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A Chihuahua Owner’s Guide to Seizure Disorders

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Chihuahua Owners Guide to Seizures

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Seizures in dogs are definitely one of the scariest things a pet parent may have to go through.

As canine companions go, Chihuahuas are fantastic! They have sassy, super-size personalities packed into pint-size bodies – it’s easy to see why this breed is popular with dog lovers everywhere, from Coach-toting celebrities to the neighbor next door.

Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of their owners, these spunky little dogs tend to be prone to some health problems, and recurrent seizures are one of the most concerning issues that face the Chihuahua breed today.

In fact, a 2009 health survey by the Chihuahua Club of America revealed that 45% of survey participants had either bred or owned a Chihuahua with seizures of unknown origin – an alarming fact that has many lovers of the breed worried for their future.

I have gone through this myself. Although my current dogs have never had a seizure (thank God!), I went through this for almost 19 years with my beloved Terri-poo Joey.

He had them once or twice a month, so although he didn’t have to go on medication for them, they were still quite terrifying to go through, both for him and myself too.

What exactly does a dog’s seizure look like? Well, much in the same way as a human seizure might happen, a canine seizure or convulsion is a sudden excessive and uncontrollable firing of nerves in your pup’s brain.

When this happens, it produces a pattern of involuntary movements (contractions) of some muscle groups, and it can show up as odd sensationsabnormal behaviors (like staring into the distance, blinking, or repetitive movements), and a full-body convulsion, or any combination of the above.

Here’s a video of a little Chi going through a seizure:

There are usually three parts to seizure activity. The first stage, or ‘aura’ stage, is when signs of a coming seizure may be noticeable – dogs will often become restless, anxious, or clingy and might whine, tremble or hide from you.

Second is the ictal stage, which is when the actual seizure occurs. Depending on the type of seizure, you might note that your pup vocalizes, chomps, pees, or poops, as they aren’t able to control these functions at the time.

Finally, the post-ictal stage describes the time period right after the seizure. Your pup might seem confused, tired, or less responsive to you; this stage can last for mere minutes or up to a few days after the seizure.

Besides noting the signs of a seizure in your four-legged family member, it’s important to know about the causes of seizures in Chihuahuas as well. The most common reasons for seizures in this breed are:

Common Reasons for Seizures in Chihuahuas

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This is especially an issue with young puppies who don’t eat frequently enough to maintain a good blood sugar level. Since Chihuahuas have a smaller number of fat cells than many other breeds, they don’t have much energy reserve to fall back on.

Hydrocephalus. Sometimes called ‘water on the brain,’ this is a condition that’s caused by an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain cavity, and it’s one that’s common to many toy breeds including Chihuahuas. The increased pressure on the brain can cause poor growth, lethargy, stumbling, and seizure activity.

Portosystemic Shunt (Liver Shunt). Another condition that’s prevalent in toy breeds, a liver shunt is a blood vessel that carries blood around the liver instead of through it. For Chihuahuas, the defect is usually one that’s congenital (present from birth). The shunt prevents the liver from removing toxins from the bloodstream and can limit a dog’s access to energy stores.

Hereditary (or idiopathic) epilepsy. Some Chihuahua breed lines are prone to hereditary seizures that don’t originate from any particular health problem.

GME This is a condition that affects the nervous system that is more common in small dogs though dogs of any size can develop it.

Love is a Furry Thing Shirt

Diagnostic Testing for Chihuahuas

Determining the cause of your Chihuahua’s seizures is a task that’s best left up to your veterinarian. If your dog has had a seizure, your vet may recommend diagnostic tests to find out the underlying cause of the incident.

Diagnostic tests can include a full health history, examination (including neurological exam), blood tests, urinalysis, and stool checks. These tests are vital for determining the type of treatment needed (if necessary) for your Chihuahua’s seizure activity.

What To Do

So, what should you do if your Chihuahua has a seizure? First of all, don’t panic, and keep in mind that they’re not actually in any pain – just unconscious!

If possible, move your pup away from furniture, stairs, or water to keep him safe. You may need to hold your dog still to keep them from flopping around or trying to stand up during the seizure.

It’s a good idea to time the seizure if you can and keep track of how long it lasts, too, and, if there are multiple seizures, how long of a time period in between each seizure.

Also, use your camera function on your cell phone and take a video of the seizure while it’s in progress to show your vet.

Call your vet for advice right away if your pup’s seizure lasts longer than five minutes. Don’t put your hand or any other object in your dog’s mouth during a seizure either – dogs don’t ‘swallow their tongues, and you run the risk of being bitten accidentally; objects in their mouth during a seizure are also a choking hazard for your Chihuahua.

