What to Do If Your Dog Experiences a Seizure, Suggested by a Vet

Taking care of an elderly dog, especially one that is having seizures may be difficult and upsetting for the dog and owner alike.

Some of the numerous potential epilepsy causes are more amenable to treatment than others. The underlying cause of a dog’s seizures, however, may worsen with age, leading to more frequent or more severe seizures.

All pet owners want is the best for their animals. Therefore, people may think of euthanizing their dog during a seizure to relieve their pet’s pain. Still, it’s not an easy one to make.

If you own an older dog, this article will shed light on the factors that contribute to seizures, as well as the optimal moment to put your dog to sleep.

Approximately how many convulsions would cause a dog’s death?

Your dog’s prognosis will be heavily influenced by the frequency and duration of his seizures. An acute danger to life exists if a seizure lasts long enough to cut off blood and energy to the brain.

The brain might die from lack of oxygen if your dog’s seizures continue longer than 5 minutes or if they occur more than 2-3 times in 24 hours. As a result, you need to get your dog to the vet ASAP in cases like these.

Once an older dog begins having seizures, how long do you think it has?

How long a dog with epilepsy will live is contingent on a number of circumstances, including the nature and severity of the condition, and the degree to which it may be managed. According to this research, the median survival duration for canines with idiopathic epilepsy is 66 months; if the condition is inadequately managed, this time frame may be significantly reduced.

Median survival time drops drastically to 8 months if seizures are caused by a brain lesion such as a tumor. Finding the reason for your dog’s seizures and starting treatment as soon as possible is thus essential.

Now, we’ll take a look at the most common canine epilepsy causes.

How often seizures occur, how long a dog may expect to live, and when it might be time to put him down are all topics covered in this article.

Liver Illness

Seizures might be a symptom of liver illness or liver failure in an elderly dog. There are, however, numerous other indications of liver disorders that are more likely to manifest before a seizure happens. The most common early symptom is a decrease in hunger. Swelling of the abdomen, gastrointestinal distress (vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation), urine that is a dark orange color, and a yellowish cast to the skin, gums, and mucous membranes are all signs of a malfunctioning liver. You may expect to see these signs well before there is any danger of a seizure.

The prognosis for a dog with liver illness varies according on the etiology of the condition. Liver cancer, for example, progresses far more quickly than chronic hepatitis, yet both might take years or even decades to fully manifest. As a result, a dog with liver illness may have months or years left to live.

However, if your dog is plainly extremely ill and suffering seizures on a regular basis, such as many seizures every week, then it is likely time to contemplate euthanasia.


The incidence of tumors, commonly known as neoplasia, increases dramatically with age in canine species. It’s important to know the difference between benign and malignant tumors. Seizures are only one of the neurological symptoms that may be brought on by a brain tumor. Your dog may have comparable symptoms from cancer that originated in another region of its body and has now metastasized (spread) to the brain.

Dogs with brain tumors have a life expectancy that varies with the kind of cancer and the rate at which it spreads. However, the prognosis is usually rather bad, with the median survival time being just two months.

Treatment may be able to prolong this time, but usually not very much when it comes to the point when euthanasia should be considered. It’s time to think about euthanasia if your dog is also having other neurological symptoms including incoordination, disorientation, and an inability to move correctly in addition to having seizures. If your dog is suffering many seizures each week, it is also suggested that you have him put to sleep.

Kidney Illness

Toxins accumulate in an elderly dog’s circulation and cannot be eliminated regularly if he has a renal disease or kidney failure. Seizures are a possible side effect of an accumulation of toxins in the blood, especially in older dogs. It’s far more probable that other symptoms may appear first. Symptoms may include a rise in urine and thirst, fatigue, lack of appetite, and even nausea. Not until the illness has progressed significantly do symptoms such as seizures and coma set in.

The prognosis for a dog with renal illness varies with the severity of the condition. Extremely late-stage renal failure, known as stage 4 kidney disease, is associated with seizures, and the median survival period for dogs in this group ranges from 14 to 80 days, as reported by the International Renal Interest Society (IRIS).

To decide whether or not euthanasia is appropriate: If a dog has reached stage 4 renal failure and is losing weight, vomiting, and experiencing frequent seizures, it may be in its best interest to put it to sleep.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that may occur in dogs with uncontrolled diabetes. Seizures may occur as a consequence of electrolyte imbalances in the blood. Overtreating diabetes may also induce seizures; if someone has hypoglycemia as a consequence of getting too much insulin, for example, he may have a seizure.

Dogs with diabetes have a median life expectancy of two years. On the other hand, if your dog is exhibiting seizures or other abnormal neurological activity, it is most likely at a very advanced stage of the condition (See my article on Final Stages of Dog Diabetes). Your dog’s seizures may be stopped if you get him to the clinic quickly enough.

If your dog has been suffering seizures for some time and diabetes is becoming more difficult to manage, euthanasia may be something to consider. The post warns indications your dog may be dying from diabetes will explain more.


A dog’s blood sugar drops to a dangerously low level, a condition known as hypoglycemia. Lack of glucose in the brain causes convulsions since the brain can’t operate without it. Due to their inherent difficulties in doing so, small and toy dog breeds (and pups) are particularly susceptible to this illness. However, active dogs, dogs with pancreatic cancer, and diabetic dogs are also at risk. Despite the fact that extreme hypoglycemia may cause seizures or coma, other symptoms, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Trembling
  • Restlessness
  • Collapse

Veterinary care is usually all that is needed to restore hypoglycemia. The prognosis might be worse in those situations when a more significant underlying cause is at play.

To decide whether or not euthanasia is appropriate: After exhausting all available veterinarian treatment options for your dog’s epileptic convulsions, you may want to consider euthanizing him.

Medication Reaction

Side effects are possible with any drug (including natural therapies, but to a lesser extent). Common minor symptoms include throwing up, diarrhea, and a lack of appetite. Less frequent but no less real are other extreme responses. Even though they aren’t common, seizures are a potentially fatal adverse effect of several drugs given to dogs.

Environmental Toxins

There are several things in our dog’s environment that can potentially cause seizures.

These include:

  • Rodent poison
  • Antifreeze
  • Insecticides
  • Garden weedkiller
  • Insect poisons
  • Lead paint
  • Black mold

You may not even know that things like black mold, or lead paint are in your home. If your dog has unexplained seizures, having your ductwork and heating/ac and any old paintwork checked out is a good idea. Blood tests can determine lead levels too.

Harmful or Disabling Experience

Any dog, regardless of age, is susceptible to developing seizures after sustaining a head trauma. An older dog is more likely to tumble than a younger one, and a hit to the head from tumbling down stairs increases the risk of brain injury or bleeding. Even if you didn’t observe your dog strike his head, you should still take him to the doctor immediately if he displays any indications of sickness, strokes, or seizures following a fall or injury.

Concluding Remarks

The choice to euthanize a dog is never easy, but no owner wants to see their pet in pain. Both you and your dog will feel terrible during a seizure, and in between attacks, your dog may feel highly disoriented. Frequent seizures need veterinarian care since they are never typical. It’s not fair to your dog to keep them alive if they’re having seizures on a regular basis; in such cases, it’s frequently the best thing to have them humanely terminated.