Seizures in Shih Tzu Dogs – Triggers & Solutions
Seizures in Shih Tzu Dogs are extremely terrifying, not only for the dog that’s actually experiencing the seizure but also for you, the owner. This is especially true if you witness your Shih Tzu dog having a seizure, which is among the most frightening experiences you can have as a pet owner. Much of this fear comes from the unknown.
Things that might go through your mind include:
- Why is my Shih Tzu dog having a seizure?
- Is my dog going to be okay?
- And what is making my dog have this seizure?
What Causes Seizures In Shih Tzu Dogs?
Shih Tzu dog seizures are triggered by many differing reasons. Most commonly, Shih Tzu dog seizures are caused by idiopathic epilepsy, which is typically inherited, but the cause is usually unknown. Other common causes of seizures include eating poison, liver disease, high or low blood sugar, kidney disease, electrolyte problems, Anemia, head injury, Encephalitis, strokes and brain cancer.
Seizures commonly occur when the canine’s brain has a change in activity, which can take place through stimulation from the environment, things around your home, foods, and medications and undoubtedly, stress. Affected Shih Tzu’s can appear to be completely normal between seizures, so one question that is typically on every pet owner’s mind is: What triggers a seizure in Shih Tzu dogs? While seizures seem to occur spontaneously, many factors have been identified as possible Shih Tzu dog seizure triggers.
Basically, a trigger is the source of your dog’s seizure. It is the factor, inside or outside of the dog’s body that causes a seizure to occur. The trigger can often be difficult to identify, but in order for something to qualify as a trigger, it has to have happened within 30 hours of your dog’s seizure. The only exception to this is vaccinations, which can trigger a seizure for up to 45 days after administration.
Naturally, the answer (like with most canine medical conditions) is never simple, there are plenty of causes that may potentially trigger a seizure. In an effort to reduce the chances of your dog having a seizure, you can try to avoid the things mentioned below:
- Environmental Triggers of Shih Tzu Dog Seizures:
Your dog’s environment can play a large role in developing seizures. While a Shih Tzu dog’s environment involves your home too, this section will emphasis on the potential environmental triggers your dog may encounter outside. Shih Tzu Dogs love to be outside.
From walks to the dog park, to just sitting out in the backyard, the outdoors will be a big aspect of your dog’s life. Unfortunately, there are many things found outdoors that can potentially trigger a seizure in dogs.
Consider your own yard and garden and neighborhood. You and your neighbors may use lawn treatments and fertilizers to get that plush, green lawn of your dreams. And while they might be great for your yard, these chemicals could be harmful to your dog, and can even trigger a seizure.
Insecticides and herbicides are other chemicals often used around the yard that can be potential triggers of seizures in dogs. Other things found in the yard, such as cedar shavings, can also be harmful to your dog. In addition, many flowers and plants are poisonous to dogs, which can also cause a seizure.
What you can do:
For your own home, try to only use lawn and yard products that are animal-friendly, to ensure that you don’t trigger your own dog’s seizure with these potentially harmful products. There are plenty of yard and garden treatment products that are dog-friendly, and it should be easy to find on the label.
Take a look at the list of toxic plants and see to it that you don’t have any in your yard. Eliminating these harmful products and plants can remove one potential trigger of seizures in dogs from your dog’s environment.
A couple of other environmental factors that can trigger seizures will be less in your control, but you can try to avoid them. Barometric pressure changes and extreme heat or cold are thought to be potential triggers.
Other potential environmental triggers include bee and wasp venom and toad poisoning. It’s easy enough to say “avoid bees and toads” but not realistic, so just understand if you see them and try to remove your dog from a potentially bad situation.
Triggers of Shih Tzu Dog Seizures Around Your Home
Your dog’s environment involves much more than just what’s outside, it also includes your home. Dogs, like humans, are both physically and emotionally sensitive creatures. Something like photosensitivity can trigger a seizure in dogs just like it can in humans. Photosensitivity pertains to flashing or bright lights.
Other factors considered household items that can potentially trigger seizures in Shih Tzus include scented candles, perfume, loud music, and cigarette smoke. Popular household products are also potential triggers. These include Pine Sol or any other cleaners with pine oil, kerosene, camphor, eucalyptus, borax or boric acid, deck and wall stains, polyurethane fumes, paint fumes and Swiffer chemicals.
What you can do:
Since none of the items listed above are absolutely necessary to maintain a home, you can choose to eliminate them entirely from your dog’s environment. Otherwise, try and keep them to a minimum, or remove the dog from the area when you use one of the harmful products or items.