Stay by your little dog’s side to give them comfort and to help calm them down once they stop seizing – they’ll need some extra loving care afterward.

I know Joey always stuck to me like glue for a few hours afterward. First, I would take him out to go potty, then get him a drink of water. He was always thirsty. And then I would just hold him for a while. He seemed to need comfort.

For some dogs, seizure activity can sometimes become dangerous. You should bring your Chihuahua for emergency veterinary care immediately if you note:

  • Seizures that last longer than a few minutes minutes
  • Seizures that happen more than once in 24 hours
  • Seizures that begin before your pup has completely recovered from the last seizure

To help your Chihuahua recover after a seizure, make sure to stay close and help them through any confusion or disorientation. Keep the room dim and quiet, and speak softly and calmly, keeping your furry friend away from hazards like stairs until they are acting like their usual self.

Some dogs may seem tired, while others bounce back as though nothing happened and are ready to play again. You can offer a small amount of water but realize that your pup may not feel like eating or drinking for a short while afterward.

For owners who adore their little sprites, their Chihuahua’s seizures can be a scary experience – it’s always difficult to watch a fur baby go through an experience like that without being able to help them. With the right care and management, though, many Chihuahuas with seizure disorders go on to live well into their senior years as happy dogs. My Joey lived to be one month shy of his 19th birthday.

I wanted to include this video, although I have no idea if it really works. If anyone tries it or has tried it, please share your results. This lady says she has found a way to halt her dog’s seizures:

If you have gone through this with your dog, feel free to share your experiences in the comments section. Have you had to put your dog on medication for seizures? How often do they have seizures?

Click to find other chihuahua health problems.

FOOTNOTE: One of the readers, Steven Bruggeman‎ on our Facebook page, wrote this: “Not long ago my precious “SPIKE” almost passed away after multiple seizures overnight. The Emergency Vet here in Sarasota advised me to put her down. I got my Baby girl and came home. I posted the story on my FB page.

A fantastic friend told me of a vet in Mobile Alabama had proven that feeding your dog with seizures a special brand and flavor of food, and that would stop the dog from having a seizure. It is a Natural Choice, and it is fish and sweet potatoes formula. I started my spike on that three weeks ago, and since that time, she has made a full recovery where she was almost lifeless at the emergency vet.”

I have no idea if this will work for all dog seizure cases, but I thought I would add it as a possible remedy. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to try it.

Also, check the comments below as several people reported good results in stopping seizures with different tactics.

One of them is CBD oil, which has been none to help prevent or lessen the effect of seizures in some dogs (and humans too). We recommend (and use for other reasons on our elderly dog) King Kanine.

If you try CBD oil, start with the lowest dose first and be consistent with it every day for several months before you decide whether it’s helping your dog or not. 

Be sure to add your recommendation if you found something that has helped your dog with their seizures.


Chihuahua Seizure FAQ

Is it common for Chihuahuas to have seizures?

45 percent of people surveyed said that they owned a Chihuahua who experienced seizures of unknown origin. It is more of a common occurrence in more than 30 dog breeds and significantly affects more than 5 percent of all dogs.

What should I do if my Chihuahua has a seizure?

First, stay calm. You can put cold water on your dog’s paws to cool him down. Avoid touching him during the seizure to avoid any accidental biting and call your vet immediately once the seizure has ended.

If the seizure is lasting more than a few minutes take your dog to the nearest vet or veterinary emergency clinic. Do not wait for the seizures to stop take them directly to the vet.

Are there foods that can cause seizures in dogs?

If your dog is prone to seizures, they should avoid eating any potentially inflammatory foods, including those foods that may trigger an allergy or sensitivity. These inflammatory foods include anything containing chemical additives, wheat, soy, corn, beef, or cow’s milk products.

Will treatment help prevent your dog from having seizures?

There are some medications your veterinarian can prescribe that can help control seizures. You should always discuss treatment with your vet because they can target your dog’s specific problem. Alternative therapies may also prove to be helpful in some cases.

Can a seizure kill a dog?

Status epilepticus is a very serious and often life-threatening situation for your dog. This occurs when your dog’s seizure lasts for more than five minutes. To help stop the seizure activity, intravenous anticonvulsants are needed, or the dog may die or suffer from irreversible brain damage because of the seizure.

How do you treat hypoglycemia in Chihuahuas?

Sometimes a sugar source like Karo syrup that is highly concentrated can help with hypoglycemia in dogs. Giving your pet a small amount of sugar to eat may help return their blood sugar levels to normal. However, you should always discuss any treatment for your Chihuahua with your veterinarian first.

