Myoclonic Seizures in Canines

Updated April 17, 2017

Myoclonic seizures are a particular type of seizure that causes involuntary muscle spasms. They begin occurring when a dog is young and are less common than other types of seizures.


Involuntary spasms of one or more muscles in the legs, pelvis or face characterise myoclonic seizures. The movements can be jerky but, unlike grand mal seizures, which are the most common type of seizure, the dog only experiences muscle contractions in one part of the body.


According to Thomas K. Graves, DVM, veterinarians do not usually run a full range of tests on dogs that only have a single seizure. However, if an episode occurs more than once, it is important for the veterinarian to rule out other causes, such as hypoglycaemia, and ensure management of the condition.


A cerebral disorder causes myoclonic seizures. Abnormal activity can affect one part of the brain, and therefore only one part of the dog's body, as is the case with myoclonic seizures. However, seizure activity can also involve both sides of the brain, leading to a more serious episode with loss of consciousness. The seizures can also be idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown.


A veterinarian might give a dog certain medications to reduce the risk of future seizures, or suggest dietary changes. It is important for owners to know how to react in the event of their dog having a seizure again. This includes ensuring the dog is unable to injure itself on other objects and keeping a journal of its seizure activity.

Expert Insight

Dennis O'Brien, DVM, reports on the Canine Epilepsy Network that researchers discovered the genes that caused canine myoclonic seizures in 2004. These genes cause a condition in dogs that is similar to Lafora disease in humans.

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