A variety of medical conditions can cause older dogs to experience sudden seizures seemingly out of the blue. These conditions can range from relatively harmless to life-threatening.
It’s also improtant to keep in mind that what looks like a seizure is sometimes completely different. In any case, if your senior dog has a seizure or dramatic symptoms which appear to be seizure-like or stroke-like, or he collapses or loses consciousness, it’s going to be pretty scary for everyone.
In this article, we will discuss the top causes for seizures in old dogs and review what you can do about it.
Of course, in a situation like this you NEED to get your dog to your veterinarian’s office as quickly as you can, so that you can find out what’s going on. Having some background information and an understanding of the causes, symptoms and treatment for canine seizures (specifically in old dogs) will help you make sure that Fido gets the help he needs.
What Causes Seizures In Senior Dogs?
For younger adult dogs (less than 5 years old), epilepsy is the is the leading cause of seizures. Puppies and young adults of the tiny/toy breeds can also have a seizure caused by a sudden drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). But neither of these are common causes of first-time seizures in senior dogs.
WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]
There’s a lot going on inside your older dog’s body, and the aging process is taking its toll. This can lead to a bunch of different health problems and conditions, some of which cause seizures.
Health conditions frequently causing seizures in older dogs include:
1. Liver Disease
If your senior dog has liver disease or is in liver failure, it’s possible that it could cause him to have seizures. However, there are many other symptoms of liver problems that are likely to show up before a seizure does. The first one is usually a loss of appetite. Abdominal swelling, digestive upsets (vomiting, diarrhea or constipation), dark orange urine and a yellow tint to the skin, gums and mucus membranes are also symptoms of liver problems.
Other symptoms of brain problems being caused by the build-up of toxins and ammonia in the blood include weakness, poor coordination, personality changes and lethargy.
These are also likely to be obvious well before the risk of seizure occurs. The term for the secondary effects the liver has on the brain is hepatic encephalopathy, and a common symptom of this, as well as the ones listed above, is head pressing against vertical surfaces.
Tumors (also known as neoplasia) are much more common in senior dogs than they are in younger ones. Some tumors are benign, others cancerous. A brain tumor can cause seizures as well as other neurological symptoms. A cancer that starts off in another part of the body can metastasize (spread) to other parts of your dog’s body, including the brain, and cause similar problems.
Because cancer affects so many different organs and systems, not all symptoms can be covered here. But usually the symptoms relate to the organ which is predominantly affected. That is why brain tumors, whether they are primary tumors or metastasized tumors, can result in seizures.
3. Kidney Disease
If your older dog has kidney disease or kidney failure, toxins build up in his bloodstream and can’t be excreted the way they would normally be. This build-up of toxins in the blood can cause seizures in senior dogs, but it’s pretty rare.
Other symptoms are much more likely to show up first. Including increased thirst and urination, lethargy, weight loss and nausea. Seizures or a coma don’t usually happen until the disease is very advanced.
4. Trauma or Injury
An injury to the brain can cause a seizure in dogs of any age. Older dogs are more prone to falling than younger ones, and a fall down some steps resulting in a blow to the head could cause brain damage or bleeding.
If your dog shows any signs of illness, stroke or seizures after falling or injuring himself (even if you didn’t see him hit his head), take him to be examined by a veterinarian at once.
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
Although Diabetes itself doesn’t cause seizures, they can be an indirect result of this disease. This is because if your older dog is being treated with insulin for his diabetes, he could have a seizure if he develops hypoglycemia because of accidentally receiving too much of it.
It’s easy to do, especially if your senior dog decides not to eat a meal after having his injection, or you forget whether you’ve given it already, so you give a double dose.
To prevent these scenarios, always give the injection after or towards the end of a meal, and if you’re in doubt whether you’ve given it or not, it’s best to skip a dose than give too much.
Hypoglycemia happens when your dog’s blood sugar plummets. Every brain needs glucose in order to function properly, and if the supply of that drops seizures can happen. This condition is most often seen in small or tiny breeds (and puppies) as they have more difficulty regulating their blood sugar levels. However, it can also be seen in active dogs, dogs with pancreatic cancer and diabetic dogs.
Seizures or coma are the most severe results of hypoglycemia, other signs can usually be seen first. These can include:
- Loss of coordination
If your senior dog is having a seizure and you know that hypoglycemia is to blame, you can try rubbing some Karo syrup or ice cream (NOT chocolate flavor) onto his gums to raise blood sugar.
Don’t try to put the syrup/ice cream/your fingers inside his mouth, that’s dangerous for both of you. Getting close to your dog’s mouth when he’s having a seizure does carry the risk of getting bitten, so it’s a step to take only if you’re reasonably confident it will help.
7. Adverse Reaction to Medication
All medications (and also, to a lesser degree, natural remedies) can have side effects. Many are mild and can include vomiting, diarrhea and reduced appetite.
Other severe reactions are less common, but definitely do happen. Seizures in dogs can be one fairly rare, but serious, side effect to certain medications.
It’s important to note that sheepdog-type breeds are sometimes deficient in a gene that helps filter out drugs from the brain, which can result in seizures. This is particularly true for ivermectin and similar drugs.
8. Environmental Toxins
There are several things in our dog’s environment that can potentially cause seizures. These include:
- Rodent poison
- Garden weedkiller
- Insect poisons
- Lead paint
- Black mold
You may not even know that things like black mold, or lead paint are in your home. If your dog has unexplained seizures, having your ductwork and heating/ac and any old paintwork checked out is a good idea. Blood tests can determine lead levels too. These things can affect human health as well.
Can Seizures be Fatal to Dogs?
Simple seizures that occur infrequently usually will not be fatal to dogs. Many dogs that have seizures enjoy long, normal lives with nominal side effects, but not always. In some cases, seizures may cause brain damage, affect other body organs, or be fatal to your dog. The chances of experiencing serious side effects increases if your dog’s seizures become more frequent or are prolonged (for example when a dog has one or more seizures lasting more than five minutes without sufficient recovery periods). Learn more with our article: Can Seizures Kill Dogs? Dr. Guise Explains.
Should I Change My Dog’s Diet to Help with Seizures?
Recent studies demonstrate that diet and nutritional supplements may help to prevent seizures in dogs. Feeding a ketogenic diet appears to improve cognitive function and may reduce seizure activity in some dogs. Other research suggests that supplementation with medium-chain triglycerides may reduce seizure frequency and severity. Read our article: Best Food & Supplements for Dogs with Seizures.
