Old dog seizures, or seizures at any other age, probably rank pretty high on the list of things most dog parents hope they never experience. Seizures are scary—plain and simple. But integrative veterinarian Dr. Julie Buzby is here to help. With compassion and understanding, she discusses how to recognize seizures, why they occur, the types of seizures, how they are treated, and what to do if your dog has a seizure.
If you’ve ever seen a dog have a seizure, you know it’s scary. Your dog is fine one moment and then completely abnormal the next—his movements may be erratic or uncontrollable. Even if the seizure only lasts a few seconds, it can feel like an eternity. It may even be hard for you to describe what you’ve seen. As difficult as the moment of your dog’s seizure is, there is some comfort in knowing that your dog is not in pain.
Learning more about seizures in dogs may not make them any less scary in the moment. However, it can help you understand how to comfort and safely care for your beloved dog during the seizure. Also, it can give you an idea of what to expect afterward, and what you can do in partnership with your veterinarian in the future to help your dear dog.
What are old dog seizures?
First, let’s define what a seizure is—and what it isn’t.
Think about the brain as the command center of the body. It sends electrical impulses to various parts of the body to cause an action—be that walking, barking, or breathing. Normally this is a good thing. But what if the brain temporarily goes haywire, sending random electrical impulses out willy-nilly? Well, that is sort of what happens when a dog has a seizure.
The medical definition of a seizure is an involuntary neurologic event due to temporary abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Pretty much this means that for a short period of time, the brain is sending out uncontrolled, abnormal electrical impulses.
When these impulses reach their target in the body, they may cause atypical body movements like head tremors or jerking of the legs. They can also cause behavior changes. The exact signs will be determined by the area of the brain where the abnormal electrical activity was centered.
What kind of seizures do dogs have?
The different types of seizures in dogs include:
- Psychomotor seizures: Affected dogs may stare into space or seem to be in a daze. These strange behaviors are not typically accompanied by abnormal physical movements.
- Focal or partial seizures: When abnormal electrical activity only occurs in one area of the brain, a dog exhibits localized signs. These may include movement of only one limb, facial twitching, or chewing movements.
- Grand mal or generalized seizures: These severe seizures affect multiple areas of the brain and may cause complete loss of consciousness and violent limb movements.
It is a seizure or something else?
Dog parents will understandably sometimes confuse seizures with another abnormal event called syncope. The term syncope is used to refer to a fainting, collapsing, or passing out event, often due to underlying heart disease in dogs. Looking at when the seizure occurs may help differentiate the conditions.
Syncope is mostly triggered by excitement, coughing, or some other activity. In contrast, seizures can occur when a dog is resting. Also, there are usually signs that indicate when a seizure is about to occur or has just occurred. Syncopal events do not have these warning signs.
It also helps to check the color of the dog’s gums and tongue if you can do so safely. You may notice your dog’s gums are pale or blue during a syncopal episode due to poor oxygen delivery. This is not typically seen in short seizures that only last a few seconds or minutes. (Don’t use your fingers to check gum color if your dog is actively convulsing because your dog could accidentally bite you.)
Two other conditions that may be confused with a seizure are old dog vestibular disease (aka doggy vertigo) or a stroke in dogs. In these conditions, a dog may be unable to stand, have a head tilt, or have eyes that are rapidly moving back and forth. However, unlike some seizures, the dog will be alert and responsive to you. Signs of vestibular disease or stroke may also last for days, and seizures typically last for a few seconds or minutes.
What do seizures look like?
When picturing seizures in older dogs, many dog parents imagine erratic movements and paddling of the limbs. However, not all seizures are this violent. Additionally, there are periods of time before and after the actual seizure where you may notice your dear dog is not acting right. It’s important to recognize those as part of the seizure event too.
There are three phases to a seizure event. Each name uses the term “ictal” which means “relating to a seizure.”
1. Pre-ictal phase, i.e. aura
During the pre-ictal phase, a dog displays unusual behavior. He or she may seem restless or confused, act nervous, or try to hide. Some dogs will seek out their owner. You may notice crying, shaking, or drooling. The pre-ictal phase can last for a few seconds or up to several hours.
2. Ictal phase
The ictal phase is when actual seizure activity occurs. In a psychomotor seizure, some dogs will stare into space and appear unresponsive. This is known as “star-gazing” because it looks like they are staring at the sky. They may also have a “fly-biting” seizure. As the name implies, the dog will bite at the air around the head as if trying to catch a buzzing fly.
During a focal or partial seizure, a dog’s ears, eyelids, or face on one side of the body may twitch. They may also move a limb or limbs abnormally. These dogs may or may not have altered consciousness. In some cases, a focal or partial seizure will progress to a generalized or grand mal seizure.
Grand mal seizures involve the loss of body function and consciousness. In some cases, dogs will lie down and twitch or convulse. They might smack their lips or bite at the air, and their legs will lock up and appear tense. Affected dogs may also lose control of the bowels and bladder.
In other cases, dogs will suddenly fall over and start paddling their legs. Their head and neck may arch backward, and they may cry out and whine while this is happening. These seizures appear particularly violent and can be very frightening to witness.
3. Post-ictal phase
After a seizure has finished, dogs may be more aware of their surroundings, but they are still not 100% normal. They may stay in one place, pant and drool excessively, and appear restless, disoriented, or confused. This phase may last for anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour.
What can I do to help my dog?
If your dog is having a seizure, it is important to stay calm. To protect your dog and yourself from injury:
- Cushion your pup’s head with a pillow or blanket
- Use pillows to support your dog
- Move furniture or other dangerous items away from your dog
- If your dog is near stairs or in another dangerous location such as on a bed or couch, carefully move your dog to a safer location on the floor.
- Remember not to stick your fingers in your dog’s mouth because you might accidently get bitten. You dog’s airway should be ok.
Once your dog is in a safe place, you can try capturing a video of the seizure. Now that most people have smartphones, this is pretty easy to do. Sharing the video with your vet can help him or her verify it was a seizure and classify the seizure type.
It also helps to keep a seizure journal that lists the date and time of the seizure. You can jot down how long it lasted, what happened exactly, and if there were any specific triggers.
In some cases, the excitement of playing or eating can alter a dog’s brain activity, increasing the risk of a seizure. In fact, I had one patient who had seizures whenever he played with a yellow tennis ball. Once his owners figured that out, it was a pretty easy fix.
It can also be helpful to record any new food, treat, or medication you gave your dog around the time of the seizure. Certain flea and tick preventives or other medications may increase the chances of seizure activity.
What causes seizures?
Seizures may happen for a variety of reasons. Some of them include:
- Low blood sugar (This is primarily seen in young puppies, diabetic dogs who receive too much insulin, or dogs with insulin-secreting tumors.)
- Head trauma
- Various toxins including xylitol toxicity in dogs
- Idiopathic epilepsy (The true cause for this condition is unknown. But it usually starts in dogs between the ages of one and four years, and is more common in certain breeds.)
- Bacterial, viral, protozoal, or tick-borne infections in dogs
- Congenital abnormalities
- Benign or malignant (cancerous) tumors
- Kidney or liver disease
- Electrolyte imbalances
Why do old dogs have seizures?
If an otherwise healthy senior dog starts having seizures, there is usually an underlying cause. This is in contrast to younger dogs who are more likely to have idiopathic epilepsy where no cause can be found. Whenever I see an older dog with new onset seizures, my top differentials are metabolic diseases and tumors.
Senior dogs are more prone to kidney and liver disease. As either of those organs fail, toxins build up in their blood stream. When these toxins reach the brain, seizures can occur. Also, older dogs are more likely to have diabetes mellitus. If they become hypoglycemic (have low blood sugar), they may have seizures.
Finally, older dogs are at a higher risk for tumors. An insulinoma (insulin secreting pancreatic tumor) can lead to low blood sugar. Also, seizures can be caused by benign or malignant tumors in the brain. Some tumors originate in the brain. Others metastasize (spread) to the brain from cancer elsewhere in the body.
What tests will my vet perform?
In order to narrow down the list of causes we discussed above, your veterinarian may recommend:
- Blood tests to evaluate organ function, blood sugar, electrolytes, and blood cell numbers.
- X-rays of the chest or abdomen.
- MRI or CT to look for brain inflammation or tumors.
- Additional specialized testing.
What is the treatment for old dog seizures?
Your vet will consider several factors when determining how to manage your dog’s seizures. One component of treatment involves addressing the underlying cause of the seizures, if one can be found. The other component is anti-seizure medication. Your vet will ask you questions about how often your dog is having seizures, how intense they are, and how long they last.
Consideration for choosing anti-seizure medications
If the following criteria apply to your canine companion, anti-seizure medication may be needed:
- Severe seizures lasting longer than five minutes
- Cluster seizures (two or more in 24 to 48 hours)
- Multiple seizures in a month
Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-seizure medications like phenobarbital for dogs, potassium bromide, levetiracetam, or zonisamide. Some dogs start out with just one of these medications. If seizures are still not well controlled despite routine medication usage, your vet may prescribe a second or even a third medication.
