Overview of Seizures in Dogs

Watching your dog during a seizure can be a very stressful experience. However, by understanding the definition, causes and treatment for seizures in your dog, it's possible to find an effective treatment procedure for this condition. There are many different types of seizures that may affect dogs, each of which have several defining traits.

Types of Seizures in Dogs

1. Generalized (also called Tonic Clonic) Seizures

This type of seizure may be either "Mild" or "Grand Mal" (severe). In the "Tonic" phase of this seizure, a dog typically loses its balance and immediately extends its limbs. This usually continues for roughly 20-30 seconds before the next phase (the "Clonic" phase) begins. In the Clonic Phase, a dog will begin a "running in place" motion, which may be combined with contraction of the jaw muscles.

2. Petit Mal Seizures

This type of seizure is fairly rare in dogs. Petit Mal seizures are characterized by upward rotation of the eyes and brief unconsciousness. There is still some debate among veterinarians about the occurrence and classification of Petit Mal Seizures.

3. Partial Seizures

A Partial Seizure will typically only involve one area of a dog's body. This may include uncontrollable spasms of a single lib, facial muscle contractions, or slight jerking of the muscles. It is possible for a Partial Seizure to progress to a Generalized Seizure.

4. Complex Partial Seizures

Complex Partial Seizures involve the frequency of complex behavioral traits that are repeated with each seizure. This may involve sensory or visual sensations that will cause strange behavior in a dog. Biting of limbs, hysterical running, aggression and smacking of the lips are other common behaviors that are associated with Complex Partial Seizures.

5. Status Epilepticus

This defines a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes, and may end up to being up to 30 minutes in length. It's possible for several seizures to occur, with no period of coherency in between. It's difficult to discern between this type of seizure and Cluster Seizures, though both are considered to be life-threatening.

6. Cluster Seizures

This type of seizure involves the mutiple occurrence of several seizures during a single episode. It's possible that Cluster Seizures may be confused with Status Epilepticus.

The Three Stages of Seizures in Dogs

When experiencing a seizure, an affected dog will typically go through three separate stages.

1. Pre-Ictal Phase

This is a period of time before the actual seizure in which a dog's behavior will begin to be affected. This may include nervousness, trembling, constant salivation or incessant whining. The period of time in which this phase lasts is uncertain. Sometimes the Pre-Ictal phase may last for several seconds, or it may continue for a few hours.

2. Ictal Phase

This phase is characterized by the actual onset of the seizure. Most seizures usually last from a few seconds to several minutes. If this phase continues for longer than five minutes, it's called "status epilepticus", also known as a prolonged seizure. During this phase, a dog's muscles will visibly contract in an uncontrollable spastic motion. Most dogs may fall over during this period, appearing stiff-legged and paralyzed while convulsing. Sometimes a dog may lose control of their bowels or salivary glands during this phase.

3. Post-Ictal Phase

This is the period of time after the seizure where a dog's behavior is still abnormal. A dog in the Post-Ictal phase may appear disoriented, confused, and be salivating excessively. Temporary blindness may also occur during this phase.

Read More