On the other end, certain ingredients commonly found in dog food may trigger seizures. Always check the product label to ensure the food doesn’t include:
- Foods that are naturally high in glutamate
- Grains – barley, oats, and wheat are highest in glutamate
- Legumes – soy, lentils, pinto beans, and black beans
- Dairy products from cows
- Rabbit, turkey, and oily fish
- Chemical preservatives
- Artificial colors or flavors
Learn more: Can Food Cause Seizures in Dogs? A Vet Explains
Three Things To Do If Your Old Dog Has A Seizure
Of course you’re going to be scared if your senior dog is having a seizure, but it’s important to stay calm. It won’t help him keep calm if you’re also panicking. Many seizures in older dogs are so short that they’re over before you know it.
Here’s what veterinarians recommend that you should do (and shouldn’t do):
1. Keep Him Company
Even though your dog may not be able to hear or see you in the normal way, he may be calmed and comforted because he is aware of your presence on some level.
Talking to him in a low, gentle, and soothing voice might help too. If he’s not a big dog who’s thrashing about, gently touching or stroking him might be reassuring.
But if he’s in the grip of strong muscle spasms (even if he’s a small dog), don’t get too close if there’s a chance you’re going to get bitten or hurt.
2. Don’t Put Your Hand/s Near His Mouth
Just as with people who are having a seizure, it’s not a good idea to try to put your hand in his mouth to stop him ‘biting himself’ or ‘swallowing his tongue’.
The muscle spasms will be VERY strong, you won’t be able to prize his jaws apart, and you run the risk of getting bitten… hard.
Of course, your dog wouldn’t bite you on purpose, but in the grip of a seizure he has no control over his bodily functions/movements.
Even in a partial seizure, he might snap or bite you in his confusion, or out of fear or anxiety.
3. Make Notes & Call Your Veterinarian
If your older dog is having a seizure, you’ll probably be worried, scared and not sure what to do… but try to keep your wits about you.
The more details you can remember about what’s happening the easier it will be for your veterinarian to figure out what’s going on.
You probably won’t have a pen and notebook handy, but as soon as your dog is recovering and safe, jot down what you can remember about the seizure, as well as the period leading up to it, and his recovery.
Make a note of –
- Your dog’s activities before the seizure
- His behavior right beforehand
- The symptoms he showed during the seizure
- How long it lasted (time it on a watch or phone as it will seem much longer than it actually was!)
- What he was like during the recovery period & how long that lasted
Unless this isn’t his first seizure, and your vet has told you otherwise, it’s important to call your veterinarian as soon as the seizure is over, and your dog is recovering.
IF THE SEIZURE LASTS MORE THAN 5 MINUTES YOU NEED TO CALL FOR EMERGENCY HELP regardless of whether it’s his first one or not.
Treating Seizures In Older Dogs
When younger dogs have seizures, the most likely cause is a condition called epilepsy, but in older dogs this often isn’t the case. Because seizures in older dogs are most likely being caused by some underlying health condition, your veterinarian needs to figure out what it is before treatment begins.
Once that root problem is being treated, the seizures should be under control, and maybe even not recur. If the treatment is likely to take some time, your vet might be able to prescribe medication that will help control the seizures. Or at least reduce their severity, until the other treatment takes effect.
ALL dogs are different, your veterinarian is the very best person to answer any questions you might have and to reassure both of you.
FAQ About Seizures in Dogs with Dr. Alex Crow
Dr. Alex Crow is an RCVS accredited Veterinary surgeon practicing at Buttercross Veterinary Center. He earned his degree in veterinary medicine from the Royal Veterinary College, one of the top 3 veterinarian schools in the world. He answered below the most commonly asked questions from dog owners about dog seizures with older dogs:
- When should you call your veterinarian if your senior dog has a seizure?
Dr Crow: While any seizure occurs as a result of abnormal neurological activity within the brain, there are situations where an owner should be more concerned than others. If the seizure is a one off event and only lasted a few seconds then it may not be much to worry about, although it would still be a good idea to have your dog checked over by a vet to be safe.
However, if a dog had multiple seizures that either lasted more than 30 seconds each or occured close together – days or weeks apart – then further investigation is recommended. If multiple seizures are occuring in a 24 hour period then this is known as cluster seizures and is more of a cause for concern. Ultimately no seizure should be ignored but it is the pattern and frequency of seizures that tends to indicate severity.
- What questions will my vet ask me about my dog’s seizure? How should I prepare for the visit?
Dr Crow: There are many questions your vet will want to ask if your dog has had what you think to be a seizure. These include:
- What did the seizure look like?
- Was your dog unconscious, paddling their legs, foaming at the mouth or defecating/urinating? (there are many other neutological events that can look like seizures, so your vet’s first decision will be to determine if your dog has had a seizure or a different type of episode)
- How long did the seizure last?
- How frequently did the seizures occur?
- Has your dog had similar episodes in the past?
- Did you notice any change in your dog’s behaviour before or after the event?
- Did your dog eat anything unusual prior to the seizure? Are there any indications of poisoning?
- Have you noticed any other symptoms?
- My dog can’t walk after seizure or his legs are weak, what could it mean?
Dr Crow: It’s not uncommon for a dog to feel very disorientated after having a seizure, so if they are unable to walk in a straight line or maintain balance this can be expected in the short-term. However, your dog should be able to walk normally again after a few hours.
If you don’t see any improvement after a few hours, it could be a sign of more permanent damage. If your dog has had a prolonged seizure of more than 5-10 minutes and they were kicking their legs throughout, there may be muscle damage present due to the constant contraction of muscles.
- My old dog is having seizures at night, what could it mean?
Dr Crow: Seizures most commonly occur when your dog is resting so it’s more likely than not for seizures to occur when your dog is just waking up or at nightime. Be sure to make the distinction between a seizure and your dog dreaming. Seizures will often appear to be very violent events. Gentle twitching or paddling while asleep could just be your dog dreaming. If you are unsure then record the event with a camera and show it to your vet.
- How long can an old dog live with seizures?
