Leading a happy life with canine epilepsy14 January 2016

What should I do when my dog is having a seizure?

When you notice your dog is about to have a seizure, or is actually having a seizure, the most important thing to do is to stay calm. Here are some important things to remember:

1. Make sure your dog is not in a position to injure itself

If possible remove any objects nearby that they could bump into (e.g. coffee tables), or things they could get tangled in such as electric cords. If they are at the top of the stairs then close a baby gate to prevent them from falling. DO NOT try to hold your dog’s head or move their tongue out of their mouth. They will not swallow their tongue but they could bite you as their movements are involuntary.

2. Remove 'sensory stimuli'

When your dog is having a seizure it is important to remove as many sensory stimuli as possible. This means darkening and quietening the environment by turning the television off, closing the curtains if it is light outside, turning down the lights, and not talking or shouting loudly around your dog. If possible, also remove young children from the room.

3. Time the length of the seizure

Generally a seizure will only last for a few minutes, however when you watch your dog having a seizure it can often feel like much longer. For this reason it is really important to time how long your dog's seizure lasts. This will help you and your vet know if it is necessary to intervene with emergency medications to stop seizure activity. See "Practical tools" section to find out more.

If your dog has been having a seizure for more than five minutes or if they have had multiple seizures in a day, then you should contact your vet immediately.

4. Film your dog having a seizure

If you can, it may be helpful to video your dog having a seizure, this can be done on a smartphone or video camera. As dogs seizures vary in type, appearance and length, a video of the event can provide your vet with very useful information which may assist them in recommending the best treatment and management programme for your dog. See "Practical tools" section to find out more.

5. Stay with your dog

When your dog’s seizure has finished, they may be disorientated and un-coordinated for some time afterwards. You should, if possible, stay with them and help them through this period by removing any objects that they could bump into and injure themselves on. Do not let them attempt to go down stairs on their own until full coordination has returned.

6. Keep a seizure diary

Keeping an accurate record of the seizures that you observe will help your vet to identify any patterns. It will also help them to recommend the most appropriate management and treatment option(s) for your dog and it will help you both to monitor the success of these recommendations. See “Practical tools” for a downloadable diary.


It is important to note that although your dog’s eyes may remain open during a seizure they are unconscious and are not aware of what is happening. Although the event can be distressing to watch, your dog is not in pain.