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What Toxins Can Cause Seizures in Dogs?

Posted: 05/02/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Health problems , Pet care

Having your beloved pup experience any kind of health crisis can be completely heartbreaking. And seizures, in particular, are just awful to witness. Luckily, only about 5% of the dog population will experience a seizure in their lifetime. Sometimes a seizure is caused by a specific disease such as epilepsy. Other times it can be caused by a brain tumor. And still other times a seizure may be the result of a pup ingesting something they shouldn’t have. What toxins can cause seizures in dogs? Read more to find out.

What Toxins Can Cause Seizures in Dogs?

 What Does a Dog Seizure Look Like?

Seizures in dogs look pretty similar to seizures in people. A dog may suddenly lose consciousness, fall over, become stiff, drool excessively and/or lose control of their bowels. 

Overall, most seizures will look the same regardless of whether the cause is epilepsy, cancer or a toxic ingestion. There will usually be very subtle differences, which is why it’s important for pup parents to take note of how long the seizure lasts, notable movements, and any odd behavior that preceded the seizure. If your pup has not been diagnosed with cancer, epilepsy, or any other disease that may cause seizures, then it’s important to notice whether your pup may have gotten into the garbage, nibbled on a plant, or ingested any chemical under the sink or in the garage.

Toxins That Cause Seizures in Dogs

From houseplants to common foods and household cleaners, there are numerous items potentially lurking in your home that could cause seizures in dogs. 


Chocolate may be delicious to us but it can be deadly to your pup. It contains something called theobromine and dogs are unable to break this chemical down. Should they ingest enough of it it can suddenly affect their heart, lungs and central nervous system. This can, in turn, cause them to have a seizure. While milk chocolate can be dangerous, dark chocolate is far more dangerous to your pup because of the higher concentrations of cacao and theobromine. 

What Toxins Can Cause Seizures in Dogs?


Dogs are very sensitive to caffeine. As a stimulant, caffeine can quickly increase a pup’s heart rate, inducing cardiac arrhythmias, muscle tremors, and seizures. Caffeine is found in many common items such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks. Never leave these items out on a table where your pup can easily reach them. And be sure to keep coffee grounds out of their reach as well.


If you are a pup parent you MUST begin to read labels. So many foods that are labeled “sugar-free” contain a sugar substitute called xylitol. Xylitol ingestion causes a dog to suddenly release insulin into their bloodstream. Since insulin removes glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream, the result is a rapid decline in blood glucose. This causes sudden weakness, incoordination, seizures and even death if not treated in time. Xylitol is often found in common foods like gum, mints, baked goods, peanut butter, and sugar-free treats. READ THE LABELS!


Alcohol is found in many products. In addition to alcoholic drinks, it can be found in everything from antifreeze, hand sanitizer, mouth wash, raw bread dough, and vanilla extract. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. Signs of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea and visible intoxication. If your dog has ingested higher amounts of alcohol, they can have seizures and even slip into a coma.

Homemade Dough

If you have small kids and you make homemade Playdough, be sure to keep it away from your dogs. Dough with a high salt content can cause sodium toxicity. The sudden increase in sodium levels in the dog’s bloodstream causes an imbalance of electrolytes. Electrolytes regulate muscle contractions and nerve impulses in the body. The result is possible brain damage that can lead to seizures and even death.

Human Medications

There are many human medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, that can cause seizures in dogs. Some of the most common are Ibuprofen, Chemotherapy drugs such as Flourouracil Cream (5-FU cream), Phenylbutazone, Metronidazole, Ivermectin, or Amphetamines. 

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Something Toxic

If you know your dog ingested something toxic, write the item down or take a photo of what they ate. Then get to an emergency veterinary clinic immediately. Early intervention is what will help prevent irreversible damage or even death. 

If you find your dog actively having a seizure, do your best to remain calm and steady. Watching a loved one have a seizure is hard and it seems like it lasts forever. But the truth is most seizures only last about a minute in length. 

While your dog is seizing, try and make sure she cannot be harmed. You can try and place something soft under her head and make sure she doesn’t hit it on the furniture. If you see the seizure begin, try to time it so you can tell the vet how long it lasted. Also, try and take note of their behavior right before the seizure began. 

Never put your fingers in your dog’s mouth when she is seizing as she may inadvertently clamp down on them, causing you a major injury. 

If possible, call the Pet Poison Helpline on the way to the vet. They can be reached at:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435

They can help you and your vet determine the best treatment plan based on the specific item your pup ate.

A Pet Insurance Plan Can Help You Get Your Baby the Care She Needs

We really never know when disaster is going to strike. While we don’t have a crystal ball of what the future holds, we can try to be as prepared as possible for anything that comes our way.

If you have pets in your life, a pet insurance plan can really make the difference between life and death. There is nothing worse than not being able to afford life-saving treatment for your fur baby.

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  1. “Animal Poison Control.”
  3. “Dangerous Foods for Dogs.”



The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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