This is an emotional topic for me as my lovable labrador died of seizures at a tender age of 4. This happened a few years back and i hardly know how to save my Labrador at that time. Here the question that arises is, Can seizures kill a dog? Many people ask me the same question. I usually say “Yes” because prolonged seizures can increase your dog’s body temperature and cause serious brain damage that can be fatal to your Dog.
In this article, i have covered various topics regarding Labrador seizures, labrador seizures symptoms, its treatment and how to save your labrador during a seizure. I wanted to make sure that no poor labrador suffers from such a horrible death due to seizures.
Labrador Seizures- What are they actually?
A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. This interferes with the normal functioning of the brain and causes uncontrolled body movements. These body movements can range from a simple leg shaking to a total body collapse. Trust me, it is a horrible experience to watch your little labrador lying on the floor and affected with seizures. Some people get terrified when they have this experience for the first time.
In some cases seizures can be fatal, hence it is important to understand completely regarding labrador seizures so that the right treatment can be given at the right time.
Labrador Epilepsy- How is it different from seizures?
Many people use the term Epilepsy interchangeably with Seizures but actually, both are not the same and it is necessary to understand the difference.
Epilepsy is a canine neurological condition that affects almost 4 per cent of the dogs. This epilepsy causes seizures in your dog, but this is not the case every time. When your dog has a seizure we cannot simply conclude that he is epileptic, he might suffer from an isolated seizure that is not related to epilepsy.
Do you know that there are various causes for a seizure in labrador retrievers? The causes of labrador retriever seizures can range from a simple reason such as stress to a major illness such as idiopathic epilepsy and brain tumours.
Seizure in Labrador retrievers- The main causes
I will list out all the major causes of seizures in labradors. The causes are many and any of these can trigger seizures in your labrador, hence it is important to determine the possible cause of seizures in your lab to deliver effective treatment. Check the list below.
1. Poisons and toxins harmful for your dog such as chocolate, caffeine, xylitol, antifreeze etc.
2. Low or high blood sugar levels
3. Kidney or Liver disorders.
4. Infectious diseases such as Canine distemper, Rabies and other viral, bacterial, fungal infections. And also parasites like hookworms and heartworms.
5. Low oxygen levels in the blood due to health issues like Anemia.
6. Hyperthermia and heat exhaustion.
7. Trauma to the brain.
8. Tumours in the brain.
9. Congenital disorders.
10. Conditions such as Epilepsy.
It is very important to go to the vet when your lab has a seizure. Your vet will determine the possible factors that are causing seizures in your lab.
Labrador Seizures symptoms
You can observe both pre-seizure symptoms and post-seizure symptoms that are different from each other. Before the seizure, your lab may look dazed and confused. Some dogs try to find closed places and behave unsteadily. Some dogs start looking at the ceiling. My dog tried to get under the bed and back side of the couch before it had a Grand mal seizure. This is known as the pre-ictal phase.
During a seizure, your dog can exhibit various symptoms such as collapsing on the side, make jerky movements, drooling a lot, foaming near the mouth, bite itself unknowingly. Sometimes your dog may poop or pee during a Seizure. This is called the ictal phase
After the seizure which is the post-ictal phase or post-seizure phase, your dog looks disorganised, wobbly and completely exhausted. It may become temporarily blind for some time and start bumping into walls and furniture. Read our article on Blindness in Dogs after Seizures to understand the symptoms clearly.
Are Seizures painful for Dogs?
Even though a seizure looks horrible, it is not your dog who feels the pain but it is you who suffer the mental pain. To answer the question straightly, “No” Your dog does not feel any pain as it is unconscious during the period of Seizure.
But what about some dogs that cry and howl during a Seizure? This is because the dog feels confused and is in a state of panic.
The only way a seizure can induce pain to your dog is due to injuries during a Seizure. Some dogs may bite its tongue unknowingly during a seizure and that can hurt your dog. During a seizure, your dog may hit itself to the objects nearby and thus causing injury and pain. Hence it is important to keep your dog safe by removing all the sharp and dangerous objects in its surroundings, thus making the surroundings safe during its seizure.