Clients sometimes ask me about CBD oil for dogs because they have heard it is a possible seizure treatment in humans. At this point, there is very little scientific evidence to support the use of CBD oil for dogs with seizures. However, bigger clinical trials are currently underway.
It is important to remember that the goal of anti-seizure medications is to decrease the severity, frequency, and duration of the seizures. Anti-seizure medications may not stop your dog from ever having another seizure.
The decision to start anti-seizure medications isn’t always clear cut. You and your veterinarian must work together to decide what is best for your dog. These medications require careful monitoring, sometimes have undesirable side effects, and are often needed lifelong. However, they also have the potential to greatly improve the quality of life of dogs with seizures.
When are seizures an emergency?
Watching a dog have a seizure is terrifying. It may be hard to know when you need to immediately rush your dog to the vet, and when you should call and make an appointment. Here are some criteria that may help:
1. How long did the seizure last?
Seizures often last a few seconds to several minutes. Try to start a stopwatch or look at the time when the seizure activity starts so you can track the seizure duration.
Status epilepticus is the term used to describe a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes or two seizures that occur back to back without regaining consciousness. This can cause brain damage and dangerous increases in body temperature.
Call your vet immediately if you suspect status epilepticus and/or take your dog to the nearest emergency clinic.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Status epilepticus is an emergency where time is of the essence.
2. How many seizures did your dog have?
Sometimes multiple seizures will occur within a 24 to 48 hour period of time. These are known as cluster seizures. While not as urgent as status epilepticus, you should still call your veterinarian immediately if your dog is having cluster seizures.
3. Is this the first time your dog had a seizure?
Finally, whenever a dog has a seizure for the first time, they should be seen by a veterinarian for a full evaluation. Some dogs will have a seizure one time and never again. Other dogs will continue to have more seizures through their lifetime. The term “epilepsy” is used to describe this recurrent seizure activity.
When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of calling your vet. That way, he or she can help you decide what is best for your dog’s situation.
When should euthanasia be considered?
Sometimes clients will ask me, “How do I know when it is time to put down my old dog with seizures?” This is such a hard but important question. Unfortunately, there are times when seizures cannot be adequately controlled with medications and we are out of options.
Other times a dog is in status epilepticus and the damage to the body is too great. The underlying causes of seizures like organ failure and cancer can take a toll on a dog’s body. Any of these factors, and others, may decrease a dog’s quality of life. As a result, devoted dog parents may make the heartbreaking decision that euthanasia is the kindest choice.
Ultimately, I can’t tell you when it is time for your dog. Only you can make that decision. I can however, offer you these resources that may help guide you through the process:
- Preparing for Your Dog’s Euthanasia: 10 Thoughts for Peace
- Grieving the Loss of a Dog After Euthanasia (& Finding Peace)
- Dog Euthanasia: Knowing When to Say Goodbye
- How Will You Know When It’s Time to Euthanize Your Dog? 5 Caring, Heartfelt Messages
- Saying Goodbye to Our Dog: Dr. Buzby’s Heartfelt Story of How Her Family Spent the Last Days With Luke
If you think your dog’s quality of life is declining due to seizures, talk to your veterinarian too. Like you, he or she has your dog’s best interests in mind and can help you work through this difficult decision.
Three parting pieces of advice
If there were three things I could tell dog parents to remember it would be this:
- Seizures are scary for everyone. Stay calm. Do what you can to keep your dog safe but don’t get injured in the process.
- Try to record as many details about the seizure as you can. The more information you can give your vet the better.
- Your vet is your ally. Communicate with him or her about how your dog is doing and don’t be afraid to call with concerns.
It may never get easier to watch your dog have a seizure. But armed with the information in this article, I hope you and your dog can navigate old dog seizures with a bit more confidence.
What is one piece of advice you want to share with others about seizures in senior dogs?
Please comment below.
Kandee Scott says
Thank you for this post. My Blue Heeler, “Blue” is 9 years old now. He has had seizures since he was around 3 years old, been taking phenobarbital for roughly 4 years now once a day. He still has seizures. They come and go. He can go 2 months without one, then have 2 in the same week or back to back. I am very scared for him and I love him dearly. I just moved out of my parents house and the change has been hard on him. Yesterday he had two seizures one in the morning and one at night which is unusual for him. Do you have any advice? Should I up his dosage to two pills morning and night? Change medication? He also has a lot of anxiety and I’m scared to leave him alone while I’m at work.
Thank you so much.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry your senior guy is having increased seizure activity since moving out of your parents’ house. You may be right in thinking his phenobarbital dosage needs to be increased. Please talk to your vet and discuss these concerns with them. They may need to do some blood work to rule out other more serious issues or check a phenobarbital level to ensure it is still in the therapeutic range. If an adjustment needs to be made, they will guide you through the process and monitor your dog during the transition period. How are things today? Hoping all is well and your sweet boy has been able to adapt to his new surroundings. Wishing you both the best for many happy days ahead.
Hello! This was really helpful but I still need a bit of help. My dog Yankee is going on 12. He’s an inbreed chihuahua mix and was a gift to us as a puppy. He didn’t start with the seizures (or syncope) until the beginning February which was when his first one occurred. I was playing with him when he just toppled over and was pretty out of it for about 3 minutes. Just yesterday I came home and he was happy and jumping around. He then dropped but this time for only about a minute. We don’t really have a good vet around, so what should I do? We usually wrap a blanket around him, but is it helping at all? Also, is this more of syncope or seizures. This was extremely helpful. Thank you!
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry Yankee is having these worrisome episodes. Without examining your dog, myself, or witnessing one of these events, I can’t make specific conclusions about the cause. Wrapping your pup in a blanket will help to comfort him and keep him from injuring himself but you really need to treat the underlying condition. My best advice is to find a vet you can take him to for evaluation. It would be great if you can catch one of his episodes on video to show the vet. That could be extremely helpful in making a diagnosis. I am hopeful you can find the best way to give your sweet boy relief from his struggles. Wishing you and Yankee the best of luck for happier days ahead.
Damien Kagemann says
Our poor Buddy is 16. Terrier mix he has a collapsing trachea for 2 years now. he coughs (hacking) very loud sometimes for an hr, sometimes not all day. now he’s having the violent seizures, once pretty much every night, with the head arched back. extremely scary. but only last 20 seconds or so. I know his time is coming to an end but he has soooo much energy, it’s very confusing to make a call. when he’s so playful most of the day but also clearly in so much pain the other times.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry Buddy is having so many seizure episodes and struggles with collapsing trachea. Have you talked to your vet about the seizures? There is a good possibility that Buddy could take a simple medication that would prevent the majority of these episodes. I think it would be a good idea to have him evaluated by your vet and see if medication is an option. Hoping you can find a way to give your sweet boy the best quality of life possible. Wishing you both the best.
Danie Nortman says
Hello doc, thanks for a great artical. I have male and female Rotties from the same litter. Was 8 years now in Nov. Brutus (male) now had 2 seizures in three weeks. Extensive breaking, foam in mouth and extensive leg kicking. Gums stayed normal stayed red as normal. Both times happened for at least 5 min. Just rubbed his head with a cold cloth and talked quietly and stayed with him. Every time he was sleeping when it started once midnight and once midday. 15 minutes after he was his normal self ate a cooky and wagging tail. I will monitor him more closely. We do stay on a plot and he had his meds for tics and fleas and what els.
Kind Rgds Danie
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry Brutus has started having seizure episodes. I am glad they seemed to be short in duration and he recovered quickly. I highly recommend you have him examined by your vet. There are many possible causes for seizures, especially in older dogs. It is possible Brutus could get some relief with a simple medication. I think it is worth discussing with your vet. Hoping all is well and wishing you many happy days ahead.
Jody Strickland says
Danie….That sounds EXACTLY as my dogs episodes which recently started. Did you ever get any clear answers? I’m currently going to be starting my boxer on meds to see if they help.
Ana Rubio says
Hi, my dog’s name is Harry he is 15.5 years old, he had what I think it was a focal seizure. We were walking and suddenly he lost partial control of his back legs, so he fell on the ground like if he was in a sitting position, I tried to lift him up and one leg was very stiff and he was kicking with the other one. He had bloodwork recently because he was due for an entropion surgery on the 20th of this month, bloodwork was normal. My question is what could be causing the focal seizures at his age and normal blood results and also if he could still have the surgery?
Thanks in advance
Julie Buzby DVM says
I understand your concern for Harry and this seizure episode he experienced. There are just too many possibilities to make specific conclusions about the cause. Epilepsy and tumors are both common causes of seizures in senior dogs and neither usually show any blood abnormalities. I recommend you talk to your vet about the seizure. They may want to do some additional testing. As long as the testing all looks normal, Harry would probably be fine to proceed with his surgery. Your vet may alter the anesthesia protocol a bit just to be safe. How is Harry feeling today? I am hopeful all is well, and the surgery will go on without an issue. Wishing you both the best of luck!