Can low blood sugar cause seizures in dogs?

When your dog’s blood sugar levels drop too low, it can cause pain, seizures, loss of consciousness, and sometimes even death. Low blood sugar also ultimately affects the organs and overall brain function of your canine companion as well.

Why do Chihuahuas have seizures?

Idiopathic epilepsy is one of the most common causes of seizures in canines. This disorder is inherited, but its cause is still unknown. Other causes of canine seizures include liver disease, kidney failure, and brain trauma.

female vet holding fuzzy dog

Dr. Sara Ochoa


This article has been fact-checked and approved by Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.


Friday 23rd of September 2022

How much cbd oil should I give my chihauhua as she has just had her first seizure aged 11?


Friday 23rd of September 2022

It depends on the size of your dog and the potency of the CBD oil. And be sure to use the type made for dogs.

Lisa M Burris

Wednesday 6th of July 2022

I put my 11-year-old Chihuahua on CBD about 6 years ago. She had three status epilepticus seizures in 4 years. The last one left her with some Vision impairment. Terrifying every time. I thought I lost my baby. Not one seizure has happened since I took her to the holistic vet and changed her to honest kitchen base mix with my own proteins. That combined with the CBD has kept her healthy all these years and I have been blessed. Thank you Cathy for all you do for the breed!


Wednesday 6th of July 2022

That's good to know Lisa! I know I got my pet sitting client to put her elderly daschund on CBD oil and it has worked wonders for him. I wondered about the Honest Kitchen stuff. Does your dog like it? Which one do you use and what kind of proteins do you add?


Friday 22nd of April 2022

My vet recommended a diet with as little carbs as possible & cbd. I started feeding as full a meat diet as possible & hemp oil, my little girl has only had one seizure since starting this care. The one seizure occurred when I let her have a few small bits of cracker ( she loves them ). Haven’t done that since and no problems since Jan. 2021.


Friday 29th of April 2022

Good to know Johnda! Thanks for sharing that.

Monica Hernandez

Saturday 15th of January 2022

I need help my puppy will be 1years old on 1/19/21. We took him to a vet due to him throwing up and being stiff. They just gave him fluids and checked his blood everything was normal. 4 days went by he wouldn’t stand on his own, he started walking backwards stiff. Ended up taking him to the er but they didn’t give us any answers. They said xrs and blood work was fine. Now he is using the restroom backwards and takes while to walk he leans forward a lot. He just had a small seizure and has had diarrhea. We don’t know what else todo. Please some one help.


Sunday 16th of January 2022

I'm not a vet so I won't be of any help but that is so weird that there is obviously something very wrong with your puppy and the vets aren't doing more to find out what it is. It kind of sounds like a neurological problem like possibly a brain tumor or something. But he is very young for an issue like that. I would definitely take some video of him doing the odd things he is doing to show your vet and maybe get a second opinion from a different vet if you can.

Jessica Martinez

Tuesday 14th of December 2021

My baby (chihuahua) is 11 years old. He's known as a deer head chihuahua. His first seizure was 2 months ago and I took him to the vet the next day since he's never had one before. They first told me to monitor him. The next 2 weeks he experienced another one so I took him back to the vet. They put him on phenobarbital 16mg 1/2 a pill every 12 hours. He wasn't having anymore seizures. He was just not himself since he was always sleeping and his anxiety was up due to the medication. A couple of days ago he experience a seizure that lasted about 4 to 5 minutes. I immediately took him to the emergency vet since it was after hours. He was at the vet for 4 days and they finally said he was back to himself. They started him back on phenobarbital 16mg (1/2 a tablet every 12 hours and added zonisamide 50mg (1 tablet every 12 hours). I asked if I could give the meds in this food and she said she had just opened his mouth and put them back into his throat. When the tech was bringing him out he was non stop drooling and his jaw was just non stop twitching. They had to take him back to get checked out by the doctor. Well they ended up keeping him overnight. I called the doctor the next morning and he himself said he was baffled as to why he was drooling non stop and his jaw twitching since he has back to himself all day until I picked him up. I don't know what to do or think anymore. Could the tech have broken his jaw when giving him his meds? I just don't understand since he was doing so well and ready to come home. Now they want to keep him a couple days more to see if they can get him back to himself. Any advice please. :(


Tuesday 14th of December 2021

Wow, you and your dog have had a rough time of it lately Jessica. I don't know what to tell you. But I would ask for them to check his jaw. Although experienced handlers know how to give a pill that way. I do it myself for some of the dogs I dog sit for who won't take a pill any other way. But you never know. It could have been a freak accident. I hope things get better for your fur baby.