Dr Crow: The survival time for a dog that is having frequent seizures will depend on many factors, including what is causing the seizures and how well they are controlled. Dogs with idiopathic epilepsy have an estimated survival time of about 66 months according to this study; if poorly controlled then the survival time is usually shorter. However, if seizures are occuring due to a brain lesion such as a tumour then median survival time will be dramatically reduced to 8 months. It is therefore crucial to try and determine the cause of seizures and to start your dog on medication if necessary. Learn more about how many seizures can a dog have before it dies?
- When it is time to put down a dog with seizures?
It all depends on the condition that is causing the seizures. Learn more about when is it time to put down a dog with seizures?
The 3 Stages of Seizures
Seizures often have three ‘phases’ or stages. The first and last stages could last for minutes, hours or even longer. But the acute, middle phase, the seizure itself, could be anything from a ‘brain blank’ which lasts a second or two, to a full-blown convulsion seizure that causes the dog to lose consciousness.
Although at the time it seems like forever, most active seizures in dogs only last for between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.
It’s unusual for one to last longer than 5 minutes, but if you do find that happening you need to get veterinary help immediately as a prolonged seizure can cause severe complications, even death. If your dog has one seizure, it’s very common for him to have more. This is because whatever triggers the seizure leads to changes and electrical misfirings in the brain which take a while to settle down.
Get your dog examined by your vet as soon as you can after a seizure to try to prevent him from having any more, as well as find the original trigger.
1. The Pre-Ictal Stage
This could show up as a change in behavior or attitude. Perhaps fearfulness or anxiety, or unusual aggression, your dog may want to hide/sleep or he might cling to you.
Your dog is likely aware that something ‘odd’ is happening. It’s also includes the ‘Aura’ phase, the early stage of the seizure itself. Some dogs cry, whine, howl, pace, or drool. He may seem to have lost a little of his co-ordination or balance
2. The Ictal Stage
This is the ‘active’ stage and it’s when your older dog is going to show the most severe seizure symptoms.
During partial seizures Fido may seem to ‘blank out’ for a little while, or seem confused/dazed or just ‘out-of-it’.
More obvious partial seizures might include twitching, jerky movements, growling or snapping. He may not seem to know where he is or who you are. However, in full seizures, he may go into a full convulsion or stiffness, and be unable to control his body’s movements. These seizures usually also result in a loss of consciousness.
The most common symptoms of a full-blown seizure in older dogs include drooling, teeth-grinding, violent muscle spasms, scrabbling or running movements of his legs, loss of bladder and bowel control.
3. The Post-Ictal Stage
This is like the ‘recovery’ phase. And although your dog won’t be showing the symptoms of a seizure, his body and brain are still suffering some significant after-effects.
He’s likely to be wobbly and his co-ordination will be ‘off’. Many dogs are weak, confused, and dizzy. Some will be sleepy or lethargic. This stage can last for a few minutes, or a few hours. A lot depends on how severe the Ictal Phase was.
The type of seizure symptoms your older dog has are linked to what is causing the problem in the first place, so let’s take a look at those next.
What Exactly is a Seizure?
First of all, let’s talk about what a seizure looks like. That way you have a better shot at telling the difference between a seizure and other health problems which cause ‘episodes’, ‘fits’ or other odd behavior.
According to the United States National Library of Medicine, a seizure is: ‘…the physical findings or changes in behavior that occur after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.’ (see this page for more)
In non-medical terms this means that a seizure is the sudden physical result (the symptoms you can see) of abnormal electrical activity in the brain, most commonly when a large number of neurons send a signal at the same time.
When you think ‘seizure’ you might also think ‘epilepsy’ (most people do). It’s important to remember, epilepsy causes seizures, but seizures are not always caused by epilepsy.
You might also think that a seizure is the same thing as a convulsion (again most people don’t know that there’s a difference). Convulsions are the result of muscles uncontrollably contracting, which causes the body to shake, tremble or even contort. Seizures can cause convulsions, but not all convulsions are caused by seizures.
It’s not always easy to recognize a seizure when you see one, because they can have several different symptoms and can last for varying lengths of time.
What also confuses things further, is that seizures can be full or partial (also known in the human world as grand mal or petit mal; although these terms are typically not used in the veterinary world). Full seizures are likely to display obvious seizure-like symptoms, whereas partial seizures may simply cause twitching, stiffening or other subtle movements, without a loss of consciousness.
Conditions Which LOOK Like A Seizure, But Aren’t
There are a few different conditions which can cause your dog to look as though he’s having a seizure of some sort even though he isn’t.
One very common senior dog health issue called Old Dog Vestibular Disease produces neurological symptoms which could be confused with the early stages of a seizure, or a minor one.
A Transient Isechemic Stroke (TIA) is sort of a mini-stroke and happens when there is reduced blood flow to the brain. Usually because of a blood clot. It’s generally short lived but symptoms of a TIA can mimic Vestibular Disease, or a seizure.
A severe ear infection can cause loss of balance and co-ordination, and sometimes affect the nerves that control facial movements.
An irregular heartbeat can cause weakness, dizziness, loss of co-ordination and fainting (loss of consciousness).
Even a very severe allergic reaction could cause strange behavior, loss of balance, difficulty breathing and even loss of consciousness.
Other Causes of Seizures In Dogs Of All Ages
There are a lot of other conditions that can cause a dog of any age to suffer a seizure. As already mentioned, epilepsy is the number one in younger dogs, but other conditions include: Distemper, rabies, hypoglycemia, low calcium levels, poisoning, heat stroke, allergic reaction, parasites such as heartworm or ticks (Lyme Disease), brain injury, infection or inflammation.
Some breeds are more likely to have seizures due to congenital problems, the shape of their skulls, or just because of a generalized predisposition to them. They include: Beagles, Belgian Teruverens, Boxers, Chihuahuas, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, Dachshunds, Keeshonds and German Shepherds.
Take Home Message
Seizures in older dogs can be a cause for concern, so if your golden oldie is experiencing seizures for the first time, or for an unknown reason, it is important to take him to the vet once he’s come out of the seizure. Until then, remember to stay calm, be comforting, and ensure it doesn’t last more than five minutes.
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this is wonderful and useful information.
the writer presents information in a gentle but basic way that is very appreciated
I was very frightened by my beloved boy Rusty twice this evening with sudden cardiac missed beats. He will see the vet first thing tomorrow. Rusty had Parvo when he was a pup. thank you again
Golden Retriever/mix, 15yr old.
