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Understanding Dog Seizures: Causes & Treatment

A canine seizure is a rare ailment caused by processes that alter normal brain function. It’s challenging to determine the actual causes in most occurrences thus, veterinarians usually diagnose dogs with idiopathic epilepsy after eliminating all the possible triggers of dog seizures.

Epileptic triggers include:

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  • Kidney disease
  • Poisoning
  • Liver disease
  • Anemia 
  • Traumatic injury
  • Encephalitis 
  • Vascular disease
  • High or extremely low blood sugar

Idiopathic epilepsy affects dogs aged six months and six years. It involves specific breeds, including Labrador, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, Belgian Tervuren, Beagles, and Collies. The dogs exhibit symptoms such as muscle twitching, collapsing, drooling, tongue chewing, loss of consciousness, jerking, and foaming at the mouth. The dog may also fall to the side, poop or pee, or make paddling motions.

Types of Seizures in Dogs

Generalized Seizures

It’s the most common type of dog seizures and often causes the dog to convulse and lose consciousness. The dog develops abnormal electrical activity in the brain, lasting a few seconds to a few minutes.

Focal Seizure

This type of seizure causes abnormal electrical activity in only one part of the brain. The dog develops unusual movements on one side of the body or limb, which may last a few seconds. Sometimes, a focal seizure transitions to a generalized seizure.

Psychomotor Seizure

Psychomotor Seizure causes a dog to engage in unusual behavior and may last a few seconds. Some dogs may chase their tails while others attack an imaginary object.

It can be challenging to distinguish between odd behavior and psychomotor seizures, but a dog with this condition is bound to do the same thing every time they have an episode. Watch for repeated signs or behavioral cues in your dog that are out of normal. Take note and inform you Vet of any unusual repeated behaviors.

Treatment for Canine Seizures

Every seizure treatment plan varies from dog to dog. Your vet will design your dogs seizure treatment based on the severity and frequency of their seizures.

Not all seizures are treatable. Treatment is only effective if the dog has:

  • Experienced more than one seizure a month
  • Grand mal seizures are prolonged and severe
  • Clusters of seizures

Vets often administer medications such as potassium bromide and phenobarbital to treat mild seizures. However, if the dog is non-responsive to the drugs, the vet may recommend combination therapy. As such, apart from taking medication, holistic approaches are also used to treat the condition. They include:

1. CBD Oil

Since CBD is a non-psychotropic component of the cannabis Sativa plant, it provides anticonvulsant properties that reduce epileptic episodes. Seizures affect the endocannabinoid system, which provides a stable environment for routine body functions through homeostasis. During an attack, some internal mechanisms lag, causing an imbalance in the ECS. Thus, CBD for dogs oil restores the balance by attaching to CB1 receptors (found in the brain and nervous system). 

2. Acupuncture

This ancient Chinese treatment has proved an effective way of treating seizures in dogs. During acupuncture, fine needles are inserted into specific parts of the body. Precise placement of the acupuncture needles helps to enhance energy movement. The dog needs a 20-30 minute session once a week for 4-6 weeks for optimal results. In addition to the acupuncture sessions, a vet may prescribe Chinese herbs.

The acupuncture goes beyond helping a dog’s epilepsy. Acupuncture alleviates pain and decrease inflammation. More severe seizure cases will require multiple acupuncture sessions. Some dogs may see benefits after their first acupuncture session.

 3. Adjusting the Diet

Studies show a strong correlation between seizures and food allergies. As such, switching your dog’s diet to home-prepared meals supplemented with organic ingredients may reduce the seizures. Alternatively, your vet may recommend switching to a hypoallergenic diet for a few weeks.

4. Homeopathy for Epilepsy

Seizure management is possible with homeopathic treatments. The remedy involves administering tiny portions of substances that would cause similar symptoms to those you’re treating if given to a healthy animal. However, choosing an effective remedy for dogs with seizures is complex and requires an experienced homeopath. The most common treatments include Aconitum, Belladonna, and Thuja, in case of vaccine-related episodes. 

Dog seizures can be triggered by a change in brain activity. Outside stimulus and environmental triggers may be a factor. Track behavior and actions that occur immediately before your dog’s seizure. Stress and environmental changes can all trigger an epileptic episode. Removing possible triggers may limit the frequency of a dog’s seizures. Work with a pet professional to help discover and eliminate any and all possible “triggers”.

Quality of Life for Dogs with Seizures

Canine seizures can be managed through proper medication and care. Dogs who have seizures can live a normal life, but it’s important to know that dogs with epilepsy do tend to live a shorter life. The better controlled a dog’s seizures are, the higher quality of life they will have and a longer lifespan.


Seizures can only get managed, not cured. A vet visit should help you determine the type of seizure affecting your pet and the remedies available. Sometimes, treating the underlying condition may improve your pet’s condition, but in other cases, anti-seizure medication and natural remedies may be more effective

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