What to do when your Dog has a Seizure?
Many of you will be in a state of panic when you see your dog affected with seizures. The first thing i wanted to tell you is ” Do not Panic”. Because you have to consider some facts here
1. Your dog is not conscious during a Seizure
2. Your dog is not suffering from pain
Hence there is no necessity to cry and panic. All you need to do is take some careful steps so that immediate care is given to your dog. Read our detailed article on What to do when your Dog has a Seizure.
Types of Seizures in dogs- Understanding the type
It is important to have a little knowledge regarding the types of seizures that can affect your dog. Depending upon the type of seizure you can take the further course of action. Have a look at the 4 variations of seizures
1. Generalized Seizure
This is also known as Grand Mal seizure. In this case, the abnormal electrical activity happens throughout the brain and it affects the complete body. Your dog may fall on its side, involuntarily kicking its legs. A dog can convulse and lose its consciousness. You observe symptoms like heavy drooling, urination, defecation etc. This usually lasts from few seconds to few minutes. This Grand mal is one of the common forms of seizure that effects a dog.
2. Partial Seizures
Also known as Focal seizures and the abnormal electrical activity happens in one part of the brain. Your dog may have restricted seizures in some parts of the body such as facial twitches, movement of one limb, turning the head etc.
In some cases of seizures, they may start as focal and then convert into generalized seizures.
3. Cluster Seizures
These are multiple seizures within a short period of time, usually taken for 24 hours. In case of Cluster seizures your dog has a seizure, seems to become normal and the second seizure strikes again. Here the second seizure strikes even before the dog is fully recovered. This continuous series of seizures makes your dog completely exhausted and is life-threatening. My dog was effected with cluster seizures and it had 3 seizures within a span of 24 hours. If this is your case, it is very important to contact the Vet immediately.
4. Status Epilepticus
This is a case of continuous Grand mal seizures with no period of consciousness in your dog between the seizures. This is the worst form of seizure and is life-threatening. This kind of seizure can last for longer durations from minutes to hours and requires urgent medical attention.
Labrador Seizures treatment
The labrador seizures treatment depends upon the underlying cause of a seizure. Proper diagnosis in identifying the underlying cause is essential. Your Vet may perform an ECG, or CT scan or MRI to determine the cause of seizures and treatment to be given.
In cases of severe seizures and epilepsy, your Vet may prescribe drugs such as Phenobarbital, Potassium Bromide and Diazepam. The treatment to be given is individual to a dog and depends upon the severity of seizures.
Are Seizures common in Labradors?
Seizures are not common in Labradors as it affects only a few per cent of the dogs. But some breeds are genetically predisposed to seizures and conditions of epilepsy. Labrador Retrievers are one among those breeds. Labradors are at a greater risk of incidence of idiopathic seizures when compared with other breeds.
As some kinds of seizures are inherited, it is important to apply responsible breeding techniques by eliminating those labradors affected with seizures from the breeding pool. It is also important to know regarding the ancestral history of a puppy while bringing it home.
Old Labrador seizures
The seizures in your puppy are mostly not the same as seizures in your senior labrador. Seizures in older Labrador retrievers are not generally associated with Idiopathic epilepsy. They are mostly associated with some underlying serious medical condition.
In most of the cases, your Labrador is affected with seizures between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. But if seizures occur during older stages of its life, it could be due to some serious internal health problem. Various health issues that can affect your senior labrador are
1. Brain tumours
2. Liver disease
3. Kidney disease
4. An overdose of Insulin in diabetic dogs
5. Cushing’s disease
Treating Old labrador seizures
1. Make a record of everything during and after a seizure such as seizure duration, time, behaviour after seizure etc for proper diagnosis of the medical condition
2. Treatment should be given depending upon the underlying cause for seizures. This can be best prescribed by your Vet.
3. If the seizure lasts for more than 5 minutes, call for emergency help immediately.
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