Old Dog Seizures When To Put Down: If you’ve ever seen a dog have a seizure, you know how frightening it is. Your dog may be perfectly normal one moment and completely abnormal the next—his movements may be erratic or uncontrollable. Even if the seizure is only a few seconds long, it can seem like an eternity. It might even be difficult for you to describe what you’ve seen. Even if the moment of your dog’s seizure is difficult, there is some solace in knowing that your dog is not in pain.

Knowing more about seizures in dogs may not make them less frightening in the moment. It can, however, help you understand how to comfort and care for your beloved dog during a seizure. It can also give you an idea of what to expect afterward and what you can do in the future to help your beloved dog in collaboration with your veterinarian.

If your elderly dog is having seizures, you’re probably looking for a reason for their sudden decline in health. Seizures in your pet can be frightening to witness, and it can be difficult to know how to react when they occur.

Seizures in older dogs are more concerning than seizures in younger dogs, leading many pet owners to wonder if it’s time to say goodbye.

In this article, we will go over the specifics of seizures in older dogs and assist you in making the best decision for your canine companion in the future.

Old Dog Seizures When To Put Down

When to euthanize your epileptic dog must be a personal decision made after consulting with a veterinarian. Canine epilepsy has no known cure. In some circumstances, a dog’s lifetime can be decreased, but in others, appropriate medicine can help them live a happy life.

If you’ve ever seen a dog have a seizure, you know how frightening it is. Your dog may be perfectly normal one moment and completely abnormal the next—his movements may be erratic or uncontrollable. Even if the seizure is only a few seconds long, it can seem like an eternity. It might even be difficult for you to describe what you’ve seen. Even if the moment of your dog’s seizure is difficult, there is some solace in knowing that your dog is not in pain.

Knowing more about seizures in dogs may not make them less frightening in the moment. It can, however, help you understand how to comfort and care for your beloved dog during a seizure. It can also give you an idea of what to expect afterward and what you can do in the future to help your beloved dog in collaboration with your veterinarian.

Clients will occasionally ask me, “How do I know when it’s time to put down my old dog who has seizures?”

” This is a difficult but critical question. Unfortunately, there are times when medications are ineffective in controlling seizures, and we are at a loss for options.

Sometimes a dog is in status epilepticus and the damage to the body is irreversible. The underlying causes of seizures, such as organ failure and cancer, can have a negative impact on a dog’s health. Any of these factors, as well as others, may reduce a dog’s quality of life. As a result, loving dog parents may be forced to make the heartbreaking decision that euthanasia is the most humane option.

Finally, I can’t tell you when it’s time to let go of your dog. Only you have the authority to make that decision.

If you believe your dog’s quality of life is deteriorating as a result of seizures, consult your veterinarian as well. He or she, like you, is concerned about your dog’s well-being and can assist you in making this difficult decision.

What exactly are old dog seizures? 

Consider the brain to be the body’s command center. It sends electrical impulses to various regions of the body, causing them to move, bark, or breathe. This is normally a good thing. But what if the brain goes crazy for a while, sending out random electrical impulses at random? That is, after all, what happens when a dog suffers a seizure.

A seizure is defined as an involuntary neurologic occurrence caused by brief aberrant electrical activity in the brain. This essentially means that the brain sends out uncontrolled, aberrant electrical impulses during a brief period of time.

When these impulses reach their destination in the body, they may induce unusual bodily movements such as head tremors or limb jerking. They can also influence behavior. The location of the brain where the aberrant electrical activity was localized will identify the precise indicators.

Is it a seizure, or is it something else? 

Dog owners will understandably confuse seizures with another abnormal event known as syncope. The term syncope refers to a fainting, collapsing, or passing out event in dogs, which is frequently caused by underlying heart disease. When the seizure occurs may aid in differentiating the conditions.

Syncope is usually caused by excitement, coughing, or another activity. Seizures, on the other hand, can occur while a dog is resting. In addition, there are usually warning signs that a seizure is about to occur or has already occurred. These warning signs do not exist in syncopal events.

If you can safely do so, check the color of the dog’s gums and tongue. Because of poor oxygen delivery, your dog’s gums may appear pale or blue during a syncopal episode. This is not common in brief seizures lasting only a few seconds or minutes. (Don’t use your fingers to check gum color if your dog is actively convulsing because your dog may bite you.) Old dog vestibular disease (aka doggy vertigo) or a stroke in dogs are two other conditions that may be confused with a seizure. In these cases, a dog may be unable to stand, have a head tilt, or have eyes that move back and forth rapidly. Unlike some seizures, however, the dog will be alert and responsive to you. Seizures typically last a few seconds or minutes, whereas vestibular disease or stroke symptoms can last for days.