Symptoms: Violent flailing of arms and legs. VERY LOUD DEEP tone breathing at a consistent relatively-quick pace. A pool of water(<–I presume) around his mouth. Tongue hanging out (DO NOT TOUCH! I TRIED TO PUT TONGUE IN, AND I THINK I TRIGGERED HIS MOUTH TO CLOSE ON IT). Afterword, varying states of apparent paralysis and/or responsiveness to stimuli. (this happened about 20-30 mins ago)
Thank you for this valuable and specific information about senior dogs and seizures. It’s the most helpful article I’ve read for a senior dog in particular. Our 10 1/2 year old Golden Retriever had what sounds like a grand-mal seizure last night. It was very frightening and as you can imagine we are hypervigilant watching his behavior this morning. He was disoriented,hyper and starving afterward. I read somewhere that it takes a lot of energy to have a seizure and a dog could be wanting another meal so we fed him again. It took about an hour for him to settle down and go to sleep. We’ll see what today brings…
My 10 yr old Shih Tzu began having grand mal seizures in October. They all came at night when he was sleeping. The seizures came once a week. My vet did lab work and everything came back normal. He told me to observe him and if the seizures happen more often than he was going to start Bruno on medication. I started Bruno on CBD from canna pet and the seizures disappeared after approx two months. He has been seizure free for over two months until this week. He had two single seizures at the beginning of this week. Last night he had another seizure at 2:30 am and 4 more until 8 am. By 2 pm today he has had approx 9 seizures. The vet admitted him early this morning g and gave him phenobarbital by mouth but he still had two more seizures. It is 9 pm now and he is sedated and sleeping with iv benzodiazepines. I am devastated and fear that this is a brain tumor and not idiopathic epilepsy. I can’t find much on the literature about the incidence of epilepsy i older dogs. Every article i read says less likely or rare. Most articles talk about brain tumors. I am trying to hang on to some hope that this is epilepsy a d my Bruno will be back home Monday. I need consolation. I am heartbroken.
So sorry to hear about Bruno. My little guy started having cluster seizures a couple of months ago and since he is 11 years old the doctor said chances are that it is a brain tumor. He’s been on Kepra ever since, he did really well on this medication for a while but is starting to have issues again so I feel your pain. It’s so hard to watch our pets suffer and not knowing when it’s the best time to say goodbye. I hope everything goes well for both of you.
I feel for you since you are describing what seems to be the future of my almost 14 year old yorkie.He had his first seizure in the middle of the night exactly 7 days ago and another one at 5:00 am this morning. He just had his physical two weeks ago and bloodwork came back normal. I guess I will take him in for more exams but I’m afraid he will end up having a brain tumor since he has cataracts and those can lead to tumors. It’s a terrible thing to watch a little loved one go through. I’m heartbroken as well. You aren’t alone!
Hi, just read your story and send prayers for both you and Bruno. My Lab began having seizures a month ago and I am searching for answers. God bless.
Ask your vet about proscribing gabapentin, zonisimide, levetiracetam. These meds are far more safe than the regular seizure meds. My dog did well on them before I had to put him down. It might work for your baby
How did you know it was time to put him down?
What happened to your dog? What did the vet do?
I totally understand what you are saying. My chihuahua girl who is almost 16 years old had a two minute seizure and again within a week had another. Now, she has trembling and it paces uncontrollably around the house. If I pick her up within a minute she will cry because she wants to go to the floor and walk. She has loss her vision, walks and eat (hand fed now) but tilt her head to the sky. The UF Veterinarian told me that she believes that she has a brain tumor; however, an MRI is out of the question because she is very frágil now and the Vet said that she may not make it with the anesthesia. I love my dog so much and it hurts to see her like that. She walks around and bangs her head on the walls or gets to a corner and cries because she doesn’t know how to backup. She is on meds and CBD and takes her meds fairly easy. I just don’t know if she is suffering. Now, she pees every where, but before she would hold her pee or go to the pee pad. I just don’t know when her time is up. I know that she has given me 15+ years of happiness, which is more than I never imagine. If you look at her sometimes it looks lethargic and this is most of the time, but sometimes she looks healthy. I wish I knew when her time is up, because I don’t want to make a mistake and cut her life short.
Thank you for the article and also the comments and information from readers. My 12 year old lab cross mabel started having seizures since Saturday afternoon, it’s now Monday, Sunday night into early morning seemed to go on for ever, I stayed up all night until I physically couldn’t stay awake, got about 2 or 3 hours sleep. Before leaving for the vet mabel had two more seizures and a mild one at the vets. The vet prescribed phenoleptil and in the event of a more serious long seizure.
My 15&1/2 year old Yorkshire terrier I’m pretty sure just had his fist seizure. Very, very traumatic for the both of us. Rocky woke before me, went to his wee wee pad had a normal tinkle. I was preparing his breakfast. He started pacing and barking. He ate his entire meal. Went to his bed in the kitchen. Within 5 mins after eating he fell over, started swimming in place, drooling, and had a look of terror on his little face. Hes been such a healthly little dog. After almost 3 aggonizing minutes he wanted to be up and move around. He was very unstable. I put on hos harness and walked with him in the carpeted rooms. He didn’t want to be held. After a few minutes of walking around Rocky got his bearings back (slightly) i put him bed and now he looks a bit tired, but ok. I would hate to see this happen if im not home. For now hes resting and comfortable.
Our 15 1/2 female Yorkshire terrior had a couple small seizures lately. Today was a big one. She had slept through the night and I woke up at 9am to see that she didn’t move all night long. When I picked her up her body was completely limp and she started to pee and seizure at the same time. After a couple minutes she started to act completely normal again… Not sure a vet visit would even help at this point because of her age.
Bless you,know how you feel,I have a 15 and 8 months olD Westie,he had first seizure last Tuesday,he also has heat condition.he’s had 8 altogether,he’s now on heart meds,blood work was ok,so just don’t know
Good info, my 10 year old black lab just had her first seizer and as luck had it, it happened right there at the vet as I was dropping her off to have a tooth pulled, thought she had swallowed something off the floor when she started making choking motions and collapsed onto her side, they’re going to monitor her today, no tooth surgery, but still it was a scary experience indeed even happening right there at the vet with well trained staff on hand!
