Dog Seizures: First Aid for the Fitting Dog

Dog_seizuresSeeing your dog have a fit is an alarming and distressing experience. Hopefully, this is not something you will have to witness, but just in case it is as well to be prepared. But would you know what to do to help?

From keeping your dog safe, to timing the event, this article will give you the confidence to act correctly before seeking professional assistance.

What is a Fit?

A fit, or seizure, is abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

In the minutes leading up to a seizure some dogs with feel or act strangely. During a fit the dog will be unaware of his surroundings, usually lies on his side, and his legs paddle the air. Some dogs also champ their jaws and drool saliva, and some temporarily loose control of their bladder and bowel.

Dog seizures commonly lasts anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Once the erratic impulses in the brain that cause the seizure have ebbed away, the dog will regain consciousness and in the minutes after a fit he is likely to be hungry and thirsty.

Stay Calm, Quiet and Still

Any animal having a fit is over-sensitive to stimulation. A bright light or sudden movement can easily stimulate the brain and prolong the seizure, so it is essential to make the room as quiet and dark as possible: switch off the lights, turn off the television and get everyone out of the room except for one calm adult.

Do Not Touch Your Pet

Although it is natural to want to comfort and reassure you dog, no matter how soothingly you stroke and talk to him, this stimulation and can prolong the seizure. Not only that, but a fit can override inhibitions and the dog may become aggressive; if he bites, he may not be able to let go until the seizure ends.

Do not try and pull his tongue out of his mouth. It is a fallacy that dogs swallow their tongues during a fit and far more likely that you will get bitten.

It is best to observe the fit calmly from a distance. If you are worried the dog will hurt himself against furniture, do not move him. Instead, place cushions between the dog and any sharp corners, or if this is not possible then drop a duvet over his body and legs but leave his head free.

Note How Long do Dog Seizures last?

Even when dog seizures last a short time, it seems to last forever when you feel powerless to help. However, it will help your veterinarian if you know how long the seizure lasted. Note when the fit starts and stops or, even better, video the event on a smart phone. The latter is because some forms of fainting or collapse can easily be mistaken for a short fit and again, it helps your veterinarian decide on treatment if he or she has seen the event for herself.

Phone the Vet

Even if you phone for help immediately most dog seizures will be over before the veterinarian arrives and so darkening the room and protecting the dog are the immediate priorities. Once you have done this, either get someone else to phone the vet’s office, or do so yourself whilst speaking quietly so as not to stimulate the patient and worsen the seizure.

Your vet will give further advice over the phone and may well want to see your pet to assess him. Don’t forget to take the video along because this can speed up decision making about which is the most appropriate treatment for your dog.


Seeing your dog have a fit can be a distressing experience but by acting calmly and in the correct manner you can help, rather than hinder, your pet’s recovery.


  • Stay calm
  • Do not touch your pet
  •  Note how long the fit lasts
  • Phone the vet

By: Grace Elliott
Certified Veterinarian and featured writer. © Bully Max Inc. 2014

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