Seizures are not as scary with information
A pet owner asked about a story she heard that a puppy suffered a seizure at the groomer and died. While cats don’t ordinarily go to the groomer, they can have seizures, so read on if you have a canine or feline.  ?We looked into this serious and scary scenario and found that although uncommon, the stress of a long grooming visit is one of many causes for seizures. But you can take precautions.

Generalized and Focal seizures

First let’s consider what a seizure is. Seizures happen when the brain is overstimulated  and brain activity is interrupted. A focal seizure was referred to in the past as a petit mal seizure and affects only one part of the body. The episode can manifest in unconsciousness with the pet unmoving, as teeth chattering or other focused reactions. A generalized seizure affects the full body and was called a grand mal seizure in the past. A focal seizure can move into a generalized seizure, according to Below is a list of typical behaviors during a generalized seizure.

Uncontrollable movements, twitching, jerking
Paddling of the feet
Urinating and Defecating

Uncommon occurrence
Second, you can take comfort in knowing that seizures are relatively uncommon. And a pet that has a seizure will not necessarily have another, ever.

Knowing what to look for and how to react can minimize the effects on you and your dog or cat.
Before the onset of a seizure you might notice indicators, such as appearing restless, staring into space, seeking affection more than normal, salivating, whining, hiding, or appearing scared, worried or stressed.

Seizures can last from a few seconds to several minutes. To keep yourself and your pet safe, leave it alone if it is in a safe place where it can’t hurt itself. Remove anything the pet might hit and harm itself. DO NOT try to restrain the pet, but confine it to a smaller, flat space if possible, such as a bathroom. Stay calm so that your pet doesn’t perceive your stress. Speak calmly to your pet and attempt to comfort it. You can stoke the head or back, but KEEP YOUR HANDS free of the pet’s mouth. The pet can bite you or itself. We know now that swallowing the tongue is not a concern.

Time the seizure. Length of the episode is important to your vet, whom you should call as soon as possible. After the first seizure you should immediately call your vet and take the pet in for assessment. Then call the doctor if the pet has another seizure for additional instruction. Keep a log of seizures if the pet has more than one. Record time, date, and length of seizure, as well as symptoms. Try to list any changes to the pet’s schedule, environment, or foods that preceded the seizure.

After the seizure has ended, you can expect any of these symptoms to last up to a day. Be available to comfort your pet, because they have no recollection of what happened.

Seeming disoriented
Appearing uncoordinated, wobbly
Suffering partial blindness
Bumping into walls
Sleeping longer than usual
Bleeding if it bit it’s tongue or mouth

Some pets have epileptic seizures. Other stimulants for seizures can be allergies, stress, overheating, and changes to routine. The seizure can happen as soon as the pet is exposed to the stimuli or be delayed minutes to hours.
The story of the seizure at the groomer is true. The link below to Grooming Smarter shows a video of a dog having a seizure at the groomer. The writer has done a great deal of research and has determined, anecdotally, that the air directed at the head and ears can overstimulate a dog.  She recommends towel drying the dog and avoiding the head and ears with a nozzle dryer. Sometimes the seizures happen at the groomer and sometimes they occur later.


Know your pets.
Know the signs of a seizure and what to do to protect your pets.
Recognize  your pet behaving strangely.

Speak with your groomer and any potential groomers to see if they have experienced a dog or cat having seizures, even if the groomer is in a veterinarian’s office. Explain that you don’t expect it to happen and that your dog has (or has not) had seizures before. Let them know that you want to be prepared so you can ensure the best care for  your dog. Then ask how they handle seizures or other health concerns. The more knowledgeable the groomer appears to be with animal health and care, teh better.
Ask the groomer (and any care giver) to contact you immediately and not wait until you pick up the pet.
If the pup seems to be uncomfortable waiting, reschedule. Delays at the groomer don’t upset every dog. But if yours is sensitive to crowds, noises or crates, then put your pet’s well-being first. Reschedule.

While the thought of a normal activity causing a seizure in your four-legged family member is scary, remember that something as simple as a food allergy can bring on a seizure. So be prepared to take care of your pet if it has a seizure and ask questions of pet professionals to be sure they are capable of helping your pet through the disorienting experience.
By Beth Crosby