One of the worst experiences of owning a dog may very well be the day he or she has their first seizure. I am most talking about the grand mal type of seizure. In this type the dog will become unconscious, usually fall over on their side, and begin shaking and seizing all over. These can be very violent to watch and for the dog to experience.
These full blown seizures happen when the brain completely goes out of sync and begin firing non-stop to all all areas. The dog is breathing extremely fast and there is usually much foaming at the mouth. These seizures can last several minutes, but for the dog owner watching on, they can seem much longer. All the owner can do is make sure there is nothing near the dog that can hurt them and perhaps gently hold their head if they are on a hard surface. But do not try to hold or control the dog in any way.
In older dogs, there is usually not an environmental or genetic cause. In many cases brain lesions can be the cause and there is nothing usually that can be done for older dogs in these cases. In the worst cases, the seizures in older dogs will only occur once in a while; perhaps they happen only once a month. In the worst cases, they can happen many times a day. The latter type is extremely debilitating for the dog.
The dog owner should understand also how the dog will behave after the seizure. In many cases the dog will appear somewhat paralyzed. This can be quite scary to see but it is usually short lived and lasts only 10 or 15 minutes. However, even after the dog is finally able to stand, he or she can be quite wobbly. In fact, they may fall down many times for the next hour or so. Dog owners would like for their dog to just lay down and rest after a grand mal seizure, but dogs are always quite restless and anxious after seizures.
Pacing is a big part of the aftermath of a seizure. Dogs will often pace for several hours. In the beginning of the pacing, they will often go in circles. It can be quite alarming as it appears there may have been some brain damage. However, the pacing subsides in just a few hours usually.
Another side effect which is seen later in the day and even the next days is that the dog may limp or appear quite stiff. This normal. Think of the seizure as one gigantic muscle cramp. Oftentimes muscle cramps can result in pulled muscles and this is what often happens when older dogs have seizures. The massive muscle spasm can make the dog quite stiff and even have some muscle pain.
Seizures in older dogs are a fact of life for many dog owners. In most cases they can be experienced safely without too many negative effects for the dog so long as the owner understands what to expect.