Seizures in Dogs

The causes and treatments of a dog’s seizure.


Congenital/Inherited disorders: Idiopathic epilepsy (in Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Beagles, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, and other breeds); hepatic encephalopathy (due to abnormality of the blood vessels in the liver; in Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Old English Sheepdogs, and other breeds); primary hyperlipidemia (increased lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in the bloodstream; in Miniature Schnauzers); lissencephaly (rare cerebral abnormality in Lhasa Apsos; also occurs in Irish Setters, Wirehaired Fox Terriers, and Samoyeds with cerebellar hypoplasia), or Pug encephalitis (also occurs in Yorkshire Terriers and Maltese).

Toxicity: Ethylene glycol (antifreeze), bromethalin (rodenticide), strychnine (rodenticide), sodium monofluoroacetate (1080, rodenticide), metaldehyde (slug bait), bread dough, lead, vitamin A, toad poisoning, carbamate insecticides, or organophosphate insecticides.
Infectious diseases: Distemper, rabies, infectious canine hepatitis (rare), or other bacterial, viral, or fungal diseases that cause meningitis or encephalitis. Note: Never handle a dog who may have rabies. If possible, without touching the dog, confine him in a room, pen, or yard and call your local animal control for assistance.

Tumors: In brain, nasal passages and/or sinuses (with extension into brain), pituitary, pancreas, or liver.

Drug reactions: Chlorpheniramine (antihistamine; large amounts), ibuprofen, aspirin, or mitotane, a medication used to treat hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) or adrenal tumors.

Miscellaneous: Secondary hyperlipidemia (increased lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in the bloodstream) due to pancreatitis, liver disease, or kidney disease.

Nutritional: Hypoglycemia, puerperal hypocalcemia (decreased blood calcium level during lactation), vitamin D deficiency, or secondary hyperlipidemia due to high-fat meal.

Parasites/Parasite-borne diseases: Borreliosis (Lyme disease).

Endocrine disorders: Hypoparathyroidism or secondary hyperlipidemia due to hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, or hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease).

Allergies/Hypersensitivities: Anaphylaxis.

What to do: Use a blanket or pillows (not your hands) to keep the dog away from stairs and other potentially harmful areas or objects. A seizure may or may not be an emergency, depending on the cause, duration, and whether it recurs. Contact your veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately for specific advice about your dog’s condition.

Disclaimer:’s Dog Medical Conditions are intended for educational purposes only. They are not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your dog’s ailment. If you notice changes in your dog’s health or behavior, please take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

Have a health question about your dog? Ask our 
vet expert or ask other dog owners on our forums.


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Tammy   Monongahela, Pennsylvania

12/28/2013 3:47:52 PM

I have a 5 year old Maltese took him to the Vet last week, he said he had a bad tooth and had puss on his gums...he gave him an antibiotic and pain medication he is lethargic. This morning he was lethargic again and within seconds he died in my husbands arms....what could have happened?????

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

1/30/2013 3:23:46 AM

I did not realize so many dogs may have a Congenital/Inherited possibly of this disorders. Excellent infomation to be aware of. Thanks!

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david   teaneck, NJ

5/31/2011 8:52:11 AM

reassuring but i need details to narrow down what i think is going on. my 5 year old toy poodle just had his 2nd seizure in 2 weeks. at ist i thought he was having a bad dream since he seemed to be running...but now im worried!!

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Tb   Omaha, NE

3/31/2011 10:48:25 PM

FYI: melatonin aids in sleep latency, which means it helps you initially fall asleep not stay asleep. Supplementing too much can lead to rebound night awakenings.

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