Yesterday our 11 yr old Havenrse, Jack, had what we thought was his first seizure, (a few days ago he came in from outside and had dirt on outer front leg and his sweater has some wetness, at the time we thought he rolled around on the ground, something he never does, but we chalked it up to him walking behind the pool which has no grass, just dirt, ok back to yesterday’s it lasted all of 15 seconds or less , no paddling, no flaying around/body movement, he just arched back, leaned back, still conscious, and peed a wee bit. He was perfectly fine after it passed. He had another one around 11pm, same thing and twice today same thing. Calling our vet tomorrow and he’s on an antibiotic, Enrofloxacin, that lists seizures as a side effect. 🤷🏻♀️ Very scary first time it happened to Jack,, but I understand “seizures in dogs” as we had an Irish setter who had them, but they lasted several minutes.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I understand your concern about this new seizure activity in Jack. I am glad you were planning to call your vet and have him evaluated. What did you find out? Hoping all is well today and Jack is living his best life. Thank you for sharing your story with our readers. Feel free to leave an update if you have a chance.
Hello – my 14 y/o dog, Rinaldo, had his very first seizure today, it was a grand mal that lasted about 60-90 seconds. I took him to the emergency vet bc I didn’t know what was happening. They prescribed him phenobarbitol and I just started giving it to him but am reluctant to do so since he never had a seizure before. I understand there may be underlying health conditions like a brain tumor and am planning to take him to the vet to chat through my options and get their opinion. They did his blood work and everything was fine. The MRI and chest scan I declined bc I want to seek another opinion. My question is do you think I should have him on the medication even though it was only one short seizure? He’s such a happy and active dog so it’s a bit tough for me to put him on a medicine that I know will make him tired, I just want him to be happy. Thank you so much for answering my question and happy holidays!
Julie Buzby DVM says
I understand your concern for your dog and starting a new medication like phenobarbital. I agree, I usually wait for more testing or subsequent seizure episodes before initiating treatment. With that being said, the emergency clinic may have been trying to make sure there would be no further issues over the Christmas holiday when obtaining veterinary care can be difficult. I think it is nice they were trying to make sure you were well taken care of until your regular vet could take over. Sometimes dogs can experience a bit of drowsiness or stumbling when first starting phenobarbital. But after the body adjusts to the medication over a few days, I do not see my own patients acting tired or showing any signs of decreased energy. Have you had Rinaldo evaluated by your vet? I hope everything is going well for you and your sweet boy. Wishing you both the best!
Seresa Dalton says
Hi there! I have loved reading this very informative article! Thank you for sharing!
We are completely puzzled….my 6.5yr old white lab just had his first grand mal seizure last night that last almost 2 min 😭 we had full panel drawn today and heart worm check. Everything is perfect which we are so happy about. He hasn’t had another and even acted back to normal 30 min after it happened (other than the very red eyes) we are just assuming this was seizure d/t the stiff legs thrashing with neck, eyes were half open, drooling (it was so loud 😭) when he woke his pupils were hug his heart racing, very warm and disoriented, seizure activity to us… we are so wanting to do anything we can to prevent this again. Any helpful tip…(we plan to make better eating habits) thanks a lot ♥️
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry you had to witness such a scary episode in your sweet boy. I am glad you had him evaluated by your vet and his blood work looked great. It is hard to know the best course of action without knowing the cause of the seizure. It is likely your dog may have developed epilepsy, but recommend you rule out other more serious causes such as a tumor. There are many different options to consider when making decisions about how to proceed from here. You can wait and watch and see if another seizure occurs. You could ask your vet if they think starting an antiseizure medication would be warranted. You can ask for a referral to a neurologist to pursue additional testing. I highly recommend you have a conversation with your vet and discuss your concerns. Be honest about your wishes and goals for your pup. Hoping things are going well at home and your boy is living his best life. Best wishes to you both.
I have a 2 year old mix, possible malamute and Australian sheepdog, he’s blue and red merle colouring. He is a rescue so not sure of breed at all.
He had a seizure a month ago full grand mal but came too and back to his crazy self. We hoped it was a once off.Unfortunately yesterday he had a seizure at 8 am and they continued throughout the day and night every 2 hours. Some were cluster seizures where he never came to at all.
We were prescribed phenobarbital but he has had multiple seizures again today.
The vet has mentioned brain tumour rather than epilepsy and that there really isn’t much hope. Neurological vets are a rarity in my country so I don’t know if there is anything else we can do for him.
He is so young and now just doesn’t seem to be coming back to us. He hasn’t really come out of a state of recovery is very lethargic and thrown down.
We want to give him every fighting chance but don’t want to think he’s in any pain or suffering. it’s heartbreaking
Julie Buzby DVM says
My heart aches for you and this difficult situation you are in with your young dog. Without examining your pup myself, it is hard to make specific conclusions. With that being said, the fact that he has been unresponsive to the phenobarbital and the seizures are so frequent, I feel like your dog is in a critical state that might not have a positive outcome. Saying goodbye may be your only option at this point to end his suffering. Without the option of getting the opinion of a specialist, I am not sure what choices you have left. I am so sorry. I wish I could be more help. Praying for strength and comfort as you navigate this hard path.
Thank you so much for your reply.
Thankfully we have been seizure free since Friday evening, so a full 48 hrs+. He is very lerhargic understandably and his sight hasn’t come back fully. He is also very confused and doesn’t seem to be sure of us. But we are seeing small signs of progress. He looked to go out and pee and is eating and drinking including taking food from our hands and letting us pet him.
We have no idea what the cause is. If its epilepsy, brain tumour, toxic reaction etc.
We are confused about what it could be and the impact of phenobarbital How quickly should he respond to phenobarbital as we only started it Thursday night, 3 days ago? Our vet told us it could take up to 2 wks to have it build up in his system.
Julie Buzby DVM says
Thank you for the update! I am glad you are starting to see some signs of improvement in your sweet boy. Your vet is correct that it can take several days to achieve the full effect of phenobarbital once starting treatment, but you should see some benefits within the first few doses. Without knowing the cause of the seizures, it is hard to make predictions about prognosis or quality of life moving forward. It might be a good idea to schedule a consult with a neurologist. Hopefully they can give you some advice on how to proceed and let you know if there are other options available to help your pup. Praying for healing and a positive outcome. Keep us updated. ♥
Hello, my 13 year old golden retriever had his first seizure. He went to the vet and all his blood work came back fine. The doctor is thinking brain tumor but said there is no treatment for him because of his age. However, once we got him home a few hours after I noticed he had trouble standing up on his own and when he walked his back legs look stiff. I am concerned with these two things. What do you think could be the reason for his leg stiffness?
Julie Buzby DVM says
You are right to be concerned about these new symptoms of hind limb weakness in your senior boy. Since I haven’t examined your dog myself, I can’t make specific conclusions. I am suspicious about the possibility of a neurological issue since your dog is already suspected to have a brain tumor. Did you call your vet and let them know about these new problems? How are things today? Once your vet has a chance to re-evaluate your dog, they may want to try some medications to see if it helps lessen the severity of the symptoms you are noticing. I hope you can find the answers you need to maintain your sweet boy’s quality of life. Feel free to leave an update if you have a chance.
Kelly Marie says
Hello, I came across your page because I believe our 14 year old Black Labrador Samantha had a seizure tonight. My husband and I went through her usual bedtime routine (lavender biscuits, good night petting and kisses) and then we went upstairs to our bed. Within 15 minutes, I heard Sam barking in the hallway. I went to see what was wrong, turned on the light and saw her in a state I have never seen before. She was standing with her limbs shaking and spread out. Her head was moving quickly in circular and side to side motions. I called to her but she could not look up. She was panting so rapidly. She looked like she was blind or in another world. I ran and got my husband. She eventually righted herself and went back to normal.
We have a security camera in our hallway and I would say the episode went from 11pm through to about 11:04. I am very concerned by the duration of this. I called a 24 hour vet but they said they do not have a neurological team or equipment there. I am texting her regular vet with the security camera footage of her behavior / gait.
This was the s darkest thing I’ve seen in a long while. She was just at the vet in December for a bad UTI- she was peeing blood and the vet was able to rule out bladder cancer via ultrasound. Her labs were also normal too.
Not sure what to do. This was beyond frightening.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am so sorry Sam had to go through this scary ordeal and you had to be a witness to it. Without examining her myself, I can’t say for sure, but I too am highly suspicious this was a seizure. It is common for dogs with seizures to have normal blood work and have no abnormal findings on physical exam. Seizures can be hard to diagnose and even harder to find a cause. When dealing with seizures or other neurological issues, it is never a bad idea to reach out to a neurology specialist. I am so glad you were able to catch this on video! The camera footage will be an amazing resource for your vet. How is Samantha doing today? Have you found any answers for her strange behavior? Hoping all is well. Feel free to leave an update if you have a chance.
Tina Hutson says
My dog is 10 & was diagnosed with Vestibular a couple of months ago. Was doing great until about a week ago. She will have partial seizures (twitching on left side of mouth with a soft growl) These happen on and off during the day/night. We did a CT scan on her to rule out Brain Tumor/GME. Liver is fine. Bloodwork turned out perfect. Any suggestions on the twitch/low growl. My vet is stumped right now. She is on seizure medication now she just started taking it so far it hasn’t helped but It’s only been a couple of does. My vet said she isn’t in pain/discomfort.. She’s eating, drinking.
