Ask the Vet - Seizures
My 4-year-old boxer recently had a seizure. How serious are they?
Seizures, also known as convulsions or fits, are one of the most common neurological problems seen in pets. There are a variety of possible causes, and it is important that you work with your veterinarian to try to determine the cause. An examination, thorough history, and some diagnostic testing can help us find the reason for the seizures. Although a seizure may be frightening to watch, the pet is not usually in pain during a seizure and there will likely be no lasting harm. Seizures in pets occur in three stages:
- For a few seconds to a few hours before a seizure, your pet may act nervous or restless and may shake or salivate.
- The seizure itself may last for a few seconds or up to 5 minutes. During this period, your pet may fall on his side and seem paralyzed while his body shakes. It is best not to approach your pet while he is having a seizure. However, you should make sure that your pet will not injure himself by falling.
- During the post-seizure phase, which may last for a few minutes or up to 2 days, your pet will likely not seem quite like himself.
If your pet has one seizure episode, then perhaps seems sleepy or clingy but otherwise normal, I recommend that he come in the next working day for an appointment. If your pet has additional seizures that day, or if you are concerned for any reason about how he looks, have him seen right away. Your pet will receive a thorough physical examination, including some basic blood tests, to try to determine the cause for the episode. You and your veterinarian can then devise a plan for monitoring your pet going forward.