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Seizures vs. Fainting

Source: Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Updated on July 16, 2015


There are a number of different conditions that may lead to change of mental status or changes in body muscle activity.


Generalized seizures are the most worrisome to observe. Generalized seizures are uncoordinated spasms of muscles that produce very significant movement of body, head and limbs. The animal will be down and twitch uncontrollably. Often, a pet will pass the bowels or urine, and may salivate and vocalize. A simple seizure is over in a couple of minutes on average, but the pet may not immediately return to normal. Signs such as a dizzy confused look, weakness, blindness, and even aggression characterize the transition back to normal.

Many causes of seizures exist, and medications can be prescribed for those pets that experience repeated episodes. It is important to present the pet to your veterinarian for a physical examination and laboratory evaluation following the seizure so that if a cause is identified, specific treatment for the underlying problem can begin.

Status epilepticus

Status epilepticus is a term for a seizure that does not end promptly. It may wax and wane, but the animal does not regain normal status in between. This is a serious medical emergency and if you see repeated seizures clustered closely together, wrap the pet in a soft blanket and carefully transport them to the veterinary hospital.


A fainting episode does not usually last for very long, but if your pet collapses, a prompt trip to the veterinarian is indicated. Causes include conditions such as heart problems where the circulation is not effective, and a shortage of oxygen leads to a faint. It is helpful for an owner to monitor the heart rate during a faint. Depending on the cause, reduced activity, minimizing stress, discontinuation of prescription medication, or collar removal may be recommended. Specific therapy for the underlying cause may be prescribed.

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Disorders Similar to Seizures

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