Julie Buzby DVM says
What you are describing with your pup is very puzzling. Since I haven’t personally examined your dog, it is hard to make conclusions about what could be causing these strange symptoms. I am in agreement with your vet that I would still be suspicious of focal seizures. I am hoping that once your dog has been on the medication long enough to achieve therapeutic levels in the blood stream, the strange episodes will stop. If the seizure medication does not seem to help after consistent administration, it may be time to schedule a consult with a veterinary neurologist. With that being said, your vet has ruled out many other possible causes and has determined your dog is not painful. If these episodes are not causing any harm, it might be ok to let this go and just closely monitor her situation at home. I hope you can find the answers you need to make the best decision for you and your senior girl. Best wishes and good luck!
elain genser says
thank you for providing this information.It helps. My 14-year-old Shit/Poo Jacob had a brief seizure just before grooming. He hates being groomed and gets a mild tranquillizer, but there has never been a problem. He fell to the ground, ‘screamed’ and twitched for a few minutes, and then appeared fine but subdued. The groomer said to see the vet. who said he seemed to be ok and to halve the meds next time he’s groomed. (which hasn’t happened because it takes months to get an appt. here) I use a mobility scooter, and he loves to run beside me, however, he will ‘ride’ when he chooses to, So he rode all the way home. I have found it necessary to clip him with scissors myself (he hates this) because he has become very matted. I can’t do more than about two or three minutes at a time before I am bitten (or threatened to be) However, other behaviour has changed… And while he still loves to run/trot beside the scooter, he has slowed down and chooses to ride more, But most upsetting now is that most times he’ll run and hide when i call him. and won’t ‘come’ to me. but he’s ok with other people…Is it the seizure or the scissors (which he hates)????
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry your senior guy is starting to show signs of declining health/mental status. Since I haven’t examined him myself, I can’t make specific conclusions. From what you described; I am suspicious he may be in the early stages of canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD)/dementia. Many times, dogs with CCD will stop responding to their name or to their owners. They can have behavior changes such as biting or aggressiveness. They can also get confused or struggle more with anxiety. Here is a link to another article with more information about CCD: Canine Cognitive Dysfunction in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms, Solutions
The possible seizure episode worries me a bit as this could be a sign of a more serious problem. I know your vet said your pup seemed to be ok, but it might be time for a recheck exam. Make sure your vet is aware of all these recent behavioral and physical changes. They may decide to do some testing. I hope you find the answers you need to make the best choices for you and your sweet boy.
Carol Darlow says
Thank you for all this wonderful information, my baby has now had two fits, both are so horribly sad to watch, then when he doesn’t know who I am for a while and he looks so terrified that’s when I can only talk to him in a quiet voice till he responds to me again. This part of him not knowing me is so very sad. Is this part of the fit as I’m not sure? Thank you x
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry your dog has started having seizure episodes. I agree, it is difficult to watch and I’m not sure it gets any easier. Yes, it is typical for there to be a period of time after the seizure where dogs are confused. They can also drool and may need to rest. Have you talked to your vet about the seizures you have witnessed? If not, I highly recommend you schedule an appointment to have your pup examined. It may be possible to start a simple medication that could prevent most future seizure events. Wishing you both the best of luck!
Dina Dinucci says
I have a 11 year old shitzu mix girl. Approximately 2 months ago while we were all sleeping she woke up squealing, urinated all over the bed and then things seemed normal. I wrote it off as perhaps an unusually bad dream.
Tonight during the middle of the night she again began squealing loudly and was clearly awake, but eyes widely opened -no seizure movements but becoming stiff and loss of her bowels and urine. I was thinking this wasn’t a seizure because I was under the understanding that they would not be squealing the whole time in fear. (Her sister was very disturbed as this was happening and trying very hard to rescue her)
This is the second time ever and it has been months apart. They are no longer than a minute. However tonight she is clearly taking a little while to recover and wanting to be comforted.
Does this sound like a seizure?
Julie Buzby DVM says
Yes, this definitely sounds like it could be seizure activity. There are a wide variety of symptoms that can be seen during a seizure, and it all depends on which part of the brain is being stimulated. I highly recommend you talk to your vet about these episodes. They may want to do some testing to rule out other disorders while trying to figure out what treatment to pursue.
I have a 13 year old female, a pit bull/lab mix.
We’ve had her since she was a puppy. She’s had hip surgery, but that was several years ago. She still has hip problems, and constantly slips on the floor. Yesterday she wasn’t able to get up on her own and I had to lift her up and bring her to the carpet so she would be able to move without slipping.
She’s had several seizures, especially more recently. We have not had the chance to bring her to the vet, and at the moment we cannot. The seizures have been becoming longer and more frequent. She had two today, one this morning, and the other around 5:30 this afternoon. I didn’t see the one this morning, and my husband didn’t keep track of how long it lasted. he said about ten minutes. This afternoon was the same. Probably around 10-12 minutes. It’s very scary, and I’m not quite sure what I should do. We don’t have stairs in our house, but we do have a step outside just as you exit the door. Even this little step is getting hard for her.
I’ve done research. She still eats and drinks. She’ll lay down with us….but she doesn’t want to play with her toys anymore. She isn’t as lively as she used to be. I don’t know what to do. It’s terrifying.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I understand your concern and worry for your senior girl and these health issues with which she is struggling. I too am very concerned about these frequent and lengthy seizure episodes. I know you mentioned that taking her to the vet is not an option right now, but I am afraid that is the thing that needs to be done. Seizures can have many different causes but are usually treated with the same medication. Your vet could probably forgo the usual testing, if finances are an issue, and start a course of anticonvulsant therapy. Most dogs respond favorably and quickly to these medications used to treat seizures. Phenobarbital is the drug of choice for most veterinarians, and it is relatively inexpensive. If treatment is not an option, then you may need to consider if it is time to say goodbye. I hope you can reach out to your vet and have your girl evaluated as soon as possible. Praying for a positive outcome and improved quality of life for your pup.
we have a senior female dog, Bella is her name, mixed breed husky with something else. We found her 8 years ago, she was a stray dog, so we dont know her age. She must be 12-14 years old. In August we found a bumb in her right hip, it became quite big in a few days so we went to the vet. The cytological exam showed no malignacy but we procced to the surgery as soon as possible. The biopsy showed sarcoma grade 1, the margins were very clean and they said that it is not metastatic. We took her home after 5 days, she was ok the first 2 days but at the morning of the third day she had one gran mal seizure and after 2 hours she had a second one. We took her to the clinic, she stayed there one day for monitoring. We took her home the next day, she didnt have any seizures to the clinic and we started KEPPRA, 1 pill every 12 hours. The next two days she was vey anxious in the nights, she was wondering in circles around the room so the doctor said to give her 1 pill every 8 hours. After one week we go back to 1 pill every 12 hours. There are no seizures, no aura. The problem is she is sleeping all the time. But i guess that if she goes to one pill every 24 hours she will be better. What i want to ask is what do you think caused the seizures? From the clinic they told us that no way there is a brain tumor and that it was a side effect from anesthesia. Is this possible? Her blood and biochemical exams prior to surgery were good. Thank you in advance for your answer
Julie Buzby DVM says
I understand your concern for Bella and these new seizure episodes she is experiencing. Your vet is correct that there is really no way to know for sure what caused these seizures without some specialized testing. You could schedule a consult with a veterinary neurologist, and they may recommend imaging such as a CT or MRI to rule out a brain tumor. Many times, a dog receives a diagnosis of idiopathic (unknown cause) epilepsy. Once all the other possible causes are ruled out, you end up with a diagnosis of epilepsy. Anesthesia is known to lower the threshold of seizures. This means if your dog is prone to having seizures then anesthesia can bring them on easier or without the normal triggers. Without a definitive diagnosis, it is hard to make predictions about how things may progress, but the treatment your vet has prescribed should work well no matter the cause. You are correct that after Bella’s body adjusts to the medication, the mild sedative effects of the Keppra should wear off. I hope this will control Bella’s seizure activity and allow her to continue living a long and happy life. Best wishes to you both and good luck!
Willow's Mom says
What are the side effects of seizure medication.
We have to take our 12 year old lab to the VET tomorrow regarding her seizures. She has had seizures since she was 8 and we recognize early that sugar seemed to bring them on. We reduced all sugars and strict diet (she lost 10-15 pounds which was needed). She seemed to be having them every 3 months (grand mal). But recovered well and carried on. But today she has had 3 seizures in less than 24 hours and I am considering medication but want to know the side effects.
Thank you for sharing the information on seizures it has put my mind at ease to know she isn’t in pain.
Julie Buzby DVM says
Hi Willow’s Mom,
I am sorry your senior girl is having more frequent seizure episodes. I am glad you made a plan to have her evaluated by your vet. What did you find out? There are several different medications that can help control seizures/epilepsy. So, depending on which one your vet chooses there could be different side effects to watch for. The most common seizure medication for dogs is phenobarbital. The side effects for this medication are usually mild sedation or wobbling during the first few days of administration. After a few days, the body acclimates to the phenobarbital and the sedation side effects resolve on their own. This medication is also highly metabolized by the liver, so frequent routine blood monitoring is recommended to make sure no changes in liver function are noted. I have had many patients take phenobarbital long term with no issues. Again, it really depends on the cause of the seizures and which medication is selected for your pup. Wishing you both the best.
