Seizure in Dogs: Types and Symptoms

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A seizure is among the most common neurological disorders dogs have to deal with. A seizure occurs when the cerebral cortex which is a part of the brain begins to function abnormally.

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There are quite a number of diseases that can cause a dog to experience seizures. At certain times, just like in the case of idiopathic epilepsy, what causes the seizure activity is unknown.

The purpose of this article is to provide dog owners with information and not serve as a replacement for vet consultation thus if you notice any form of illness or seizure activity in your animal, consult your vet immediately.

What you should know In case your dog starts jerking


It can be really frightening to watch helplessly as your dog jerks helplessly from having a seizure. You may be more frightened if your dog is experiencing a seizure for the first time and the first thing that comes to your mind once you get past that first experience is what signs and symptoms to look out for next time.

Symptoms of seizure in dogs

A seizure is usually caused by a malfunction in the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex. There are a few symptoms that may precede a surefire seizure in canines.

  1. There may be stiffening in the neck and legs of your dog due to a change in the tone of its muscles.
  2. Your dog may become completely unconscious or show some alterations in its level of consciousness when it’s having a seizure.
  3. There may be paddling of the dog’s legs or jerking of the muscles during seizure activity.
  4. Your dog’s facial muscle may be affected by the seizure, and that must cause its mouth to close and open violently and also cause its eyelids to twitch.
  5. There is a high chance that your dog will lose control of its body temporarily and probably stool, drool, and urinate while jerking.

It is also possible that your dog might know that it will have a seizure few minutes before it occurs and that may cause your dog to become nervous or restless. However, after the seizure episode, your dog may appear depressed or listless. Your dog may also seem a bit sedate because of what it has just gone through.

The stage where your dog becomes restless because it feels like it might be having a seizure in a short while is known as the prodromal period. While the part where it becomes withdrawn and depressed after the episode is known as the post-ictal period, the length of recovery from seizure for dogs can be quite variable.

Types of seizures in dogs

There are different types of seizures that can occur in canines

  1. Generalised seizure: This is the most commonly seen type of seizure in dogs. A generalised seizure is a kind that affects the dog’s entire cerebral cortex. These seizures are usually referred to as the “grand mal” type of seizure. The generalised seizure usually features loss of consciousness, twitching of different body parts, jerking motions of the muscles, and muscle rigidity. A generalised seizure can be caused be many things, but most times the cause is unknown.
  2. Focal or partial seizure: This kind of seizure originates from a specific area of the brain. A focal or partial seizure may cause your dog to exhibit some abnormal behaviours such as howling, barking, jaw snapping, aggressive actions, licking or chewing. Focal seizures can also cause stiffness in a part of your dog’s body, and muscle twitching in a part of the body. The third dog may also experience involuntary head turning.
  3. Mixed seizure: This kind of seizure is a combination of the two types already mentioned. A mixed seizure can start as a focal or partial seizure and then gradually become a generalised seizure.
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