Pets and Seizures

Pets and Seizures

We’d like to speak about the dangers of seizures and pets, and it’s such an important topic that we just want to remind owners what to look out for and what to do in case they suspect their pet has had a seizure.

Causes: Animal seizures can be caused by toxins such as secretions from Bufo toads or exposure to snail bait. In some cases, an animal may have to be put into a drug-induced coma until the toxin wears off.  Seizures in dogs and cats may also be the result of congenital malformations of the brain, metabolic disorders, inflammatory diseases, infections, brain tumors, or a stroke.

Because cats rarely have primarily epilepsy, their seizures are usually caused by other conditions such as viral diseases (including feline leukemia and infectious peritonitis), fungal diseases or even parasitic migration to the brain.  In any seizure case, a comprehensive diagnostic workup is recommended to determine the underlying cause to treat the specific condition rather than using only anticonvulsant medications.


Symptoms: Seizures can be mild, evidenced by only a small twitch of the face or a limb, or they can be severe, causing the animal to spasm violently and become rigid.  Prior to the actual seizure, pets often experience a period of altered behavior.  Some symptoms for pet owners to keep an eye out for include:

  • Far-away look in the eyes
  • Agitation
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Vocalization
  • Unusual clinginess; attention-seeking behavior, or seeking of seclusion
  • Confusion

The actual seizure event normally lasts for about two minutes or less and is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of awareness of the immediate environment
  • Trembling
  • Collapse
  • Rigid extension of the extremities
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cessation of breathing (for roughly 10 to 30 seconds)
  • Rhythmic jerking or paddling of the legs while lying down (resembles running)
  • Muscle twitching (especially facial muscles)
  • Teeth chomping; chewing
  • Temporary blindness
  • Vomiting (emesis)
  • Excessive salivation (ptyalism; drooling)
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation

*Symptom information taken from

If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult your vet right away to determine the cause and begin appropriate treatment.  For more information on the diagnostic services available at MVS, visit http://www.https:https:


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