Mini-Guide: Dogs With Seizures
Seizures in dogs are unfortunately one of the most reported neurological conditions by veterinarians. While visually traumatic, rest assured that a dog with seizures does not feel pain, merely some panic and confusion afterward. These episodes tend to be more traumatizing for the owner, especially the first time a seizure occurs. To help you better understand this type of condition, we will be sharing common dog seizure symptoms to watch out for and the promising results from a recent study on the use of hemp for seizures.
Why Seizures in Dogs Occur
In some scenarios, it can be near impossible to determine the cause of seizures in dogs. In others, it is easier to diagnose. Some common causes of seizures are head trauma and heatstroke. It can be caused by a variety of illnesses and even some medications. However, it can also be due to foods or plants that are dangerous to dogs, such as xylitol, caffeine, mushrooms, and more. In rare instances, veterinary administered vaccines may include a risk for seizures.
If your dog does have a seizure, for any reason, your immediate action should be to keep them safe. Try to lay them on their side and stay clear of their limbs, which may paddle. Do not under any circumstance put your hand in their mouth to prevent their jaw from clenching. You may be bitten or could block their airway. In general try not to touch them, despite the urge to console them. If the seizure lasts for longer than a minute, they risk overheating which can cause brain damage. You should try to keep them cool by directing a fan in their direction or by putting their paws in cool water. If the seizure lasts for more than a few minutes you should take them to a veterinarian immediately.
Types of Seizures
A seizure is “a temporary involuntary disturbance of normal brain function that is usually accompanied by uncontrollable muscle activity.” This being said, there is more than one type of seizure that your dog may experience.
Petit mal seizure – The mildest type of seizure, a petit mal causes relatively insignificant disruptions. This can include an abnormal eye movement, difficulty standing, trembling, or head shaking.
Grand mal seizure – A seizure that affects both sides of the brain is called grand mal, or a generalized seizure. These disruptions can last from a few seconds to minutes. It can cause drooling, convulsions, and even loss of consciousness.
Focal motor seizure – Similar to a grand mal, a focal seizure only affects one side of the brain, rather than both. However, an episode that begins as a focal motor seizure can progress into a grand mal.
Cluster seizures – These are seizures that occur several times in a single day. Due to this frequency, cluster seizures are considered urgent and you should visit a vet as soon as possible. Cluster seizures have the potential to become one continuous seizure.
Status epilepticus – This is a seizure that does not resolve. It can lead to overheating and potential brain damage. In this scenario, you should try and keep the dog cool and seek out a vet.
Dog Seizure Symptoms
Surprisingly, dog seizure symptoms can be difficult to notice. In more mild types, symptoms can be as small as a twitch limited to one area of the body. Some may be odd behavior, such as tail chasing or staring at nothing. More common, are convulsion, stiffness, and/or falling over. A dog may growl or whine, drool or foam at the mouth, and even urinate or defecate.
Treating Dogs with Seizures
The treatment of seizures in dogs will vary by case and should always start with a visit to your veterinarian or a specialist. In some cases, treatment may not be necessary at all. This is often true for dogs who do not experience more than one seizure a month. Meanwhile, dogs that experience cluster seizures or a more severe type of seizure will need treatment to prevent serious injury, permanent damage, or even death. Even for dogs with a more mild seizure diagnosis, treatment can help improve their overall quality of life.
In a study published by the American Medical Veterinary Association, a major compound in hemp oil was effectively used to reduce the frequency of idiopathic seizures in dogs. That is seizures with no known cause; and which effects up to 5.7% of the pet dog population worldwide. The results of the study found that 89% of dogs (who were also on anticonvulsant drugs) experienced fewer seizures. Additionally, no adverse behavioral effects were reported in any of the animals.
At Frenchie Fries Co., we are excited about the continued research on the use of hemp oil for dogs, as well as other pets! After all, we were founded to help animals live the best quality of life possible. Learn about our hemp oils and chews and how they can enrich your furry friend’s life. And be sure to sign up for our email newsletter, where we share additional information and resources on research regarding pet health.