My Dog Looks Stiff and Will Not Respond

If you have ever witnessed your pet experiencing muscle contractions, constant salivation or a general look of stiffness, then you have probably witnessed them having a seizure. These instances, while not a common problem for dogs, can occur for a variety of reasons. This can not only be quite alarming to the owner, but also be potentially dangerous to the victim.

Seizures in dogs occur because of a neurological disturbance in the brain; these disturbances cause a storm of electrical activity, sweeping across the brain and causing any number of adverse effects. These effects can range from mild twitching, to constant salivation, and even death.

What Causes Seizures In Dogs?

Dog Brain Diagram
In many cases, these cases are idiopathic, meaning they have no known cause. It is estimated that about 5%-6% of dogs will suffer from these type of seizures. However, this isn’t the case with all episodes; sometimes the disorder can be easily traced to a known medical condition.

1. Hypoglycemia

A sudden drop in blood sugar can spark such trauma; these variances usually occur when the owner gives their diabetic pooch too much insulin. It can also occur in puppies who are inflicted with an acute case of parasites. Worms in the intestinal tract consume all the glucose, causing a sudden drop in blood sugar.

2. Head Trauma

Injury to the cranium can cause serious damage to one’s brain, making them extremely vulnerable to contortions.

3. Toxins

There are many toxins that interfere with the normal functioning of an animal’s brain. Antifreeze and lead poisoning are usually the main culprits, but foods such as chocolate or onions can also have adverse effects on the cerebral cortex.

4. Canine Infections

There are several different infections which can cause a dog to experience a seizure. These infections include rabies, encephalitis and distemper.

Recognizing Canine Seizures

The preictal phase is what occurs right before the onset of an attack; said phase is characterized by several different symptoms that can be readily observed by the owner. Fido may become overly anxious or hyperactive, he may also try to seek help by becoming overly affectionate towards others. Many victims may not exhibit these symptoms; instead, they may opt to find a place to hide while they succumb to the fit.

After the preictal phase, the afflicted will then enter the ictal phase, this is when the actual occurrence begins. During this iteration, it is important that the owner not try to touch or shake the convulsed. Essentially, the pet may become dangerous during this time and inadvertently hurt its owner.

Types of Canine Seizures

There are two different types of canine seizures, Petit Mal and Grand Mal.

Petit Mal Seizures

1. Fine Tremors
2. Loss of Balance
3. Severe Whining
4. Constant Urination
5. Muscle Contractions

Grand Mal Seizures

1. Spontaneous Defecation
2. Foaming At The Mouth
3. Running Around in Circles
4. Severe Back Arching

Treating Canine Seizures

After the seizure has subsided, the post-ictal phase begins. Accordingly, the dog is most likely confused and exhausted. It is important that the master remain with them during this time, offering the animal help and comfort if needed. This is especially important since the martyr may be dealing with temporary problems such as deafness or blindness.

It is also important that the wounded is immediately taken to a vet for treatment. The vet will assess the sufferer, prescribing a treatment program that will keep the seizures under control. While there might not be a cure for epilepsy, it can be controlled with medication.