Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Are Convulsions or Seizures an Emergency?

I am glad to see that 90.91% of survey participants believe convulsions or seizures are an emergency. Now, if you have a dog diagnosed and medicated for epilepsy, they might still get a seizure from time to time, and if the seizure passes quickly, given you already know what is going on, such event is not an emergency.

Every first-time seizure should be treated as an emergency.

You don't know what is happening and cannot make assumptions regarding the cause.

If all potential causes listed below had been ruled out, the age of the dog could provide some idea about the cause. If a young puppy starts having seizures, you're likely looking at a congenital malformation (liver shunt, hydrocephalus, etc.). An older dog that starts seizing is quite likely to suffer from a brain tumor. With a middle aged dog, roughly between 3-5 years old that starts having seizures, you might be looking at epilepsy.

Here are the reasons why you don't ever want to make assumptions about the cause of your dog's seizure.

The following problems can result in seizure(s)

  • poisoning
  • liver disease/failure
  • low or high blood sugar
  • kidney disease/failure
  • electrolyte imbalance
  • anemia
  • head injury
  • inflammation of the brain lining
  • strokes
  • cancer

How many of those things do sound to you like something you could wait with to get medical care for your dog, particularly not knowing which one it could be?

To me, neither of them.

When Roxy got her seizure, we were going to take her to a vet immediately. The whole situation was quite an ordeal for a number of reasons. We lived in Toronto then. The biggest problem was that hubby was commuting for work and was using the only "good" vehicle we had. There was an old van but it was not in shape to get it on the road and our "regular" vet was across the whole town.

I figured that we ought to take her to the nearest hospital instead. Firstly, because she'd get help quickly, and secondly, we didn't want to take chances with the van. I called a hospital which was just down the block. To my shock, they refused to see Roxy because she wasn't a patient. Did I mention it was in a middle of a regular work day and this was a relatively large hospital?

Nonetheless, they would not take us, and we ended up having to drive across whole Toronto with a vehicle that could fail at any moment ...

Not for one second, though, did it occur to us not to get Roxy medical help right away.

Even if your dog has been diagnosed with epilepsy and is being treated, there are still circumstances under which their seizures would be an emergency.

A seizure that continues for more than 3-4 minutes without stopping requires immediate veterinary attention.

There is only so much the brain can withstand before you're looking at potential of brain damage.

If a dog has more than 3 seizures within a  24 hours period, they need veterinary attention.

Don't take chances with seizures.

Related articles:
Really Angry Vet: Winston's First Seizure
The First Seizure: Honey's Story

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?
Is Panting an Emergency?
Is Severe Pain an Emergency?
Is Limping an Emergency?
Is Vomiting Bile in the Morning an Emergency?
Is Profuse Vomiting an Emergency?

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.