Living with epileptic pets

Is my dog in pain during a seizure?

Most epileptic dogs are unconscious and may cry out during a seizure, this can simply be part of the seizure process and does not necessarily mean your dog is in pain. Canine seizures tend to be far more ‘painful’ for the owner than their dog.

What should I do if my dog has a seizure?

When your dog is having a seizure, there are actions you can take to protect yourself and your dog from harm, the most important thing is to stay calm.

Some dogs seem to know when they are about to have a seizure and may behave in a certain way, you will come to recognise these signs. Often dogs just seek out their owner’s company and come to sit beside them when a seizure is about to start.

During:

Once the seizure starts the dog is unconscious – they cannot hear or respond to you. Dogs do not seem to swallow their tongues during a seizure, so there is no need to put your hand near your dog’s mouth and risk being accidentally bitten. Most dogs become stiff, fall onto their side and make running movements with their legs. Sometimes they will cry out and may lose control of their bowels or bladder.

Where possible, move objects, people and other pets out of the way and do not move or handle your dog during a seizure unless they are likely to hurt themselves (e.g. if at the top of the stairs or near a fire. If this is the case, roll them onto a blanket and pull clear of harm).

After:

Once the seizure is over, keep your dog in a quiet room to fully recover. Your dog may appear confused and disoriented for up to 24 hours afterwards, so avoid approaching them until they are ready to come to you. Ensure that food and water are available as your dog may also be hungry and thirsty. Don’t forget, dogs behave in different ways after a seizure. Most seizures last between 1 to 2 minutes – it is a good idea to time and record details of the occurrence, as this will help your vet to establish the best course of treatment for your dog – click here for useful tools that can help you track your pet’s seizure. If the seizure is lasting longer than normal, for more than 5 minutes or if seizures are occurring more often than once per hour, you should contact your vet immediately. Dogs often have a set pattern of behaviour that they follow after every seizure – for example going for a drink of water or asking to go outside to the toilet. If your dog has had more than one seizure you may well start to notice a pattern of behaviour, which is typically repeated in any subsequent seizures.