Shaking and trembling in dogs can be caused by factors unrelated to epilepsy.

Seizures caused by epilepsy occur in less than 1% of all dogs. Typically, you’ll notice the pet losing consciousness and paddling his or her legs, jerking, or convulsing. It can last for several minutes.

If you suspect your dog has had a seizure, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. You made the correct decision by visiting your veterinarian. Typically, the vet will want to perform some type of lab work or other diagnostic testing to ensure that there isn’t another underlying problem causing the seizure.

Dogs under a year old who have seizures are usually suffering from some kind of infectious problem, either viral or bacterial. Epilepsy is the most common cause of death in dogs aged one to six or seven years. Seizures in dogs older than seven years old are often caused by something other than epilepsy, such as a brain tumor, liver disease, or another problem.

Depending on how old your dog is and how severe the seizure was, you may be able to postpone putting this dog on seizure medication. A sizable proportion of the canine population will have one seizure and then never have another. If your dog is one of those dogs who never has another seizure, your veterinarian is unlikely to put him or her on seizure medication.

I would put a dog on medication if they had seizures that lasted more than three to five minutes. Take a look at your watch or the time on your phone to see how long it was. This will assist your veterinarian in providing better care for your dog. If a seizure lasts longer than three to five minutes, it is considered an emergency, and you should take your dog to a veterinarian immediately. Their body temperature can quickly rise, which can be dangerous. Seizures that last that long, especially in older pets, can cause problems with their brains and cause brain damage.

If your dog has a quick seizure, lasting 20 or 30 seconds to a minute, and comes out of it, it’s not necessarily an emergency, but you should probably schedule an appointment with a veterinarian if they’ve never had a seizure before. If your dog continues to have seizures and the frequency increases to once a month or two to three times a month, medication will be required at some point. Consult your veterinarian. There are seizure medications that work well for dogs and can help them control their seizures.

Obtaining pet insurance prior to any seizure or seizure-like symptoms can save money in the long run.

What Could Cause Seizures in an Elderly Dog? 

Seizures in senior dogs can occur for a variety of causes. Seizures are always something to be concerned about, whether your aging dog is usually healthy or has been diagnosed with a chronic disease. Let’s talk about the most prevalent cause of canine seizures below to assist you better understand your aging dog’s neurological problems.

What Could Cause Seizures in an Elderly Dog


Epilepsy in dogs. 

While epilepsy is not commonly identified in older dogs, it is the most prevalent neurological illness in dogs overall. This disorder usually appears between the ages of 2 and 6 years old and is caused by aberrant electrical activity in the brain.

There is no known cause of canine epilepsy, but it is possible that it is a hereditary illness. Dogs with epilepsy can have one seizure per year or numerous seizures per month, and their treatment will vary depending on how severe their disease is.

Dogs with epilepsy can have one seizure per year or numerous seizures per month, and their treatment will vary depending on how severe their disease is.

Seizures in senior dogs are frequently caused by brain tumors. They can be primary or secondary in our canine companions, which means they either start in the brain or spread as a result of metastasis. When a senior dog gets a brain tumor, the normal activities of the brain can be disrupted. Seizures and other aberrant neurological activities are frequently the result.

Hypoglycemia . 

Seizures in senior canine pets can be caused by hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia can occur in dogs as a result of not eating for extended periods of time or as a result of uncontrolled diabetes. Other metabolic illnesses can also cause a dog’s blood sugar to fluctuate, which means seizures can occur in a variety of canine medical situations.

Low blood sugar in a dog can cause a shaky walk, disorientation, weakness, and even collapse. Hypoglycemia is a major medical issue that requires immediate medical attention since it can lead to death if the blood sugar is not controlled.

Kidney Disease.

The kidneys of a dog aid in the removal of poisons from the bloodstream. When the kidneys aren’t working properly, toxins might build up in their system. This is particularly common in dogs in the late stages of kidney failure, when their kidneys have lost the majority of their normal function. If your dog with renal disease has started having seizures, it’s important to talk to your vet about quality of life.

Liver Disease. 

Seizures and aberrant neurological activity in our canine companions can occur in the late stages of liver disease. Liver disease can result in a condition known as hepatic encephalopathy, which is caused by ammonia buildup in the bloodstream as a result of insufficient liver function. Seizures, shaky walking, unusual behavior, confusion, vocalizations, and other symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy can occur in dogs. If your dog with liver disease has started having seizures, it’s important to talk to your vet about quality of life.

Head injury. 

