What To Do if Your Dog or Cat Is Having Seizures

Caring for a Dog or Cat Having a Convulsion or Seizure

Alex the epileptic cat -- post-seizure recovery

 Indi Samarajiva / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Watching your dog or cat have a seizure is a frightening experience. However, with a little bit of knowledge, you can make the situation safer for your pet and less frightening for you.

Average Seizure in the Dog or Cat

In most cases, a cat's seizure or dog's seizure only lasts a few seconds or minutes. During this period, there are several things you can do to help.

  1. First of all, do not panic. Your dog or cat will pick up on your feelings and emotions and may become even more frightened as a result. Also, you need to stay calm to help your dog or cat safely through the seizure.
  2. Move your dog or cat away from any objects or areas in which it can become injured. Make sure there are no sharp edges nearby that it could cut itself on. Move it away from any steps or stairs that it could fall.
  3. Remember that your dog or cat has no control over its muscle movements while it is having a seizure. Many pets will urinate and/or defecate during a seizure.
  4. Keep your hands and other body parts away from its mouth so that you do not become injured. Do not try to hold your pet's tongue. Dogs cannot swallow their tongues while having a seizure.
  5. Talk to your dog or cat in a calm, soothing voice while it is having a seizure. You can pet your dog, but be careful of moving your hands too close to its mouth and be wary of being injured by its moving limbs.

After the Seizure

While any pet experiencing their first seizure should be examined by a veterinarian, it may not be necessary to immediately rush your dog or cat to an emergency hospital.

If your dog or cat had a single seizure, behaved normally before the seizure, the seizure stopped in less than five minutes, and your dog or cat returned to its normal behavior afterward, call your veterinarian or local emergency clinic for advice. You may be able to schedule a veterinary appointment to have your pet examined rather than be seen on an emergency basis. You may be prescribed a medication to control seizures.

However, there are some situations where a seizure in a dog or cat becomes an emergency.

When Does a Canine or Feline Seizure Become an Emergency?

Status epilepticus describes a seizure that lasts for a long period, usually 30 minutes or longer. If your dog or cat has been having a seizure for more than five minutes and has not stopped, this is an emergency.

Dogs in status epilepticus can suffer permanent brain damage and its life is at risk. Emergency veterinary care should be sought immediately.

If your pet has had seizures in the past and your veterinarian has dispensed a diazepam (Valium) suppository, this is a good time to administer it following your veterinarian's instructions.

Cluster Seizures in the Canine and Feline

A similar and equally dangerous situation occurs when a dog or cat has cluster seizures. Cluster seizures are, as the name implies, a cluster of seizures that occur back-to-back.

As with status epilepticus, cluster seizures can be life-threatening and emergency veterinary attention should be sought for any dog or cat that has had more than two seizures in 24 hours.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.