Very good info! Thanks
my dog Ziggy, had her first seizure this morning. It lasted over 5 minutes, loss of bladder/bowel control and drooling with her tongue out. her eyes couldn’t focus and had severe muscle spasms and howling like she was in so much pain. . Just got back from the vet, she’s calm now, and we had a full blood panel done, ill find out tomorrow and a shot of anti inflammatory meds. she is 17, has been ultra healthy till now. Im so afraid its going to happen again. The most traumatic for her and me ever.
I have a shin tzu x Lhasa paso girl she’s 9 and a half years old whilst I was on holiday she had some sort of fit and lost use of back legs I took to vet heart ok and she was well in her self now 3 months later she was asleep at my side I thought she was dreaming but eyes open I rubbed her side and after 1 min she looked at me but again back legs I massaged her legs she seemed happy licking and sitting up her legs came back after about 2 mins she’s now sleeping I’m so worried
Was reading all this at around midnight after my 10yo mastic cross fell off the couch having his first seizure. Ended up having multiples so called after hours vet. Rushed him in but they were becoming one constant seizure or one after another. Vet said the kindest thing would be to say goodbye. Buried my old mate at 2:45am in the rain. RIP Busta. Best dog ever!!
My sweet girl who is a 12 yr old shih Tzu had a seizure this morning. It was her first one. She woke me up crying in pain like . I turned on the light and she was laying on her side in a drawn position. I touched her and noticed she had thrown up as well. It lasted may be 30 secs if that?
Very scary for both of us. She is my baby and my shadow. She loves her mom.
I am so scared now as to what might have caused it?
Will be taking her to the vet for some blood work..
Hoping it’s nothing serious. I just lost one of my other girls in June. She had liver problems.
They are family and my children.
My 10 year old small terrier mix woke up four mornings ago and developed a severe head tilt to the right. The vet told me to bring her in. I changed my clothes and came downstairs and she looked better but I took her to the vet anyway. After the meeting with the nurse we were waiting for the doctor to come in, she started acting funny balance wise, and kept looking at me like something wasn’t right. Next thing I know she is rolling severely left then right all over the exam room. I had to yell for the nurses to get her. It was terrifying, and super sad. They got her calmed down, we have done blood tests and x-rays and nothing has shown up. Everything is pointing to a brain tumor but know one knows for sure. I have her at home and there have been no more seizures, but she is very lethargic, with short bouts of energy. I am so sad!! She is the sweetest, active dog and now is basically going through the motions of eating, going potty, and sleeping. I’m thinking of trying CBD, any thoughts?
My senior dachshund started having seizures out of no where. He was put on medication (gabapentin, zonisimide levetiracetam) and did very good for about two months. Then he started having them again and they were very bad seizures. He we eventually had to put him down, it was awful. He was diabetic, diagnosed 4 years prior.they think he had hypothyroidism as well. I just wish I knew why he started having them suddenly. My other senior dachshund is epileptic, diagnosed when she was 7. She’s 10 now. They also think she has hypothyroidism. I mean what are the chances! I fear it’s something I’m feeding them. Thank you for the useful and interesting information
In case anyone reads this, when your dog is having a seizure hurry and put a bag of ice on his lower back. By doing this it cuts down my dogs seizure time in half and can actually stop the seizures from starting. My vet told me about it and it does work! Something about the brain overheating during a seizure, the ice helps. There’s been many studies you can find online about it
Thanks—I forgot about the ice.
Thanks for posting this tip Stephanie,as my little 15 yr old female yorkshire terrier had her first seizure last Friday night whereupon i heard her screaming & yelping from the other end of the house and came rushing into the lounge where i found Missy in her bed wildly kicking her legs and moving her head from side to side.I immediately picked her up assuming the pain was radiating from her arthitic ‘luxating patellas’ hind legs only to gently put her down on the carpet whereby she fell over on her side until after a few minutes she regained her composure again.The shock of this event prompted me to take my dog to the emergency vets out of town at midnight whereby the vet on duty examined her and came to the conclusion after describing her symptoms to him that Missy had a minor stroke.They then proceeded to take a sample of blood for to analyze her inner organs but everything was fine then within ten minutes she had a major seizure while in the vet’s arms and proceeded to froth at the mouth whereby i was informed that due to her age it was likely to be a brain tumour as opposed to strokes or epilepsy.Missy had one more minor seizure prior to leaving the surgery in the early hours of last Saturday morning and thankfully ‘touch wood’ has had no more since,bar twitching every day which makes me worry,fearing that another seizure could result from that.I took her to my own vet the next day whereupon they prescribed her Vitofyllin and Prednisolone cut up tablets to be taken every day with food,as one medication is for Missy’s cough as the vet seems to think that the cough is suppressing air getting to the brain.The cough could be due to a collapsing trachea,food in her lungs as she doesn’t have any more teeth left or worse,a lung tumour.Suffice to say that after informing my vet of your tip of putting an ice-pack on the dog’s lower back when one spots the onset of a seizure he was quick to inform me that he’d never heard of it and there’s no evidence of it in that practice.Nevertheless i have tried your method once yesterday when Missy’s twitching looked like it was going to progress further and the involuntary movements seemed to cease so i will definately carry on using the method.Once again,many thanks for posting! I am from Cornwall in the UK.
My little Saha has a heart condition and this morning for
the first time in her life a seizure, I think what triggered
it she saw a cat in the back yard and chase it for a second , right
after she got the seizure for 1 second!
I am so scared she is 12 small dog mixed Chihuahua and Pomeranian
I have read alot of these comments and all have been helpful. We have a 15 yr mix marmaduke. Rescue. He just started the seizures about 5 mo ago. Took him to vet and he prescribed Phenoboirhitol? Then the episodes quit after about a week. Gave him a 1/4 pill for 3 to 4 weeks after and all stopped. They just started up again and we started the pills again but now I am afraid he had a worse episode than before. He can still walk but his back legs keep giving out. Everyone says put him down but if the medicine helps then no. Please advise…
My otherwise healthy sweet 14 yr old pug had her first seizure (gran mal) this am. Afterwards was very disoriented and and didn’t seem to recall her surroundings. She eventually sorted herself out and napped for 3 hours. She woke up to her 2nd seizure:(. This one was much shorter in duration and her recovery was quicker. I’m hoping she won’t wake up to a third. I will contact the vet in the am.
