Seizures In Dogs Or Cats:How To Manage?

Seizures in dogs or cats are sudden neurologic events that manifest as changes in consciousness and repetitive involuntary movements. These seizures can occur due to various factors such as ingestion of toxins, low blood sugar, brain inflammation or masses, head trauma, liver disease, or epilepsy.

Initially, during a seizure, the pet typically lies down or collapses onto their side due to the altered state of consciousness. Subsequently, the seizure may present with symptoms like rigid body posture, limb jerking or “paddling” movements, rapid jaw movements resembling “gum-chewing,” vocalization, and loss of bowel or bladder control.

The primary objective of managing a pet’s seizure at home is to provide a serene and secure environment to allow the seizure to run its course, intervening only if it persists for an extended duration.

However, if a specific metabolic imbalance, like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), has been previously documented and can be corrected to alleviate the seizure, immediate action should be taken.

For instance, in diabetic animals experiencing hypoglycemic seizures, administering oral sugared syrups can help. Nonetheless, if a seizure extends beyond 5 minutes, it’s imperative to promptly notify your veterinarian or seek immediate treatment at an animal emergency clinic.


Precautions during pet seizures

It’s crucial to prioritize safety for both yourself and others when dealing with a pet’s seizure.

During these episodes, dogs or cats lack awareness of their actions, and the jaw movements resembling “gum-chewing” are involuntary and potent.

It’s imperative to keep hands and face away from the pet’s mouth to avoid potential bites, which can cause severe injuries such as finger loss or disfigurement.

  • Dispelling myths: the notion of seizures causing animals or people to swallow their tongues is a fallacy. Attempting to touch or manipulate the tongue during a seizure is unnecessary and hazardous, as the uncontrolled chewing motions can result in harm.
  • recognizing danger signs: prolonged seizure activity, known as status epilepticus, can pose serious risks after 5 minutes or more. The intense muscle activity generates heat, raising body temperature. If a seizure persists beyond this threshold, especially in warm weather, prompt intervention with veterinary antiseizure medication or immediate transport to an emergency veterinary center is essential.
  • water hazards: seizures occurring in water environments significantly elevate the risk of drowning. While water bowls may not pose a substantial threat, swimming pools, lakes, or beaches present dangers. Dogs prone to seizures should be closely supervised near water bodies, with immediate access for intervention if needed. A viable approach is to be in the water with the dog, utilizing a long, retractable leash to ensure control and safety during play.


Managing pet seizures

when a seizure occurs in your pet, maintaining composure is paramount. Remember, seizures induce an altered state of consciousness, and though they may seem distressing, your pet, like a person experiencing an epileptic seizure, will not recall the event.

swift action is crucial, especially if the seizure occurs in a hazardous location. examples include near steep drops, busy roads, staircases, or in water. if such a scenario arises, carefully move your pet away from the danger, grasping them by the collar, scruff of the neck, or hind legs.

for waterborne seizures, promptly bring your pet onto dry land or a secure platform. always prioritize avoiding bites, opting to handle your pet away from the head and teeth.

most seizures last only moments, but they can feel longer. note the duration at the onset of the seizure, and report it to your veterinarian for assessment.

Seizures persisting beyond 5 minutes necessitate antiseizure medications. However, refrain from administering human antiseizure drugs unless directed by your veterinarian, as unguided usage can pose life-threatening risks.

a recommended method for at-home management involves rectally administering diazepam (valium) to your pet during a seizure. here’s how:

  1. prepare the diazepam solution, taking care to avoid injury from the vial if applicable.
  2. Attach a needle to a syringe and draw the prescribed dose of diazepam.
  3. Remove the needle and insert the syringe gently into your pet’s anus.
  4. depress the plunger to administer the medication.
  5. monitor your pet for the desired effects, including seizure slowing and termination.

Alternatively, if the seizure is due to low blood sugar, oral sugar syrup can be administered:

  1. move the pet to a clean surface.
  2. pour corn syrup or maple syrup onto a spoon.
  3. lift the pet’s lip to expose the gums and drip the syrup onto them.
  4. If the pet is sitting or standing, administer the syrup into the cheek pouch for swallowing.

prioritize safety throughout the process, avoiding contact with the pet’s mouth to prevent potential injury.


Managing post-seizure care for pets

Following a seizure, pets may experience disorientation during the postictal period. it’s normal for them to not recognize their owners or other pets immediately. These signs typically dissipate gradually over the next hour or hours.

During this time, pets may also exhibit signs of temporary blindness and may inadvertently bump into objects. It’s essential to protect your pet from potential hazards, such as stairs or unstable objects, during this vulnerable period.

If your pet is on daily seizure medications, it’s crucial to notify your veterinary hospital of the seizure episode. Adjustments to medication dosage or additional medications may be necessary, and blood levels of the medication may need monitoring.