My almost 13 year old German shepherd/basenji mix Lilu just had her first seizure a few days ago. It’s been really hard trying to get her seen by a vet, there’s a shortage on vets around here. It only lasted about a minute but she was sleeping and it happened and woke us both up. She calmed down after my fiance came home and calmed her down. She’s been fine and then she had a small one when I was at work while my fiance was in the other room , he came in to her crying and being disoriented like last time. The symptoms did not last as long as the first and she is already back to her normal self. We have no vets around me open during the weekend sadly so have to wait til tomorrow. I’m just so curious on what it could be . She’s never had any before this. She turns 13 next month.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry you had to see Lilu go through a seizure episode. They are very scary even when you have seen them before and know what to expect. I hope you were able to find a vet to see her today or sometime this week. As for your question about possible causes, there are many. The most common would be the onset of epilepsy. Most seizures can be well managed with medication, but you should make sure testing is done to rule out other more serious causes. Other things that can cause seizures would be toxins, cancer, a tumor (especially in the brain), kidney or liver dysfunction, and endocrine issues just to name a few. Your vet will probably start with blood work and then decide how to proceed from there. I hope you can find the right treatment for sweet Lilu and prevent future episodes. Best wishes and feel free to leave an update if you have a chance.
Thank you so much for this article. My very healthy 11.5 year old mastiff/pitbull/shepard mix had her first ever seizure yesterday. Every 3 following hours after that she had another, then this morning they were an hour in between. She had 8 (violent) Grand mal seizures total (so far, she is resting now). This has been absolutely tragic to witness. We took her to Pet ER after the second one, they sent us home then we were able to get our usual vet to prescribe us phenobarbitol. It appears as though it is helping….. thankfully. We prepared to put her down because quite honestly it would be extremely shocking to me if she came out of this will full cognitive function. I am curious about cluster seizures as I am assuming that is what she has had. Does this sound like a cluster seizure? 8 within the span of about 24 hours, and now it appears to have stopped (its been 5 hours since the last one). Hoping for the best. This article has been helpful and soothing. Thanks again.
Julie Buzby DVM says
What a scary time you have had these last few days! I would definitely categorize these as cluster seizures. I am glad you were able to get your girl to the vet so quickly and get treatment started. I am hoping that once the phenobarbital reaches therapeutic levels in her body the seizures will resolve. It is possible that she could be complete normal once the seizure activity hast stopped. Praying for a positive outcome! Feel free to leave an update if you get a chance.
Sheri Rummel says
My 15 year old Shih Tzu /Chihuahua mix has been having seizures for several months now. They never have seemed too bad until the one she had last night in the middle of the night. She has not been able to walk on her back legs since. She has urinated and dedicated in the house twice today. I’m not even able to coax her to come to me if I sit on the floor a little way from her. She wants me to be in the room with her but she doesn’t move. She has only been eating about every other day and is losing weight. She probably only weighs about 4 pounds. My heart is breaking thinking she may be in pain but also a part of me thinks maybe she will get over this one just like the others. Am I being selfish by not just having her euthanized??
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry your girl is having so much trouble. I am very concerned about these new mobility issues and her lack of eating. It sounds like her health is declining rapidly and she may be suffering. I highly recommend you call your vet and see if they want to evaluate your pup. Since I haven’t examined her myself, I can’t make specific conclusions, but euthanasia may be the most loving option at this point. I hope you can find the best way to give your senior girl comfort and peace. I will attach links to other articles that may offer additional information and great comments from other readers. Praying for strength during this difficult time. Bless you both.
1. How Will You Know When It’s Time to Euthanize Your Dog? 5 Caring, Heartfelt Messages
2. Dog Euthanasia: Knowing When to Say Goodbye
3. Signs Your Dog is Dying: A Caring Message to Bring You Peace
4. Preparing for Your Dog’s Euthanasia: 10 Thoughts for Peace
Thanks for your response. We did take her to the vet. They said she was close to passing and didn’t seem to be in any pain. They gave us a choice of euthanasia or bringing her home to pass. We decided to bring her home since she started eating and walking again and didn’t want me to leave her. I spent the last few days holding and loving her and telling her it was ok for her to go. At 5:30 this morning she passed in my arms. I’m heart broken!
Julie Buzby DVM says
My heart aches for you. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet girl this morning. I do think it was a blessing to have been able to hold her during her last moments. Your pup had you right by her side and could feel your arms around her. I have no doubt she knew how much she was loved. May her memory be a blessing as you continue on life’s journey. Thank you for taking the time to let me know about her passing. ♥
My dog, Zeus, passed away in January of this year following a year long battle with salivary gland carcinoma. I did everything I could for him, even driving him from San Francisco to UC Davis every few weeks for treatment. In November 2021, we found that the chemo was no longer slowing the growth of the cancer and at the vet’s recommendation, decided to stop treatment and transition to palliative care. Over the next month, he slowly got weaker but still seemed happy and not yet ready to leave. The first week of January his health took a turn for the worse as his weakness led to him having difficulty walking and having accidents inside. I also noticed a buildup of wax and fluid in the ear on the side of his head where the cancer was. Our local vet gave me a prescription for antibiotics, but they didn’t seem to have much of an effect. On the evening of January 8, he had a seizure in which his whole body stiffened and he defecated himself. Afterwards though, he seemed very peaceful and content, but the seizure itself seemed so unpleasant and I didn’t want him to suffer. I called my parents over to my apartment so that they could say their goodbyes, and then we were going to take him in to the emergency vet so that he could be PTS. About an hour after they had arrived, he had another seizure. My mom, who is a doctor, told me that he actually wasn’t conscious during the seizure and was only experiencing those moments between them, where he was laying down peacefully surrounded by us. I decided in that moment that I wasn’t ready to make that call, and I didn’t want to upset or confuse him by taking him in to the emergency vet in the middle of the night. So I decided to keep him as comfortable as possible and have the in-home euthanasia vet come the next day. The rest of the night, I had him next to me in my bed, with my arms wrapped around him which was his favorite way to sleep. He had a few more seizures over the course of the night, during which I carefully changed the sheets underneath him and wiped him clean with a cool wet towel. When I noticed his body getting hot to the touch, I put ice packs on him to help cool him down. Around 7:30 in the morning, he began having some trouble breathing, and I called my mom and asked her to send the vet to my place as soon as possible. A few minutes after I hung up, his breathing steadied and he closed his eyes and went to sleep. I lay down next to him, with my arm wrapped around his body, feeling every heartbeat in his chest. About 30 minutes later, his breathing started to slow down, and then, along with the rhythmic beating of his heart, it finally stopped. In that moment, he looked so peaceful. I told myself that it was how he wanted to go, with just the two of us, side by side. But looking back, I can’t help but question my actions. Was it wrong of me not to take him in to the emergency vet the night before? Could they have stopped the seizures? Would that even have made a difference? I guess I’m just worried that despite his calm appearance, I may have put my boy through unnecessary suffering during his last night. He had just had to spend so much time getting poked and prodded at the vets during his last year, I didn’t want his last memory to be one of fear. I wanted him to be where he was most comfortable. I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts on this, as I haven’t really been able to find much helpful insight anywhere online and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry for your loss of Zeus, and I understand the need to find closure for the circumstances surrounding his passing. Hear me when I say you didn’t do anything wrong. If you had taken Zeus to the emergency clinic the night before, they would have tried to stop his seizures with medication. There is no way to know if this would have been successful. If the seizures had continued at the ER, they would have recommended euthanasia. It sounds like Zeus’s passing was very peaceful and calm. I can’t imagine a better way to say goodbye than what you described. What a blessing to be able to hold him tight and love on him until his very last moment. Don’t let the burden of guilt over the “what ifs” continue to weigh you down. I have no doubt your sweet boy knew how much he was loved. May his memory be a blessing.
My dog Stormy had a seizure for the first time tonight. It was terrifying! I took her to a neurological vet near where I live. They think she might have a brain tumor. I’m taking her for blood work in a few hours at her regular vet. Stormy is a black cocker spaniel and going to be 15 on July 9. She seems back to her normal self and is resting comfortably now but I can’t sleep. I’m feeling very anxious. This article was really helpful in explaining everything.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am so sorry you had to watch Stormy have a seizure. You are right, it is terrifying! I am glad she recovered and seems to be resting comfortably. I hope your vet is able to find some answers with the diagnostic testing they will perform. Praying for a positive outcome and many happy days ahead. Wising you both the best!
Amber M. says
Thank you for such an informative article. Our old girl started having seizures a few months ago and we are trying to make the toughest of tough decisions. We get momentary tinkles of her old self then her eyes will dart and her teeth chitter and we can’t deny it. Most of the day she just lays there still as can be, but with her eyes open. Along with cognitive dysfunction and diminishing motor skills. The second guessing part is the worst. A painfree passing is the last gift of love we can give her in the morning. So thank you for helping us understand more since I’m always so stressed at her vet and feel I wasn’t asking the right questions.
