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Seizures in Pets

A seizure is uncontrolled activity in the brain that can cause a variety of signs. The most common ones include stiffening or falling over, paddling of legs, and shaking. The pet may pass urine or stool or salivate.  Some dogs, but not cats, will have mild signs such as staring off into space or minor twitching.  

Causes & Testing

Several things including infections, parasites, poisons, tumors or liver disease, can cause seizures. Dogs often have epilepsy, and although it is rarer in cats, they do still develop it. In true epilepsy, the brain looks normal on a scan, but the animal still has seizures.

Tests are needed to look for a cause. These include blood and urine tests, x-rays and possibly an MRI or CT scan. It’s important for all pets exhibiting seizures to have a thorough workup by a veterinarian, and often a veterinary neurologist should be consulted as well.

Is a Seizure an Emergency?

Most seizures only last a minute or two. Much longer than this can be an emergency. Seizures that don’t stop are life-threatening. Pets can also have clusters of seizures. They have one seizure right after another. This is also an emergency. 

Treatment of Seizures

Treating an underlying cause is the first thing to do.  You may need to treat the seizures as well. If seizures are mild and occur less than once a month, treatment may not be needed. Keep track of how often they occur and how long they last. If seizures become more frequent or intense, treatment is often needed. Early treatment generally controls seizures better.


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