Has your dog been experiencing seizures? The type and severity of seizures your dog suffers from can differ. In this post, our the Pacific Northwest vets explain the different types of seizures in dogs.
Seizures in Dogs
A number of seizures can occur in dogs, and how different types of seizures manifest can greatly vary from pooch to pooch. While there are different classifications of seizures, it’s not unusual for an individual dog to experience more than one type of seizure.
Though seizures in dogs can happen suddenly and without warning, most will last only a short period of time (from a few seconds to a couple of minutes).
Many pup parents worry that their pet will sustain an injury during the course of a seizure. However, contrary to popular belief most dogs experiencing a seizure will not hurt themselves and may not need to visit the vet.
But, keep in mind it is important to contact your vet even if your dog experiences a short seizure, just to have it recorded in their medical history. It’s important that your vet have your pooch’s full medical history on file. He or she can also tell you whether an examination is required.
If your dog’s seizure lasts for more than 3 minutes, or if recurring seizures occur over a period of 24 hours, you’ll need to take an urgent trip to the vet’s.
Contact your vet immediately to notify them that you’re on your way, or visit the nearest animal emergency hospital. At Broadway Animal Hospital, our vets are equipped with in-house diagnostic technology and imaging to diagnose medical conditions and customize treatment plans to your pet’s requirements.
Focal Seizures (Partial Seizures) in Dogs
Partial or focal seizures affect only one specific region of your dog’s brain. Your dog’s level of awareness during the seizure will determine whether it’s a simple or complex event.
While most dogs stay conscious throughout a simple focal seizure, a complex seizure is more likely to result in impaired consciousness.
Symptoms of a Focal Seizure
If your dog is suffering from a simple focal seizure, one or more of these symptoms may appear:
- Specific muscles may contract and relax
- Involuntary movements
- Balance issues
- Signs of changes in vision or hearing
- Dilated pupils
- Hallucinations (growling, barking or moaning at nothing. Your dog may also behave in a fearful manner or bite at the air for no apparent reason
- Fur standing up
Generalized Seizures in Dogs
A generalized seizure often starts as a focal seizure, then evolves to impact both sides of a dog’s brain. During a generalized seizure, your dog will likely lose consciousness. Involuntary defecation or urination may happen.
Types & Signs of Generalized Seizures in Dogs
Different types of generalized seizures in dogs result in movements on both sides of the body and can be classified as:
- Tonic: May last from a few seconds to a few minutes and involves muscle contraction or stiffening
- Clonic: Rhythmic, involuntary and rapid contractions or jerking of muscles
- Tonic-Clonic: Tonic phase, immediately followed by clonic phase
- Myoclonic: Typically occurs on both sides of the body and involves sporadic jerking or movements
- Atonic (non-convulsive seizures, drop attacks): Suddenly causes a dog to collapse
- Status Epilepticus: Either (a) one seizure, more than 5 minutes in duration or (b) multiple seizures over a short period. The dog does not fully regain consciousness between seizures. Contact your vet immediately for advice if your dog experiences a Status Epilepticus seizure. Seizures lasting longer than 5 minutes can be life-threatening.
- Cluster: When cluster seizures occur in dogs, two or more seizures occur within 24 hours. The dog fully regains consciousness between seizures.
Focal Seizure Evolving to a Generalized Seizure
Seizures that evolve into generalized seizures are the most common type of seizures seen in dogs. A focal seizure can sometimes be so subtle or short in duration that even vigilant owners can miss the signs.
If your dog begins to display signs of a generalized seizure, try to remember exactly what your pup was doing before it started. Was he behaving unusually (even briefly)?
The more detailed information you can give your vet about these events, the better. The more your vet is able to find out about what your dog was doing prior to the generalized seizure, the better they will be able to care for your dog and diagnose him or her, as well as determine the potential cause.