Julie Buzby DVM says
My heart goes out to you and the difficult decision you are facing with your senior girl. If you did end up saying goodbye to your sweet girl, I hope her passing was smooth and peaceful. Thank you for the kind words about the article. I hope it offered some clarity and confidence in your choices. Bless you. ♥
Our 16 yo female JRT Zoey (she’s a rescue we’ve only had her 7 years) is in the ER vet tonight. She had what we believed to be her first seizure this afternoon. She jumped off the couch and went into the seizure. Reading this she has had some all of a sudden but not full blown episodes like this over the past year or so. She had another seizure before we left her about 4 hours after the first. She also had pale gums. The ER vet has suggested we take her in the morning to our state veterinary hospital for neurology tests. The Dr was going to do a urine test as we were leaving. We don’t know the results of this yet.
She has some elevated liver enzymes and is on thyroid medication as well.
Reading through this has helped me understand that she may as we pray come through this.
Thoughts and prayers for all the other fur babies and parents that are going through this.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry Zoey is having seizures and put you in such a scary situation. I am glad you were able to get her to the ER vet so quickly to start testing and treatment. I am very hopeful that she will make a full recovery and have many happy days ahead. Did you receive any results from the urine test? Feel free to leave an update, especially if you are able to schedule a consult with the neurologist. Praying all is well and wishing you the best.
Hi Dr Buzby,
Thank you so much for your reply and prayers for Zoey! She only stayed in the ER Vet 24 hours. She didn’t have any more seizures so we decided against the State Vet. They put her on Prednisone and Keppra. We followed up with our regular Vet this past Thursday. We are going to back her off the Prednisone some and keep watch for any more problems. If she does good hopefully we will get her off that and then try to wean her off the Keppra.
She is alert and spry as ever. Being realistic at 16 it’s doubtful surgery would have a good outcome. So we will continue to give her the best we can for whatever time we have left ❤️. God bless you and your works.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am so glad Zoey is stable and back to her normal happy self! Thank you for the update. This brings joy to my heart! I hope you can continue to make wonderful memories together for many days to come. Give your sweet girl a hug for me. ♥
Carla Burton says
Our 16 year old Malamute started having seizures about 15 months ago. They usually occur when we were getting ready to walk., she gets excited and then has a seizure.. They last about a minute or two and we pet her and talk to her during and after. She usually gets up and starts walking after a brief rest. . However in the last two days, she has mainly been lying down, did not want to go for a walk.. Her appetite seems okay but diminished and she drinks water.. The vet said either a. brain tumour or diabetes..
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am concerned about these new symptoms you are describing in your senior girl. Your vet is correct that a tumor or diabetes are both possibilities, as well as many other disease processes. I highly recommend you have your dog evaluated by your vet so they can perform the necessary testing to try and make a diagnosis. There may be a simple treatment or medication that could resolve these new issues. I hope you can find the answers you need to restore your pup’s quality of life. Wishing you both the best.
My almost 12 year old Old English Sheepdog has a seizure today for the first time. It lasted almost five minutes, the longest five minutes of my life. We took him to the emergency vet hospital which is affiliated with our vet clinic and he is there overnight for monitoring. I am sure we will develop a plan with our vet for next steps in his care, but was wondering if there are any questions we should be asking? He was just at the vet two weeks ago for a senior physical, a full blood panel and X-rays of his chest and lungs, because he recently started wheezing for lack of a better term. I am not sure if the two are related. There was no change in his blood work from today to two weeks ago.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I know how scary it can be to watch your dog have a seizure episode. I am glad you were able to get him to the emergency clinic so quickly. Any time seizures or other strange symptoms show up unexpectedly in a senior dog, in the back of my mind I am always afraid of finding cancer. You may have done everything you can for now and it might be more of a waiting game to see if another seizure will occur. I hope you never have to experience a seizure again. Praying your senior boy will remain stable and get a favorable diagnosis. Best wishes to you both and keep us updated!
Thank you Julie for answering. We have decided to have a ct scan done to see if we can find the cause. While this is an expensive procedure, I feel I need to know why, so that there is no doubt in my mind on the course of action I choose to take, good or bad, I want to know I am not prolonging his life for me and to give him the best life possible moving forward.
He just got home from the hospital today, he is very wobbly which they say to expect and he is more anxious than normal. I am hoping this diminishes as he is home and no longer on a sedative. They put him on a sedative while in the hospital because he is deaf and he has never, liked being locked in a confined space so he was very anxious.
Our ct scan is scheduled for Friday.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am glad to hear your guy did good overnight at the emergency clinic and was able to come home! I think the CT is a good idea and can rule out a brain tumor and many other possible causes of seizures. Praying your boy’s anxiety will subside as he is resting at home. I hope things go smoothly on Friday and that you are able to get some answers and a positive prognosis. Feel free to keep us updated as you continue to navigate this tricky situation. Bless you both!
My 18 year old Lhasa Apso mix started pacing at night a couple years ago, cbd didnt help, melatonin didnt help, trazodone helped up to a point but i had to keep increasing it. In the last month Trazodone would only work until about 3 am and he would be up pacing waking up the whole family. I started giving him benadryl with the trazodone and even that was a hit or miss somedays he would sleep and others he wouldnt. Finally last week he had a bad seizure that lasted about 3 minutes, when it ended he couldnt use his limbs and he was completely blind, I made the decision to put him to sleep. Ive been regretting it everyday since then, i feel like i gave up too quickly, I rushed into my decision but maybe I could have started him on treatment for seizures and he would still be here.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I understand your grief and the pain that comes from wondering “what if”. You made the best decision you could with the information you had at the time. I have no doubt your choice was made from a place of love and saved your sweet boy from struggling needlessly. I feel like I would have made the same decision given the situation you were dealt. I am not sure your boy would have had much quality of life without the use of his limbs and eyes in addition to the nighttime anxiety and trouble sleeping he was already dealing with. By letting go you gave him peace and rest and took away his suffering. I hope with time your heart will heal and you will find comfort in the good memories you shared together.
Thank you so much Dr. Buzby. I really needed to hear that.
My pom is around 15 to 20 years old and has seizures to. I have no way to get to the vet and can barely get myself to a doctor but anyway Baloo, my dog, when he is having a seizure, I will pick him up and rest him in my arms and also pet him. He will come out of his seizures in about a minute or two, then he’s better the rest of the day. I have seizures to at 66 years old and both him and me have similar side effects. Our brains are slow and hard to walk and so forth. I just pray for God to make sure he’s taken care of if something happens to me. He’s so precious and that’s what scares me most
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry Baloo is struggling with a seizure disorder. I understand there may be issues with transportation to take your little guy to the vet. You may want to see if there is a mobile veterinarian in your area that could come to your house. There may be a very inexpensive medication that you could try with Baloo that could help prevent the majority of his seizure episodes. I am glad you have each other for comfort and hope you have many happy days ahead to continue to make memories. Bless you both!
Kaylee Knox says
Hello DR Buzby
I am looking for more information on seizures (causes,etc.)
I know this is a long one and I want to thank you for your time in advance ♥️
Where do I begin… I have a 7 year old female Rottweiler (just turned 7). She is my life, she is my best friend, she is my protector.
I found her on Craigslist (Sept. 2015) I called the number and he said he had the male that was pictured on the AD available, and when I arrived he came outside with her. It was in an unfamiliar city to me, and it was getting dark so naturally I wasn’t going to walk into this man’s home after he already lied to me once, so I did not to get to meet her mother or father. It was obviously a scam but after she looked up at me I knew I had to take her home. I assume she was probably 4 weeks old, but he claimed she was “10 weeks old” she was tiny, 7.3 pounds to be exact, and definitely not ready to leave her momma. She had fleas and worms, which were immediately treated, the vet told me she was too small for her round of shots, the man also claimed she had already had them but I didn’t believe him because he didn’t have a receipt?!
So I waited until December she had 2 boosters. DHPP, LEPTO.
Then In oct. 2016 she got VCC Rabies- 3 year/Distemper/Bordetella.
She had a wellness visit in June of 2017 record shows that metronidazole was prescribed. I believe she was having diarrhea.
In august of 2017 she got 2 more boosters and rabies booster.
I got her spayed after her second heat in October 2017.
Then I brought her back because she had picked up fleas from the vet, and that was then treated.
She is not currently on any medication.
I work from home, she’s with me 24/7 and I felt everytime I brought her in public where another animal (unknown) to her had been, she picks something up…Just like a kid would at preschool. So, I stopped the vaccines. Instead of consulting with the vet I assumed that if she wasn’t around other dogs then she didn’t need them. (I don’t get them myself) and After researching now I feel pitiful for ever believing that. I don’t know what to think.
We live on a farm, we do have cows. But she is never outside unattended, she is always within reach as she always likes to keep me in her sight ♥️
This past Saturday was one of the worst days of my life, and I can’t relax in fear that it will happen again.
