Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Dog Seizures

Apr 3


Jay Sanders

Jay Sanders

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Seizures in dogs can be a frightening experience for pet owners, but with knowledge and preparation, managing these episodes becomes more manageable. Witnessing my Boxer, Gregory, endure his first seizure was harrowing, but over three years, I've learned to recognize the signs and provide the best care during these challenging times. This guide aims to share insights and strategies to help fellow dog owners navigate the complexities of canine epilepsy.

Recognizing the Signs of a Seizure

Initially,Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Dog Seizures Articles I was terrified that Gregory's violent thrashing could break his legs, or that he might choke or even die during a seizure. However, I soon noticed a pattern to his episodes. They were predictable in frequency, duration, and behavior. Keeping a detailed diary from day one, I observed that Gregory's seizures occurred roughly every two weeks. Each episode typically involved three separate seizures, lasting about half an hour in total, followed by a few hours of restlessness, heavy panting, and increased appetite and thirst.

The onset of a seizure was marked by eye twitching and head rolling, followed by loss of balance. Within seconds, his legs would kick as if running, his jaws would snap shut repeatedly (a behavior known as 'champing'), and he would froth at the mouth, appearing bewildered. Each seizure lasted about a minute but felt much longer, ending with Gregory lying still and panting. After about ten minutes, the panting would cease, signaling another seizure was imminent. This cycle would repeat two or three times, and roughly fifteen minutes after the final seizure, Gregory would begin to recover, although he would remain unsteady for several hours.

Managing Seizure Aftercare

Through experience, we learned to anticipate what to expect before, during, and after a seizure, allowing us to prepare and respond effectively. Three common issues arise for dogs during and after seizures:

Temperature Regulation and Hydration

  • Temperature Increase: Seizures can cause a dog's body temperature to rise, leading to excessive thirst. To manage this, we replaced Gregory's water with ice cubes, which he could lick to cool down without the need for frequent urination.
  • Hydration: Providing ice cubes also helped to moderate his water intake, preventing the excessive drinking that often follows a seizure.

Mobility Support

  • Harness Assistance: After the seizures ceased, we used a sturdy girdle-type harness with heavy fabric slats to support Gregory during his disoriented phase. This prevented him from stumbling, especially when trying to urinate on three legs.

Diet and Weight Management

  • Weight Gain: Medications used to control seizures can lead to weight gain. We combated this with increased exercise, calorie counting, and feeding fat-free meat. Cooking meat and removing the fat layer that forms upon cooling can significantly reduce hidden fats.
  • Dietary Triggers: Some commercial dog foods contain chemicals that may trigger or worsen seizures. We scrutinized the contents of all food and treats, opting for chemical and coloring-free products. Consulting with a veterinarian for dietary recommendations can be beneficial.

Choosing the Right Food

It's crucial to be vigilant about the ingredients in your dog's diet. Some manufactured dog foods are laden with chemicals and colorings that could affect seizure frequency and intensity. By selecting products free from these additives or feeding freshly prepared meat with the fat removed, we noticed an improvement in Gregory's condition.


Understanding and managing dog seizures requires patience, observation, and a proactive approach to care. By recognizing the signs, providing appropriate aftercare, and making informed dietary choices, you can help your dog live a more comfortable life despite this condition. Always consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice and treatment options.

For more information on canine epilepsy and seizure management, visit the American Kennel Club's Canine Health Foundation or the Epilepsy Foundation.

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