Seizures in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide for Pet Owners

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Seizures in dogs can be scary, but understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments can help you better care for your pet. This blog provides a comprehensive guide.
what causes seizures in dogs

Just yesterday, my friend Susan called me in a state of panic. Her beloved dog had suffered a severe seizure, and she felt completely helpless. The fear in her voice was palpable, and it was heartbreaking for me to hear. As a pet care professional, I realized how crucial it is for every pet owner to understand seizures in dogs. Susan’s ordeal was a terrifying experience, but it also served as a wake-up call. It stirred in me the urge to write a comprehensive guide on handling seizures in dogs, aiming to empower pet owners like Susan to manage such situations effectively and ensure their pets get the necessary help.

What is Seizure in Dogs?

In simple terms, a seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can lead to changes in your dog’s behavior, movements, or feelings, and levels of consciousness. Imagine seeing your dog suddenly fall to the ground, salivate excessively, or even lose consciousness. It’s a shocking sight. Seizures can last from a few seconds to several minutes and often happen without warning. Your dog might appear perfectly fine one moment and then suddenly start having a seizure the next. It’s a condition that can be frightening not just for your pet but for you as an owner as well.

A vet doctor examines a lying on a disposable diaper lying dog.

What Causes Seizures in Dogs? 11 Potential Reasons and Matching Syptoms:


This abnormal electrical activity in the brain is a primary cause of seizures in dogs. Imagine it like an electrical storm in your dog’s head, causing behaviors like staring, spasms, or even loss of consciousness.

Canine Distemper:

This contagious viral disease can lead to seizures, especially in its later stages. However, less than 5% of dog seizures result from distemper.

Heartworm Disease:

This condition can also cause seizures, in addition to symptoms like coughing, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.

Congenital Heart Abnormalities:

Conditions such as Patent Ductus Arteriosus, Pulmonary Stenosis, Aortic Stenosis, Ventricular Septal Defect, Tetralogy of Fallot, and Mitral Valve Insufficiency can cause seizures in dogs. It’s like your dog’s heart is playing out of tune, and the whole body suffers.

Brain Damage:

Both congenital and acquired brain damage can lead to seizures. This can be due to conditions like epilepsy, hydrocephalus, or brain tumors.


Diseases like canine distemper, toxoplasmosis, and rabies can cause seizures. It’s like an invader storming your dog’s body and causing chaos.

seizures in dogs

Toxic Epilepsy:

Toxins like carbon monoxide or arsenic can cause seizures, which may include intermittent seizures and foamy vomiting.

Metabolic Abnormalities:

Conditions such as hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, or heat stroke can trigger seizures. Imagine your dog’s body as a car, and these conditions are like the wrong fuel.

High Fever:

In cold seasons, upper respiratory infections can cause high fever in dogs, which might cause seizures in puppies.

Nutritional Imbalances:

Lack of nutrients like calcium can lead to seizures, especially in pregnant or nursing dogs. It’s like running a machine without enough oil.

Psychological Issues:

Stress or fear can cause seizures in dogs, often referred to as “hysterical seizures.”

Dog Psychological Issues

Treatment for Seizures in Dogs (Including Approximate Costs)

Now, let’s dive into the treatments. When you see your dog having a seizure, you might feel helpless. But trust me, there’s a lot we can do.

Epilepsy: For epilepsy, I usually recommend medications such as phenobarbital. A year’s supply might cost around $200 to $500 depending on the size of your dog. But remember, it’s necessary to control those electrical storms in your dog’s brain.

Canine Distemper: If your dog has distemper, it’s a more difficult battle. Treatment mostly involves supportive care, which can cost from $200 to $500 a day in a veterinary hospital. Vaccination is the best prevention here.

Heartworm Disease: Heartworm disease can be treated with medications that kill the worms. This treatment can cost $400 to $1,000. But again, prevention is better, and heartworm preventatives are much cheaper.

Congenital Heart Abnormalities: For congenital heart problems, surgery might be necessary. This can be expensive, often costing between $3,000 and $6,000. But it’s a lifesaving investment.

Brain Damage: If seizures come from brain damage, we’ll likely need to treat the underlying condition. This could involve surgery or medication, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

Infections: Infections need to be treated with appropriate antibiotics or antiviral medications. This could cost from $20 to $200.

Veterinarians inspecting the eyes of a dog in vet clinic

Toxic Epilepsy: If toxins caused the seizure, we’ll need to remove the toxin source and give supportive care. Costs here can vary greatly.

Metabolic Abnormalities: These are often treated with dietary changes and sometimes medication, costing around $20 to $200 per month.

High Fever: If a high fever caused the seizure, we’ll need to treat the infection causing the fever. This might cost from $20 to $200.

Nutritional Imbalances: These can usually be corrected with dietary changes, which can be as cheap as $10 to $50 per month.

Psychological Issues: These might require behavior modification or sometimes medications. Costs can range from $50 to $200 per month.

Remember, these are just estimates. The actual cost can vary based on your location, the specific condition of your dog, and the treatment required. The most important thing is to get your dog the help it needs.

Veterinarian Vaccinating Dog in Vet Clinic

Prognosis for Dogs with Seizures

The chances of recovery for dogs with seizures depend on the underlying cause. In many cases, seizures can be managed with medication, allowing dogs to live a relatively normal life. For some dogs, the prognosis is excellent, while for others, it may be more challenging. It’s essential to work closely with your vet to develop a treatment plan that works best for your dog.

Coping with Treatment Failure

If treatments fail, it’s essential to consider the quality of life for your dog. In some cases, providing palliative care can help manage pain and discomfort, allowing your pet to enjoy their remaining time. However, in other situations, the difficult decision to pet euthanize may be necessary to prevent your dog from suffering. It’s crucial to consult with your vet to determine the best course of action for your pet, considering their overall health, comfort, and well-being.

Caring woman touch healed paw of sleeping dog. Owner take care of pet after treatment in vet clinic

If you notice any signs of seizures in your dog, I strongly encourage you to consult a veterinarian. It’s crucial to act quickly to ensure the best possible outcome for your pet. Let’s work together to keep our furry friends happy and healthy.

Tara Sharpe
Tara Sharpe

Hello, I'm a dedicated pet care professional from PETGURT with a passion for nurturing and understanding the unique needs of animals. As a proud home breeder of two dogs, five cats, and a bird, I've gained invaluable insights into their habits and care requirements, ensuring that they thrive under my loving supervision. My deep affection for my furry and feathered companions drives my desire to rescue more stray pets and establish a comprehensive Pet Care Institute. Trust in my extensive experience and commitment to the well-being of all animals as we explore the incredible world of pet care together.

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