As a busy mobile vet I often get phone calls from distressed clients when their dog is having a fit.
A bit of advance knowledge can be really useful – so here’s my guide to seizures or ‘fits’ in dogs.
How do I know if my dog is having a fit?
A fit or generalised seizure can be a very frightening experience for both you and your dog.
With a full-blown fit your dog will collapse on the floor and shake all over. His limbs will often be moving as if he is paddling under water but they can also be rigid and trembling.
During the fit your dog won’t respond to your voice or touch – he is totally unaware of what is happening around him. You might find your dog wees or poos on the floor during the fit and he may howl.
What to do when your dog is having a fit
- Move any furniture away from your dog so he doesn’t bang himself
- Call your Vet
- Try to time the fit – its very useful for us vets to know how long the fit lasted
- Your dog will NOT swallow his tongue during the seizure. DO NOT put your hand anywhere near your dog’s mouth while he or she is fitting – you can easily get bitten because the jaw moves powerfully and involuntarily
Once the seizure is over stay calm and relaxed as your dog comes around.
He or she will not be able to remember what happened and will feel a bit confused and disoriented. Some dogs can even be aggressive.
A visit from the mobile vet
We find owners are very re-assured when our vet arrives at their home! The first part of our assessment is a detailed consultation.
We ask you lots of questions about how your dog has been over the past few months. What we are looking for here is any underlying health problems that might have caused the seizure.
We perform a full health check and we will do blood and urine tests on the day or after a couple of days once your dog has fully recovered.
Once we have the results of all our tests our mobile vet will make a recommendation about whether your pet needs medication to manage his condition. In mild cases mediation might not be the right choice, in moderate to severe cases it can be life saving.
What is epilepsy?
In young dogs, seizures are most often caused by epilepsy. Certain breeds suffer more than others, for example German Shepherd Dogs are over represented.
Epilepsy is a disturbance of the normal electrochemical activity of the brain resulting in seizures. If your dog has epilepsy he’ll likely have recurrent fits through his life.
Fits become a major problem if they are prolonged or clustered together – a long fit is life threatening and very serious.
However, with the correct Veterinary care and support your epileptic dog can enjoy a long and happy life.