seizures in dogs

Key takeaway

While seizures in dogs are fairly uncommon, they may be a sign of a serious medical problem. Seizures in dogs may have several causes, including poison, liver disease, trauma, and encephalitis. Treatment options include medications your vet may prescribe. If your dog has a seizure, it’s important to see a veterinarian right away.

Seizures In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment 

When you’re a pet owner, seeing your dog have a seizure is one of the scariest possible experiences. Most people aren’t equipped to handle seizures in dogs, and you may not even know why your dog is having a seizure. However, it’s important to understand when you’re dealing with a dog seizure and what you can do if your dog has a seizure.

Seizures in dogs can be caused by a wide range of environmental factors and medical conditions, which is why it’s important to visit a vet for regular checkups. From seizures to allergies, the sooner you know about medical problems, the better. Plus, your vet is the only person who can give you an accurate diagnosis.

If you think your dog may be having or have had a seizure, here’s what you need to know about the causes, types of seizures in dogs, and treatment options.

What Causes Seizures in Dogs?

Determining the cause of seizures in dogs is the first step to treating them. Treatment for seizures varies depending on the cause, so you should always take your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis if they’ve had a seizure. Here are some of the potential causes of seizures in dogs:


Ingesting certain poisons can lead to seizures in dogs. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to figure out if your dog may have ingested something poisonous without testing. A vet can perform blood tests to make sure they know what’s causing your dog’s seizures.

ingesting certain poisons can lead to seizures in dogs

Liver Disease

Seizures are one of the symptoms of liver disease in dogs, so you may notice your dog having a seizure as a result of liver disease. Treatment can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures and other symptoms.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is another disease that comes with seizures as a side effect. As your dog’s kidneys begin to fail, they may begin to have seizures. It’s important to ask your vet about the best treatment option for kidney disease.


Trauma can lead to several conditions in dogs, including puppy separation anxiety or a dog chewing paws. In some cases, trauma can even lead to seizures in dogs and other serious medical issues.


Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain that’s caused by an infection or autoimmune response. Unsurprisingly, this medical condition can lead to seizures in dogs, as well as several other medical problems.


Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is a severe allergic reaction that may involve seizures. Anaphylaxis can occur from a multitude of conditions, ranging from heartworm disease to ingestion of a foreign substance.

Brain Cancer

Like encephalitis, brain cancer can lead to seizures in dogs because of the effect it has on the brain. A vet can help reduce the severity of brain cancer symptoms with treatment, but there is no cure.

Blood Sugar Problems

If your dog has a blood sugar problem, such as diabetes in dogs, that may lead to seizures. Talk to your vet about ways you can treat your dog’s diabetes.


Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that’s most commonly known for causing seizures. If your dog is epileptic, your vet may prescribe medication to help reduce the frequency and severity of dog seizures.

grand mal seizures can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes

Types of Seizures in Dogs

Generalized seizure or grand mal seizure

Grand mal seizures are also called generalized seizures, which occur as a result of abnormal activity in the brain. These seizures are typically fairly brief, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, but can last longer.

Focal or partial seizures

Focal seizures are somewhat similar to grand mal seizures, but they affect a particular part of the brain. Seizures in dogs may begin as focal seizures and become grand mal seizures. Focal seizures tend to be less dramatic than grand mal seizures.

Psychomotor seizure

Instead of your dog collapsing and lying on the ground, psychomotor seizures may cause your dog to exhibit odd behavior. The problem is, it can be hard to tell if your dog is simply being silly, or if they’re suffering from a psychomotor seizure. 

Idiopathic epilepsy

With idiopathic epilepsy, your dog may have a seizure for no discernable reason. However, certain breeds seem to be more prone to idiopathic epilepsy.

Symptoms of Seizures in Dogs

Even if your dog doesn’t have a history of epilepsy or seizures, it’s important to understand what dog seizures look like so you know when your dog is experiencing a seizure. Here are some of the symptoms you may notice if your dog is having a seizure:

  • Jerking
  • Collapsing
  • Muscle Twitching
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Chomping
  • Tongue Chewing
  • Foaming at the Mouth
  • Uncontrollable defecation or urination
symptoms of seizures in dogs

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, you should call a vet right away. Seizures in dogs may be a sign of a serious medical condition, so getting a proper diagnosis is vital.

Postictal Period

The period immediately following a seizure is called the postictal period. During this time, your dog may exhibit abnormal behaviors, such as aggression or difficulty walking, because of abnormal brain chemistry following the seizure. It is imperative that you keep your dog calm and minimize stimuli to allow them to fully recover from the seizure. In general, the longer the seizure lasts, the longer the postictal period will be.

What Should I Do If My Dog Has a Seizure?

Seeing your dog have a seizure can be a scary experience, but it’s important that you stay calm and take the right steps to help your dog. If your dog is having a seizure, here’s what you should do:

  • Stay calm, and try to move your dog away from any objects that could hurt them
  • Do not try to touch your dog’s mouth or head, as they could accidentally bite you
  • Time the seizure if possible
  • If it’s lasting more than a few minutes, try to cool your dog down with cool water and fans
  • Talk to your dog in a calm, soothing manner
  • Take your dog to the vet as soon as they’ve ceased seizing

Ultimately, it’s up to your vet to decide what’s causing seizures in dogs and what the best treatment option is.

Dog Seizures: Frequently Asked Questions

Why would a dog suddenly have a seizure?

If your dog suddenly has a seizure, it could be that your dog has a medical problem you don’t know about. Seizures can be caused by everything from the ingestion of poisons to kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes, so it’s hard to say why your dog started having seizures suddenly.

This is why it’s so important to visit a vet once your dog has stopped seizing. Your vet can determine the cause of the seizures and help you decide on the best treatment option for your dog.

What should I do if my dog has a seizure?

When your dog has a seizure, it’s important that you stay calm and try to clear a space around your dog to make sure they aren’t injured. You should avoid touching your dog’s mouth or head, since they may accidentally bite you. If you can, try to time the seizure.

Once your dog is no longer seizing, take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis. Make sure you tell your vet any details you remember about the seizure.

What are the 4 types of seizures in dogs?

The four types of seizures in dogs are grand mal seizures, focal seizures, psychomotor seizures, and idiopathic epilepsy. The type of seizure your dog has may give your vet a clue as to what’s causing it, so make sure you provide your vet with as many details as possible.

Should I be worried if my dog has a seizure?

If your dog has a seizure, it’s important to take them to a vet right away to figure out what’s causing it. Your dog could have a chronic condition, or it may have ingested something poisonous. A veterinarian can provide an accurate diagnosis and prescribe any medication your dog may need.

Final Notes

Seizures in dogs are one of the scariest experiences for dog owners, but it’s important to take the right steps to keep your dog safe when it has a seizure. Stay calm, prioritize your dog’s safety, and try to record any details. When your dog has finished seizing, you can visit a vet to get an accurate diagnosis .

Finding a good vet isn’t always easy, but it is with Dutch. From diet and exercise tips to how to train your dog to stop barking, Dutch makes it easy to get the help you need. We help connect you to experienced veterinarians who can help you figure out what’s wrong with your pet and prescribe treatment that’s delivered to your doorstep. If you need a veterinarian, contact Dutch today to learn more.