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How Long Do Dog Seizures Last? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

pug dog in a veterinary clinic

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dog seizures ordinarily last 1–2 minutes. However, more prolonged seizures can occur and necessitate treatment. Following the seizure, the dog may experience a protracted post-ictal recovery phase that might last up to 24 hours, depending on the particular dog.

Dogs are often confused and bewildered during the post-ictal phase. They may pace without purpose, and some dogs may exhibit other symptoms, such as temporary blindness and excessive thirst. Reporting the length and frequency of the seizure to your veterinarian is essential to treat your dog’s seizures.

Sometimes, dogs will show symptoms of an oncoming seizure before the actual seizure occurs. For instance, the dogs may whine, hide, salivate, and tremble. This phase is called the pre-ictal phase but isn’t usually counted as part of the seizure itself.

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Do Dog Seizures Stop on Their Own?

Seizures will often last for 1–2 minutes and then stop independently. If your dog’s seizure lasts longer than 2 minutes or you notice more than one seizure, you should consider it a medical emergency and contact a veterinarian immediately.

white shih tzu dog lying on the bed
Image Credit: The CreativCircle, Pixabay

Seizure vs. Syncope

Seizures and syncope are different, but they are often confused. Seizures are severe, but a syncope isn’t necessarily. Let’s look at both of them so that you can tell the difference:


Syncope is a brief loss of awareness and posture, sometimes known as “fainting” or “passing out.” A transient disturbance in blood flow or oxygen supply to the brain causes syncope. Spells of low blood pressure often induce syncope, although other physiological changes can also cause it.

Heart disease, cardiac tumors, mental stress or worry, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and changes in blood electrolyte levels are all common underlying causes of syncope in humans. Moreover, certain syncopal episodes are caused by specific behaviors or activities, such as coughing, peeing, or defecating.

A typical syncope episode begins abruptly. When the dog collapses, they go limp all of a sudden. A syncopal dog’s legs may move, although these movements are usually linked with the dog attempting to get back up. These motions are not the same as the paddling leg movements often linked with seizures. Syncopal dogs do not often exhibit chewing movements or increased salivation. The incident will last only seconds to minutes, and the dog will recover quickly with no post-ictal phase.


A seizure is a sudden, uncontrollable movement that is caused by abnormal brain activity. In some cases, dogs may have partial seizures, where only certain body parts are affected. Other times, dogs may have generalized seizures, which occur when the entire body is affected. During generalized seizures, dogs typically lose consciousness.

Many underlying problems can lead to seizures. For instance, seizures can be inherited. Other times, it may be due to an underlying neurological condition. Dogs can also have seizures due to several different problems. For instance, they may have kidney disease, head trauma, or brain tumors.

Dogs with generalized seizures will begin to show signs of the seizure before it begins, though this initial phase may only take several seconds. The dog may act anxious, hide, behave abnormally, or tremble. Sometimes, this beginning phase can last for longer periods of time.

Other times, the dog may fall suddenly with little warning. Their legs will stiffen, followed by jerky movements. Dogs may vocalize, or they may not. Other dogs may repeatedly chew or chomp. Stay away from their mouth, so that you do not get bitten by accident.

sick dog lying
Image Credit: MDV Edwards, Shutterstock

How Long is Too Long for a Dog to Have a Seizure?

Everything should be fine if it is less than 2 minutes, but any longer is potentially dangerous and you should contact your vet as quickly as possible.

With that said, some shorter seizures can be dangerous, too. If your dog has never had a seizure, you should contact your vet immediately. There may be a chance that the seizure is caused by an underlying issue that must be addressed. For instance, seizures may occur if your dog has ingested poisonous chemicals. The dog needs to be seen to treat the toxicity, even if the seizure itself was very short.

How Long Can Dogs Live with Seizures?

It depends mainly on the dog’s quality of life, when living with the condition. Risk factors for euthanasia include starting seizures at a younger age, having a lot of seizures at first, being unable to control them well, and having seizures that last longer than 5 minutes. About 40–60% of dogs with epilepsy have one or more episodes of cluster seizures or status epilepsy. This type of seizure can lead to a lower life quality, which often leads to these canines having a shorter lifespan.

Even though the pet’s life expectancy may not change, there is a low chance (6–8% in dogs) that a dog with seizures or epilepsy will go into complete remission and no longer need treatment. So, most dogs with epilepsy need treatment and care for the rest of their lives. To be committed to their pet’s therapy, owners often need to balance the pet’s quality of life and how well the therapy works.

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Most seizures in dogs last less than 2 minutes. If your dog’s seizure lasts longer than that, or is their first seizure,  it should be considered a veterinary emergency. You should contact your veterinarian for treatment recommendations as quickly as possible.

Dogs that have repeated seizures can be treated with medication prescribed by a veterinarian. Regulating their seizures is vital to their overall health.

Featured Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

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