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Beagle Seizures


Most owners are shocked when their Beagle enters his first seizure and for good measure… conditions that cause a dog to enter a seizure are often hidden during the first couple years of the dog’s life. Then, without warning, it strikes and it can be quite a scary event.
The majority of Beagles will be at least 2 years old when they suffer from their first attack; although it can happen at any age.

It can come without warning and leave just as fast, however once a dog has his first event, most often it will then be an ongoing issue although medication and treatment can lessen the severity and rate of occurrence. 

There are varying levels of seizures and even more reasons why they may occur. In addition, with all of the information floating around, owners can end up more confused after trying to find out reasons, symptoms and treatment advice for Beagle seizures.
It is our goal to provide you with the needed information, all here in one place to try and take some of the mystery out of this sometimes enigmatic health concern. 

What This Is

Similar to vomiting, itchiness or limping, a seizure is a symptom. When a Beagle has a seizure, his body is reacting due to a health condition or a disease. An illness or other medical condition causes a high surge of electrical activity to occur in the brain.

This can range from mild to severe and will outwardly affect how the dog behaves.


It can be disheartening for owner to hear, however the cause is not always able to be determined. When all triggers have been ruled out, yet seizures are still occurring, it is labeled as idiopathic (meaning cause unknown). Even so, treatment can offer relief and we will dive into that in a just a bit.

Let's look at known reasons that a Beagle may begin suffering from seizures.

The LESS common reasons are:

A brain tumor – A tumor growing on the pituitary gland of the brain can cause seizures along with other symptoms including: a constant tilting of the head, excessive circling, wobbly gait and/or behavioral changes. If this is present, it will be confirmed via x-ray and/or biopsy. Treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation and in some cases, surgery. 

Canine degenerative myelopathy – This is a rare disease that causes tremors and those tremors can be easily mistaken for seizures. Unfortunately there is no cure for this and it is progressive. It involves the spinal column and research shows that this disease may cause a breakdown in communication between the dog’s brain and the nerves in the lower body. Onset is, on average, the age of 7 years old. 

Head injury – This is rare, but it can happen in cases of a severe accident. The most common reasons for this are car accidents and serious falls. The tricky part about this serious issue is that seizure may not occur until several weeks after the incident. The injury to the dog’s brain can cause tissue to die off… That tissue then scars and it is thought that the scarring causes the seizures. 

Hypoglycemia – This is a condition in which there is a very fast drop in blood sugar levels in a dog. Very young Beagle puppies are most prone to this. It can be brought on by poor nutritional intake, dehydration or even stress. For some puppies, just the transition to a new home can be stressful enough to cause this.   

Early warning signs are: Weakness, confusion, dizziness (the Beagle puppy may walk into walls, be unable to “make a corner”, etc.) and labored breathing. As it progresses, the puppy may fall into a deep sleep (coma will follow if not treated) and it is at this dangerous time that the pup may experience a seizure.  

New owners should make sure that there is honey on hand. When rubbed into the pup’s gums, it can stabilize the Beagle enough in order to be brought to the veterinarian or to the closest animal hospital. With moderate to severe cases, fluids are delivered to the dog via IV until blood sugar levels are back to normal. 

Heart Worm Infestation – Just about every owner is aware of the important of protecting dogs from this sometimes fatal parasitic infection; however some dogs do contract this. The early symptom is coughing. As it progresses, along with coughing fits, a dog will often struggle when out for a walk or exercising. If it is not treated, a Beagle will then additionally have fainting spells and/or seizures. Finally, without treatment, it is fatal as the heart stops working. 

This is diagnosed with a urine analysis and x-ray. There are medications to treat this, however in severe cases surgery may need to be performed. 

Severe Ear Infection - Again, an uncommon trigger, however in the case of a very serious ear infection, a Beagle may have a seizure. This breed is prone to ear infections and one of the reasons why is the shape and size of the ear, which flops over the side of the head, blocking air circulation to the ear canal. Signs of this are: shaking the head, pawing at the ears, tilting the head, rubbing the head against the wall (or floor, etc.) and this is all done in an attempt to scratch at the intense itch that the dog is suffering from. 

Beagles can develop ear problems due to excess wax, excess water and/or mites. Proper cleaning can help to avoid these issues. See more in the Beagle Ear Problems section.  

Severe reaction to a vaccine – Vaccinations are crucially important to keep a puppy or dog healthy and protected from the various diseases that canines can contract. Severe reaction to a vaccination is rare, however it can happen. More common are mild to moderate reactions that include: swelling (most often on the face and/or at the site of the injection) and/or trouble breathing. A Beagle can have a seizure if his body has a serious reaction. Upon seeing any troubling signs, the dog should be brought back to the veterinarian immediately. We always recommend that owners schedule vaccinations at a time that they will be able to be with their Beagle for at least 4 hours afterward. 

Liver disease – Again, this is uncommon, however this disease can cause seizures. More commonly, signs are: loss of appetite resulting in weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and drinking (and urinating) more than normal.

The #1 Most Common Reason for Beagle Seizures

Epilepsy –This is the #1 cause of seizures with the Beagle breed. The most form of epilepsy is Primary Epilepsy. As frustrating as it is to dog owners, it is idiopathic, which means the cause is unknown. Although researchers do know a bit about this mystery… it is thought to be passed on genetically. Additionally, studies show that there is no abnormal brain tissue, yet there is an inexplicable misfiring of electronic surges. 

