Unfortunately, seizures are one of the health concerns for Chihuahuas. They can be hereditary or brought on by things like low blood sugar or neurological disorders and can begin suddenly after years of good health. Regardless of the cause, it's difficult to watch your little one go through a seizure.
Whatever the cause, all seizures have distinct symptoms that begin before the seizure even starts. Right before a seizure begins you'll notice that your Chi may "zone out" and be unresponsive to your voice. Alternatively, she may become restless and begin whining and pacing aimlessly. You might notice that she starts trembling -- more than normal for a Chihuahua -- and she appears to be short tempered, although her nipping and growling can be directed towards inanimate objects or nothing at all just as often as at people. This time before a seizure hits can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, and symptoms are sometimes so vague you may not even notice your Chihuahua is exhibiting them.
During the Seizure
Once the actual seizure begins your Chihuahua may twitch and jerk about or her limbs might stiffen and appear to be paralyzed. She won't be able to stand and may begin kicking her legs in a swimming action. Your little Chi will probably drool and may develop a little foam around her mouth. She won't be able to respond to you during this stage of the seizure and can lose control of her bladder and bowels. The seizure itself can seem to last an eternity, but typically they only continue for 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
When the worst part is finally over, there is still the aftermath to deal with. Your Chihuahua might possibly continue to display odd behavior for several hours after having a seizure. She will be disoriented, confused and may continue to be non-responsive to your voice and commands, but there are times when she may want to be held constantly until she returns to normal. Chihuahuas who are coming out of a seizure have been known to pace or wander aimlessly, so keep an eye on her and keep her away from the staircase.
Handling a Seizing Chihuahua
No part of a seizure is pleasant to witness. It's difficult to feel so helpless while your little one is seizing, but there are a few things that will help her and comfort you both. Chihuahuas are small enough to hold while they're going through the ordeal, so quickly wrap your Chi in a towel when her seizure begins, leaving her head exposed so she can breathe. Holding her in a towel will keep her from hurting herself and will also prevent large messes if she loses control of her bladder or bowels. Keep your Chihuahua away from children and other pets while she is experiencing an episode and speak to her in a calm voice. Don't put anything in or near her mouth, especially your fingers, and continue to comfort her and keep her quiet after the seizure has subsided. Stay in contact with your vet regarding your Chihuahua's seizure frequency and her behavior during and after the episodes. Take her to the vet immediately if she experiences consecutive seizures -- one after the other with little or no recovery time in between -- or if she has an episode that lasts longer than 5 minutes.
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.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.