What to Do When your Pet is Having a Seizure

dog lying down

A seizure is a very frightening thing to witness, even for an experienced pet owner. However, if your pet is having a seizure for the very first time you may find yourself in a state of panic, not knowing what you can do to help your furbaby and if there is anything that could make the situation worse.

Preparedness is crucial when it comes to reacting to medical problems with our pets and knowing what to do when your beloved animal has a seizure could make all the difference between getting her the support she needs or putting her in more danger.

What causes seizures in pets?

Seizures are classed as a neurological response to a problem somewhere in the body. They are actually a sudden change in the amount of electrical activity in the brain, altering the behavior of the animal.

Seizures can occur for a wide range of different reasons, but some of the most common include:

- Idiopathic epilepsy

- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

- Liver disease

- Kidney disease

- Hypocalcemia (low blood calcium)

- Heatstroke

- Poisoning

- Hypothyroidism

- Parasite infestations, such as hookworms

- Infectious diseases, such as rabies

While all seizures have a beginning, a middle and an end, no two seizures are the same and neither are how they are experienced. Symptoms experienced by a pet during one seizure may be rapidly different during another.

Symptoms of a seizure

Symptoms of a seizure can vary depending on which stage of the fit your pet it in. In the beginning they may include:

- Your pet falling on her side

- Becoming stuff

- Profuse salivation

- Chomping the jaw

- Urination/defecation

- Paddling with the limbs

During the next stage of the seizure your pet may appear confused and disorientated. Pacing aimlessly, appearing blind or deaf and increased thirst may be apparent. After this, the seizure will end but the effects could last anywhere up to 24 hours before your pet is fully recovered.

What to do if your pet is having a seizure

The first thing is not to panic. If you are calm you will be able to help your pet and keep her safe. Try and time how long the seizure goes on for – this is important information that you vet may require when trying to pinpoint the cause of the fit.

Never try and move your pet. This could cause you or her harm. However, if she thrashes around she may come into contact with something that could hurt her so wherever possible, move things away from her that she may hurt herself on, such as tables or other furniture. Keep your hands well away from your pet’s mouth and claws. She may inadvertently lash out at you or clamp her jaws down on anything close by.

Once the seizure has ended, make a note of how long it lasted and telephone our regular or out-of-hours veterinarian for advice and to see if your pet requires an emergency appointment.