Seizures and Epilepsy in Dogs and Cats

Abnormalities in the Central Nervous System (CNS) or brain can cause seizures and seizure-like episodes. The abnormalities can be caused by epilepsy, brain tumors, head trauma, toxins, cancer, compromised blood flow, infections and poorly functioning internal organs that cause buildup or body wastes in the blood.

How can I tell if my dog or cat is having a seizure? 

Clinical signs of seizure type activity can range greatly in severity. Regardless of how severe the episode is, it is important to take your pet to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Mild episodes may be barely noticeable and consist only of staring ("star gazing") or repetitive jaw movements (chewing gum seizures). 
  • Severe seizure episode activity can range up to extremely violent thrashing and complete loss of body control and awareness.

What should I do if my dog or cat is having a seizure?

If your pet is having a seizure, or if you notice any signs of seizures it is important to take your pet into see a veterinarian as soon as possible. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or if your pet is having seizures in a cluster, this is a medical emergency and you should seek immediate veterinary care. Regardless of the duration, it is important to diagnose the cause of the seizure as soon as possible after the event. Post-seizure diagnosis is based on symptoms, medical history, examination findings, blood and urine tests and sometimes x-rays or other imaging tests. Treatment and prognosis will also vary greatly depending on the underlying disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Epilepsy in Dogs and Cats

Epilepsy is a disturbance in normal brain function that causes recurrent seizures and/or behavioral changes. There are no specific tests for epilepsy, however your veterinarian may conclude with this diagnosis based on age, breed and tests to rule out other causes for seizures. In many cases, epilepsy can be adequately treated by anti-convulsant medication. These pets will need to have the health of their internal organs monitored in addition to periodic blood tests to check the level of anti-convulsant drug in their systems.

Epilepsy in Dogs and Cats

If your pet is diagnosed with epilepsy, it is important to keep a seizure log to track the time of the seizure as well as the duration. Again, any seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes or if they are occurring in a cluster it is important to take your pet into see a veterinarian immediately. After each new seizure occurs, be sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Recording this information will help your veterinarian to determine if there is a pattern to when the seizures occur and whether a change in medications is needed.

Post-Diagnosis and Management Tips

Use all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian.

  • Accurate dosing schedules are very important to help control seizure activity.
  • It is helpful to your pet's veterinarian to track any seizure activity in a "seizure log".
  • Keep your pet hospital’s contact information and call your veterinarian whenever your pet has a seizure.
  • Monitor your pet's progress carefully and have him/her rechecked as recommended by your veterinarian.

Schedule an appointment

If your cat or dog has had a seizure in the past, or if you have noticed any other abnormalities, don’t hesitate to ask questions or bring your pet in for an exam. Contact your nearest Banfield location to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today.