How to Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy

Three Methods:Helping Your Dog During a SeizureTreating Your Dog After a SeizureLearning About Canine Epilepsy

Canine epilepsy is hard on your dog’s health and hard on you as well. Epilepsy means that your dog suffers from repeated seizures.[1] A seizure is the result of a burst of electrical energy in the brain.[2] Some dogs will only have one seizure and never have another one again, while others will have repeated seizures. It is crucial to your dog to see a veterinarian if he suffers from seizures. Seizures may become more severe without veterinary interventions. To help a dog with epilepsy, you can do several things, including supporting your dog during the episode, getting your dog the help he needs after an episode, and taking steps to help prevent further seizures.

Method 1
Helping Your Dog During a Seizure

  1. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 1
    Comfort your dog. Your dog is going to be scared and confused during and after a seizure, so it is crucial to do everything that you can to help him feel less afraid. If your dog suffers from frequent seizures, you will also want to learn how to recognize the signs of a seizure so that you can prepare. Some simple steps that you can take to comfort your dog during a seizure include:[3]
    • Placing a cushion or pillow beneath your dog’s head. This will help to protect your dog's head during a seizure.
    • Speaking to your dog in a low, soothing voice. Say things like, "It's okay, buddy. That's a good boy. Easy, easy, I got you."
    • Petting your dog in a calming, gentle way. You may also consider letting your dog lay across your lap or holding him if he is a small dog.
  2. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 2
    Keep your hands out of your dog’s mouth. It is a misconception that dogs will swallow their tongues, and under no circumstances should you stick your hand or fingers into your dog's mouth when s/he is having a seizure. You will get bit. Do not try to put any objects into your dog’s mouth either or your dog may break a tooth or even choke.[4]
  3. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 3
    Soothe your dog after the seizure. It is important to get your dog calmed down before taking any other action. Sometimes the seizure may restart if your dog is very nervous and/or tries to get up before he has recovered. Continue soothing your dog and stay close for a while after the episode.[5]
    • To help your dog relax, keep the room quiet. Turn of the television and TV and don’t allow more than one or two people in the room. Take other pets out of the room as well.
  4. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 4
    Pay attention to the duration of our dog’s seizures. Try to keep track of how long the seizures last. If your phone is handy, taking a video of the event may also help the veterinarian to diagnose your dog.
    • If the seizure continues for longer than five minutes, get your pet to a veterinary emergency room as soon as possible. Long seizures can exhaust the respiratory muscles and this can interfere with your dog's ability to breathe.[6]

Method 2
Treating Your Dog After a Seizure

  1. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 5
    Take your dog to see a veterinarian. Once the seizure is over, it is important to take your dog to the veterinarian for an examination. This examination will consist of numerous tests to rule out other causes of seizures, which will help your veterinarian to determine the best treatment option for your dog. If these tests are all negative, then your dog may be suffering from primary seizure disorder and your veterinarian will discuss medications with you.
  2. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 6
    Ask about medications. There are several medications available that reduce the number and severity of seizures in dogs. Most of these medications need to be given daily and will need to be continued for the rest of your dog’s life. The primary options include:[7]
    • Phenobarbital. This is the most common medication used in dogs with epilepsy. It works by suppressing seizure activity in the brain.
    • Potassium bromide. This drug is used if phenobarbital causes health problems. Sodium bromide may be used as an alternative to potassium bromide. They both decrease seizure activity in the brain.
    • Gabapentin. This antiepileptic drug is commonly combined with another medication to help control generalized seizures.
    • Diazepam. This drug is commonly used as a sedative instead of a regular drug to control seizures, but it may be used if your dog’s seizures are frequent and long-lasting.
  3. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 7
    Expect sedative effects. Most anti-epileptic drugs will cause some sedation early on, but most dogs will adjust to this sedative effect. Sometimes, too, combination drug therapy can help lessen sedation if your dog seems to react too strongly to one medication.
    • Keep in mind that medication may affect your dog's liver and kidneys, so you should weigh the cost/benefit of treatment versus coping with the occasional seizure.
  4. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 8
    Talk to your veterinarian about sedating your dog during stressful situations. If your dog is very high strung, you may have to use sedatives to prevent seizures during times of stress. Talk to your veterinarian about giving your dog an occasional sedative for these types stressful situations.[8]
    • You may want to sedate your dog on certain holidays, such as Independence Day in the USA, or others where fireworks are used.
    • You may also want to sedate your dog if you will have a full house and your dog is stressed by strangers.
    • Even during thunderstorms, you may need to tranquilize your dog to get him or her through the frightening noises and flashes of light.
  5. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 9
    Monitor your dog’s condition. Canine epilepsy, while treatable in most dogs, is a progressive problem. Even with medication, some dogs may continue to have seizures now and then. If episodes become more frequent or severe, consult your dog’s veterinarian immediately.[9]
    • Keep in mind that as your dog gets older, seizures and episodes can become more frequent and severe.

Method 3
Learning About Canine Epilepsy

  1. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 10
    Understand the types of epilepsy. Dogs suffer from two main types of epilepsy: primary and secondary. Primary epilepsy tends to strike young dogs (under two years of age) as it is a genetic disorder although it can take until the age of six to manifest.[10] This condition is also known as idiopathic epilepsy. Secondary epilepsy may occur at any age. This type of epilepsy is often due to another problem that affects the neurological system, such as an infection, a disease, a brain injury, a stroke or brain tumor.[11]
  2. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 11
    Know how to identify a grand mal seizure. In a grand mal seizure, the dog falls to its side and becomes rigid while thrashing its limbs. It may howl, salivate, bite, urinate and/or defecate during the seizure, which will last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Keep in mind that not all dogs have grand mal seizures. Some dogs may have less severe or obvious seizures.[12]
  3. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 12
    Identify a generalized seizure. Some dogs may suffer from seizure that prompt them to move in a strange way or do something repetitive such as licking or walking in a circle. Pay attention to any unusual behavior that your dog displays. If you are unsure if this behavior is a seizure or not, talk to your veterinarian.[13]
  4. Image titled Help a Dog Who Has Canine Epilepsy Step 13
    Watch for signs of an oncoming seizure. Prior to a seizure, your dog may sense that something isn't right and begin to react. You may notice your dog doing certain things before a seizure such as:[14]
    • acting clingy
    • pacing
    • whining
    • vomiting
    • looking dazed or confused


  • Look for external triggers like pesticides or household cleaners that can trigger episodes in your dogs.
  • The most important thing is to be there for your dog while they are having a seizure. Seizures can be very scary for dogs, so it is vital to comfort them and make it less scary as possible.
  • It's a good idea to keep an old towel near by while your dog is having the seizure. Often dogs give signs before excreting. If they start gagging, or giving any signs, it is handy to have a towel to make clean up easier.


  • A seizure lasting more than five minutes can be life threatening. Bring your dog to the veterinarian immediately.
  • Never stop any prescribed medication suddenly without discussing this with your veterinarian.

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Canine Health