Seizures aren't rare in dogs, but not all seizures are the same. There are numerous different types of seizures that vary in severity and length. Here, our Liberty Lake vets will walk you through the different types of seizures found in dogs.
Understanding Seizures in Dogs
Most seizures in dogs occur with little-to-no warning and last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a few minutes.
There are many different types of seizures seen in dogs. A specific dog may experience multiple kinds of seizures throughout their life. As well, each type of seizure affects different dogs in different ways.
Many dog owners are concerned that their pets will injure themselves during a seizure. However, seizure-related injury in dogs is extremely uncommon. Having said that, if your canine companion has seizures, you should notify your veterinarian. Some seizures may not necessitate immediate action, but others do.
Focal Seizures in Dogs
Also called partial seizures, focal seizures in dogs only affect half of their brain, and only a particular region within that half.
During diagnosis, focal seizures can be identified as either simple or complex based on your dog's level of awareness during the course of the seizure.
Dogs typically maintain consciousness during a simple focal seizure, while they lose consciousness during a complex one.
Signs of a simple focal seizure in your dog
Simple focal seizures can be difficult for a pet parent to detect. This is due to the fact that they frequently manifest as strange behaviors. Any of the following behaviors may indicate that your dog is experiencing a simple focal seizure:
- Involuntary movements
- Specific muscles contracting and relaxing
- Dilated pupils
- Fur standing on end
- Issues with balance
- Signs of vision or hearing changes
- Hallucinations (Indicated by your dog barking, growling, biting at the air, or acting fearfully with no obvious reason)
Generalized Seizures in Dogs
In contrast to a focal seizure, a generalized seizure occurs within both halves of a dog's brain. General seizures often evolve from focal seizures.
Often dogs experiencing generalized seizures will fall unconscious for the duration. They also may urinate or defecate while unconscious.
Types of Generalized Seizures in Dogs
Because generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain, they are most often characterized by involuntary movement on both sides of the body.
There are many ways, however, that a generalized seizure can manifest itself in your dog. These are described in the following categories or types:
- Clonic: Involuntary rapid and rhythmic jerking or muscles contractions
- Tonic: Muscles stiffening or contracting
- Tonic-Clonic: A phase of tonic followed by one of clonic
- Atonic: These seizures will often cause a dog to fall to the ground very suddenly. They are also sometimes called "drop attacks."
- Myoclonic: Sporadic movement or jerking on both sides of the body.
- Cluster: When a dog experience two or more seizures within a 24-hour period, regaining full consciousness between each seizure
This serious condition occurs when a single seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or when a dog has multiple seizures in a short period of time without regaining consciousness.
If you identify this in your dog, call your vet immediately. Seizures that last over 5 minutes can cause a risk to your dog's life.
Focal Seizures Transitioning into Generalized Seizures
The most common type of seizures found in dogs is focal seizures which transition into generalized seizures.
Often the focal seizure which kicks off an episode is small or subtle enough to go unnoticed by even attentive dog owners.
If your dog is having a generalized seizure, try your best to remember what they were doing in the time leading up to the generalized seizure began. Were they acting strangely?
It is important to be able to provide your vet with as much information as possible. That way, they will be able to make informed decisions on how to best diagnose and treat the seizure your dog is experiencing.