Temporal Lobe Epilepsy in Dogs

Although epilepsy in dogs is a relatively uncommon condition, it is nonetheless a serious one. Epilepsy is characterized by periods of abnormal electrical activity in a portion of your pet's brain. The result is a seizure, but the symptoms of seizures vary dramatically according to the type as well as the form of epilepsy. Temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common form of epilepsy in dogs. It may arise idiopathically, or for unknown reasons, or it may be due to a prior condition. Many veterinarians believe that there is a genetic link to temporal lobe epilepsy, and that offspring of at least one epileptic parent are predisposed to this condition.

Epilepsy Overview

Temporal lobe epilepsy can develop in dogs of any breed and at any age. It occurs in dogs that suffer from thyroid conditions, hydrocephalus and other brain conditions, and dogs that have ingested poisons or toxins of various kinds. Epilepsy is not a treatable condition, but your vet can recommend one of several prescription medicines that can help to decrease the frequency with which your pet suffers from seizures. Medicine can also help to reduce the overall scope of a seizure. You can work with a veterinarian to learn about different potential causes of seizures in your pet. Overall, however, there is no guarantee that you will be able to control your pet's episodes.


Canine seizures occur in four phases. The first stage is a period that ranges from a few hours up to several days before the seizure itself occurs. During this time, your pet may display unusual behavior or moods. These behaviors may come to a head in the minutes before the seizure itself; during the second stage, many owners witness vomitting, diarrhea, pacing, obsessive licking and other unusual actions.

The third stage is the seizure itself. The most common symptoms of a seizure include the following:

  • Drooling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Licking or chewing
  • Tooth grinding
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Paralysis
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Walking or moving in patterns
  • Twitches

Some seizures are so brief and mild that owners do not notice them at all. Others seem to occupy your pet's entire body and may last for several minutes. The fourth and final stage of a seizure is the period immediately following the seizure episode. Many dogs appear to be dazed or confused following the seizure. Some drink copious amounts of water, while others continue to walk or move in strange patterns. Many dogs also fall asleep immediately after a seizure.

Seizures can be a frightening thing for a pet owner to witness. If you suspect that your pet may have had an epileptic seizure, or if he displays any of the symptoms listed above, take him to a veterinarian. Seizures are generally not life-threatening, but there are certain actions and behaviors that you should watch out for to help ensure that your pet does not harm himself during a seizure. Your veterinarian can help to diagnose your pet's epilepsy and also to provide tools for managing this condition.