My boyfriend and I were out for about 2 hours, we returned home and let the dogs out as we usually would. We have a chocolate lab as well, it was about to storm so the wind was whipping and it was cool air. They were running around and roulette was rolling around in the grass like crazy, she did her business, and then came inside. As I sat on the couch she approached me and it seemed as though she was losing her footing and I immediately knew something was wrong. So I was petting her and talked her over to her bed, that’s when she started the first phase of her seizure, she was sitting up right staring at the wall in front of her and it looked like she was being shocked over and over and over again, it lasted 6-7 minutes long. I took a short video because I feel like I can never describe something well but I physically cannot handle watching it, so I will not be attaching it to this post. Then I’m assuming the second phase kicked in and she went flat on her side and her legs paddled really fast for about 2-3 minutes. I was hysterical. She was foaming at the mouth, she did also urinate a small amount. I laid my head on her chest (which I now realize was probably not the right thing to do) and she came out of it. She smelled my entire face and within 3-5 minutes she was ready to be up and playing with her brother. I called the ER vets in our area and they said if she hadn’t had 2 in 24 hours it’s not considered emergent and if I did want to bring her in the wait was looking to be anywhere from 4-6 hours (due to heat stroke cases) in which by that time the facility would close. We live close to a vet, so Sunday evening I had her come over and just make sure she was sound. She stated she has a cataract in her left eye, and a slight ear infection but her breathing, lymph nodes, etc seemed to be normal.
Monday night, we walked outside to see my boyfriend. We were probably out there for at max 15 mins (in the shade- approx 80-85 degrees) and as I was about to head back inside she looked like she was losing her stepping again. We coaxed her out of it, came inside and gave her a spoon of honey and she drank some water and was then OK.
Tuesday, we took her to the vet and he couldn’t tell anything was out of the ordinary but I gave him a urine sample, fecal sample, and they took blood work. So now it’s a waiting game, test results are supposed to be back by Friday and I feel like I can’t relax. When the vet did an ear swab she whined on one of her ears, she’s not one to show pain. They also gave me ear cleanser and I will be cleaning her ears with that for the next week, and then 1-2 times a week after that. Google really messes with my brain, you google something and it has 8273749 reasons of what could be wrong.
I should add that we had to put down her 10 year old brother in march, and I cannot handle to lose my other baby which is why I’m looking to see if anyone can offer any other answers, I do trust my vet but I am trying to understand how a healthy 7 year old dog that is 72 pounds and happy, energetic, and is completely normal can have a seizure like that.
She definitely could eat more, she’s a picker and likes to eat when my boyfriend and I are home, and she could also drink more water. She doesn’t drink or eat near as much as our chocolate lab does but I know she likes the dog food or she wouldn’t eat it at all, right?
I’m also looking for recommendations for supplements for vitamins, etc that can be added to her food since she’s not a huge eater.
Tick pack came back negative-no disease
Stool sample- was negative for worms
Urine sample- no protein (no uti)
White blood cells in urine was a 4. Normal number is 3.
Red blood cells in normal range from 2-3
She has low blood sugar.
Vet is suggesting a glucose test.
I am headed to the vets today at 4.
Please pray for her♥️
Thank you so much for taking the time to help and offer anything you think it could/may be.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I understand your concern for your big girl and these new seizure episodes she is experiencing. Seizures can be so scary to watch even if you have seen them before and know what to expect. I am glad you had an appointment with your vet Friday afternoon. Did you find out information that would help find a cause? Since I haven’t examined your dog myself, I can’t make specific conclusions. Epilepsy is always a possibility and usually is first noticed in middle aged dogs. I am also highly suspicious about an insulinoma. This is a mass on the pancreas that causes too much insulin to be produced. Insulin lowers blood sugar, so if there is an over production then blood sugar can become dangerously low. Low blood sugar can definitely cause seizures. It piqued my curiosity that you mentioned you dog was starting to show the signs of a seizure, but you gave her honey and she pulled out of it. If the seizure was from a cause not related to the blood sugar, then the honey would not have helped. I hope you and your vet together can investigate and find the answers you need to make the best choices for your sweet girl. Praying the right treatment can be found and she will make a full recovery. Wishing you both the best and feel free to leave an update if you have a chance!
Carol Hewitt says
Your description of biting at the air was exactly what occurred at the beginning of the first seizure. Spot on! The second two we could tell were coming, she got off the couch and left the room, had facial contortions and then just dropped to the floor and began to seize.
My 10 year old beautiful big strong mastiff has had three seizures in 12 hours. We saw the vet, did blood work got evaluated and went with Keppra as a anti seizure med. Fortunately 24 hours later, no more seizures but she is very unsteady on her feet, tripping, bumping in to things and just tipping over. I’m not sure if this is a result of the seizures or the 1250 mg BID of Keppra she is now taking. She is about 95 lbs a cane corso, and up until Friday had been very active for her age and breed.
Julie Buzby DVM says
It can be so scary to watch a dog have seizures even if you are expecting them and know what to look for. I am glad you were able to get your big girl to the vet and treatment started so quickly. It is very common for seizure medications to cause sedation and ataxia (unsteady and trouble walking) when they are first started. Usually after a few days, the body adjusts to the medications and these symptoms resolve. With this being said, I still recommend you call your vet and let them know about these new symptoms you are seeing. They may want to change the dosage of the Keppra or try a different medication altogether. I hope your girl continues to be seizure free and can get back to living her best life. Best wishes!
Judith Abel says
My 14 year old JRT shorty had her 2nd seizure (after a year) that lasted 30 seconds. First flopping uncontrollably, then paralyzed on her side. Looked like she stopped breathing for 5 seconds then horrible cry.. Alert and functional after awhile. She has had heavy panting for a year now treated with Xanax and rimadyl for arthritis. Leba resents anyone who takes my attention away from her. by snapping her teeth at me. But panting continues while looking to me to do something? I try to comfort her and she eventually goes to sleep. We see vet in two days. Thank you for your blog! It helped me to calm down.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry you had to watch your senior girl have a seizure. It is heartbreaking and makes you feel so helpless. I am glad you have an appointment to have her examined by your vet. Praying for good results and a favorable prognosis. If you have a chance, feel free to keep us updated!
Raven Neely says
Our 14 yom golden retriever mix just had a seizure about two hours ago. He was asleep when it started but we couldn’t wake him up during it. Afterwards he lied on the ground breathing kind of weird and drooling everywhere. We thought for sure we were losing him. He then tried to sit up and after awhile he was able to get up, walk around, eat, drink, poop and pee. Other than being tired, he is back to himself and acts like nothing happened. He has had a little bit of emotional stress this week due to separation anxiety from my mom for a week. Is it possible that this was caused by stress and that he is fine now?
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry you had to watch your dog go through a seizure episode. They can be so scary even if you have seen them many times before. While stress can definitely trigger a seizure, many times there is something else happening that needs to be diagnosed. It is possible for a dog to have one seizure and never have another, but more likely you will see another one sometime in the future. I highly recommend you call your vet and let them do some testing to make sure there is nothing that needs to be addressed right away. I hope everything will check out ok and you get good news for your sweet boy.
Kathleen Tyrel says
My 13-15 year old white German shepherd has been having seizures all night and my parents are bringing her to the vet to be put down. I live two states away. My parents think she had multiple strokes last night and that caused the seizing. Are they right? Is there anything we can do to save her?
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry your sweet girl is struggling, and you are so far away. Without examining her myself, it is difficult to make specific conclusions or recommendations. Sometimes seizures can be stopped and then well maintained with medications, but depending on the actual cause, euthanasia might be the only option. I hope your parents were able to find the answers they needed to make the best decision for them and your beloved dog. Praying your girl is at peace and resting no matter which choice was made. ♥
My 13 year old Pit mix started having seizures about 3 years ago, she only had them maybe twice a year the vet said it was due to heart failure, she then had a uterus infection and had the surgery to correct it, during the check up for the uterus infection we were informed that she had cancer of her mammary glands, she has been doing great but is now having several seizures a week, does this mean she is at the end of life? She is still eating and drinking well.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry for all the struggles your dog has endured over the past few years. She sounds like a tough girl! Since I haven’t examined her myself, it is hard to make specific conclusions and recommendations about quality of life. If the seizures were related to heart failure, then they are probably what we call syncopal episodes which cause a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain. This increased seizure activity you are seeing recently may be the same type of episodes or they may be true neurological seizures. I recommend you talk to you vet and discuss this new increased seizure activity. They may want to do some lab work or try a seizure medication. They can also give you advice on quality of life and let you know if it is time to say goodbye. I hope you find the answers you need to make the best decision for you and your sweet girl. Best wishes.
We have a 14 year old 6.5 lb female chihuahua mix. She had a few seizures spread many months apart over the years, but we took her to get her teeth cleaned (which she has had done before, although they removed 5 teeth) on January 5, She was on antibiotics 5 days before and after. She had a seizure on January 12 a week after the procedure, then another on the 14th, and another the 19th and then today the 26th she had one in the morning when we gave her a bath and another this afternoon when my wife got home. They all seemed to happen when she is excited but she has never had this many in one month much less within a few weeks. She also seems to be coughing since the teeth cleaning, was thinking maybe because they sedated her and had a tube down her throat? Her most recent blood test showed everything normal except one liver metric that was 120 (was told the top was 119) – I don’t know what that refers to honestly. These seizures last maybe 5-10 seconds and she goes limp and cries. After she is tired but otherwise she eats well and is very active etc. Any insights or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Could the antibiotics still be causing this?
