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Stress Seizures in Dogs

Updated: Mar 18


Stress Seizures in Dogs

Introduction

As devoted pet owners, we strive to provide our furry companions with a safe and nurturing environment. However, despite our best efforts, our dogs may still experience stress from various sources, ranging from loud noises and changes in routine to separation anxiety and social interactions. In some cases, this stress can manifest as seizures, leaving pet owners feeling bewildered and concerned. In this article, we explore the phenomenon of stress as a potential trigger for seizures in dogs, shedding light on possible causes, symptoms, and management strategies.

Understanding Stress as a Potential Trigger for Seizures


Seizures, which are sudden and uncontrollable bursts of electrical activity in the brain, can be triggered by a multitude of factors in dogs. We discuss these in depth in another blog post but will be focusing on causes related to stress here.

Besides the well understood causes of seizures (liver disease, ingestion of toxins etc..), the more challenging seizures to prevent are those which occur in response to emotional or psychological stressors rather than easily pinpointed physical or neurological conditions, making them a unique and challenging aspect of canine health.

 

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Potential Stress Triggers of Seizures:

  1. Loud noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms, or construction noise

  2. Changes in environment, such as moving to a new home or traveling

  3. Changes in routine, such as feed times/type/quantity

  4. Separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods

  5. Social interactions with unfamiliar people or animals

  6. Medical procedures or visits to the veterinarian

  7. Emotional distress or traumatic events

Symptoms of Seizures:

The symptoms of seizures in dogs can vary widely. Common signs include:

  1. Muscle twitching or tremors

  2. Unresponsiveness, absence and/or loss of consciousness

  3. Uncontrolled shaking or convulsions

  4. Dilated pupils

  5. Drooling or foaming at the mouth

  6. Vocalization or whimpering

  7. Involuntary urination or defecation

Managing Stress Seizures

The management of seizures with potential stress triggers in dogs involves a multifaceted approach aimed at reducing stress and minimising the risk of seizure activity. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Consult with a Veterinarian: If your dog experiences seizures or other concerning symptoms, consult with your veterinarian for a thorough evaluation and personalised treatment plan. Your veterinarian can help rule out underlying medical conditions, provide guidance on stress management techniques, and recommend appropriate medications or supplements if needed.

  2. Consider Behavioral Therapy: In some cases, behavioral therapy techniques such as desensitisation and counterconditioning may be helpful in reducing your dog's stress response to specific triggers. Working with a qualified animal behaviorist can provide valuable support in implementing these techniques effectively.

  3. Identify and Minimize Stressors: Take note of potential stressors in your dog's environment and work to minimize their impact. This may involve creating a safe and quiet space during loud events, gradually acclimating your dog to new experiences, or addressing separation anxiety through training and behavior modification techniques. Medication is available through your vet to reduce anxiety during particularly stressful events such as veterinary visits, fireworks etc. Please consult your veterinary surgeon for specifics. You can find our free seizure tracker here where you can log any potential stress triggers.

  4. Provide Comfort and Support: During episodes of stress or anxiety, offer reassurance and comfort to your dog. This may involve using calming aids such as pheromone diffusers (e.g. Adaptil), calming music (Here is a track we love!) or snug-fitting garments like Thundershirts.

  5. Maintain a Consistent Routine: Dogs thrive on routine, so strive to maintain a consistent schedule for feeding, exercise, and rest. Predictability can help reduce stress and provide a sense of security for your dog.

 

Need Support?

Join our online community of epileptic pet owners who can help you through this journey. We know how stressful it can be caring for an epileptic dog, and we are here to help.

 

Conclusion: Stress Seizures in Dogs

Seizures in dogs can be a distressing and challenging condition for both pet owners and their furry companions. By understanding these potential causes, symptoms, and management strategies for stress-induced seizures, pet owners can take proactive steps to reduce stress and provide a supportive environment for their dogs. Through patience, compassion, and collaboration with veterinary professionals, we can help our dogs navigate the ups and downs of life with resilience and grace.


References:

  • Packer, Rowena MA, Sarah L. Hobbs, and Emily J. Blackwell. "Behavioral interventions as an adjunctive treatment for canine epilepsy: a missing part of the epilepsy management toolkit?." Frontiers in veterinary science 6 (2019): 3.

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