Dog Seizures: Common Factors & Prevention
Some dog owners are unaware that dogs can suffer from seizures just like people do… but it’s true – and it’s a terrible thing to witness.
When a dog has a seizure, they often drop to the floor and convulse as if paddling water. It’s a natural reaction for a dog owner to feel frightened and powerless when this happens, so it helps to understand what causes dog seizures and how best to handle this alarming situation.
Risk Factors and Common Causes:
There are many preventable causes of seizures in dogs, but it is important to know that studies have shown a genetic predisposition in certain breeds. These include:
Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dog, Shetland Sheepdog, Finnish Spitz, Keeshond, Belgian Tervuren, Vizsla, Beagle, English Springer Spaniel and Irish Wolfhound.
If the epilepsy is genetic, it normally occurs in the younger years of life – sometimes up to 5 or 6 years old. The cause of these genetic seizures remains unknown. They are diagnosed as idiopathic epilepsy because all other known causes of seizures have been eliminated.
Other causes of seizures in dogs are often the result of certain ailments or diseases like liver disease, kidney issues or brain tumors. Just like humans, brain cancer, strokes, and high blood pressure can also be the culprit of these horrible episodes. If your dog suffers from any of these illnesses, be extra vigilant about keeping your baby as healthy as possible. Even something as small as low or high blood sugar can trigger an episode – so pay close attention to the diet that you’ve got your dog on. The more natural, the better.
Another major cause of dog seizures is poison – and I don’t just mean your dog ate your cleaning supplies. There are many harmful chemicals that a dog’s body will register as poison – many dog owners are unaware of this because they are marketed as safe or helpful products or procedures.
For instance, did you know that the majority of heartworm preventative medications contain toxins that can cause seizures? Flea and tick medications also contain harmful chemicals that have been linked to this issue – as do food additives like some preservatives, colorings and wheat gluten. Vaccinations can even trigger seizures in dogs because of the poisonous toxins that are being pushed into the body.
Often times, these dog seizures are not caused simply from one of these poisonous materials, but a mixture of many. It is common to see dog owners who give their vet recommended heartworm medications as well as the over the counter flea & tick meds, then come home and treat their dogs to biscuits and commercial dog foods – all the while having no idea that they are adding more and more toxic chemicals into their fur babies’ system.
You may be surprised to know there are many natural and alternative treatments available to help with these nuisance problems like fleas and worms – but your vet will likely not suggest them. Just like our own human doctor’s offices, vet practices are approached by sales reps offering the ‘best’ new food or treatment. Ever wonder why the lobby in your vet or doctor’s office only promotes certain brands or treatments? It’s part of the business – sometimes to the detriment of the patient.
So, do some of your own research on these recommended products and procedures.
Also be aware that this list of causes is by no means conclusive. We’ve encountered many dog owners that have otherwise healthy dogs, have never use anything containing harmful chemicals, refuse to over-vaccinate and still find themselves dealing with this issue. In these situations, we have found that nutrition is a key factor – many times it only takes a better diet and natural supplements to greatly reduce or even eliminate the seizures altogether.
How to handle a witnessed dog seizure event:
Seizures are bursts of uncontrollable electricity in the brain and the onset of these episodes can be very strange. Dogs may stare off into space as if they are “dazed and confused” or may even chase an imaginary object before seizing. These episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and are very unnerving. Pay attention to any uncharacteristic behavior and be prepared. It is very important that you stay calm and only try to move your dog if they are in a place that they cannot move freely and might injure himself – do this by gently pulling your dog by his hind legs. Depending on the severity of the episode, it’s also possible for a dog to lose his bodily fluids during a seizure. Putting a cold wash cloth on his paws during this period can also help calm him and cool him off.
When the seizure is over, take the time to comfort him with some extra love and affection – don’t scoop him up and rush to the vet’s office immediately. This has been a traumatic experience for him as well and an emergency car ride can wait. When your dog has calmed down, contact your vet and be prepared to describe the episode – warning signs, the length of episode etc. It’s very rare that a vet can witness a dog’s seizure firsthand so these details can be very helpful.
Many traditional medical treatments for dog seizures can cause lethargy and obesity. Depending on the cause of your dog’s seizures, these side effects may be unavoidable.
As advocates of the body’s ability to help and heal itself through a holistic approach to health, we encourage dog owners to research effective alternative treatments in addition to medical counsel. Addressing the overall health of your dog may just be the prevention or answer you’ve been searching for.
Products Recommended for Dog Seizure Prevention