Consistency in administering daily medications is vital for controlling seizures, as abrupt cessation can lead to severe seizure activity.

Some pets may have specific triggers for seizures, which can manifest as a pattern of occurrence at particular times.

If identifiable triggers exist, consider eliminating them if feasible, such as avoiding certain activities. Proactive measures to minimize triggers can help in managing and reducing the frequency of seizures in affected pets.


Long-term care and preventive measures for pets with seizures

For pets with a history of seizures, long-term care and preventive measures are essential to minimize the frequency and severity of future episodes. These steps can also enhance the overall quality of life for your pet.

  1. Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Regular visits to the veterinarian are crucial for monitoring your pet’s health and adjusting medications as needed. These check-ups can help identify any underlying conditions that may contribute to seizure activity.
  2. Medication Adherence: If your pet has been prescribed anti-seizure medications, it’s vital to administer them exactly as directed. Skipping doses or making changes without consulting your vet can lead to increased seizure activity or other complications.
  3. Diet and Nutrition: Some pets may benefit from a specialized diet or nutritional supplements. For example, diets high in certain fatty acids like the ketogenic diet have been shown to reduce seizure frequency in some cases. Always discuss dietary changes with your veterinarian.
  4. Stress Reduction: Stress can be a trigger for seizures in pets. Try to maintain a calm and consistent environment for your pet. Techniques such as pheromone diffusers for dogs and cats can help to reduce stress levels.
  5. Identify and Avoid Triggers: If specific triggers for your pet’s seizures have been identified, take steps to avoid them. Triggers can vary widely from pet to pet and may include loud noises, flashing lights, or certain activities.
  6. Environmental Safety: Make your home safer for a pet prone to seizures. This may include padding sharp corners, securing stairways, and ensuring your pet cannot fall into a pool or other body of water.
  7. Emergency Preparedness: Have a plan in place in case of a seizure. This includes knowing when to administer rescue medication if prescribed and having the contact information for your vet and the nearest emergency animal hospital readily available.
  8. Monitoring and Record Keeping: Keep a seizure diary to record the date, time, duration, and characteristics of each seizure. This information can be invaluable for your veterinarian in managing your pet’s condition.
  9. Social and Physical Enrichment: Although it’s essential to protect a pet with seizures from harm, they still benefit from social interaction and physical exercise with a harness. Tailor activities to your pet’s condition, ensuring they are safe but still enriching.
  10. Support and Resources: Joining support groups, either in-person or online, can provide valuable information and emotional support. These groups can offer insights into managing seizures, share experiences, and provide comfort.

By implementing these long-term care and preventive measures, you can help manage your pet’s seizures more effectively and provide them with a fulfilling life. Always work closely with your veterinarian to tailor the care plan to your pet’s specific needs.



Managing seizures in dogs or cats requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses immediate response during a seizure, post-seizure care, and long-term management strategies.

By understanding the triggers, symptoms, and appropriate responses to seizures, pet owners can ensure the safety and well-being of their pets during these distressing events.

It is imperative to maintain regular veterinary check-ups, adhere strictly to medication regimens, and create a safe and supportive environment for pets with a history of seizures.

Through proactive management and preventive measures, pet owners can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of seizures, enabling their pets to lead more comfortable and fulfilling lives.



FAQ: How can I tell if my pet is about to have a seizure?

Look for pre-seizure signs, known as the aura or prodrome phase, which can include restlessness, whining, shaking, salivation, affectionate behavior, or appearing to stare off into space. Recognizing these signs early can help you prepare and ensure your pet is in a safe location to minimize injury.

FAQ: Are there any specific breeds of dogs or cats more prone to seizures?

Certain breeds may have a genetic predisposition to seizures. For dogs, breeds like the Beagle, Belgian Tervuren, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Vizsla are noted to have a higher incidence. In cats, the Siamese, Persian, and Domestic Shorthair have shown a predisposition. However, seizures can occur in any breed.

FAQ: Can changes in diet help control seizures in pets?

Yes, in some cases, dietary changes can help manage seizures. A ketogenic diet, which is high in fats and low in carbohydrates, has been found to help control seizures in some pets. Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids may also have beneficial effects. Consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet’s diet.

FAQ: What should I do if my pet has a seizure for the first time?

If your pet experiences a seizure for the first time, remain calm and ensure they are in a safe, hazard-free area. Do not attempt to restrain your pet but do monitor the duration and characteristics of the seizure. After the seizure, provide a quiet space for recovery and contact your veterinarian for further advice and assessment.

FAQ: How can I support my pet during the postictal phase after a seizure?

During the postictal phase, your pet may be disoriented, blind, or unsteady. Keep the environment calm and quiet, remove other pets to give them space, and ensure they have access to water. Avoid overwhelming them with too much attention or stimulation. Gradually, your pet should return to normal behavior, but monitor them closely and consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about their recovery.