Seizures in senior dogs can be caused by any form of brain trauma. Head trauma can produce swelling or catastrophic brain injury, both of which can lead to seizures. Head trauma in our canine pals is a medical emergency since they can swiftly deteriorate after the accident. If you suspect that your senior dog has suffered any form of head trauma, you should contact your veterinarian right once.


Seizures can occur in dogs of all ages due to toxicity. Seizures or other abnormal neurological signs might occur if a poison accumulates in your dog’s bloodstream. Because toxins can come from anything from human food to human drugs, you should always endeavor to keep to your dog’s authorized diet and care routine. If you want to feed them human food of any kind, you need first acquire permission from your veterinarian.

What Do Dog Seizures Look Like?

Seizures in dogs are commonly associated with intense shaking and thrashing. While this is possible, it is not the only indicator of seizures in our canine companions.

What Do Dog Seizures Look Like

Some of the most common symptoms of seizures in dogs are: Shaking of one or more limbs Facial twitching Ear twitching Chewing fits Hypersalivation Body tremors Hallucinations, as if they are chasing things that aren’t there Confusion Collapse Shaking or thrashing Loss of consciousness Urinating or defecating on themselves Vocalizations Seizures can manifest in a variety of ways in our canine companions, so it is critical to be on the lookout for any abnormal behavior.

Many veterinarians recommend videotaping your dog during any episodes of strange behavior, since this can help your vet identify whether or not they are experiencing a seizure.

A seizure episode is divided into three stages. Each name makes use of the term “ictal,” which implies “related to a seizure.”

1. Pre-ictal phase. 

A dog exhibits strange behavior during the pre-ictal phase. He or she may appear restless or confused, act nervously, or attempt to conceal himself or herself. Some dogs will go out of their way to find their owner. Crying, shaking, or drooling may be observed. The pre-ictal phase can last as little as a few seconds or as long as many hours.

2. Ictal phase.

Seizure activity occurs during the ictal phase. Some dogs will look into space and appear unresponsive during a psychomotor seizure. This is referred to as “star-gazing” since they appear to be staring at the sky. They may also experience a “fly-biting” seizure. As the name suggests, the dog will bite at the air around his head, as if attempting to catch a buzzing insect.

A dog’s ears, eyelids, or cheeks on one side of the body may twitch during a focal or partial seizure. They may also move a limb or limbs in an unnatural manner. These canines’ consciousness may or may not be affected. A focal or partial seizure may escalate to a generalized or grand mal seizure in some situations.

Grand mal seizures are characterized by a loss of physical function and awareness. Dogs may lie down and twitch or convulse in some circumstances. Their lips may smack or bite at the air, and their legs may lock up and appear tight. Dogs who are affected may also lose control of their bowels and bladder.

In other circumstances, dogs will collapse and begin paddling their legs. While this is happening, their head and neck may arch backward, and they may cry out and moan. These seizures look to be unusually violent and can be terrifying to witness.

3. Post-ictal phase.

After a seizure has ended, dogs may be more aware of their surroundings, but they are still not completely normal. They may appear restless, bewildered, or puzzled, and may pant and drool excessively. This stage could last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

What types of seizures do dogs experience? 

Psychomotor seizures: Affected dogs may stare into space or appear to be in a daze. These strange behaviors are usually not accompanied by unusual physical movements.

Focal or partial seizures occur when abnormal electrical activity occurs only in one area of the brain in a dog. Movement of only one limb, facial twitching, or chewing movements are examples of these.

Grand mal seizures, also known as generalized seizures, are severe seizures that involve numerous parts of the brain and can result in full loss of consciousness and uncontrollable limb movements.

How Are Dog Seizures Treated?

Seizures in elderly dogs are not always easy to treat. Seizures in our older friends can be caused by a variety of factors, which means there are numerous therapy options. Getting to the bottom of your dog’s seizures is critical for determining the best treatment option, and it will be the only way to either manage or eliminate their seizures permanently.

How Are Dog Seizures Treated

For example, if your dog is seizing as a result of hypoglycemia, the treatment will include treating the low blood sugar and understanding what caused it in the first place. Because the seizure is a sign of a larger problem, the proper treatment will include addressing the underlying cause.

As previously stated, epilepsy is not the most common cause of seizures in elderly dogs. As a result, beginning children on seizure medication is not always the best course of action. The only method to provide them with relief will be to identify the source of their seizures.

Seizure tracking.

You can try to record a video of your dog’s seizure after he is in a safe location. With the majority of people now owning smartphones, this is a rather simple task. Sharing the video with your veterinarian can assist him or her confirm that it was a seizure and define the type of seizure.

