symptoms, and how long the seizure lasts. If the canine seizure lasts longer than five minutes, immediately seek emergency veterinary care.

While noting his symptoms, comfort him ? put your arms around him, or have him sit on your lap. A towel wrapped closely round him may be comforting as well. Don?t let him outside or assume that since the canine seizure?s over he?ll be fine; calm him until you don?t see any symptoms (this can be an hour or more) and call your veterinarian immediately for further advice. Seizures in dogs can be deadly.

Treating Seizures in Dogs

Dog seizures come from many sources, including epilepsy, distemper, and diseases associated with deer ticks like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. If you have an older dog who has never had a seizure before, it may indicate a brain tumor or injury, even months after an accident.

The most likely first step in diagnosing canine seizures is an MRI; have your veterinarian also do a spinal tap to test for diseases.

If you live where deer ticks are common, be sure your dog is dipped every year. Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which are spread by these ticks. Especially with outdoor dogs, regular grooming and checking for ticks are also good preventive steps.

Distemper is more serious, but more often found in young puppies that have not been immunized. There is no cure, but antibiotics can treat complications. Dogs with distemper must be isolated from other dogs. It is easily spread through direct or human contact.

Another common cause of seizures in dogs is environmental toxins, from poisons to rotten garbage to plants. Chocolate is the most common environmental toxin for dogs, partly because they will insist on eating it. But just as with children, you should keep all poisons out of reach of your dog, including houseplants. Be sure he?s not nibbling on yard plants besides grass; many trees and weeds can also be poisonous to dogs. If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, call your vet immediately.

Repeated seizures in dogs usually indicate canine epilepsy. This is caused by uncontrolled brain activity, and results in a wide variety of behaviors. A key difference between an epileptic seizure and a poison-induced one is that epileptic dogs ?paddle? their feet, while poisoned ones have stiffening instead. Dogs who have seizures just before eating may be hypoglycemic instead.

If you notice any odd behavior, changes in appearance or anything out of the ordinary with your pet, consult a veterinarian immediately. It's always better to be safe than sorry, and most health conditions can be treated effectively. The sooner you seek medical help, the better off you, and your dog, will be.

Scott LeRoy is the owner of several dogs and an animal lover and researcher. He is a regular contributor to Dog Supplements, a section of Dog Health Problems & Care, a site focusing on conventional and natural treatments of canine health concerns.

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