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05 Stages of a Seizure


This article is from the Canine Epilepsy FAQ, by Alicia Wiersma-Aylward with numerous contributions by others.

05 Stages of a Seizure

There are 4 basic stages to a seizure: 1) the prodome, 2) the aura or
preictus, 3) the ictus or seizure stage, and 4) the postictus.

1) The prodome may precede the actual seizure by hours or days. It is
characterized by a change in mood or behavior. Human epileptics
experience mood changes, headaches, insomnia or feelings about the
impending seizure. It is not known whether animals experience a
prodome except for any behavioral changes observed by their owners.

2) The aura signals the start of the seizure. Signs include
restlessness, nervousness, whining, trembling, salivation, affection,
wandering, hiding, hysterical running, and apprehension.

3) The ictus is the actual seizure, characterized by sudden increase
in tone of all muscle groups. The ictus is either tonic or
tonic-clonic, generally lasting from 1-3 minutes.

4) The postictus may be the only sign of epilepsy the owner sees,
particularly since many seizures occur at night or early in the
morning. For minutes to days after the seizure, the dog may be
confused, disoriented, restless, or unresponsive, or may wander or
suffer from transient blindness. At this stage the animal is conscious
but not functional. (Shell, Understanding; Kay; Oliver, Seizures).

What can you do when your dog seizures? Note the time to determine how
long the seizure lasts. Keep the dog as quiet as possible. Loud or
sharp noises may prolong the seizure or make it worse. Other dogs
should be removed from the area, as they may disturb or attack the
seizuring dog. Should you attempt to comfort the animal? Opinions on
this vary. My own dog is comforted by my presence and looks for me as
he returns to consciousness. I make a point of calmly maintaining
physical and voice contact with him throughout the seizure and during


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