It is also beneficial to keep a seizure log in which the date and time of the seizure are recorded. You can make a note of how long it lasted, what exactly happened, and whether there were any specific triggers.

The excitement of playing or eating might affect a dog’s brain activity, raising the likelihood of a seizure in some situations. In instance, one of my patients would have seizures anytime he played with a yellow tennis ball. It was a rather simple remedy once his owners figured it out.

It’s also a good idea to keep track of any new foods, treats, or medications you gave your dog around the time of the seizure. Certain flea and tick repellents, as well as other drugs, may increase the likelihood of seizure activity.

Also Read:

What human food can I feed my diabetic dog

Dog diabetes life expectancy

Final Stages of Dog Diabetes

What Should I Do If My Senior Dog Is Having A Seizure? 

Seeing your old dog having a seizure is frightening, and many pet owners freeze in the moment as a result. Let’s go over what you should do step by step to best prepare for any potential seizures in your dog.

Maintain your composure. When your senior dog awakens, he or she will most likely be bewildered and terrified, and they will require the reassurance of a confident owner.
Examine the surroundings for anything that could do them harm. For example, if they are near the stairs, you should stand in front of them and obstruct them.

While you may desire to cradle your dog, it is advised to avoid doing so. When a dog has a seizure, he or she has no idea what they are doing and may inadvertently damage you. If you are concerned that they will injure themselves, you might surround them with pillows or blankets.

It is critical not to put your hand in your dog’s mouth while they are seizing. Incorrect misconceptions claim that dogs can swallow their tongues while seizing, however this is completely wrong. Because it is impossible for a dog to swallow their tongue, you will be badly bitten.
Try to videotape the episode if you have a free hand. This will assist your veterinarian in determining the best course of action to take moving forward.
We recommend calling your vet for more advice once your dog has recovered from their seizure.

It is critical to remain cool if your dog is suffering a seizure. Cushion your dog’s head with a cushion or blanket Use pillows to support your dog Move furniture or other harmful things away from your dog.

If your dog is near stairs or in another unsafe area, such as on a bed or couch, carefully move your dog to a safer location on the floor.

Remember not to put your fingers in your dog’s mouth or you might get bitten. The airway of your dog should be fine.

Are Old Dog Seizures Serious? 

Seizures in senior dogs are always more alarming than seizures in young dogs. While abrupt seizures in young dogs are frequently associated with canine epilepsy, this is not the case with our senior canine companions.

Canine epilepsy often appears between the ages of 2 and 6 years old, making it exceedingly improbable that a senior dog would get epilepsy suddenly. As a result, various medical issues are frequently to blame.

Seizures in aged dogs are not the end of the world, but they do necessitate a little further investigation to determine the cause. Neurological problems in senior dogs might be a consequence of an existing medical illness or the emergence of a new issue entirely.

When are seizures considered an emergency?

It’s terrible to watch a dog have a seizure. It might be difficult to decide when you should hurry your dog to the doctor and when you should call and schedule an appointment. Here are some criteria that might be useful:

1. How long was the seizure? 

Seizures can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Start a timer or look at the moment when the seizure activity begins so you can track the duration of the seizure.

The phrase “status epilepticus” refers to a seizure that lasts more than five minutes or two seizures that occur back to back without recovering consciousness. This can result in brain damage and dangerously high body temperatures.

If you suspect status epilepticus, contact your veterinarian immediately and/or take your dog to the nearest emergency facility.

This cannot be overstated. Status epilepticus is a life-threatening condition in which time is of the essence.

2. How many seizures did your dog experience? 

Multiple seizures can happen within a 24 to 48 hour period of time. These are referred to as cluster seizures. While not as urgent as status epilepticus, if your dog is having cluster seizures, you should contact your veterinarian right once.

3. Is this your dog’s first time having a seizure?

Finally, whenever a dog experiences a seizure for the first time, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Some dogs will have a seizure once and never have another. Other dogs will continue to experience seizures for the rest of their lives. This recurring seizure activity is referred to as “epilepsy.”

When in doubt, it is always best to consult your veterinarian. That way, he or she can assist you in determining what is best for your dog’s circumstances.

Seizures in elderly dogs: How are they detected and treated? 

Your veterinarian will ask you about your senior dog’s history to establish the cause of seizures. They’ll inquire about your dog’s possible exposure to toxins or any head injuries. Your veterinarian will perform a comprehensive examination, lab tests, and potentially an electrocardiogram, or ECG. If all of the tests are normal but your dog still has seizures, your veterinarian may recommend more testing, such as a spinal fluid analysis, a CT scan, or an MRI.

