emergency pet seizure

Pet Emergencies – Seizures and What You Can Do

Any animal, be it dog, cat, rabbit, parrot of any age group can suffer with seizures (fits).

The reasons your pet has seizure activity may be:

  • poisoning
  • infection
  • brain tumour
  • head injury
  • heat stroke
  • abnormal brain electrical activity, known as idiopatic epilepsy, which is the most common cause

A seizure may only involve facial twitching, jaw snapping (fly catching) or be a full blown ‘grand mal’ with loss of consciousness, rigid jerking, paddling of legs, foaming at the mouth, wetting and defecating.

An episode may last one or two minutes, and the animal may recover quickly or appear a bit dazed for hours and wander about. This is not an emergency, but a veterinary appointment should be made. The duration and the dates of these should be noted.

If a seizure continues for more than 5 minutes or there is a cluster of fits in quick succession, this is a true medical emergency requiring urgent veterinary assistance. Ring the vet or bring the pet straight to the clinic if possible.

What Can You do When Your Pet is Having a Seizure?

  • Ensure the safety of the pet and drag away from any unsafe area by the hind legs. Keep your hands away from the mouth as the pet may bite.
  • Dim lights and reduce noise levels.
  • Speak soothingly and stroke the body
  • Time the seizure.
  • The pet may urinate and defecate so towels or newspaper can be placed down.
  • If the seizure lasts longer, wet the paws and underbelly to prevent overheating.

If the pet has had a short seizure (one or two minutes) and comes around, ring the vets for an appointment.

If the pet continues fitting for longer than 5 minutes or has repeated fits in quick succession this is an emergency.

Ring the vets and bring the pet to a vet clinic ASAP. The vets will administer intravenous anti-seizure medication to bring the seizure under control and hospitalise the animal.

A thorough physical examination and blood work will be required to find out what the cause of the fit is. Some animals may need to take anti-epileptic drugs for the rest of their lives if they have frequent or severe fits.