Seizures in labrador dogs

Updated April 17, 2017

Labrador retrievers are prone to seizures, which can be a difficult sight for any dog lover. But veterinarians say this disorder is rare and responds well to medication. You and your pet can live a long and happy life together.

Genetic Epilepsy

Labrador retrievers are among a number of breeds that are prone to idiopathic epilepsy, a type of epilepsy that runs in families and occurs for unknown reasons. The disease usually appears in dogs from 10 months to 3 years old, but it can also begin earlier or later. It’s more common in males, and it’s more severe in younger dogs. Once your dog has full-blown epilepsy, he might have cluster seizures every one to four weeks.

Other Causes

The web site The Daily Puppy notes Labradors are notorious for eating things they shouldn’t. If your dog is having a seizure, you may also check for other signs of poisoning, including diarrhoea, vomiting, trembling and loss of coordination. PetMD warns seizures can be brought on by low blood sugar, kidney and liver failure, a fatty liver or a viral or fungal infection.


Epileptic seizures usually happen at night or early in the morning when your dog is asleep. If your dog is awake, you’ll see him suddenly appear nervous or confused, and he might either seek your attention or slink away and hide. When the seizure sets in, your dog may fall on his side and stiffen, chomp his jaw, salivate, lose control of his bladder and bowels, howl and paddle with his legs.

What To Do

To keep him safe, put a pillow under his head and keep him away from water, stairs, sharp objects or the edges of furniture. It’s a myth that pets swallow their tongues during seizures; keep your hands and other objects away from his mouth. Take notes for your vet, including the time of the seizure, the date and basic circumstances and any muscle movements or abnormal behaviour. The web site Just Labradors recommends you seek emergency medical care if the seizure lasts more than 10 minutes, if he’s had more than two in 24 hours or if another one starts before he has recovered from the last one.

After a Seizure

Stay by your dog’s side so he’ll see a friendly face when he comes to. Once the seizure stops, your dog will likely be tired, scared and confused. Reassure him in a quiet voice and offer him water. Watch his behaviour, be prepared for stumbling, and keep your dog away from stairs for the next half hour or so.


PetMD recommends talking to a vet as soon as you suspect epilepsy, as early treatment can reduce the severity of the disease. The site reports medication, including corticosteroid, anti-epileptic and anticonvulsant medications, may help reduce the number of seizures. The prescription will depend on the type of epilepsy your dog has as well as his age and overall health. PetMD recommends keeping medicated dogs away from water to avoid accidental drowning and to watch your dog’s diet to prevent weight gain, a common side effect.

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About the Author

Since picking up her pen in 1990, Audrey Brown has written on a wide range of topics, garnering state and national awards. She now writes for eHow and Answerbag, with special interest in family and community issues, education, and the environment. Brown holds a Master of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.