dog having a veterinary check up

Canine epilepsy and seizures in dogs

If you’ve never seen a dog having a seizure, it can be a distressing experience. But there are many causes of seizures in dogs, and canine epilepsy is relatively common – affecting around four in every 100 dogs.

So, what is canine epilepsy, what should you do if your dog has a seizure, and what are the long-term effects of seizures in dogs? Here’s what you need to know.

What is canine epilepsy?

Epilepsy in dogs is a brain disorder that causes sudden fits or convulsions, in much the same way as epilepsy affects us humans. Usually starting between the ages of one and five, epileptic fits can cause your dog to experience dramatic and violent spasms.

Canine epilepsy is incurable, but it can be effectively managed with medication prescribed by your vet, and most dogs with canine epilepsy go on to live long and happy lives.

Other causes of seizures in dogs

Epilepsy isn’t the only cause of seizures – fits and convulsions can be brought on as a result of a head injury, stroke, heart condition, brain tumour, metabolic problems, or even poisoning. The only way to diagnose the cause of your dog’s seizure is to get him to your local vet, who will run a series of tests – such as blood tests and X-rays – to establish the cause, and identify any underlying health condition.

What should I do when my dog has a seizure?

If your dog starts having a fit, stay calm, clear the area around him, and contact your vet. It’s best not to move your dog while he’s experiencing a seizure, and never put your hand inside his mouth as the convulsion may cause him to bite you.

“Epilepsy isn’t the only cause of seizures – fits and convulsions can be brought on as a result of a head injury, stroke, heart condition, brain tumour, metabolic problems or even poisoning.”

What are the long-term effects of seizures in dogs?

If your dog suffers either prolonged fits or has fitting episodes of increasing frequency, there’s a risk they could suffer brain damage. Dogs have been known to fall into a coma, but this is extremely rare. If you have any concerns, always contact your vet without delay. Getting help and advice quickly can help to reduce the long-term effects of the seizures.

Need advice on seizures or epilepsy in dogs?

For expert advice on canine epilepsy and the other possible causes of convulsions in dogs, contact your local vet today. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.