Partial Seizures in Dogs

Seizures in dogs can be distressing for both the pet and the owner. Simply put, a seizure is an involuntary, abnormal behavior. Any seizure should be treated as an emergency and medical advice should be immediately sought if a dog experiences one. There are several types of seizures that dogs may exhibit due to varying causes.

Partial Seizures in Dogs

Partial seizures are caused by localized brain damage where uncontrolled activity is observed in a specific region of the body related to the area of the brain damaged. Partial seizures are also called focal motor seizures and can get worse and affect the entire body if left untreated. They cause abnormal behavior that can persist either for a short period of time or over an extended period. The damage might, in time, affect the entire brain and the partial seizures might generalize to involve the entire body. The two main types of partial seizures are simple partial and complex partial seizures.

Simple Partial and Complex Partial Seizures

Simple partial seizures are localized and originate in that area of the brain that controls movement. The face is the area that's most commonly affected. Abnormal behavior, such as twitching or blinking is observed usually on one side of the face. Thus, this type of seizure is asymmetric in nature. The dog is alert, aware of his surroundings and confused by what's happening. This seizure might spread and affect other parts of the body as well. In such cases, buckling and twitching of the limbs might be observed. Simple partial seizures may end or degenerate into a general seizure where the pet might lose consciousness. Complex partial seizures originate in that area of the brain that controls behavior and are also called psychomotor seizures. In such seizures, the dog's mental awareness is hampered. During each such seizure, a certain form of abnormal behavior is repeated. Examples of abnormal behavior are lip smacking, hysterical running, aggression, biting, hiding or crouching and fly biting, when it appears as though the dog snaps at imaginary flies around his head. Such behavior is often accompanied by salivation, flank biting, vomiting, diarrhea and unusual thirst or appetite.

Causes of Seizures:

  • Epilepsy
  • Trauma to the head
  • Calcium deficiency in nursing dogs
  • Brain tumors
  • Distemper
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Poisoning
  • Sugar deficiency


It's essential to seek medical care immediately if your pet has a seizure. Note the duration of the seizure and if they are recurrent. The time between the seizures should be noted as well. In addition, the vet will want to know if the dog lost consciousness or was incontinent during the seizure. The medication usually prescribed by the vet is Phenobarbital and potassium bromide. Any alterations in the administration of the medication should be made only according to vet's instructions. The vet will also want to rule out anemia, diabetes and calcium deficiency before deciding on the course of treatment and perform tests for the same.

A seizure should be handled patiently and calmly. Pet owners should also ensure that the dog's food is free of preservatives and the environment, free of chemical pollution. Good nutrition, hygienic conditions and loving care can go a long way to ensure optimal canine health.