Handling a Canine Seizure

No matter what the cause, seizures in a canine are a serious and potentially harmful experience. Whether the dog has epilepsy, has seizures caused by tumors or he has seizures caused by low blood sugar, it is critical to have him in a place and position where he will be safe and won't hurt himself.

Assisting a Dog Having a Seizure

  • Be sure to always have an "emergency kit" of necessary supplies ready and nearby. This should contain a soft towel and a plastic squirt bottle of honey. Remain calm at the signs of a seizure. Even though your dog is having a seizure, he can still sense your anxiety.
  • Make sure your dog is in an area where he cannot harm himself. If he is close to a stairway, fireplace or stove, electrical cord, furniture or sharp object, move the object or gently slide the dog away from the potential hazard.
  • Place a soft cloth under his head to avoid injury during the seizure. Make sure you keep your hands away from his mouth as a seizing dog may clamp down on your hand without intending to.
  • If the seizure is caused by low blood sugar, give him some honey or corn syrup to quickly elevate his blood sugar (using a large plastic honey bottle works best, so you can squirt the honey into his mouth without getting your hands too close to his teeth). Be sure to use a dish or a wooden spoon to administer the sugars to avoid injury to you.
  • Have some sort of contact with your dog, such as your hand on his side or an arm over his body during the seizure activity. This is a reassurance for him and not meant as a restraint. Restraint can often lead to injuries that may not otherwise happen. There is also no need to hold down a dog's tongue as they can't swallow it.
  • Speak to your dog in a calm, soothing voice. He may not be able to respond, but he can still hear your voice. Your reassurance can help him to relax and come out of the seizure more easily.
  • Stroke your dog as the seizure activity lessens. This is also a reassuring, calming activity for him. Again, always be sure to keep your hands away from his mouth to avoid accidental injury to yourself.

What to Do After the Seizure

  • Make sure the dog is allowed to remain calm and relaxed. This means avoiding any noises such as TVs, radios or stereos. Also avoid foot traffic or activity in the room.
  • If the seizure was from low blood sugar, feed the dog a small meal, unless it's close to his regular meal time, then just feed his normal meal. The honey or corn syrup will burn off quickly and needs to be supplemented by his normal food.
  • Make notes about the seizure activity. Note things like the duration, which muscles/muscle groups were involved and time needed to recover. The better the information you can pass to your veterinarian, the better he will be able to advise you about caring for your dog.
  • While seizures can be traumatic for both you and your dog, they can be handled in a relatively easy manner. By remaining calm, making the general surroundings quiet, removing any hazards and reassuring your dog, both of you can come away from the episode relatively unharmed. Remember, if you remain calm and positive, so will he.