Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince, a veterinarian with Elmhurst Animal Care Center and other area practices, maintains a particular professional interest in animal neurology. As a board-certified practitioner, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince concentrates his practice on this and other disorders of small animals.
Seizures in dogs can take a number of forms. Perhaps the best known is the generalized or tonic-clonic seizure, a condition in which the dog falls to the ground and displays convulsions, rigidity of the limbs, and breathing disturbances. Limb rigidity is more pronounced in a grand mal tonic-clonic seizure, which also features loss of consciousness and a paddling of the limbs during the event’s clonic phase. In a more mild seizure, the dog may remain conscious throughout the episode.
The generalized seizure is a result of abnormal electrical function throughout the brain. If the abnormal activity is localized to one part of the brain, the resultant partial seizure causes abnormal involuntary movements on one side or in one part of the body. The related, though differently presenting, complex partial seizure, also known as a psychomotor seizure, manifests with behavioral rather than purely physical disturbances. As a result of abnormal and disturbing sensory input, the dog may act out aggressively, appear fearful, or experience digestive distress, though other behavioral symptoms are also possible.
Most seizures last only seconds to minutes, though some dogs can suffer from an extended seizure known as a status epilepticus. These seizures last 30 minutes or more with no return to consciousness. These may appear similar to cluster seizures, which occur in sequence with very few periods of consciousness in the interim. Both are serious medical emergencies and require immediate care, though all canine seizures signal the need for medical attention.