Psychomotor Seizures in Dogs

Posted by Lianne McLeod on

Psychomotor seizures in dogs

When your dog has a seizure for the first time, it’s pretty normal for you to be scared on his behalf. You might want to try out a dozen solutions to ease out his suffering, but none of them will help if you don’t know what type of seizure he is experiencing at the moment. 

Often triggered by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, there are two main types of seizures that your dog can suffer from - grand mal, and focal seizures. In Grand mal, or generalized seizures, the abnormal activity occurs in the whole brain, and as a result, the dog might lose consciousness and experience convulsions on his whole body. 

Focal seizures occur in only one part of the brain, which might cause twitching or change in behavior on a specific part of the body. There are different kinds of focal seizures, and one of them is Psychomotor seizures. 

With psychomotor seizures, the part of the brain that is affected is the behavioral part, and as result, the symptoms your dog might exhibit will be behavioral, resembling mild hallucinations. Other symptoms include your dog chasing after its own tail, biting on imaginary flies, or being in a daze. These signs usually last a few minutes. 

Key Things To Know About Dog Seizures

Similarly to humans, seizures in dogs are caused by short circuits in the brain. There are different factors that might trigger this activity, the most common ones being head injuries, anemia, ingesting poison, brain cancer, low or high blood sugar level, liver disease and infectious diseases like canine distemper. 

While losing consciousness and having twitches or convulsions are the usual signs of a dog having a seizure, there are also other symptoms you should watch for, and they include: 

  • Collapsing 
  • Jerking of muscles or a group of muscles
  • Hallucinations in Psychomotor seizures 
  • Behavioral changes like biting non-existent bugs or chasing after its own tail 
  • Drooling 
  • Staring off into space 
  • Foam at the mouth 
  • Pacing anxiously around 
dog and human holding hand

How To Care For A Dog With Seizures 

Your dog experiencing a seizure does not necessarliy mean they will have a short life, or an unhealthy one. Seizures in dogs are mostly likely not life threatening, and your dog might go on to have a long, fulfilling life even after having one. However, there are some ways you can care for him depending on the frequency of his episodes to ensure this.  

Some of these ways include: 

  • Putting him on a Ketogenic diet and supplement oils like Omega fatty acids and gelatin. 
  • Visiting the vet regularly 
  • Removing environmental triggers that can cause seizures. 
  • If they are prescribed medication by the vet, give it to them as prescribed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The following answers were generated by our team and reviewed by Dr. Lianne McLeod.

two dogs looking at the sunset

Can Psychomotor Seizures Contribute to Serious Brain Damage?

Psychomotor seizures in dogs have raised concerns about potential brain damage. While these seizures are characterized by abnormal motor behaviors, such as dog psychomotor seizure symptoms, they generally do not lead to significant brain damage on their own. Psychomotor seizures, also known as focal seizures, originate in specific areas of the brain and can manifest as unusual movements or behaviors. It's important to note that the duration and frequency of these seizures can impact the dog's overall well-being.

How Do Vets Diagnose Psychomotor Seizures?

Diagnosing psychomotor seizures in dogs requires careful observation and professional evaluation. Vets utilize a combination of factors to make an accurate diagnosis, considering the dog's psychomotor seizure dog medical history, the specific behaviors exhibited during the seizure, and any potential triggers like seizures in dogs. Diagnostic tools such as brain imaging, blood tests, and neurological examinations can help rule out other underlying conditions such as brain tumor or liver disease. Through a comprehensive assessment, vets can determine the presence of psychomotor seizures and tailor a suitable treatment plan.

When Should You Visit the Vet for Seizures?

If your dog experiences seizures, it's crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Whether it's a psychomotor seizure or another type, seizures can indicate an underlying health issue. Immediate veterinary care helps identify the root cause, especially if your German shepherd or other breed suffers from psychomotor seizures dogs. Keeping a record of seizure frequency, duration, and any notable behaviors can aid the vet in making an accurate diagnosis.

What Happens When Diagnosing Dog Seizures?

When diagnosing dog seizures, vets follow a structured approach to uncover the underlying cause. They will review your dog's medical history, perform a physical examination, and conduct various tests. These tests might include blood work to assess organ function and screen for metabolic disorders like blood sugar. Neurological exams and advanced imaging, such as MRI or CT scans, can reveal abnormalities in the brain. The gathered information guides vets in determining the appropriate treatment strategy for psychomotor seizures in dogs causes.

What Is the Treatment for Psychomotor Seizures?

Treating psychomotor seizures in dogs often involves a combination of medical approaches. Vets may prescribe anti-seizure medications like potassium bromide to help control seizure activity. The treatment plan is personalized based on the dog's condition, overall health, and response to medications. Regular follow-up visits allow vets to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment regimen. It's important to consider how to treat psychomotor seizures in dogs while designing the treatment approach.

How Much Does Seizure Treatment Cost for Dogs?

The cost of treating psychomotor seizures in dogs can vary depending on factors such as the type of medication, frequency of vet visits, and any additional diagnostic tests required. Generally, anti-seizure medications are ongoing expenses, and regular veterinary check-ups are essential. It's recommended to discuss the potential costs with your vet and explore any available options for financial assistance or insurance coverage, especially if your dog suffers from psychomotor seizures.

dog looking out at the sunset

Can Dogs Live with Psychomotor Seizures? What Is the Prognosis?

Dogs can indeed live fulfilling lives despite experiencing psychomotor seizures. With proper management and treatment, seizure frequency and severity can be reduced. The prognosis depends on various factors, including the underlying cause of the seizures and the dog's overall health. Collaborating closely with a veterinarian helps improve the dog's quality of life and minimizes the impact of seizures. The question of can dogs live with psychomotor seizures depends on diligent care and staying calm during seizure episodes.

Can You Prevent Psychomotor Seizures in Dogs, and Are They Curable?

Preventing psychomotor seizures in dogs involves addressing the underlying causes, which can vary widely. While some conditions leading to seizures are manageable, not all cases are curable. For example, if seizures result from idiopathic epilepsy, they may require lifelong management. Identifying and avoiding triggers, administering prescribed medications, and maintaining regular veterinary care all contribute to minimizing the occurrence of seizures and enhancing the dog's well-being. It's important to address the question of what causes psychomotor seizures in dogs to understand preventive measures and the potential for a cure.


A rare kind of focal seizures, psychomotor seizures can cause behavioral symptoms in a dog that include mild hallucinations or chewing invisible bugs. These behaviors are often dismissed as silly, but it’s important, as a dog owner, to observe your dog more carefully when they start exhibiting them. 


  1. Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure - StatPearls. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2023, from NCBI website:  
  2. Riney, C. (n.d.). Managing seizures. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved August 4, 2023, from  
  3. Uncommon acute neurologic presentation of canine distemper in 4 adult dogs. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2023, from NCBI website: 

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Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.
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