Watching your dog or cat have a seizure can be a frightening experience. However, with a little bit of knowledge, you can make the situation safer for your pet and less frightening for you.
The Average Seizure in the Dog or Cat
In most cases, a seizure will last only 3-5 minutes or even less. During this period, there are several things you can do to help.
- First of all, do not panic. Your dog or cat will pick up on your feelings and emotions and may become even more frightened as a result. In addition, you need to stay calm in order to help your dog or cat safely through the ordeal.
- Move your dog or cat away from any objects or areas in which he can become injured. Make sure there are no sharp edges near him that he cut himself on. Move him away from any stairs that he might fall down.
- Remember that your dog or cat has no control over his muscle movements while he is having a seizure. Keep your hands and other body parts away from his mouth so that you do not become injured. Do not try to hold your pet's tongue. He is not likely to swallow his tongue while having a seizure.
- It is okay to talk to your dog or cat in a calm, soothing voice and to pet and quiet him while he is having a seizure.
While any pet that has experienced his first seizure should be seen and examined by a veterinarian, in many cases it may not be necessary to rush your dog or cat to an emergency hospital. If your dog or cat was acting normally prior to the seizure, the seizure stops in 3-5 minutes and your dog or cat returns to his normal behavior afterward, you can schedule a veterinary appointment at your convenience to have your pet examined.
However, there are some situations where a seizure in a dog or cat becomes an emergency.
When Does a Canine or Feline Seizure Become an Emergency
Status epilepticus describes a seizure that lasts for a long period of time, usually 30 minutes or longer. If your dog or cat has been having a seizure for more than 5-10 minutes and has not stopped, this is an emergency situation. Under these conditions, your pet's brain could become permanently damaged and his life is at risk. Emergency veterinary care should be sought immediately.
If your pet has had seizures in the past and your veterinarian has dispensed a diazepam (Valium®) suppository, this is a good time to administer it following your veterinarian's instructions.
Cluster Seizures in the Canine and Feline
A similar and equally dangerous situation occurs when a dog or cat has cluster seizures. Cluster seizures are, as the name implies, a cluster of seizures that occur back-to-back. As with status epilepticus, cluster seizures can be life-threatening and emergency veterinary attention should be sought for any dog or cat that has had more than two or three seizures in a 24 hour period.