Understanding Seizures in Dogs
Most seizures in dogs occur with little-to-no warning and last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a few minutes.
There are many different types of seizures seen in dogs. A specific dog may experience multiple kinds of seizures throughout their life. As well, each type of seizure affects different dogs in different ways.
Many dog owners are worried about their dog injuring themselves during a seizure. Rest assured, however, that injury as a result of seizure is rare in dogs. That being said, if your canine companion suffers from seizures, it is important to contact your vet to inform them. Some seizures may not require any urgent action, but others do.
Focal Seizures in Dogs
Also called partial seizures, focal seizures in dogs only affect half of their brain, and only a particular region within that half.
During diagnosis, focal seizures can be identified as either simple or complex based on your dogs level of awareness during the course of the seizure.
Dogs typically maintain consciousness during a simple focal seizure, while they lose consciousness during a complex one.
Signs of a simple focal seizure in your dog
Simple focal seizures can be hard to detect for a pet parent. This is because they most often manifest themselves in the form of odd behaviors. Any of the following behaviors could be indicators that your dog is having a simple focal seizure:
- Involuntary movements
- Specific muscles contracting and relaxing
- Dilated pupils
- Fur standing on end
- Issues with balance
- Signs of vision or hearing changes
- Hallucinations (Indicated by your dog barking, growling, biting at the air, or acting fearfully with no obvious reason)
Generalized Seizures in Dogs
In contrast to a focal seizure, a generalized seizure occurs within both halves of a dog's brain. General seizures often often evolve from focal seizures.
Often dogs experiencing generalized seizures will fall unconscious for the duration. They also may urinate or defecate while unconscious.
Types of Generalized Seizures in Dogs
Because generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain, they are most often characterized by involuntary movement on both sides of the body.
There are many ways, however, that a generalized seizure can manifest itself in your dog. The following types serve as useful distinctions:
- Clonic: Involuntary rapid and rhythmic jerking or muscles contractions
- Tonic: Muscles stiffening or contracting
- Tonic-Clonic: A phase of tonic followed by one of clonic
- Atonic: These seizures will often cause a dog to fall to the ground very suddenly. They are also sometimes called "drop attacks."
- Myoclonic: Sporadic movement or jerking on both sides of the body.
- Cluster: When a dog experience two or more seizures within a 24-hour period, regaining full consciousness between each seizure
This serious condition refers to when a single seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or when a dog experiences multiple seizures over a short amount of time without regaining consciousness between them.
If you identify this in your dog, call your vet immediately. Seizures that last over 5 minutes can cause a risk to your dog's life.
Focal Seizures Transitioning into Generalized Seizures
The most common type of seizures found in dogs are focal seizures which transition into generalized seizures.
Often the focal seizure which kicks of an episode is small or subtle enough to go unnoticed by even attentive dog owners.
If your dog is having a generalized seizure, try your best to remember what they were doing in the time leading up to the generalized seizure began. Were they acting strangely?
It is important to be able to provide your vet with as much information as possible. That way, they will be able to make informed decisions on how to best diagnose treat the seizure your up is experiencing.