Hi – I also have a 14 yr old Pug and she just had a seizure. Only lasted 10-15 seconds and was more disoriented than anything. I’m curious what your vet had to say? I hope your baby is ok!
My 15 Year old shih-you started having seizures about 9 months ago.she arches her back, stiffens up, stretches her neck as far as she can, yelps like she’s in severe pain, falls over and loses her balance. We pick her up and hold her close to us while rubbing her. It last 2-5 minutes each time. When it stops, all she wants to do is for us to hold her and continue petting and talking lovingly to her. It may happen a couple of times a week or month. After about 15-30 minutes after the desire she seems fine, except hungry.
Just 4 days ago, I had to tell my sweet only child good-bye. His name was Boo and he was also a shih-tzu (18 years old). In looking for help through this time of heartache, grief and unbearable guilt, I have not found anyone with the exact same experiences as I had with Boo until I read your comment above. He had an enlarged heart, fluid retention and a terrible cough so the vet prescribed lasix several months ago. It work wonderfully with his cough when I could get the pills in him. However, Boo was slick, and I was convinced that he held them under his tongue until I turned away. I have found a few here and there hidden in his beds. Since his stubbornness was becoming an issue, the vet had all of his meds compounded and I began to treat him with an oral syringe. He wasn’t crazy about the liquid, but adjusted within a day or two. (not to mention that it was marshmallow flavored). That in conjunction with the liquid gabapentin was such a relief at first. But, within a week he had his first episode that is identical to your description. One vet said it was not a seizure, while another said it was a seizure – without a doubt. I scheduled an EKG and bloodwork. He seemed to be improving with no more scary episodes, so I rescheduled the appointment and traveled with Boo to see family for Thanksgiving. The rescheduled appointment was replaced with the heartache of letting him go. The nightmare began on Thanksgiving day last week. One right after the other… seemed to have been 3 to 4 daily with the exact symptoms as you have described. All within two weeks of beginning the compounded medicines. I am looking for answers, closure and a way to let go of the guilt so that I can grieve/heal. Will you let me know your thoughts on the crying/yelping. It was heartbreaking to hear and I cannot stop wondering if his cries were from pain or involuntary vocalization. Thank you so much!
This is what my 13 yr old Maltese was doing this evening. Twice. Each time after he went outside to urinate. I’m taking him to the vet in the morning. What did your vet say when you went?
Reading these has been helpful to me.i have a almost 8 year old yorkie and I’m in tears started 2 months ago with things going wrong I noticed her belly was swole looking ,took her in for test first they said cushings or cancer, another dr ruled out cushings , they drain the fluid from her belly and said it looked like autoimmune disease. Put her on steroid, now she walking around off balance, head moving side to side , this morning we had to rush her to vet, after all mite walking and shaking she was just laying limp with her eyes set but breathing.,had to leave my baby at the vet ,he said he wants to watch her and do test. I’m lost and dont know whether to put her down she didnt look like she was gonna make it.someone please give me your opinion
What is the outcome?
You know your pet. If they’re in uncontrollable pain, peeing or pooping themselves, it’s probably time. Please read Pets and the Afterlife, by Rob Guttro. It will help you move through this painful process. I receive nothing for recommending this..it’s just helped me tremendously!
My 8yo has seizures but we never see them, we don’t know he has had one until he shows the side effects – he becomes completely blind, very drowsy,lethargic and has very squinty eyes, and it takes a good day for him to become himself again.
He had an MRI but it didn’t show anything, so they diagnosed him with epilepsy and now is on meds day and night.
So scary, my heart sinks when he goes though this
Casey is almost 7. Monday 4:00 am he had a very baf seizure… first one, body flopping, frothing at the mouth and nonresponsive, after 4-5 min he was gasping for breath, then he got up and was wobbly. Walked around aimlessly, then had a drink, went out to pee then we noticed he couldnt hear. After an hour he was back to himself, hearing included.
Thursday 1:30 am again body started twitching, i julped and put my arm around him and held him, lasted 2 min
Again gasping for breath, then up around, wobbly and walking aimlessly, again deaf… had a drink… then out to pee.. back to normal.
This morning at 1:00 am i was awaken by him twitching, i jumped up n his head was twtiching n his teeth were showing… lasted 20 seconds
Back to normal… no deafness this time
He is seeing the vet tuesday.
I’m worried and afraid to go to bed
This dog is fine all day… playing and happy
Why is it late at night…
My 12 year old shih tzu just had her first full blown seizure today and it was terrifying. I came home and she wasn’t answering when I called her, so I searched around the house and found her lying under the bed, covered in drool, unable to get up. We took her to the vet and they gave us valium in case she has a severe one again. I was reading about psychomotive seizures (or complex partial seizures) and it said everywhere that they were really rare, but I soon realized my dog has been exhibiting behaviours nearly identical to what was being described. She has become very clingy in the last 6-7 months and has started barking a lot when she is left alone, (she can’t climb the stairs on her own) even if I just make a quick two second trip upstairs or downstairs. Even when she’s around us, she still barks and stares off into space. One time we were all eating dinner and she got up and started to bark at the stairs, wouldn’t respond to her name and kept growling/snarling. She NEVER used to bark, and now its a very common occurence. Its something thats clearly been going for a little while and this first heavy seizure is the wake-up call. Luckily its been 12 hours and we haven’t seen another yet, but we do have some valium in case something like this happens again. She has had a history of benign tumors, and has had surgery twice to remove them. I’m unofrtunately nearly convinced that it is a brain tumor, but i’m still holding out hope for another cause.
My dog (Border collie 17 y/o but in otherwise pretty good shape) has been suffering from these fits for two years now. They are terrifying for him, and slowly his mind has gotten worse and worse (unsure whether it’s ageing, the fact he survived poisoning three years ago, or the fits). I have finally decided to let him go, and this week have booked an appointment with my vet. He has lived an amazing life, and as a final respect to him I don’t want to see him suffer these evening occurrencea any more.
What a wonderful mom you are! I am so very sorry and hope you are making it ok since your loss. My 10 year old Brussels had her first seizure tonight. Labs are good so it is most likely a mass. My heart is heavy. I am not ready to lose her but I certainly do not want her to suffer.
My14 year old cocker spaniel had his first seizure about 2 hours ago. Now his head is tilting to the side He cant walk. If I stand him up he won’t move He just wants to lay beside me. What do I do?