Even so, owners should take some comfort in knowing that there are medications that can control the intensity and frequency of the seizures. Many Beagles do quite well and live to their full life span after being diagnosed with this form of epilepsy. It can be a bit of a roller coaster ride to find the perfect dosing of medication; however prognosis is good with many Beagles. While this can strike at any age, the first seizure usually happens between the age of 1 and 3 years old.
Signs of a Beagle Dog Seizure

Some owners notice that their dog is acting a bit strange and wonder if their Beagle is having “some sort of seizure” and in some cases, they are correct. Mild seizures can cause odd symptoms, and the dog does not need to be having a full body fit. 

Here are the most frequent signs:

Staring into space – This is the one that confuses many owners… Is the dog just staring at a bird that is unseen to humans, listening intently to a sound that we can’t hear or is he actually in a seizure trance? Most Beagles do not have seizures, so owners should not rush to conclusions...Dogs that are looking at something or are listening intently at something often show other signs, they will appear alert and “ready to spring”. However, if a Beagle is having a mild seizure and is in a trance, the dog will truly appear to be in a stupor, unable to respond to his owner, his brain momentarily “frozen”.

Drooling – We talk about this in our drooling section, since some Beagles drool due to exercise, in anticipation of food and/or while sleeping. With a seizure, drool will seep out of the dog’s mouth along with the other symptoms of staring into space or showing odd behavior. 

Walking in Place, Odd movements – During a seizure, as the mind appears to “freeze”, the body can become “stuck” as well. A Beagle may walk in place, seemingly “out of it” and unresponsive to stimuli. There may be other strange movements such as one leg repeatedly swinging out, etc. 

Being Unresponsive – When a Beagle is having a seizure and is staring off or there are odd bodily movements, the #1 key to recognizing this as a symptom of a seizure is that the dog will be unresponsive. Calling his name, clapping or trying to divert his attention will have no effect. 

Confusion – Appearing confused is common with the onset of seizures, as it often will happen before it progresses. The dog may walk around confused, not respond to his name being called, etc. 

Rigid Limbs – The dog may fall to the ground and limbs may extend out, very rigid.  

Fainting – Less rare, yet still a sign, is if the dog faints. His body may be rigid as described above or limp.

Types of Seizures with the Beagle Dog

Tonic Clonic

The most common type of epileptic seizure is the Tonic Clonic and it can be a scary event to have to witness. This used to be referred to as grand mal seizures. As the name implies, there are 2 parts to this type:

Phase One – This can range from mild to severe. With mild episodes, the dog will drop to the ground but will be conscious and breathing as normal. With more severe episodes, the Beagle will be unconscious, with legs rigid and may have serious trouble breathing. Owners would be wise to learn canine CPR, because while rare, some dogs only survive due to receiving this. 

Phase Two – Upon rising, the dog will show the above listed signs of walking in place and /or drooling. He may also have abnormal mouth movements and the pupils may become enlarged. 

Petit Mal

This type of Beagle seizure is very fast and some owners can miss it. It can last as little as 15 seconds, in which the dog loses muscle control and often enters a trance like state. 

Partial Seizures

What can cause an owner to be confused about whether or not their Beagle is having a seizure is that it may be a partial one. This can consist of only the odd movements such as repeating a motion over and over, leaving owners wondering if their dog is just acting strange or if there is a serious health issue happening. In most cases, this will be accompanied by the lack of response that one would normally expect and will be a reason to have the Beagle check by an experienced veterinarian. 

Status Epilepticus

Much more rare and not usually a concern for owners of Beagles with seizures is the very serious Status Epilepticus seizure. This is often fatal. A dog will be struck with a seizure so severe that it lasts up to 30 minutes before death occurs. The Tonic Clonic and the Petit Mal types do not progress to this type. The Status Epilepticus form most often is due to poisoning. This ranges from large amounts of chocolate to ingestion of a toxic chemical such as antifreeze.

Immediate Steps to Take if Your Beagle is Having a Seizure

Sometimes a Beagle will have a seizure yet once taken to the veterinarian, the cause is unknown and the vet cannot see any traces of what has happened…Then, owners take the dog home and it happens again without the vet there to see it. For this reason, owners are encouraged to keep paper and a pen nearby so that if a seizure occurs again, as soon as it ends, important notes can be recorded that will help the vet determine what is happening.

Write down: What time it was, how long it lasted for, what your Beagle was doing right before it happened and the exact signs and symptoms that he showed. 

During a seizure, owners should:
  • Quickly shut off any noises (TV, stereo)
  • Turn off bright lights (shut of bright lamps, quickly close window curtains)
  • In the Beagle has fallen to the floor, slip a thin pillow under his head
  • Move any furniture or other hard objects away from the dog
  • Speak in a calm manner
As soon as the seizure is done, bring your Beagle to the veterinarian. If the office is closed, bring your dog to the closest animal hospital. Diagnosing is more accurate and faster if done soon after the event.

Treatment for Beagle Seizures

If a dog suffers seizures due to epilepsy, there are some medications that can control the episodes. The most frequently used medicines are: phenobarbital and potassium bromide, used in combination with each other. Drowsiness is the most common side effect, yet generally lessens as time goes on and the dog’s body adjusts. Most dogs do well with this as long as doses are not missed. There are other options including: Valproic acid, clorazepate and clonazepam.

Holistic Treatments for Beagle Seizures
Acupuncture – This is said to work for some dogs in cases in which the cause of the seizures remains unknown. Typical is a 25 minute session done 1 time per week for a time period of 6 weeks. If good results are shown, this may decrease to 1 session every 5 to 7 weeks. 

Changes to the Diet - In cases where the cause of the seizure is unknown, a change to the Beagle’s diet may be helpful. Some researchers believe that some sort of allergic response to a food element may be the trigger. While switching to a commercial brand hypoallergenic food is an option, home cooking allows complete control over what ingredients a Beagle is ingesting. We have details regarding this option here: Home Cooking.
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