Is Sydney Chasing Rabbits or is it Canine Seizures #1800PetMeds

November 27, 2013

Dog Health

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Sleeping dogs, dogs taking a nap

Sydney takes her naps right next to me on the sofa.  She snores (it’s cute), she farts (this startles her, she is a Princess you know), and sometimes she chases rabbits.  But being a pet blogger, I’m aware of canine seizures or canine epilepsy (repeated seizures); so I watch Sydney sleep and I wonder if she’s dreaming or if this is more.

From 1-800-PetMeds…

Seizures in dogs and cats are abnormal brain activity. They can be very subtle or they can cause violent convulsions. Seizures occur when nerve cells (neurons) in the brain malfunction and become excited, firing without control. Most cat and dog seizures occur at night or when they are resting. Seizures can occur once and never occur again—for example because of heatstroke or fever—or they can occur repeatedly. Repeated seizures are called epilepsy. Unfortunately, if seizures are not treated, they occur more frequently and with more force because increasingly larger areas of the brain become affected.

For more information on seizures and epilepsy, visit 1-800-PetMeds.

What surprised me when I was reading where the things that can lead to canine seizures.  I always thought they were brought about by a malformation in the brain; some type of inherited condition our dogs picked up from their sires.  Instead, the following can lead to seizures (and if those seizures are left untreated, our dogs health is at risk).

More from 1-800-PetMeds…

This is a list of things that can lead to canine seizures.  The items on the list that are related to extreme health conditions, like Cushing’s Disease or kidney failure make sense, but low blood sugar and heat stroke surprised me.

  • Overheating – infection, heatstroke
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) – Insulin overdose, pancreatic tumor (insulinoma), liver failure, malnutrition
  • Poisons and toxins – Lead, organophosphates, ethylene glycol
  • Medications – Insulin, sudden withdrawal of anti-seizure medications
  • Kidney failure – Nephrotic syndrome
  • Liver failure or malfunction – Portosystemic shunt, liver cirrhosis
  • Hypothyroidism – Genetic, immune-mediated
  • Cushing’s Disease – Genetic, steroid drugs
  • High blood lipids (hyperlipidemia) – Hypothyroidism
  • Abnormal levels of electrolytes and other elements in the blood, such as sodium, calcium, magnesium and Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – Milk fever, eclampsia, fluid therapy, malnutrition, thiamine-binding toxic plants
  • High blood pressure – Kidney disease, Cushing’s Disease, adrenal tumor (phaeochromocytoma)
  • Lack of oxygen – Dogs with short noses and thick throats, such as Bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds, have difficulty getting air while sleeping or when recovering from anesthetic

And I learned that canine seizures don’t always present convulsions.

Our dogs are huge, happy and healthy.  Because of this, I often forget how small and vulnerable they are and that I need to take care of them.  Sydney doesn’t suffer from canine seizures, but I find it interesting that she could be at risk after a long walk, on a hot day, with little rest or water.

Does your dog suffer from canine seizures?  How were they diagnosed?  How do they present?  What do you do now?

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23 Responses to “Is Sydney Chasing Rabbits or is it Canine Seizures #1800PetMeds”

  1. Jessica @ Life with Duke Says:

    Duke also frightens himself when he farts, it is pretty funny to watch him figure out what just happened. But sometimes when he is sleeping he does move a lot and it has scared me a few times he is moving so much! I never thought it could be a seizure. The vet has always given him a good check up so I think he is just chasing rabbits (or squirrels!) but it is always good to remember to keep an eye out for things!
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  2. Ann Staub Says:

    The title of your post made me think of my own dog. She does the whole rabbit chasing thing in her sleep, but sometimes she gets really into it. Making noises and sometimes lifting her head for a nice long howl. Seizures are scary and the list you’ve created for other reasons dogs have seizures is perfect. We use to tell puppy owners to feed their dogs several times a day, especially breeds like a chihuahua or maltese, because of low blood sugar seizures.
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  3. slimdoggy Says:

    You scared me there for a second. Our dog Bernie (Tino’s brother) had seizures from distemper – we had to euthanize him because of it.THey were pretty frightening, but luckily none of our other dogs have ever had them.
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    • Lynn Barkema Says:

      This whole thread distressed me. We lost our beagle/chihuahua mix in July due to seizures that would not stop. They occurred out of the blue early one Sunday morning for no reason that we could determine. We had to drive an hour to the nearest emergency vet clinic, and by the time we got there, her temperature was 19 degrees and the vet thought there was permanent brain damage. She thought it might be due to heat stroke, but I can’t understand how that could be. Our dogs are indoor dogs, we have central air, and she was sleeping on top of my bed right under the ceiling fan. I was too distressed at the time to inquire further. At any rate, because of the high fever and the brain damage, we decided to have her put to sleep, but we and our other dog, who was her companion from the time we got her, are still mourning her loss. I keep thinking it would help me if I could understand why or what caused it, but I know it probably wouldn’t help that much.