Try not to use any products with strong aromas around your dog and don’t do home projects with your dog nearby. Shih Tzus are curious creatures and are bound to get into whatever it is that you are working on or working with.
Pine, in particular, can be quite toxic to Shih Tzus and can cause seizures, so make certain not to use pine scented or infused cleaners. Also, if you get a real tree, come Christmas time, don’t let your dog drink the water out of the bottom of the tree. If it helps prevent your dog from having a seizure, it takes a little extra effort but can be well worth it.
- Foods That Can Trigger Seizures
The trigger of your Shih Tzu’s seizures can also come down to something as everyday as his diet. What your dog eats can absolutely be a potential trigger of a seizure. Having a diet too high in sodium can lead to salt toxicity, which can cause seizures and pancreatitis. This is especially true for dogs that take potassium bromide as an anticonvulsant.
Food allergies are also common triggers of seizures in Shih Tzus, brought on by processed, low grade dog foods. See our article about Healthy foods to feed your Shih Tzu
The chemicals, emulsifiers, and preservatives contained in a few of these foods may be harmful to your dog. There are also particular foods and herbs that can potentially trigger a seizure.
Fruits, including carrots and tomatoes, can actually trigger a seizure in some dogs. Certain dairy products, like cheese (particularly if it is moldy), cottage cheese and milk are also danger foods. Unclean or uncooked pork products can be problematic as well as turkey. These can each be found in tainted pet food.
Walnuts are generally thought of as harmful to dogs, and caffeine can also be a trigger. Even dog products like uncleansed rawhide treats and pig’s ear or feet can potentially cause a seizure to occur. Several commercially produced dog chews are bleached.
What you can do:
Since you control your dog’s diet, you can make sure you aren’t feeding your dog any one of these potentially harmful foods. Pay attention to the labels of every one of your dog foods and treats and make sure they don’t contain anything you see above. And make sure you don’t feed your Shih Tzu anything you wouldn’t eat yourself, or any dog food beyond its expiration date.
- Medications That Can Trigger Seizures in Shih Tzus
Believe it or not, a dog’s medications can sometimes trigger seizures too. These include vaccinations, heartworm medications, flea and tick preventative medications and some other prescription medications. If your dog has a seizure shortly after beginning a new medication, you should make note of this when you see your veterinarian.
- Stress Factors That Can Trigger Seizures in Shih Tzu Dogs
Just like you would for yourself, you should always help your dog to avoid stress, as stress can also be a trigger of seizures in Shih Tzus. Stress is actually the number one cause of seizures in humans, but less prevalent in dogs.
There are several factors that can cause your dog physical and emotional stress or anxiety. As mentioned previously, Shih Tzus dogs a very photosensitive, so camera flashes, the lights of a television, Christmas lights, or even lightning can trigger a seizure.
Also listed above, changes in barometric pressure and extreme hot or cold weather can also cause your dog to become physically stressed, which can, in turn, trigger a seizure. Thunderstorms also can spook a dog enough to be a trigger.
Sudden changes to your dog’s diet or routine can also cause stress that may trigger a seizure. Shih Tzus run on a very strict internal clock and know when it is time to eat or go outside or when you get home from work. You’ve probably come across separation anxiety and laughed it off as loyalty and an adorable dependence upon your as their owner.
However, it’s a real thing! And in some cases may be a real problem. Being left alone for too long can cause a Shih Tzu dog a great deal of stress and can trigger a seizure.
On the flip side, a prolonged period of activity and excitement can also trigger a seizure. If your dog has a long day of playing with a lot of dogs or other people, it can often be excessive for it to handle, and it may have a seizure.
When people fight around a dog, the dog will often think that the people are angry at them. Other causes of emotional stress to dogs include long car rides, visits to your vet, general nervousness, and anxiety.
What you can do:
Help your dog avoid these stressful situations by first sticking to your dog’s routine. This is the most effective way to keep your dog on an even keel. If you are going to change his diet, introduce the new food slowly as opposed to a complete, abrupt switch. Monitor their play time and don’t let them get out of hand.
Keep a journal of the potential triggers and bring it with you when you go to see your veterinarian if your dog does have a seizure. Identifying the cause is the key to any treatment for seizures, so you’re paying attention can be your dog’s saving grace.
Due to the unpredictable nature of seizures, you can never guarantee that your dog won’t ever have a seizure again. Avoiding these potential triggers can reduce your dog’s chances. If nothing else, these are all safe and healthy things you can do for your dog. Feel free to comment and share any of your advice below to help other Shih Tzu owners. Check out the short veterinarian video below on what to do if your dog is having a seizure.