Cluster Seizures in Dogs

Cluster seizures in dogs are the multiple seizures that a dog experiences in a short period of time (such as in an interval of 24 hours). A dog displaying cluster seizures is in a critical condition, as these seizures can be life threatening. Seizures may be controlled with medication, but their cause must be established to be able to treat the dog with suitable medication.

Causes of Cluster Seizures in Dogs

Cluster seizures may be a result of a problem in the brain, a tumor that disrupts the communication between the parts of the brain or a lack of oxygen in the brain. Seizures may be caused by low glucose level in the blood (hypoglycemia) or a deficit of thyroid hormone production (hypothyroidism). Poisoning can also cause episodes of seizures.

Seizures may also happen due to no apparent causes; this is known as idiopathic epilepsy. When examining the dog, the vet will find that there is nothing wrong with the dog, but the seizures will still occur. Some dog breeds are susceptible to seizures (border collies, cocker spaniels, dachshunds, German shepherds, boxers) and epilepsy may also be genetic. If the condition is genetic, it may be manifested when the dog is as young as 6 months old, or later in life.

Some research has revealed that male canines are more prone to cluster seizures.

Symptoms of Cluster Seizures

A seizure will be signaled by sudden collapse, abnormal movement of limbs, excessive drooling, uncontrollable jaw movement or incontinence. The dog will be unresponsive and will not be conscious; he won’t be able to control his spasms. Seizures are very exhausting, so the dog will rest a lot between seizures and have slower movements. He may even be staggering.

Diagnosing Seizures

When the dog has cluster seizures he will get a glucose test immediately. The thyroid function will also be tested. The vet will also check whether the dog has been poisoned. A CT scan or an MRI test will be performed to check if there are any brain tumors or lesions.

After Seizure Care

If your dog is having a seizure, you need to remove any dangerous or sharp objects from the area. Make sure he is not close to stairs, as he may shake uncontrollably and fall down them.

Dim the lights and make sure there are no loud noises in the room. Note down all the things your dog does and see if you can detect a trigger that may have caused the seizure. Put your dog to rest after the seizure is over. Typically, seizures don’t last more than 1 minute. Ideally, you should consult the vet immediately, but if you don’t, make sure you note the frequency of the seizures.


Seizures may be prevented and controlled by administering anti-convulsive medication such as Phenobarbital, primidone, diazepam, phenytoin or potassium bromide. However, the cause of the cluster seizures must be established.

The emergency treatment for cluster seizures contains diazepam, Phenobarbital or propofol. The vet may also recommend fluid therapy.