It is hard watching our beloved dogs in pain. Unfortunately, some dogs deal with the discomfort of seizures. Some dogs may experience an episode once, while other canines go through it regularly.
When we need to make the tough call of whether or not to euthanize a dog with seizures, there are several factors involved that you will want to consider first.
The first thing one must understand is that epilepsy is common in dogs. This neurological ailment is the most common cause of seizures in dogs. Many dogs still maintain a good quality of life with epilepsy – so this diagnosis is not an automatic reason to put your dog down!
When our dogs are dealing with intense seizures on a chronic level, you may have to decide whether or not you should put it down. Let’s learn more about dog seizures and making this tough decision.
What Is a Seizure in a Dog?
A seizure happens when there’s a sudden change in the electrical signals in your dog’s brain. During this time, the seizure will be controlling your dog. It may not be aware of what is going on around it.
Different types of seizures can affect our pooches:
- Focal seizures – these only affect one part of their body or just a specific muscle group
- Tonic-clonic or grand mal seizures – cause a loss of consciousness and have violent muscle contractions
- Atonic seizures – makes the dog go limp and can cause them to fall down
- Petit mal seizures – very mild and may only last a few seconds
- Cluster seizures – there are several seizures in a row
Our canine friends can have one or more types of seizures. Often, we may not know when they will happen.
The symptoms of a dog having a seizure can vary depending on the type of seizure. Generalized seizures involve the entire body, while focal or partial seizures are limited to one side of the body.
Seizures and epilepsy can also be inherited in dogs. So you may want to consider that factor when breeding.
Symptoms of a Seizure in Dogs
When your dog is having a seizure, you will notice the following symptoms:
- Uncontrolled muscle movements, including thrashing and twitching
- Loss of bladder control or drooling
- Foaming at the mouth
- Dilated pupils
- Losing consciousness
Why Do Dogs Have Seizures?
There are numerous reasons why a dog experiences seizures. The most common causes include tumors, strokes, head injuries, epilepsy, and poisoning. In some cases, we can never conclude the cause of it.
How Serious Are Seizures?
Seizures can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. It may last just a few seconds or continue for several minutes. Your dog may experience muscle spasms, loss of bladder control, or even loss of consciousness.
What Should I Do If My Dog Has a Seizure?
If your dog begins to have a seizure, you should stay calm and avoid interfering as much as possible. Try to track how long the seizure lasts. If your dog cannot control its bladder or the seizure lasts more than five minutes, you should call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Seizures that continue for more than 5 minutes, known as Status epilepticus, can be life-threatening and require immediate treatment.
The vet may put a sick dog with seizures on a treatment plan to reduce the severity or frequency of future ones. If there is no medical reason for the episode, they may prescribe medication that reduces the risk of having a seizure again.
How Long Can a Dog Seizure Last?
Seizures can range from mild to life-threatening. If your dog is having seizures for more than 5 minutes or the seizures continue for more than 10 minutes, it will be necessary to contact your veterinarian immediately.
If your dog has epilepsy, the seizure may last for a few seconds to a couple of minutes.
What Happens After a Dog Seizure?
After a seizure has concluded, you should check your dog for injuries it may have sustained. If your dog is disoriented or confused, you should keep a close eye on it and take go to the doctor if necessary.
Be mindful that dogs may experience anxiety or depression after a seizure. If your dog appears to be having problems coping with the seizure, you should consult with your vet.
Provide your pet with plenty of water and make sure it eats soon afterward. Some dogs may be lethargic or disoriented after a seizure. In most cases, the dog will return to itself within a few hours.
Why Is My Dog Not the Same After a Seizure?
Some pet owners may feel like their dog is not the same after a seizure. Some dogs experience personality changes afterward. Watch out for extreme personality changes in your dog, as it could be a sign of a brain or neurological damage.
Others may seem like they are in a trance-like state for a few minutes or hours after the seizure has ended. While this may be confusing and concerning for pet owners, it is usually nothing to worry about. Dogs usually return to themselves within 24 hours after a seizure.
Can a Dog Recover From a Seizure?
In some cases, dogs can recover from a seizure. However, where the seizures are caused by an underlying health problem, the dog may not fully recover.
A bad seizure or frequent seizures may cause brain damage that makes the dog less aware of their surroundings to not be themselves anymore.
Can I Prevent Seizures in My Dog?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent most seizures in dogs. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of seizures.
Some key factors to avoid potential seizure triggers include poisoning from lilies, onions, and garlic; exposure to rodenticides; and intake of potentially toxic plants such as yew or azalea.
You should also make sure your dog does not suffer a head injury or stroke. Stroke may happen in a dog when they have a blood clot or bleeding in the brain.
How Many Seizures Can a Dog Have Before It Dies?
There is no specific rule for how many seizures a dog can have before it dies. However, the severity of the seizure and the size of your pet will determine whether or not death can be prevented.
Most dogs that continue having seizures for more than 5 minutes are at risk of dying from them, due to the lack of oxygen reaching their brain. Body temperature can rise quickly. When seizures last that long – especially in aging pets – it can cause problems with their brain.