My 9 yr old pug/jack russel mix started having cluster seizures. It is terrifying. I Have terrible anxiety waiting for the next one to come. I am scared to death if I leave him alone it will happen and I wont be there for him and one of my curious kitties will get hurt. My husband keeps putting off taking him to the Vet mostly I believe because he is afraid to lose him not to mention the enormous expense but I cant bare to see him continue to go through this. I stay in the room with him when he has them and I just want to try and wake him but I know there is nothing I can do. I thought about getting some CBD Oil for him but I dont know if that will help. My husband wont even come in the room when he is having a seizure and I just cant take it anymore. I dont know what to do. I am always the one who has to deal with this kind of stuff, I just dont want to see him suffer, its not fair. Any advice would not only be helpful but greatly appreciated!!!!
I have a 10 yr old rottweiller and started having them about 5 months ago and it only happens at night after she goes to sleep. It only lasts about a minute and then she’s very disoriented. She has released her urine and owels during this . after a few mins she is fine. I read that melatonin was good to but it’s stopped working. I tried CBD chews and they worked but I ran out 92nd need to get more. I’m worried there is a worse issue going on. Its really to watch this happen. Bless all of you that are goi,g thru this and bless your for babies too!
So sorry to hear about the seizure issues with your Rottie…unfortunately I’m all too familiar with this situation. In July 2018, my Nikki was mo away from turning 9yo, and was out playing by our pool with our other Rott a year younger, came inside and laid down by me to rest and hang out by daddy, when I noticed a puddle of blood forming under her back paw. I checked and realized one toe claw was missing…thinking she to it caught in a crack in the cement, i attended to it for 3 or 4 days till it was fully healed.
The day after Thanksgiving, the toe which suffered the nail loss swelled to twice its size. The next day I was told it’s was a malignant tumor, and amputation of the toe was scheduled for first thing the following day, to which her toe was amputated and the surgeon was confident that we had gotten the mass, and more than likely hadn’t mastitized.
The day after she seemingly was her old self again, and other than a few days where she’d rather stay in bed and snuggle, (and on those days when you could see in her eyes after breakfast and potty, she just wanted to cuddle up next to me and be held…luckily i work at home, so those days i literally cleared everything from the day and she would lay her head in my lap and we’d watch TV and i’d Tell her stories all day…) otherwise she seemed perfectly heathy.
By April she was her normal self, but I did notice that she was getting more clingy…which wasnt totally unusual, because she literally went and did everything with me, where our other Rott who is an American Rott was more independent, but Nikki didn’t seem content with just laying next to me while working in or around the house, but now she seemed to want my full attention all the time.
April 12th, around 4:40pm, I got both girls in the backseat of our Navigator and headed to the airport to pickup my husband from a week of training in AZ. Approx 15min after getting him, halfway home Nikki made a quick and strange full stretch, and when it subsided he fell backward into the seat. We traded positions so he could drive and i could handle her while rushing to the ER. I put my hand back and she payed her head in it sleepily…I kept talking to her to stay with me and stay awake, while sobbing, as my husband drove like an ambulance driver…literally on the shoulder past cars ad sometimes around cars into the oncoming lanes while honking and using our flashers through friday night rush hour traffic in LA, a ride I knew was extremely dangerous by the moves he was making, and yet oblivious at the same time because i was facing the back watching and talking her through this.
We arrived at the ER and they knew we were coming from the call I made to warn them, they immediately got her on a gurney and in the back, but unfortunately maybe 10 min later the vet had come out saying they were still working on her but that her heart had stopped before they even got into the hallway. Immediately I realized the cancer had spread and must have spread to her lungs because she had an episode right before we reached the ER where her tongue and gums were turning blue and she was laboring for a breath.
I hope the your baby is doing better, but I would have a blood panel done in case of a similar situation.
I’ve been devastated, because Nikki was my girl…a true daddies girl, where Roxy is my husbands dogs for sure. While having been a wreck for the first 4 weeks, strange situations that i normally have a routine for, i found myself doing the complete opposite for no reason…and then while at my moms, a Rottweiler Breeder ‘s FB page popped up, and upon reading it, even though I told my mom I wasnt ready several times and was getting angry…and strangely enough the further into the info i got, I saw that the litter was born April 12th, 2019. Immediately i realized its Nikki reincarnating.
Needless to say, I’m heading to NorCAL tomorrow to my moms to pickup my Nikki again. So while initially a horrible experience…I realize now her body was giving out and she had to find another and lead me to it.
Hope all is well for your baby.
Hi, my dog never runs out of the house but This day he did, I chased after him. My dog all of the sudden drop to the ground and stared having a seizure and it lasted for about 30 seconds. He never has one before and he’s 7 years old. I started to panic because this never happened before and pick him up to take him to the pet hospital. When it ended I felt his head drop on my arms felt it’s looked he fainted and wasn’t responding, I felt like he was dying. He was knocked out for 4 mins then started actually like his normal self again. When we got to the pet hospital they just looked at him and told us to go back home and if he has one again to come back. Should I be worried that’s there something wrong with my dog because I read these are warnings signs of cancer and liver disease. And before his seizure he wasn’t eating as he used to.
My Jack Russell aged 13 has been having what you describe as grand-mal seizures for the last 7 years, at least once a month and sometimes as many as four or five a month. The shortest one lasting about 25 minutes but normally well over an hour. I have tried medication which seemed to increase the frequency. He has remarkable recovery times, he will walk around like he is drunk for about five minutes then its straight to his cupboard for a treat, every single time. There seems to be no set pattern when the seizures occur, they happen morning noon and night.
It is very upsetting watching him go through this, he had one at 1am this morning lasting just over an hour and one the afternoon before lasting about 40 minutes. The pattern is onset of seizure he completely freezes, goes stiff, eyes bulge, then after about 5 mins he starts to jerk uncontrolably for about 20 mins, sometimes he will vomit at this stage, he then relaxes but pants heavily and shakes like he is on a vibrating machine this can last easily another 30 minutes, he will then usually try and drink some water and want to stand up but legs don’t work and he cant manage it, eventually he will get up and totter around before heading to the cupboard for a treat which he always eats straight away then about 10 minutes after that he is completely normal as if nothing has ever happened. The vet asked me to video him but its not easy to do whilst trying to keep him from hurting himself during a seizure. Very upsetting to watch 🙁
My mom’s 12 year old Maltese/poodle mix started with what we think is a seizure about a month ago. Blood work and MRI came out normal, so no brain tumor. It seems to happen only with excitement (someone coming in). She will fall to one side, her head tilts up and she stares. After about a minute or so she gets up but is weak and disoriented. She also breathes very heavily during and after. The neurologist has put her on anti-seizure drugs (diagnosed with late onset idiopathic epilepsy)but they don’t stop them and seem to put her in a daze. She looks heavily medicated all the time and not herself. After reading so much, I’m not convinced she has epilepsy because as I said happens only with excitement. Not sure what to do at this point.
