How to Manage Cluster Seizures in Dogs

How to Manage Cluster Seizures in Dogs

Seeing your dog having a seizure can be scary. Your dog may act strange, collapse, or seem like he is in pain. You want to help, but often there is little you can do to intervene at home, which leaves many owners feeling powerless. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent and manage seizures in the future.  Understanding how seizures happen and what you can do to protect your dog at home will help you minimize the frequency and severity of your dog’s seizures.

What is a seizure in dogs?

A seizure occurs when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain.  This can happen due to abnormalities in the brain itself or due to external factors such as ingestion of a toxin, low blood sugar, or disease in other areas of the body.

Seizures are typically classified as either generalized or focal.  Generalized seizures are the type most people are familiar with.  During a generalized seizure, the dog may lose consciousness, collapse, convulse, vocalize, and urinate or defecate. 

Focal seizures are often more subtle and may involve only a twitch in one area of the body.  Focal seizures can also present as “fly biting” behavior, during which your dog may snap at the air as if he’s trying to catch invisible bugs.  In some cases, focal seizures can progress to become generalized seizures.

What are cluster seizures in dogs?

Most seizures last no more than a few minutes. Cluster seizures – known as status epilepticus in the medical field – are defined as a continuous seizure lasting more than 5 minutes, or more than two seizures in a row without the dog regaining consciousness in between them.

Cluster seizures not only look scary, but they can also cause permanent brain damage.  Cluster seizures can also quickly cause dangerous changes throughout the body, such as a severely elevated body temperature, low blood sugar, changes in blood pressure, and a high heart rate.  Cluster seizures are an emergency and your dog must be seen by a veterinarian right away to stop them.

What causes seizures in dogs?

The most common cause of seizures in dogs is epilepsy.  This condition usually first appears when the dog is between six months and six years of age.  Epilepsy is most common in purebred dogs, but any dog can be affected.

Many other health conditions can also cause seizures.  These are referred to as “reactive seizures” because they occur as a result of another disease process.  Common causes of reactive seizures include:



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