Vomiting and digestive problems are a trademark symptom of food allergies in dogs, but did you know that allergies can also cause seizures? Many dog owners associate convulsions with neurological problems, but these may not be your pooch's problem at all. Dietary allergens are responsible for various symptoms, including seizures.
The symptoms of epileptic seizures in dogs are similar to those in humans. Primary indicators of a seizure include loss of balance, muscle spasms, oral discharge and convulsions. These symptoms are associated with several severe and deadly conditions, including brain damage, but they can also just mean that your pet's food is not agreeing with him. Not all dogs that have food allergies will have seizures; in fact most only have minor digestive problems. Only about one of every hundred dogs experiences seizures during its lifetime, according to the Global Communications for Conservation Center for Integrative Animal Health.
It's a scary scene for any pet owner: your dog has lost control of his body and is writhing around on the floor. Don't panic, though, stay focused on helping your pet. Your first priority is moving your pet to a safe area away from dangerous and fragile objects. Keep your hands away from your dog's mouth for the entire duration of the fit. Put your dog in a small room or a large cage with just enough room for him to change his position comfortably. You don't want to give him too much space, or he may injure himself by thrashing into the wall or furniture. Do not take your dog to the vet until the fit has completely subsided.
You cannot diagnose food allergies on your own. If your dog has a seizure, you should consult a veterinarian about a possible examination to determine the cause. Food allergies also produce other symptoms that can help the vet pinpoint allergens as the cause of the seizure. Other symptoms of severe food allergies include diarrhea, lack of appetite, vomiting, lethargy and skin problems, including rashes and itching. The only way to definitely identify food allergies is to place the dog on a restricted diet that contains no potential allergens for up to three months, according to the ASPCA. If the dog's seizures and other symptoms cease during this time, then food allergies are probably the cause of your pet's health problems.
Common Dietary Allergens
Your dog may be allergic to a particularly ingredient in the brand of food that you are feeding him. He may be allergic to a specific type of meat or plant product, like beef or wheat, or he could be particularly sensitive to one of the chemical additives in the food. He may also be consuming the allergen outside of his normal diet. Some dogs are allergic to grass or other plants that they eat out in the yard, while others could be consuming dust, mold or other allergens in small quantities as they sniff and play around the house.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.