My mom’s 13 yr old maltees/poodle started having episodes about a month ago when she gets excited (someone coming in). She falls to her side, head tilts up and she stares while breathing extremely heavy. Usually lasts for 30 sec to 1 minute. She will the get up but is uncoordinated and appears not to be fully comprehensive and will lay back down shortly and continues with the heavy breathing. Blood work and MRI all came out normal so the neurologist put her on Keppra which makes her seem to be over medicated and still having the episodes. They diagnosed idiopathic late onset epilepsy but I’m not convinced. Taking her to a cardiologist in a week. Very concerned what this could be.
Thank you so much for posting this. I have a Shiba inu who was 15 in June. Last year she had a seizure and she recovered very well. Over a week ago she had another, head tilt and dizziness etc it took her a couple of days of rest and she was back to her own self – she also has dementia deafish and blind. She now has had another which has left her with a tilt to the right making her unsteady on her feet and tendency to circle in that direction. I put a towel under her to steady her when we go into the garden which helps. Other than that she is still clean in the house and still eating. Can you recommend any types of physio etc which may help with her head tilt/balance?
My maltese X jack russell who is 14 started having grand mal seizures (full convulsions and salivating) last wednesday. It usually lasts about 1-2 minutes and then he will just circle for a few minutes and is then very clingy. He has been really healthy apart from loosing muscle mass as he has gotten older, blood work was fine when we checked Thursday. We have started him on phenomav in hope it will help but i worry due to his age as he is much quieter than usual and even slightly unsteady on his feet this morning. Im afraid that due to his age its taking quite a toll.
Thank you everyone for posting on here. Really supplied me with a lot of support and information. My wife and I send our thoughts and prayers to every single one of you as we just went through the same thing.
Our Boxer Jetty turned 10 a couple months ago. No health problems. He had a full tonic/clonic seizure out of the blue this past Saturday. He had another that Monday and two within a few hours of each other that Thursday. They are so hard to watch as you are helpless to prevent and/or stop them. And his postical phase (period immediately following the seizure episode) were heartbreaking. He was so, disoriented, weak, beat down, wiped out and scared.
After discussion with the vet and reading we started him on CBD oil after his second episode. We chose not to pursue a full workup (other then a basic blood test screening after his initial episode which was unremarkable) such as an MRI because we didn’t want to put him through that. At his age epilepsy seemed highly unlikely. And the efficacy of the medications were not great anyway and the side effects, especially in older dogs, just didn’t justify the low prospect of benefit. Either way, he more then likely had a brain tumor that was not going to improve.
We know every pet owner is different and our choice may not align with other’s. But Jetty was such a great part of our family for over 10 years we owed it to him to help him pass comfortably. We figured ourselves selfish if we tried to keep him around just so he could be with us and him knowing another episode was lurking around the corner. And if it happened when neither of us were there I don’t know if I could forgive myself of not doing right by our best friend. After those horrible episodes he was terrified because he knew another was coming at some time and his people were helpless in preventing them. Jetty did not deserve to live his life out like that. We wanted him to pass peacefully and comfortably with his people instead of in the throws of another seizure. So, when his postictal phase cleared after his last episode we took him in and did what we promised and owed our big, silly, sweet, loving, faithful Brindle Boxer and sat with him as he passed peacefully and quickly.
Our decision was greatly endorsed and supported by all the great staff at the animal hospital that night who were just amazing, along with our veterinarian who called the next day. Though we know we made the right decision for our greatest friend, it was by no means easy. Worst thing we have had to. So, our heart goes out to everyone; to those who have gone through this before and to those that are currently going through it. I hope this post helps, comforts, guides or provides something for you in some way as everybody’s did for me.
Alan, Juliann, AJ and Jetty (9/27/09-11/7/19)-rest peacefully my friend, we love you always.
My ten year old Shih tau had a fit and around an hour and a half later had another one so we went to the vet and on the way she had two more , then one in reception ( this was within fifteen minutes) she kept having them so was given medication and put on a drip. Her body temperature was dangerously high
She could not walk straight and her eyes could not focus and we were told she had had a stroke probably caused by a tumer
After a couple of hours we had her put to sleep . I did not want her to suffer and miss her terribly but I felt it was the kindest thing for her
The vet told us so many cluster fits in so short a time would have left her brain damaged
I think To let you pet go is the kindest thing for your pet rather than keep them suffering and with you
Wish I knew what happened to my boy. He was about to turn 12. He was perfectly fine until I came home for lunch 3 days ago and he had a seizure. He had never had one before. Took him to the vet immediately. They took xrays (everything looked fine), they took blood work (everything was fine), his temperature was fine, and his heat rate was fine. So they set me home.As soon as I got home, he had another one. After this, he was unable to get up on his own and when we helped him, he had no balance and would fall after about 6 steps. He would not eat or drink. I called the vet and she prescribed a seizure medication. I got it into him at about 6 pm. Helped him to go outside at 2:30 AM. Got him back inside and he died in my room. I am devastated, shocked, and confused. Does anyone have any idea what could have happened to my boy?
This is good information. I have 2 senior dogs and now both have seizures. My Chihuahua/Pug, Niko, has seizures due to hypoglycemia. We can easily treat them with honey. However, my 14 year old Beagle/Dachshund/Chihuahua, Nuni had her first seizure 10 days ago and another on Friday night. I have never seen a seizure like the ones Nuni goes through. I haven’t seen how they start, but when she is in the seizure her legs are out straight and stiff as a board, her mouth is open with tongue humped up midmouth. She loses bladder control and saliva runs out her mouth. I thought for sure the one on Friday was going to take her over the rainbow bridge and to a point, I wish it had. She can’t seem to breath and pants alot. I have a call in to her vet, just waiting for a response.