What Causes Seizures in Dogs

Causes of Canine Seizures

Canine seizures may be caused by a number of different health issues and brain disorders. If your dog has a seizure, it is important to bring him in to your veterinarian in order to have a serious tests performed to determine the cause. Once the cause is confirmed, your vet can place your dog on medication to help control the canine seizures. Veterinarian assistance is especially important when dealing with recurring seizures, or seizures that are more than 3 times in 24 hours.

To determine the exact cause of seizures in your dog, there are a number of different tests that may be performed. These test include blood tests, MRI scans and cerebrospinal fluid taps. Most dogs with permanent seizure disorders will require lifelong medical treatments. Seizures are not uncommon in dogs, but they can be very serious.


The most common causes of dog seizures include:


Household products and chemicals may cause seizures in dogs. Food such as chocolate can cause chocolate poisoning in dogs, which can lead to serious side effects such as seizures. Rat poisons and antifreeze may also cause seizures if left untreated for too long. These are very serious and often lead to death if left untreated.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a serious condition that a dog may contract if he is not properly vaccinated. When canine distemper goes untreated for more than two weeks, it evolves into the nervous system, which is when seizures may occur. Distemper is related to grand mal seizures. Look for other symptoms of distemper such as extreme drooling, aggression and head shaking.

Brain Tumors

Brain tumors put pressure on the brain. This pressure can cause seizures in your dog. Often times, seizures are a small symptoms of brain tumors. Look for other symptoms such as aggression, drooling, and loss of coordination.

Head Trauma

If your dog has had any accidents involving the head, these injuries may later cause seizures. Sometimes these seizures will not appear for months, and some may be as soon as weeks after the head injury. Head injury related seizures are most common with concussions.


This is often known as idiopathic epilepsy, which means there is no known cause for it. These seizures seem to be inherited. Many breeds are known to be prone to epileptic seizures. These include Golden Retrievers, Poodles, and Beagles. Idiopathic epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in dogs.


Low blood sugar may cause seizures as well. It is known that small dogs have a higher chance of hypoglycemia if they are not fed a balanced diet. Dogs who have diabetes may get seizures if they have been given too much insulin as well.


Certain medical diseases may cause seizures as well. This is most often in older dogs. Some diseases that may cause seizures include Lyme disease, encephalitis, Cushing’s disease and liver and kidney diseases. Some diseases may be treated once, or require lifelong treatment.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a common cause of seizures in dogs. Heat stroke can be very dangerous and requires medical attention as soon as possible. Look for other symptoms of heat stroke such as thick saliva, bright red tongue, fever and heavy panting. Heat stroke may occur if your dog is left outside in the sun with no shelter, as well as if he is left in a car for too long in hot weather.