Most Common Causes of Dog Seizures

Watching your cherished pet suddenly succumb to a seizure can be an agonizing experience. If you’ve never seen it happen before, you probably have no idea how to help your pet. The first step in helping your pet during a seizure is to remain calm so that you can effectively deal with the problem.

Start pushing furniture and other objects out of your dog’s way to prevent injury Restrain any other dogs that are nearby so that they do not attack your pet. Do not make any attempt to hinder the movements of your dog directly, since your pet may inadvertently cause you harm during the seizure. When your pet calms down, bring him or her to your family veterinarian as soon as you can so the cause of the seizure can be determined. There are a number of reasons that a dog may experience seizures.

Ingestion of Toxic Substances

If you’ve never seen your dog seize before, then there may not be any ongoing medical condition causing the convulsions. Instead, your dog may have ingested something that was poisonous. If your pet spent time outdoors prior to the onset of the seizure, it’s possible he or she may have ingested toxic chemicals from a trash can or another source of potentially hazardous waste.

Another possibility to consider is if your dog came into contact with toxic chemicals inside your home. In fact, the lead paint often found in older homes is one of the substances most frequently linked to dog seizures. There are also common substances, like chocolate, that are harmless to humans but poisonous to dogs. Certain indoor and outdoor plants are also capable of causing convulsions.


Distemper is an infection that can cause dogs to seize. If your dog has not been vaccinated against distemper, then this could be the reason for the seizure.


Although vaccines are essential to keeping your pet safe from nasty diseases, they do on occasion cause convulsions when an animal is genetically predisposed to such occurrences. If this is the case for your dog, vaccinations can be managed in a way that reduces the risk of seizure.

Metabolic Conditions

Certain abnormal metabolic conditions have been implicated in seizures. These include hypothyroidism and low blood sugar. It’s common for dogs to suffer from seizures due to hypothyroidism, but the good news is this condition is easily treated with medication to restore thyroid function. If low blood sugar is the culprit, there are some tests that can be done to determine the reasons for the reduction in blood sugar.

Brain Tumors

If your pet is more than five years old and has a seizure for the first time, it can be valuable to run a test to see whether a brain tumor is present. Certain breeds, including Doberman pinschers and boxers, are more likely to develop brain tumors.

If the seizures continue and a cause is not discovered, then it’s possible that your pet has a genetic predisposition towards convulsions or that a previous (and now undetectable) head injury is showing its continued effects. Luckily, even these mysterious symptoms – medically termed “idiopathic seizure disorder” – can generally be controlled with medications.

At BluePearl, we work with your family veterinarian to diagnose and treat dogs with seizures. Please schedule an exam with your family veterinarian if you are concerned about your pet. If your dog has a seizure when your family veterinarian’s clinic is closed, call a BluePearl emergency hospital  or your nearest emergency veterinary hospital for advice.