Convulsions, fits & seizures – single

Seizures can snuff the life of a dog. It is therefore extremely necessary to have the pet diagnosed by a veterinarian. A seizure deprives the brain of oxygen, put severe strain on the heart and often result to brain damage or fatal heart failure. It would certainly be a scary experience if the seemingly healthy beloved pet who is sitting contentedly beside you would suddenly convulse, back rigid and froth coming out from the mouth. It is fortunate if the owner has had similar experiences with a convulsing pet otherwise seizure can be misconstrued as choking or any other ailment and the inappropriate first aid will be given to the dog.

Symptoms & Causes

A seizure is an abnormal activity of the neurons in the cortex of the forebrain. The sudden electrical discharge that emanates from the brain causes bursts of abnormal activity that can not be controlled by the dog. Convulsions usually last for a few seconds although some fits could last for a few minutes. There are two types of convulsions – a single convulsion that lasts for seconds to several minutes and would not recur for at least 24 hours and the repeated convulsion that continuous for several minutes. Both would need a vet’s attention. The only difference is that the repeated convulsion is an extremely emergency situation that would need medical attention immediately. In a single seizure, the dog may be brought to the vet’s clinic after it has recovered. This is not so in a repeated convulsion as a vet’s aid is crucial to save the life of the dog.

There are many reasons why a dog would convulse. Some would originate from the brain and other seizures are symptoms of a variety of diseases. Fever, infection, low blood sugar, a hit to the dog’s head that causes trauma and swelling of the brain, brain tumor, cardio vascular and metabolic diseases are known to trigger convulsions. Poisoning from lead and antifreeze and insecticides is another cause of seizures.

Some dogs would manifest unusual behavior when a seizure is about to start. At the onset of seizure the dog would start to shake the head, bat or snap at the air and act as if catching a fly. The dog would exhibit extreme restlessness, would continuously lick the lips and would show distorted facial expressions.

And then the dog would suddenly lie on its side, with the neck arched and shake uncontrollably. The legs would have a paddling motion as if the dog is running; froth that is sometimes tinged with blood (if the dog has bitten the tongue) would come out from the dog’s mouth. The pupils will be dilated and the dog would have a glassy eyed look. Most often convulsing dogs would urinate and defecate. The pet will be unaware of the surrounding and will not be able to recognize the owner. Some dogs would lose consciousness.

After the fit, the dog would be disoriented, sleepy, very tired and hungry. Some dogs would suffer from severe headache. This will be evident as the dog would bang its head on a wall. Temporary blindness can occur. This would cause the dog to seek for the master’s attention.


Single seizures are better allowed to run their course. There is actually no first aid that can shorten this situation. What you can do for your pet is to ensure that it is safe. Remove all things especially sharp objects and other animals that can hurt the dog. If the dog is in danger of falling on a stair or in water use a blanket to gently move the dog. Never try to insert your fingers or other objects like spoon on the dog’s mouth. The dog can not swallow its tongue and you will only risk yourself from being bitten by the dog. Noise and commotion can make the seizure last longer. If the dog is unconscious do not try to revive the dog by slapping, shouting or drenching with water. Keep calm and make sure that the dog is in a quiet, cool dim place.

The fit may last for a few minutes and after a fit, the dog would be extremely hungry, tired and disoriented. In some cases the dog will experience temporary blindness. Your attention and reassurance will be most needed by the pet.

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