A question we get asked regularly here, why is my whippet having fits or seizures? This is most often because of epilepsy, a disease that is very common in dogs, and especially in the whippet breed.
Epilepsy is a chronic condition that affects the brain, causing your dog to experience seizures. Even though it is not a disease that goes away on its own after time, it can be managed with the right treatment.
Your whippet may also have fits or seizures due to eating something toxic and poisonous to him. Or, he could have it from brain injury or a disease such as diabetes or liver disease.
Whippets are for the most part a healthy breed of dog. This is because they are athletic, fit, and known to engage in a lot of physical activity which has many benefits.
However, just as with all other breeds, there are health conditions they are prone to. Additionally, this breed may be prone to having seizures and fits.
A fit or seizure can be a very frightening thing to experience, both for your dog and for you alike. It can be an unpleasant sight to see, and it causes your dog to lose control of his body.
But why is my Whippet having these fits and seizures?
Please read along to find out why Whippets are prone to getting them, what are the symptoms of a seizure, and if anything can be done about it.
What Is A Fit And A Seizure?
A seizure happens when there is a faulty or abnormal form of activity in the brain of a dog. A seizure is also known as a fit.
A fit or a seizure results in your dog completely losing control of his body and muscles without warning.
During such a seizure, you dog will not be aware or conscious of what is occuring.
It usually results in one of the following happening to your dog:
- Collapsing to the ground
- Dog appears dazed
- Uncontrolled twitching and spasms of the muscles
- Convulsions – which can be violent
- Jerking movements
- Muscle stiffness or cramps
- Drooling, excessive salivating, and mouth-foaming
- Legs moving rapidly as if running or swimming
- Jaws clenching or chomping
- Tensing up
- Uncontrolled movements with eyes, such as rolling up and down or side to side
- Loss of expression and loss of comprehension and consciousness concerning what is going on
- Chewing action with jaws
- Barking, whining, growling, or other vocalisation sounds
- May have a bowel movement or urinate during the seizure
The most common fits or seizures seen in dogs are generalised seizures, where their entire body goes into a state of shock, convulsion, muscle spasms, and twitching.
This is when their entire brain is affected.
Another type of fit or a seizure is known as a focal seizure, which will result in only a certain area of the body or one body part experiencing abnormal movement and twitching.
This kind of a seizure happens when only a part of the brain is affected.
The focal seizure usually lasts only a few seconds, but can go on for half a minute. It could even go on for two full minutes.
On the other hand, generalised seizures will last a few minutes, most commonly up to five minutes at a time.
There are also psychomotor seizures, which will result in your Whippet displaying abnormal behaviours which last a few minutes.
Psychomotor seizures are often hard to distinguish from a dog’s natural behaviour or personality, or problems affecting the mentality of the dog.
It could involve anything from trying to bite his leg or his tail, snapping at the air or at imaginary things, or rapid tail chasing.
This kind of seizure affects only the temporal lobe of the brain.
Why Do Whippets Have Fits And Seizures
Some breeds of dogs are more prone than others to having fits and seizures during their lifetime. Whippets are one breed of dog that are more prone to having fits and seizures.
Why are Whippets prone to having fits and seizures? Most often the major cause of this is epilepsy because epilepsy is a common disease that occurs in Whippets.
What is epilepsy? Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain, occurring both in people and dogs, and caused by a fault in the DNA.
It results in chemical imbalances and malfunctioning of electrical signals which leads to fits or seizures. Epilepsy is such a common disease that it occurs in almost one in 130 dogs.
Epilepsy most often first occurs in Whippets at the age of as young as six months to six years.
When To See A Vet
If your Whippet has been having a seizure that has went on for longer than five minutes at a time, it is critical to call the vet.
A seizure lasting more than five minutes is called ‘status epilepticus‘. When a seizure lasts this long it is very dangerous and can result in some serious complications.
It can lead to an extremely high temperature and may follow in serious damage to your Whippet’s brain. It could even result in death!
This is why it is an emergency and needs to be treated immediately with intravenous medications before it leads to severe problems.
However, even a normal seizure needs to be reported to the vet when it has been your Whippet’s first time having it.
The appointment can help determine the possible causes of the fits or seizures your Whippet has experienced.
It is important to tell the vet the symptoms of your dog’s seizure, how long it lasted, and other information regarding what you saw unfolding.
It may be that your dog has epilepsy, which is a long term disease that cannot be cured, but can, however, be managed.
Or, there may be other causes behind your Whippet’s seizures. Medications can be prescribed if your Whippet is experiencing seizures a few times during the month, or because of epilepsy.
More About Whippet Fits And Seizures
Apart from epilepsy, a disease common in Whippets, what are some other factors that may be responsible for your Whippet’s fits and seizures?
Eating Something Poisonous
Some things that we may eat regularly without problems can be extremely dangerous and poisonous to dogs.
This includes things like chocolate, cocoa, caffeine, xylitol, ethanol, and sago palm. Also, certain poisonous mushrooms will result in mushroom toxicity, and therefore cause seizures.
If a Whippet eats some types of medications, illicit drugs, or even slug poison, they can also experience a seizure.
Low Blood Sugar Levels
If your Whippet is a puppy that hasn’t eaten for a long time or has diabetes which causes his blood sugar levels to fall down to a dangerous level, he could get a seizure.
Injury To The Brain
If your Whippet had an accident, a bad fall, or had hit his head very hard, it could result in injury to the brain. This injury could be a causal factor for seizures.
Seizures also happen when there is bleeding between the skull and the brain, which is also caused by brain injury or damage to blood vessels of the brain.
Tumors found in the brain of your Whippet can lead to a seizure. This is especially true if the tumor is located in the cerebral cortex part of the brain.
Liver Disease Or Liver Failure
Liver disease or liver failure will not allow the liver to filter out and remove dangerous toxins such as ammonia from the blood, which will result in seizures.
Lungworm That Lives In The Brain
If your Whippet has a lungworm that is living in the brain, causing damage and abnormal activity, it could manifest itself in seizures.
If you see your Whippet having a fit or seizure, is there anything you can do to help him?
The best thing is to just leave your dog alone during the seizure until it comes to a conclusion. This is because if you try to do anything or interfere, you could inadvertently hurt your pet.
You could even get hurt yourself, as your Whippet will have no control over his jaws and body movements during a seizure.
Make sure your dog has plenty of space while he is having a seizure, and that there is quietness and no disturbance or chaos.
You could even make a video, which can be shown to your vet to help determine the cause of this seizure and what can be done about it.
If your Whippet is experiencing a seizure lasting more than five minutes, it is important to call your vet immediately.
While waiting until help arrives, you can switch on a fan or spray your dog with cool water to prevent his temperature from rising to a dangerously high level.
Whippets fits or seizures can occur due to a number of different factors. Commonly they occur because of epilepsy, a disease often diagnosed in Whippets.
However, they can also happen as a result of brain injury, certain diseases, or eating something that has poisoned them.
It is important to make a vet appointment for your Whippet if he has experienced a fit or a seizure for the first time. This will help conclude the cause of the seizure so that appropriate treatment can be given.
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Hello. I’m Luke- the founder of WhippetCentral. I’m somewhat of a whippet nut and have been for most of my life. In that time, I’ve owned and raised numerous whippets. Bonnie is my latest girl; she is currently eight years old and keeps me very busy! Understanding the need for whippet-specific content, I decided to create this blog to share what I have learned and to share my expertise regarding owning and raising whippets – the right way!