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      • Kimberly Says:

        Oh, Lynn. I’m so sorry. We lost our puppy tragically last month and my heart still breaks with the loss. I feel like we’ll never get over that loss.

        When Rodrigo was licking his paws like crazy, our vet (at the time) told me that it was due to the grass; turns out that it was a lot more than that and I had to figure it out for myself.

        The scary thing about seizures is that they can be caused by so many different things, but because you went through this once, you’ll be better prepared and a better resource for other dog owners. It may not seem like that today, because you’re mourning, but you’ll see someday.

        Big hug to you and your dog.
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  4. BoingyDog Says:

    Great post and it’s so good to have the information available. My friend’s pug has severe anxiety about meeting new people and occasionally has seizures when someone new comes over. It’s really troubling her, especially because she wants to help him with his anxiety and not just jump to anxiety meds.

    When I was in paramedic school our neurology instructor explained seizures very well. He told us to imagine an extremely busy restaurant where each table is having their own conversation, the waiters all have their tasks, things to deliver and information to communicate from one place to another. That’s the way the brain normally operates. Now imagine someone starts singing happy birthday and suddenly the entire restaurant is focused on one thing, singing the same song, clapping together in unison. That’s what a seizure is like – it’s totally not the way the brain should be operating. But if you watch a seizure closely it makes sense. I’ve only seen one dog seizure (grand mal) with my own eyes; surprisingly similar to a human seizure and just as scary.
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  5. SuperCutePetContest Says:

    I had a similar thought about one of my cats recently. Her whiskers were twitching and her paws were moving but I had never seen her do that before. I decided to just let her sleep and she woke up about 5 minutes later, like everything was normal. It’s a scary thought, our pets having seizures, but I’m really glad you shared this information!

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  6. Chad Says:

    My dogs often get active in their sleep, and at times it’s kind of scary. Luckily I haven’t had to deal with seizures. This article is very informative. I think that some people are unaware of what to watch for, and what to do when it comes to seizures.

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  7. Dogmama Says:

    How funny, I thought Huffle was the only dog that’s startles by his own farts. He’s been known to turn and stare at his bum as if to ask: was that YOU??

    Or to run away from the place he was about to sit if he toots while starting to sit down.

    I’ve seen a number of dogs suffering from epileptic seizures and it is scary, but thankfully Huffle’s barking & running dreams look very different to a physically expressed seizure. I might never sleep a full night again if they were similar. He also sleep barks and sleep howls (sounds muted from an awake bark though I’ve never heard him actually howl), which is surprisingly cute.
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  8. Dawn Says:

    Pierson has had two seizures since I’ve had him (two that I know of). I don’t think he had the auras beforehand. His convulsing lasted less than a minute. His recovery seemed more traumatizing to me than the convulsions. He kept trying to stand but couldn’t. It was like he was dizzy. And his legs were stiff. His eyes were wide and I suspect he was freaking out because he didn’t know why he couldn’t move properly. But luckily, this aftereffect lasted less than a minute as well. He was already back to normal when I got the vet on the line. Believe it or not, she actually said there was no need to bring him in since the seizure was so short and there were no lingering symptoms. She said if he seizes again or if his seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, then get him in immediately. Otherwise, it is nothing to be overly concerned about. Canine epilepsy is common and most cases are mild and need no medication.
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  9. Cathy Bennett Says:

    Leo cries out in his sleep, it usually starts when the Grandfather clock strikes. If he’s really tired, he will start with a soft moan that generally ends up with a wail. I can sometimes control it by softly calling his name, but not all the time. No twitching…yet.
    Thanks Kim
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  10. Jana Rade Says:

    All of our dogs had chased rabbits in their sleep from time to time.

    Our late Roxy did get seizures just before her passing … to me, these two things look quite different.
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    • Kimberly Says:

      Since I’ve never seen a dog with seizures, I’m not really sure what to look for; I considered looking it up on YouTube to be able to tell the difference, but I find that when I delve into the details of health issues (especially now), I tend to start seeing problems when there are no problems. I just pray that this isn’t something in our future.
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