Information All About Epilepsy in Dogs

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes recurrent, unprovoked seizures in dogs. These seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain and can vary in severity and frequency. Epilepsy can be a frightening experience for both the dog and the owner, but understanding the condition is the first step towards managing it effectively. There are two main types of epilepsy in dogs: idiopathic (or primary), which has no identifiable cause and is often inherited, and symptomatic (or secondary), which is due to underlying issues such as brain tumors, trauma, or infections.

Breeds at Risk

While any dog can develop epilepsy, certain breeds are more genetically predisposed to idiopathic epilepsy, including:

  • Belgian Tervurens
  • Beagles
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Vizslas
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • German Shepherds
  • Dachshunds

This predisposition suggests a hereditary component, especially in idiopathic epilepsy, making it important for breeders to consider the health histories of their breeding dogs.

Symptoms to Watch For

Recognizing the signs of a seizure is crucial for providing the right support to your dog. Symptoms can range from barely noticeable to severe and may include:

  • Generalized Seizures: These can involve loss of consciousness, muscle rigidity, jerking movements, drooling, chomping, tongue chewing, or even loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Focal Seizures: These affect only a part of the body and may involve unusual movements in one limb or facial twitching.
  • Pre-Seizure (Aura): Dogs may seem anxious, restless, or seek out their owner for comfort.
  • Post-Seizure (Postictal): Following a seizure, dogs may appear confused, disoriented, temporarily blind, or exhibit uncoordinated movements.

Managing and Treating Epilepsy

If you suspect your dog has epilepsy, consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. While epilepsy cannot be cured, it can often be managed effectively with medication. Treatment may include:

  • Antiepileptic Drugs (AEDs): These medications can help control seizures but require regular monitoring and dose adjustments.
  • Regular Veterinary Visits: Ongoing check-ups are essential to manage the condition and adjust treatment as needed.
  • Lifestyle Management: Maintaining a routine and minimizing stress can help reduce the frequency of seizures in some dogs.

Prevention and Care

For idiopathic epilepsy, there is no known prevention since the condition is often inherited. However, for breeds known to be at risk, genetic testing and responsible breeding practices can help reduce the incidence of the disease. Keeping a seizure diary can also be helpful in tracking the frequency, duration, and severity of seizures, which is valuable information for your veterinarian.


Epilepsy in dogs can be challenging to manage, but with the right care and treatment, many dogs with epilepsy lead full and happy lives. Understanding the condition, recognizing the signs, and working closely with your veterinarian are key to providing the best possible care for a dog with epilepsy. Remember, your support and love are crucial in helping your pet navigate this condition.