Seeing your Chihuahua have a seizure can be a pretty scary experience. Thankfully, most seizures will resolve within a few minutes. Get immediate veterinary attention for your dog's first seizure, or for any seizure lasting longer than is usual for your pet.
Hypoglycemic seizures occur when a dog's blood sugar falls to below normal levels. Chihuahuas are susceptible to hypoglycemia because of their low body weight. The tiniest Chihuahuas, sold as "teacup" Chihuahuas (though this size is not officially recognized), are even more at risk. The dogs' lack of muscle mass means that they cannot store and regulate glucose as well as larger dogs. Dogs with diabetes may experience hypoglycemic seizures if their insulin levels are poorly controlled.
Seizures can be a symptom of a brain tumor. Any breed can be affected by brain tumors, and Chihuahuas are not at any greater overall risk as a breed. Brain tumors are most common in dogs older than five years. Seizures are commonly one of the earliest symptoms associated with a brain tumor. Your veterinarian can investigate by taking X-rays of the skull or the chest. It is often easier to detect tumors that have spread to the lungs than it is to see tumors in the brain itself.
Epilepsy is usually diagnosed when a Chihuahua has a pattern of recurring seizures with no apparent underlying cause such as diabetes or a brain tumor. An epileptic Chihuahua experiencing more than one seizure per month is likely to be put on a regimen of antiseizure medication. Chihuahuas with epilepsy can live long and happy lives if their seizures are brought under control.
Prevention and Response
The chances of your Chihuahua's having a seizure are lower if the dog is well rested and fed regularly. Increased stress can increase the likelihood of a seizure, so try to reduce stress in your dog's daily life. Feed a Chihuahua several small meals and snacks throughout the day, instead of one large meal. This will help keep her blood sugar levels more constant. If your Chihuahua does have a seizure, remove her from any immediate physical dangers, such as an open fireplace or uncovered swimming pool. Remove other pets from the area, and eliminate sources of stress and noise, such as television or bright lights. Place soft blankets or pillows around your dog's body, and allow her plenty of time to sleep off the aftereffects of the seizure once she recovers. Sleepiness after a seizure is normal.
Jae Allen has been a writer since 1999, with articles published in "The Hub," "Innocent Words" and "Rhythm." She has worked as a medical writer, paralegal, veterinary assistant, stage manager, session musician, ghostwriter and university professor. Allen specializes in travel, health/fitness, animals and other topics.