When many pet owners go to pick out their next best friend, they don’t always consider the health history of the breed. Mostly if a dog looks to be in good health, people consider them a good candidate.

One disease that cannot be apparently seen is epilepsy. This neurological condition can be life-threatening for a human or canine.

If you are considering a new companion you might ask what dog breeds are prone to seizures. These breeds shouldn’t necessarily be avoided, but it is important to keep this in mind so you can watch for any symptoms that present themselves.

What is Canine Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is classified into two different categories.

Idiopathic Epilepsy – Sometimes called primary epilepsy, the cause of this epilepsy is not definable and most likely comes from a genetic base.

Symptomatic Epilepsy – The cause of these seizures may be known and are most likely traced back to trauma, illness or a disorder.

If a dog has epilepsy, this means that they occasionally have seizures. This causes the body to literally seize, or it can cause involuntary jerking or twitching. While a seizure can be a very frightening experience to witness, remember that it is not causing your dog pain at the moment. A seizure can, however, cause a dog to hurt themselves or those around them. So, it’s very important to approach a dog who is having a seizure or recovering from a seizure with caution. A dog that is coming out of a seizure is often confused and scared.

If you have a dog that has had seizures, read below to learn the steps you need to take to ensure their safety.

What to Do If Your Dog Has A Seizure

Witnessing a dog having a seizure gives owners a range of emotions. You may be confused by the irregular behavior if your dog has a localized seizure like a facial tremor. You may be terrified if you witness the convulsing of a Grand Mal seizure.

Whatever happens, the first step to remember is to stay calm. A cool head will ensure your dog’s safety much more than frantically trying to help.

In reality, if your dog is having a seizure, there is very little you can do for them in the moment. So, you need to start considering how you will help them after the fact. You need to mark the time. You’ll need to know how long the seizure lasts when you go to talk with your vet about it, which should be immediate. A journal can also be helpful in diagnosing the next steps for your vet. Note duration, time of day, how your dog was acting before and if anything else unusual occurred before their seizure.

This information will be useful in getting your dog the best treatment possible. While your dog is having a seizure, you will want to make sure they are safe. Ensure they are not near stairs of anything else that can hurt them. You can even hold and comfort them until they come to.

One commonly passed myth is that a dog can “swallow” their tongue when having a seizure. This is absolutely not the case and you should be sure to keep your hands away from your dog’s mouth if they’re having a seizure. Handling your dog’s mouth while they are having a seizure is the easiest way to get bitten.

Dog Breeds That Are Prone to Seizures

As we said above, seizures can be caused by a known condition. Something like head trauma, cancer or brain tumors can cause seizures. There are also certain breeds that sometimes have seizures for no apparent reason. These breeds include:

  • Australian Shepherds
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • German Shepherds
  • Beagles
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Border Collies
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • English Springer Spaniels
  • Finnish Spitz
  • Golden and Labrador Retrievers
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Standard Poodles
  • Vizslas

Again, we wouldn’t recommend avoiding these breeds. In fact, some are very popular breeds. Any breed can have a seizure, but the above breeds have a greater tendency. That said, seizures are very rare in most dogs and only happen to less than five percent of dogs.

Even if your dog has seizures, they can live a long, fulfilling life. Medications can keep episodes to a minimum and give you and your dog many happy years together.