Dog seizures can be a terrifying experience for both the furry friend and their concerned owner. The fear stems from the unknown, leaving pet parents with numerous questions. Why is my dog having a seizure? How severe are the seizures? Will my dog be okay? And most importantly, what is causing these seizures?
Deciphering the Causes of Dog Seizures
Dog seizures can have various underlying causes. One of the most common reasons is seizure disorders, such as idiopathic epilepsy, which is often inherited but lacks a known cause. Epileptic seizures in dogs manifest as repeated episodes, and their severity depends on the type of seizure. For instance, cluster seizures, where a dog experiences multiple seizures within 24 hours, can be particularly dangerous.
Additionally, other health issues like poison ingestion, liver disease, abnormal blood sugar levels, kidney disease, electrolyte problems, anemia, head injuries, encephalitis, strokes, and brain cancer can also trigger seizures in dogs. Seizures often occur when there is a change in brain activity, caused by environmental stimuli, household items, food, medication, and, of course, stress.
Unveiling the Trigger Behind Dog Seizures
In simple terms, a trigger is the source that induces a seizure in your dog. It can be anything, either internal or external, that leads to a seizure. Identifying triggers can be challenging, but they typically occur within 30 hours before the seizure, except for vaccinations, which can trigger a seizure up to 45 days after administration.
To minimize the risk of your dog experiencing a seizure, it’s essential to avoid the following triggers:
Environmental Triggers of Dog Seizures
The environment, both inside and outside your home, can significantly influence seizure episodes in your dog. While your home environment plays a crucial role, let’s focus on the potential environmental triggers your dog may encounter outside.
Dogs adore spending time outdoors, whether it’s going for walks, visiting the dog park, or relaxing in the backyard. However, there are numerous outdoor elements that can potentially trigger seizures. For example, the use of lawn treatments, fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides can expose dogs to harmful toxins. Moreover, certain flowers and plants are poisonous to dogs and can also induce seizures. It’s crucial to be aware of these hazards and create an environment that safeguards your furry friend.
What you can do: Select lawn and garden products that are safe for animals. Check for animal-friendly labels to ensure your dog’s well-being. Also, identify any toxic plants in your yard and remove them promptly to eliminate potential seizure triggers.
Barometric pressure changes, extreme temperatures, bee/wasp venom, and toad poisoning are other environmental factors that can trigger seizures. While you may not have control over these triggers, being aware of their presence can help you protect your dog from unnecessary risks.
Triggers of Dog Seizures Around Your Home
Your home environment is equally important when it comes to triggering seizures in dogs. Dogs, like humans, are sensitive creatures, both physically and emotionally. Photosensitivity, bright or flashing lights, can trigger seizures in dogs, just like in humans. Other household items that can potentially induce seizures include scented candles, perfumes, loud music, and cigarette smoke. Even popular household products like cleaning agents, pine oil, kerosene, eucalyptus, and certain paints can act as seizure triggers.
What you can do: Minimize the use of products with strong aromas around your dog. Avoid using pine-scented or infused cleaners. Be cautious while working on home projects and keep your dog away from potentially harmful substances. By taking these simple steps, you can create a safe living environment for your furry companion.
Foods That Can Trigger Dog Seizures
Believe it or not, your dog’s diet can play a significant role in triggering seizures. Diets high in sodium can lead to salt toxicity, causing seizures and pancreatitis. Food allergies, often triggered by processed, low-quality dog foods, are also common culprits. The chemicals, preservatives, and emulsifiers in some of these foods can be harmful to dogs. Certain fruits, dairy products, unclean or uncooked pork, spices, caffeine, foods with specific additives, and even dog treats can potentially induce seizures in dogs.
What you can do: Take control of your dog’s diet by avoiding potentially harmful foods. Carefully read labels to ensure there are no triggering components. Avoid feeding your dog anything you wouldn’t eat yourself and be mindful of expiration dates on dog food.
Medications That Can Trigger Seizures in Dogs
Surprisingly, certain medications given to dogs can trigger seizures. These include vaccinations, heartworm medications, flea and tick preventatives, and some other prescription drugs. If your dog experiences a seizure shortly after starting a new medication, be sure to inform your veterinarian.
Stress Factors That Can Trigger Seizures in Dogs
Similar to humans, stress can also induce seizures in dogs. Although stress is the primary cause of seizures in humans, it is less prevalent in dogs. However, physical and emotional stressors can still trigger seizures in your furry companion. Fatigue, photosensitivity, changes in barometric pressure, extreme weather conditions, thunderstorms, changes in diet or routine, separation anxiety, prolonged activity and excitement, loud arguments, and general nervousness can all contribute to stress-induced seizures.
What you can do: Establish a consistent routine for your dog to help minimize stress. Introduce any changes to their diet gradually, and monitor their playtime to prevent overexertion. Be mindful of potential stressors, such as bright lights, weather changes, and arguments, and take steps to minimize their impact on your dog.
While you can never guarantee that your dog won’t experience another seizure, being mindful of these potential triggers can significantly reduce the chances. Sustaining a safe and healthy environment for your dog will undoubtedly enhance their overall quality of life.
For more information regarding seizures in dogs, visit Katten TrimSalon.
Reviewed By: Caroline Coile, Ph.D.