My Dog Is Experiencing Seizures, How Can I Help?

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Watching your dog experience a seizure has to be one of the scariest things as a pet parent. Often times we feel helpless, frightened, and clueless as to what to do. Well, we are here to help you!

CBD oil for dogsFirst of all, let’s dig into what seizures are and why they happen. Seizures are a neurological condition in which there is a temporary involuntary disturbance of normal brain function that is usually accompanied by uncontrollable muscle activity. Repeated episodes of seizures are called epilepsy. There are many causes of seizures, but the most common is genetic, called Idiopathic epilepsy. Other causes can include environmental allergies, infections, liver disease, kidney failure, brain tumors (cancerous or benign), brain trauma or toxins (1).

When do seizures happen?

They often happen at times of changing brain activity, such as during excitement, meal times, or as a dog is falling asleep or waking up.

How can you help keep your dog safe during a seizure?

Your dog having a seizure can lead to panic and decisions that may not be beneficial to your pup.  The AKC has produced a general guide to handling dog seizures.  Here are some things to consider if your dog is experiencing seizures:

  • Try to remain as calm as possible. Your dog’s health will depend on your ability to stay focused.
  • Check the time. You will need to know when your dog’s seizure started and how long it lasted. This can help later when you talk to your veterinarian.
  • Seizures that last more than 2-3 minutes can put dogs at risk of hyperthermia (overheating). You can try cooling your dog by applying cold water or wet towels
  • Remember that your dog is not conscious or in pain. Do not try to grab your dog’s tongue (dogs and people don’t swallow their tongues during seizures)
  • Try to keep your dog away from the stairs
  • Cushion his head, and gently hold and comfort your dog until he/she regains consciousness
  • Always call your veterinarian following a seizure, even if their behavior goes back to normal
  • Start to keep track of your dog’s seizures – date, time, and length. This will help your veterinarian figure out what is going on.
  • Dogs that have more than 1 seizure in a 24-hour period are experiencing “cluster seizures” and must be taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible! (2)

Are there medications for your dog to help with seizures?

Most veterinarians won’t recommend pharmaceutical medications if your dog experiences seizures less often than once a month or if their seizures are very mild. But if they do recommend a medication, here are a few common ones:

  • Phenobarbital
  • Potassium bromide (KBr)
  • Zonisamide
  • Keppra (levetiracetam)
  • Gabapentin
  • Felbamate

As with most medications, these drugs can have side effects. So it is important to do your due diligence in researching the medication and its’ risks (3).

CBD Oil for Dogs: A Natural Solution

Have you ever heard of CBD oil for dogs? CBD is one of 113 phytocannabinoid compounds found within the hemp plant. It is not psychoactive and does not produce any state of intoxication or euphoria. The great thing about CBD oil is that it is natural, has to contain less than 0.3% THC, and has no known serious side effects. Furthermore, research is being done for the effects of CBD on dogs with epilepsy. Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University, has found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in a clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures (4)

Though research is preliminary and still ongoing, the results are promising and giving hope to many pet parents around the country who have dogs with seizures and epilepsy.