Some dogs only live through one seizure and never experience another one again.
What If My Dog Had 3 Seizures in One Day?
If your dog has three seizures in one day, they likely have epilepsy. Most dogs that have three seizures in one day will not survive more than a week unless it receives medication.
While every situation is different, and some dogs do experience long-term seizure-free lives after multiple seizures, it is important to remember that each seizure puts your dog at risk for brain damage or death.
Should I Euthanize My Dog With Seizures?
If your dog has been suffering from seizures, you may be wondering if it is time to put them down. This difficult and personal decision is based on your specific dog and its quality of life.
There are many factors to consider when making this decision. Think about how often the seizures occur, how long they last, and whether or not the dog seems to be in pain or discomfort. If your dog has multiple seizures a day, it is hard for it to live a normal life.
In some cases, dogs that have had a seizure may not seem like themselves afterward. If your dog remains confused or not as responsive as they once were, this could be a sign that they are suffering from brain damage and would benefit from euthanasia.
Euthanasia is a difficult and emotionally stressful decision for any pet owner, with numerous factors to consider. The young age of seizure onset, frequent initial seizures, poor seizure control, and seizures that last more than five minutes are all high-risk factors.
How Long Should I Wait to Euthanize My Dog?
This is a question that should be answered on a case-by-case basis, as every dog’s situation is unique. If your veterinarian feels that the quality of life for your pet has diminished and continuing to live would be more painful than putting them down, then euthanasia shortly may be necessary.
If your dog only experiences one seizure and is otherwise healthy, then you don’t need to consider putting it down. However, if your dog is having multiple seizures and does not respond well to treatment, then euthanasia may be the best decision for both you and your pet.
When to Put Down an Old Dog Suddenly Having Seizures
If your dog is not responding to treatment, it may be time to say goodbye.
Seizures may suddenly happen in older dogs due to their age and declining health.
Consider what your dog’s quality of life is like at the moment. Does your pet no longer want to eat or drink? Has it lost a significant amount of weight?
Does your canine now have trouble walking after dealing with so many seizures? If the answer is yes, it may be time to consider euthanasia.
What Is the Process Like for Dog Euthanasia?
The euthanasia process for dogs is typically very peaceful and painless.
Your veterinarian will give your dog a sedative to help them relax and then will inject a lethal dose of barbiturates into their vein. Within minutes, your pet will be asleep and will not feel any pain.
Their heart will slow until it eventually stops beating, and they will die peacefully in their sleep. This process usually takes less than five minutes.
Conclusion For When To Put Down a Dog With Seizures
In conclusion, many factors go into deciding when to put down a dog with seizures. If your pet has multiple seizures and is not responding well to treatment, then euthanasia may be the best decision for both of you.
You should always consult with your veterinarian to get their professional opinion on what is best for your furry friend. Remember that each situation is different, and you should make the decision that is right for you and your pet.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should you put a dog down because of seizures?
AVMA explains that when an animal is plagued by a disease that produces insurmountable suffering,” it can be argued that continuing to live is worse for the animal than death or that the animal no longer has an interest in living.” Scientists have described welfare as having three components: that the animal functions well, feels, and can perform behaviors that are innate or species-specific adaptations.
Suppose your companion animal no longer continues to live a good life, and the suffering and inferior quality of life far outweigh the benefits of living because of extensive pain and suffering. In that case, your veterinarian will help you make a humane decision.
Do I have to put my dog down if he has seizures?
You should always visit your vet following a seizure. Your vet needs to make a diagnosis if your dog has epilepsy, a brain tumor, head injury, or other neurological conditions. Although there are excellent treatments for seizures today, if your dog is prone to frequent episodes of cluster seizures, they are less likely to achieve remission with any treatment. AVMA adds, “A balance between quality of life and therapeutic success is often key for an owner’s commitment to their pet’s therapy.”
How many seizures can a dog have before it dies?
A seizure that lasts longer than a few minutes can result in death. Anticonvulsant drugs are used to control seizures, even those caused by epilepsy. Treatment is needed to prevent overheating, disruption of the body’s circulation, and brain damage. During a seizure, your vet will administer anticonvulsants intravenously, but these are usually given orally for long-term maintenance.
No pet parent should rush to think that euthanasia is the only alternative. For example, 60% to 70% of dogs taking medication will achieve reasonable seizure control. That said, there are senior dogs and dogs with other health conditions where euthanasia may be the only humane solution. You should always work closely with your veterinarian to ensure your dog gets the necessary care.
Are seizures painful for dogs?
Tufts explains that although seizures are awful to watch, and your dog may be confused or panicked after a seizure, seizures are not painful.
Tufts adds that you should move furniture and other objects away from your dog while he’s having a seizure but not move or pick up your dog. Your dog should have a full diagnostic workup with a veterinary neurologist.
You should also try to take a video to show your vet an episode of your dog experiencing a seizure. Working closely with your veterinarian is key in planning medication choices and changes over time to ensure that your dog gets the appropriate treatment throughout his life.
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