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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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My poodle is 16 years old and has started having seizure-like

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My poodle is 16 years old and has started having seizure-like episodes. She had one last summer, but over the past couple of weeks they have become more frequent.
She stiffens for around one minute, then is lethargic for up to 30 minutes. Just after the seizure she rolls her head around as if to be dizzy. She has never done this before. What do you think is happening? Could she be having a stroke or heart attack?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
Hi Sir or Madam,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I've been a professional answering here since 2006. Over 13,000 of my answers have been accepted by customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you.


Your dog is quite elderly and as a result, there might be many possible causes for seizure activity including organ dysfunction and tumor. Many times the underlying cause for seizures is never found. During her seizures, the best thing is to have her in a quiet area. After the seizure is over, you can comfort her. This stage can last a few minute or hours.


When seizures are infrequent, treatment is usually not recommended. However, once a dog is having frequent seizures your vet may use a variety of treatments including a combination of steroids such as Prednisone and an anti-seizure medication such as Phenobarbital. Alternative to Phenobarbital might be Zonisamide, Keppra, or Potassium Bromide.

Here is a good link on seizures in dogs:

A dog may also "faint" in which they fall to the ground usually on their side, stare straight ahead and seem paralyzed which indicates a heart problem.. This is called syncopy and can be read about here:

I would have your dog seen by your vet as soon as possible and limit your dog's activity until she can be seen in case it is heart related and not seizure related. If you have a video camera, digital camera or phone with video capability, and this happens again, taping the behavior will help your vet determine the cause.

I hope this information is helpful to you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
If you take her to the vet - would the testing be extensive or could the vet tell by a simple examination?
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.

A physical exam might show up a heart issue which might indicate that as the cause. However, if it is not a heart issue, your vet and you will need to determine if you wish to perform x-rays, ct-scan or mri to look for other issues that might cause seizures, or whether to just perform bloodwork or if starting her on medication without extensive testing would be the best treatment at this point in her life You do have the choice as to what procedures you wish to have done for your dog.
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