Everything You Need To Know About a Boston Terrier Seizure

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Boston Terriers are vulnerable to seizures, which can be frightening to watch, especially if it’s your first time to see your dog go through seizures. If you’re wondering how your puppy may react if they get a seizure, here’s everything you need to know about a Boston Terrier seizure.  

Everything You Need To Know About a Boston Terrier Seizure

Boston Terriers are at a greater risk of having seizures (also known as epilepsy) as they are purebred dogs. Epilepsy is a disorder seen in Boston Terriers and is usually characterized by recurring seizures.

Graphic image of a gray and white Boston Terrier that explains that Boston Terriers can experience 4 different kinds of seizures

In this article, I’ll discuss different types of Boston Terrier seizures, their causes, some treatment options, and more. 

Common Types of Boston Terrier Seizures

Below are the four types of seizures that occur in Terrier dogs.

Grand-Mal or Generalized Seizures

This is the most common and severe type of seizure in Boston Terrier dogs. It’s characterized by full-body muscle contraction and loss of consciousness. You can also recognize it when your dog goes full-body jerking in a violent manner or is unresponsive. 

After generalized seizures, your dog will go into a Postical state (a condition that occurs between epileptic seizure end and return to normal condition). The dog is usually lethargic and tired and acts confused.

While these episodes are brief, they can recur in a dangerous condition known as status epilepticus (one or more seizures lasting more than six minutes without the dog returning to normal). Fortunately, medication can treat this condition.

Focal or Partial Seizures

Focal seizures are not as severe as the Grand-Mal seizures because consciousness is not lost and jerking is restrained to some parts of the body. 

While it can be difficult to notice if your puppy is having these seizures, symptoms include blank stares, muscle tightening, numbness, hallucinations, tingling, and unusual head movements. This can happen randomly or when your dog is under stress. 

Boston Terrier

Structural Seizures

Structural seizures are caused by an underlying condition in the dog’s brain such as cancer or an inflammatory condition. Unfortunately, these types of seizures can affect Boston Terriers severely as they are prone to brain cancer

In fact, a study found that 15 out of the 81 cases of gliomas, (a certain brain cancer in dogs) were Boston Terriers. Brain cancer can cause seizures and other symptoms like head tilt, tiredness, and circling. 

Idiopathic Seizures

There isn’t an underlying cause for this type of seizure because this condition is genetic. It usually occurs in Boston Terriers between 1 and 5 years. Some dogs can experience one or two seizures annually while others can have several seizures every month. 

What Causes Seizures in Boston Terriers?

Seizures in Boston Terriers can be caused by many things including:

Boston Terrier waiting by the window
  • Low Blood Sugar: When blood sugar levels are low, the brain can malfunction triggering a seizure.
  • Hypothyroidism: The thyroid produces a certain hormone that regulates the body’s metabolic rate in puppies. If the thyroid is not functioning well, it can cause chemical imbalances in the dog’s brain and result in seizures.
  • Vaccines: Over-vaccinating or using drugs that do not contain Lepto can cause seizures. You should also avoid using vaccines your breeder has instructed you not to use. 
  • Chemicals: Exposing your dog to tick preventatives or yard chemicals can cause seizures. 
  • Brain Tumor: This is the main cause of seizures in older dogs. Tumors put pressure on the brain, disrupting the signals. 
  • Infection: Although this is rare, certain infections like cryptococcosis (fungal disease) can cause seizures.
  • Kidney failure or head trauma can also cause seizures.

Treatment Options for Boston Terrier Seizures

To treat seizures effectively, you need to identify the cause. I strongly recommend you visit a veterinarian before you try any medication. A veterinarian will help you identify the cause of the seizures and the right medication or treatment to use. Common seizure medications include: 

  • Gabapentin: This medication is great in treating Boston Terrier seizures. However, it’s costly.
  • Diazepam or Valium: This medication is usually given in small doses to prevent the brain from malfunctioning.
  • Phenobarbitol: This is one of the most effective and common medications for seizure disorders in Boston Terriers. 
  • Dilantin: Another common treatment used in dogs with seizure disorders.

If your dog is having seizures because of low blood sugar, feed them and check their blood sugar regularly to maintain healthy sugar levels. If hypothyroidism is the cause, use thyroid drugs to give your dog synthetic hormones that can replace the ones their thyroid can’t produce.

What To Do if Your Dog Starts Having a Seizure

If your dog is having a seizure, do the following:

  1. Avoid touching your dog’s neck or head while they’re having a seizure. Seizuring puppies are usually unconscious and may bit you accidentally.
  2. While your dog is having a seizure, talk to them softly and reassuring them everything will be alright.
  3. Avoid putting anything in your dog’s mouth when they’re having a seizure because they can choke.
  4. If the seizure lasts for a long time, the dog can overheat. So put cold water on their paws, neck, head, and chest and turn a fan on to cool her down. 
  5. Move away kids or other pets that could be in the house to minimize the risk of injury.
  6. Call an emergency vet immediately if the seizures last more than five minutes.
  7. Keep your dog away from harmful objects to reduce the risk of injury.
  8. Block off any stairwells.

After the seizure has stopped, your Boston Terrier’s blood sugar could be very low and they could be hungry. So give your dog one teaspoonful of ice cream to stabilize their blood sugar levels. You can also buy a dog glucometer to help you monitor your dog’s sugar levels at home. 

Boston Terrier after a seizure

However, if your dog has no appetite, unusual behavior, low energy, or trembling, then a glucometer will help you know the issue is not low sugar levels. The next thing you can do is to book an appointment with your vet to run some tests and identify the cause. 

Can Changes in Diet Eliminate Seizures?

Sometimes seizures can be controlled by diet. This is what you should try after the first seizure. Your seizuring dog deserves the best care and a healthy, clean diet to help them remain strong through seizures. 

There are two ways to achieve this; cook the meal yourself or buy commercial dog food with the basic ingredients for Boston Terriers having seizures. Often, seizures can be lessened with these meals. 

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Do Seizures Shorten Boston Terriers Lifespan?

For seizures without any underlying causes, most Terrier dogs can live their full life expectancy and die later because of something else. That being said, some Boston Terriers have severe seizures that can’t be treated with drugs. 

In such scenarios, dog owners can opt to euthanize (put a dog to death humanely) their pet if it’s having frequent seizures despite being treated. Note that if your dog has brain tumors, it can shorten its lifespan. 

Can a Boston Terrier With Seizures Be Left Alone?

Most vets will say you can leave dogs with controlled seizures alone as long as you’re administering the seizure drugs. However, I recommend putting up a baby gate to block off stairs to prevent your pet from harming themselves badly in case they have a seizure when you’re not around.

I also recommend consulting your vet since each seizure case is different to ensure it’s safe to leave your dog alone. 

How Much Does It Cost To Treat Boston Terrier Seizures?

If an older dog has seizures, it could be a brain tumor. An MRI scan can confirm this and can cost between $1500-$2000. If your dog survives the first one or two weeks on medications, she may only live between 1-2 months. 

However, this depends on the extend of damage caused during your dog’s initial crisis. Bear in mind that medications for brain tumors depend on the type of tumor and size. Treatment like Stereotactic Radiation Therapy (SRT) is used on brain tumors in Terrier dogs. 

The radiation is repeated 4 times and can shrink brain tumors, making it a great option for dog owners that do not want surgery. This service costs around $6,000 for the treatments and between $1,200-$1,500 for one CT or MRI scan.

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Although seizures can be scary, they cannot make your dog be disabled or cause them death. There are several medication options you can explore and your vet can help you select the most appropriate. 

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