Senior Canine Seizures: Harley's Story

I don’t know anybody who has as much experience with canine seizures as my friend over at Her blog is an invaluable resource for anybody whose dog was diagnosed with canine epilepsy.

Dog Conditions: Canine Seizures - Harley's Story

Huskies are a beautiful, intelligent, friendly and relatively healthy breed. They are, however, one of the breeds with increased predisposition to idiopathic epilepsy. If you love the breed, you better learn a thing or two about that.

A seizure doesn't automatically equal epilepsy. 

Roxy's seizures, for example, were the result of a brain infection.

Depending on the age at which they start, the most common causes break down into three categories.

In young puppies, the likely cause is a congenital malformation such as a liver shunt, hydrocephalus, etc. In senior dogs, there is a high possibility that seizures are caused by something such as a tumor invading or compressing the brain. In middle-aged dogs, somewhere between the age of 3 to 5 years, epilepsy is most likely.

There are other potential causes such as head injuries, poisoning, liver disease, kidney disease, electrolyte imbalances, anemia …

Any dog can get a seizure; it can come out of the blue. 

You might be able to nail down the cause, or not. Or you can get a diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy which sounds like a diagnosis but it still really means nobody has the slightest idea what is really causing them.

If a senior dog starts getting seizures, epilepsy is not likely.

Harley got her first seizure at the age of 12. No matter how much experience you might have with canine epilepsy, knowing that you’re looking at a completely different cause is scary.

What is going on? You need to start testing.

Harley’s blood work revealed low thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism can be a trigger for seizures.

With thyroid hormone supplementation, Harley was seizure-free for a year.

And then, another seizure came.

Blood work looked good, including thyroid levels. With a senior dog, you cannot not think about the potential of a brain tumor. Perhaps the seizure was caused by low blood sugar. Perhaps it was brought on by sudden stress.

At some point, MRI might be the thing to consider. For the time being, there isn't a good reason to put Harley through a battery of unpleasant or invasive tests. Baseline tests are always appropriate and should be done every time any dog has a seizure. Where to go from there depends on the dog, their age, and circumstances.

For now, Harley's mom will take measures to keep her blood sugar levels steady, and with a bit of luck, the seizure might not repeat. 

Regardless of your dog's age, any seizure calls for medical attention.

Given how scary they are, I hope most people would see a vet immediately. As well as they should.

To learn more about Harley and about canine seizures, visit

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  1. Seizures can be so frustrating, because what causes them may not be known--and treatment varies. Thanks for providing this resource.

    1. Frustrating and scary. I know a bunch of people who had great luck dealing with epileptic seizures with integrative medicine.

  2. I have been following the blog about seizures and have learnt a lot, an eye opener for someone like me who did not know. Thanks for sharing here also as I think it is so important for all of us to be aware of it

    1. It is a great blog, isn't it? Of course, my favorite type of information is the one I'll never need.

  3. Thanks for sharing such important information about seizures, and raising awareness. My dog Red has had a few and they're beyond scary to witness. The more we know the better prepared we'll be should they ever happen.

    1. It absolutely is scary. Particularly when it comes out of the blue and one doesn't know what is happening and why.

  4. I like that you say up front that a seizure doesn't mean its epilepsy. Many pet parents would think it was and be frightened instead of focusing on getting their dog better. There are alternatives, and there is action to take.

    1. One ought to never jump to conclusions. Epilepsy itself, while age provides some indication to how likely it is, is a diagnosis of exclusion.

  5. The best thing is to call your vet. I remember back in the late 1980s my vet said one seizure for a 2-year-old dog was not a concern, while the second one was. It turned out my Penny had epilepsy and even with drugs, she still had about 4 seizures a week. It was not a fun time.

    1. So sorry about Penny; Roxy had only a few but because the cause was brain infection, she passed away shortly.

  6. I've never had a dog to have seizures. I can only imagine it is very frightening. I agree it is very important to get the dog checked out thoroughly with a vet or specialist.

    1. It is very frightening. Dangerous for the dog, too.


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