Julie Buzby DVM says
You are right to be concerned about the increased seizure activity and coughing. I am sorry your girl has been having so much difficulty these past few weeks. Most dogs that have epilepsy or another unknown cause of seizures usually start out with the seizures occurring infrequently. In most cases, the seizure frequency slowly increases, or they have a bad month where many seizures are noted very close together. It sounds like this might be the case with your girl and it might just be a coincidence that it occurred just after her dental procedure. Although it can’t be completely ruled out, I would not think the antibiotic is contributing to the increase seizure activity. I definitely recommend you call your vet as soon as possible and tell them about all these new issues and increased seizure frequency. It may be that her episodes are not in fact seizure related but could be signs of a heart issue which can cause coughing as well. While some coughing could be expected after anesthesia when an endotracheal tube has been used, the coughing should not last for weeks. I hope you can get the answers you need and help restore your sweet girl’s quality of life. If you have the time, keep us updated!
Helene Logan says
We have a sweet girl who is now 10, and has had seizures since she was 3 (our Vets believe she suffers from these due to 2 bouts of Lyme Disease). Your article is excellent and touches on the many issues a pet owner can experience with a seizure dog. I would just like to add that while life with our girl is a bit challenging at times, it is still worthwhile and she does very well on her medications. 🙂
All the best to you, and thank you for your quality advice.
Julie Buzby DVM says
Thank you for the kind words. I am glad to hear your girl has done so well on her medications. Best wishes to you and your sweet pup for many more years together!
.karene koh says
My 18 year old minpin was diagnosed with CKD in August 2021 and on daily injection of Hartmanns solution since then. 2 weeks ago she had major bacteria infection in the mouth causing swolleness to gums and her to have toxic breath and salivate excessively, not to mention extreme pain to her. (She has tartar and plaque as well) She was given moxiclav syrup. However the medication caused her to vomit and diarrhoea. Hence I halved the dosage. Which worked to reduce the swell. However she became physically weaker and started to totter and keep falling when walking. I stopped the medication on 30 Nov after 10days but the physical decline continued. She had her 1st seizure on Wed 1Dec, her face was grimaced and she was moving her mouth in big movements and her whole body was in spasm. I didn’t know what to do except to hold her tightly to me. She went limp for a while b4 recovering slightly. Thereafter I realised she had pooped on me. The 2nd seizure happened this morning 2am+. Both seizures ended within a couple of minutes. Now she is so weak she can hardly walk and will topple without support. What can I do to get her on her feet again?
Julie Buzby DVM says
It sounds like your senior girl is really struggling. I am sorry you are in this tough situation. Any changes in medication dosages or frequency should always be discussed with your vet. I strongly urge you to contact your vet and let them know about the seizures and ataxia. Seizures can be a symptom of kidney failure but can also be caused by cancer or other disease processes that need to be addressed very quickly. I hope you can figure out how to give your sweet girl some relief and restore her quality of life. My thoughts are with you as you navigate this difficult path.
Theresa Schoen says
My ten year old golden rescue mix had two seizures, about one minute long or more each on Friday.. The first woke me out of a sound sleep about 4:00am and I thought someone was walking in the house-maybe she fell over? Her whole body convulsed and she was dizzy and wobbly after. The second seizure was at noon, 8 hours later, full body convulsing after resting. I took her to the vet and they found her blood work and pressure to be normal and called it idiopathic seizures. They started her on Phenobarbital. I took her for a hike Sunday and she was unusually excited, vocalizing all the way there, then seemed to be in pain, whimpering when we got home-she is an otherwise healthy dog. I’m worried that I’m losing her. She’s lost a few pounds down to 40lbs now. Any suggestions? The vet wants me to take her to a neurologist and I’m concerned that will be expensive and lead to advanced care I wouldn’t want to subject her to.
Julie Buzby DVM says
I am sorry to hear your Golden Mix is having seizures. They can be so scary and heartbreaking to watch. Your vet probably recommended referring you to a neurologist because they have more experience with diagnosing the cause of seizures and treating them. At the age of ten, it is important to rule out the possibility of a tumor. Detecting a tumor or issue in the brain requires specialized imaging that most local vets don’t have access to, but a neurologist would. Of course, it is ultimately your decision how far to travel down this road of testing and treatment. The phenobarbital may just need more time to reach a therapeutic level for your girl. I recommend you have an honest conversation with your vet about your concerns. Be clear about your limits and what you would like the stopping point to be. I hope you can find something to restore your dog’s quality of life. Best wishes for many more happy years together.
Alana Robertson says
Our senior dog has had seizures and our bet told us that it is very important to try to keep them cool. The intense muscle activity during a seizure will raise their core temperature that can cause brain damage.
Dr. Julie Buzby says
Sorry to hear your senior pup is having seizures. ☹ It is definitely true that prolonged seizures can put a dog at risk for hyperthermia (high core body temperature). Thanks for mentioning that!
My dog has 2-4 seizures in 48 hour period by 3rd4th day she’s back to her old self(old smaller dog still very active!) . Last 4-5 months 3 days per month she has small 1 minute episodes. For 2 days then won’t calm down or relax I’ve found melatonin calming treats to get her through the 48-72 hours. . Then goes 3-4 weeks before happening again. (Cluster seizures you’d call them?). Today she can see she’s happy, barking , going to bathroom. (Will only eat hard food with a teaspoon of wet food mixed in. . Vet isn’t an option right now. 5 months now 1 weekend each month she’s effected by these episodes. But then after 48-72 hours she’s back to normal 100 percent. For another 3.5-4.5 weeks
Julie Buzby, DVM says
Rich, I’m curious how old your dog is. If between 6 mos and 5 years of age, this may be idiopathic epilepsy, which might respond well to seizure medication. I’m thankful the episodes are not more frequent, but cluster seizures can be scary. Even if you cannot get her to a vet, I’d look into a vet telemedicine service to try to get to the bottom of this. I think the likelihood of improving her quality of life (and yours!) through treatment exists!
This was interesting. A neighbor recently told me of witnessing a dog having seizures at a pet store (the pet was in for grooming). I’m going to forward this to her.
Another holistic vet that I follow (Dr Jones, in Canada) said that firmly pressing on the spot below their nostrils can sometimes bring them out of a seizure.
I am curious about some of the characteristics (in particular arm/leg paddling, chewing motion, and generalized twitching) happening during sleep. Do you think these types of behaviors are common during sleep/dreaming or would it be more likely that these are seizure behaviors? Our 7 year old girl (Aussie) routinely paddles, smacks, twitches and yelps (not as if she’s in pain but more or a happy sounding yelp) in her sleep (only in her sleep… she has never exhibited any of these during wake). I will mention this during her next physical but am wondering if perhaps I should schedule an appointment sooner.
Dr. Julie Buzby says
Thanks for forwarding the article to your neighbor! We love to help and empower dog lovers whenever we can ?.
As part of REM sleep, some dogs will paddle, twitch, or vocalize, so it is possible that your dog is simply in the REM phase when she is showing those behaviors. Can you wake her up during an episode, and if so, does she act normal afterwards? If is wakes up easily and acts normal right away, it is less likely to be seizure activity. (As a word of caution, make sure you don’t startle her when attempting to wake her up because I don’t want her to accidently injure you or herself). However, the best plan would be to take a video or videos of the episodes that you can share with your vet. That way he or she can see what is happening and hopefully distinguish between normal REM sleep, a REM sleep disorder, or a seizure or other abnormal neurological event. Hope this helps!
One of the things I wish this article had addressed is how cannabis ingestion in dogs looks like a seizure but is not! We live in NYC and my elderly Frenchie grabbed an edible/blunt on the street during a walk (without me seeing) and a while later had what I thought was a seizure: lameness (couldn’t stand up), incontinence (he is otherwise fully continent), erratic head movements, eyes rolling around, and seized muscles. I thought we were at the end of his life—it was the scariest thing to witness and I truly thought it was a stroke/seizure. It was cannabis ingestion and the dog was experiencing symptoms of paranoia/fear, which was why he was jerking his head around every time I came near to pet him. It would be great if you all did a post explaining what cannabis ingestion looks like, educating owners on what to do if it happens (monitor, keeps other pets/small children away, take to the vet if the dog experiences labored breathing, etc.), informing that it’s not funny/does not “chill out” dogs, and explaining how cannabis is different from CBD, which my dog takes daily for chronic pain/anxiety. Thanks for these informative articles!
Dr. Julie Buzby says
Wow what a scary experience for you and your Frenchie. I’m so glad that he is ok! Thanks for taking the time to give our blog team such a detailed article suggestion. We keep a running list of potential topics and always appreciate new ideas, especially when they are as well thought out as yours.