The treatment of dog seizures begins with addressing the underlying cause. Controlling diabetes, for example, will be the priority if it is at the base of the problem. Medication, such as an anticonvulsant, is frequently administered for recurrent seizures. It is critical to follow your veterinarian’s prescription instructions. Never skip a dose or stop taking it on your own, since this can result in more severe seizures in the future.

While it’s upsetting when an older dog suffers seizures, your veterinarian will work with you to figure out what’s causing them and help you manage them.

Considerations while selecting anti-seizure drugs 

Anti-seizure medication may be required if your canine companion meets the following criteria:

Severe seizures lasting more than five minutes Cluster seizures (two or more in 24 to 48 hours) Multiple seizures in a month Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-seizure medications such as phenobarbital for dogs, potassium bromide, levetiracetam, or zonisamide.
Some dogs begin with only one of these drugs.
If seizures continue to be uncontrollable after routine medication use, your veterinarian may prescribe a second or even a third medicine.
Clients frequently inquire about CBD oil for dogs after hearing that it may be used to treat seizures in people.
There is currently very little scientific data to support the use of CBD oil treating seizures in dogs.
Larger clinical trials, on the other hand, are now underway.
It is critical to remember that the purpose of seizure drugs is to reduce the severity, frequency, and length of seizures.
Anti-seizure drugs may not prevent your dog from having another seizure in the future.
The decision to begin anti-seizure medication is not always straightforward.
To choose what is best for your dog, you and your veterinarian must collaborate.
These treatments necessitate close monitoring, can have unfavorable side effects, and are frequently required for the rest of one’s life.
They do, however, have the potential to significantly improve the quality of life of dogs who experience seizures.

My dog is on medication, yet he still has seizures. 

The purpose of anti-convulsants in seizure control is not to ensure that pets never experience another seizure. Although this would be ideal, it is not feasible. Medication, on the other hand, should reduce the number, length, and severity of seizures. If your pet continues to suffer breakthrough seizures in an amount that concerns you, request a simple blood test to check your pet’s medication level is therapeutic.

If the dosage is therapeutic but your pet still seizes, contact with your veterinarian about adding another drug, such as bromide or phenobarbital, depending on which one your pet is currently taking – or possibly visiting with a specialist.

Is it true that some dog breeds are more prone to epilepsy than others?

According to research, some dog breeds are more prone to canine epilepsy than others. The following dog breeds are known to be predisposed to epilepsy:

Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, English Springer Spaniels, Miniature Dachshunds, Border collies, Cocker spaniels, St. Bernards, and Siberian Huskies.

How long can epileptic dogs live? 

Dogs with epilepsy have an average life expectancy of 8 years. According to the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Health Center, approximately 40 to 60 percent of dogs with epilepsy have one or more episodes of cluster seizures or status epilepsy, with a mean lifespan of only 8 years, compared to 11 years for those with epilepsy without episodes of status epilepsy.

With the right treatments, most dogs with canine epilepsy can enjoy a normal life. While some of these medications have unpleasant side effects, they are manageable.

This includes providing your dog with a nutritious meal as well as plenty of exercise.

If you believe you can assist your dog by giving him the proper treatment and taking him to your vet for regular exams, and your dog shows no evidence of living with epilepsy, you do not have to put him down.


  • After a seizure has finished, dogs may be more aware of their surroundings, but they are still not 100% normal. (toegrips.com)
  • The general onset of canine epilepsy is from 2-6 years of age, meaning it would be extremely unlikely for a senior dog to suddenly develop epilepsy.
  • Inaccurate myths state that dogs can swallow their tongue while they seize, but this is 100% false. (emergencyvetsusa.com)
  • Approximately 2% to 5% of all dogs have epilepsy. (vetneurochesapeake.com)
  • Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer’s Dog. (labradortraininghq.com)
  • According to Dr. Sturges, 5 to 10 percent of dogs who experience this problem may have additional episodes.
  • In fact, vertigo is thought to be the most likely reason the private airplane piloted by John F. Kennedy, Jr., and carrying his wife and sister-in-law crashed into the ocean off Martha’s Vineyard in 1999, killing all three. (thebark.com)
  • “Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder seen in dogs and has been estimated to affect approximately 0.75% of the canine population. (doggysaurus.com)
  • About 70% of dogs are able to be well-controlled; unfortunately, that means there is additional 30% of dogs that are not able to be well-controlled.
  • Unfortunately, there is an associated 25% mortality rate (death) in dogs with cluster seizures and seizures lasting longer than five minutes. (aercmn.com)
Old Dog Seizures When To Put Down