BLOGS Ask the Animal Expert Ask Annie about Animals – May 2017

Dear Annie,

What could cause a dog to have regular seizures? My four-year-old dog has been having about one a week for the past couple months.

Sizing-up the Situation

Dear Situation,

You should seek immediate medical attention if any seizure lasts longer than five minutes. Seizure activity causes the body’s temperature to rise, and a prolonged seizure, or multiple seizures in a short period of time, can cause overheating. This could damage the brain or other internal organs. (On the flip side, overheating can itself CAUSE seizures!). You should seek medical attention if the seizures continue to occur regularly. Your veterinarian can help you pinpoint possible causes. If no cause can be determined, she can prescribe medications to control the seizures. Phenobarbital and potassium bromide are the usual drugs prescribed. Dogs that are on phenobarbital long-term should have their blood checked twice a year since there is a risk of damage to the liver.

You may find that your pet does not need treatment for the seizures. They may be a symptom of liver or kidney disease. They could also come from a blood sugar imbalance. A small dog may get low blood sugar if he isn’t eating often enough. Trauma to the brain, or a brain tumor, can manifest in seizure symptoms, as well.

Perhaps your pet was recently seen by the doctor. Did your pup have any veterinary treatments prior to the onset of seizure symptoms? Vaccines can sometimes cause seizures. Are you using any treatments for fleas, ticks, or heartworm? Medications can have side effects, and over-the-counter pet products are often implicated in seizures – although this may occur due to improper administration!

Are any chemical treatments being used in or around your home? Culprits can be anything from fertilizers in a neighbor’s yard that you encounter while on a walk, to the new kitchen floor cleaner you decided to try. Has your dog been nibbling on paint chips that might have lead in them? Speaking of nibbling, certain people foods can also trigger seizures.

Water can even be the catalyst for seizures…in certain situations! Overhydrating can cause seizures, although this is rare and usually occurs from extended water-play activities such as fetching sticks from the water repeatedly, or ‘catching’ water from a hose or sprinkler where the dog ingests large quantities of water. Toxic blue- green algae blooms in a lovely lake can cause sickness and seizures for your pet. Pond and pool chemicals can be toxic to your pet, and puddles in industrial areas can be contaminated with seizure inducing chemical cocktails.

Keep a logbook and document all seizure activity. Write down when, where, and how long it occurs. Note what your dog was engaged in prior to its occurrence, and environmental factors like who or what was present. What were the weather conditions before, during, and after the episode? Some animals become severely agitated and anxious when thunderstorms occur, occasionally to a degree that results in seizure activity. Can you identify any recurring pattern of activities or exposures that coincide with the onset of symptoms? Even if you are unable to find a pattern, this log may help your veterinarian to make a diagnosis.


Send your ‘Ask Annie About Animals’ questions to:
Wolf Song Enterprises, LLC
1657 S. Getty, Suite 28 Muskegon, MI 49442
or email your question to:

Annette_VidaAnnette Vida is a licensed veterinary technician with multi-species experience in day clinic, emergency clinic and mobile veterinary care facilities. She is also a certified dog trainer with 40 years experience. Annette has been involved with rescuing animals for decades and shares her home with her wonderful husband and many (rescued) animals. She owns and operates Wolf Song Enterprises, LLC, where she offers animal related consulting services and training. Her office is located at 1657 S. Getty, Ste 28, Muskegon, MI 49442. Call 231-740-3879 for an appointment—home consultations also available.

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