My Dog Just Had A Seizure
I have insomnia lately. I am not sure why, but I think it is heat related; pair that with the fact that my husband works at night and is up extremely late on the weekend and my desire to spend time with him, means I have been up till 4 or 5 in the morning each night.
It was a blessing that I was unable to sleep last night; otherwise I could have slept right through it. At about 3 o’clock in the morning, this morning my 11 year old dog (who sleeps on the bed) sat up, his body got stiff, his tongue dropped out of his mouth, he started drooling, his head bobbed to the side and his eyes and pupils shook up and down. He was suffering from his first ever seizure.
Automatically, thanks to my veterinary technician background, I recognized the signs and told my husband, who also acknowledged trouble, that he was seizing. With calmness of mind, I asked him to press his stop watch and time the seizure and to also get up and turn on the light so I could see well and monitor his condition. His seizure lasted for about 2 and a half minutes. Most seizures last less than 2 minutes.
Thankfully I am good in an emergency and able to keep a cool head. At one point I considered and began the process to becoming a police officer, but I enjoyed working with animals too much to give that up. Once his seizure was over, he seemed normal laid back down and went to sleep. That is when I lost all control.
Whereas I can handle an emergency in those moments, it is hard to be a “mom” and watch your baby suffer and be unable to do anything about it! Although, I have worked seen and worked with many seizing dogs this is the first time it has happened to my own. I definitely have a new empathy for dog owners who have to suffer through watching their dogs seize and not being able to do anything about it!
First thing this morning we headed off to the vet for an exam and blood work and Nix seems fine. I however am still traumatized. Just sitting down and writing this or anything else is difficult! But, I am hoping that I will be able to help others that travel down the road of seizures of epilepsy with their dogs!
There are several types of seizures and subcategories, but the most common are Generalized (gran mal and petit mal) and Focal (partial) seizures. My dog had a Focal Seizure because it mostly occurred in one area of his body; his face.
What Causes Seizures
- Metabolic disease
- Low blood sugar
- High blood sugar
- Kidney and/or Liver disease
- Heart and Lung disease
- Genetics (some seizures disorders are hereditary)
- Primary or Secondary Brain Cancer
- Inflammatory diseases
- Damage to the Brain
What to Do During a Seizure
- Stay calm! Although it is difficult panic will not help either of you. A clear head will help you later!
- Make sure he is safe and will not fall down stairs or onto anything sharp or that might hurt him. Unplug anything near him so he doesn’t get tangled.
- Start a timer! This is crucial! Seizures lasting over 5 minutes require the assistance of your veterinarian immediately. Seizures that last over 30 minutes can cause brain damage or death.
- If someone is with you and you can, record the episode so your vet can see it himself.
- Observe exactly what is going on and where it is going on. If the seizure starts in one area of your dog (face) and then moves to another or the whole body this information is critical to help your vet.
- DO NOT put your hands near your dog’s mouth he will not swallow his tongue. Dogs often bite and chomp their jaws when they seize and if you put your hands near his mouth you are likely to be bitten.
- Be cautious, some dogs can suffer from aggression during seizures.
- He may also be oblivious to you, which is normal during most seizures.
- If the seizure lasts more than 3 minutes you may need to monitor his temperature, rectally. A normal temperature for a dog is about 100-102.5. Seizures can cause your dog’s temperature to rise. Any temperature over 103 is considered a fever, and temperatures over 106 can cause brain damage and lead to death.
What to Do Post Seizure
- Write down the information that you have complied so you can share it with your vet.
- Contact your veterinarian and make an appointment.
- Keep a seizure log so you know exactly when, and how long each episode lasted.
- You may need to restrict food for 4 hours or so prior to blood work to get the best results. However do not stop any medications and if in doubt ask your vet!
Preparing for More
- Make sure your vets phone number is near.
- Shut doors that lead to stairways or other areas that might injure your dog during a seizure.
- Keep your stop watch, thermometer, and video cam in a central locale.
- If your veterinarian prescribes emergency medications make sure they are easily located and that you are comfortable administering them.
- Know where the nearest emergency veterinary hospital is and how long it takes to get there. Do a trial drive by to ensure you know exactly where it is!
I have had a traumatic day, hoping that this will be an isolated event. However, I know now that I must prepare myself, my family and my dog for the probability of more seizures on the horizon. Knowledge is power and it is the one thing I can arm myself with to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible. I definitely end the day having much more empathy for anyone else that has ever had to suffer from this frightening event and I hope that this information will help to empower anyone else that is unfortunate enough to need the information!
For more information I found this article very informative and it was written by a veterinary Neurologist. http://www.canine-epilepsy.net/basics/basics_index.html
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.