Health Topics  >  Neurological  > Seizures

What are seizures in dogs?

Put in simple terms, a seizure is a neurological condition caused by an electrical disturbance in the cerebral cortex of the brain that is sudden and uncontrolled. It’s also one of the most frequently reported neurological conditions in dogs. When a dog experiences repeated episodes of seizures, epilepsy is the term often used to describe the disorder.

A dog having a seizure is a scary experience, especially when it happens for the first time. Many owners have no idea what to do, or even what is happening to their furry friend. Seizures can occur in dogs of any age and are often disturbing to the dog owner.

In order to properly identify the signs that your dog is having a seizure, it is vital that you know how to recognize what one looks like and know what causes seizures in dogs.


Types of Seizures

There are several different types of seizures. The most common type of seizure that dogs experience is a generalized seizure, also known as grand mal seizures. When your dog is having a generalized seizure, it is possible that they will lose consciousness and begin to convulse. This type of seizure can last anywhere from several seconds to several minutes.

Another type of seizure is called the psychomotor seizure. When a dog is suffering from this type of seizure, they will usually display some type of odd behaviour for a couple of minutes. For example, your dog may start to frantically chase their tail, or they may appear to be attacking an object that only they can see. Dogs can do strange things under the best of circumstances so it can be a challenge to tell if they are having a psychomotor seizure. However, the same odd behaviour will be repeated every time a seizure starts.

When there is no known cause for a seizure, they are considered to have idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic means that the cause is unknown. This type of seizure most often happens to dogs who are between six months old and six years old. Any breed could potentially suffer from this type of seizure but there are certain breeds in which it is more common, including German Shepherds, Border Collies, Beagles, and Labrador Retrievers.