Seizures following head trauma in dogs: 259 cases (1999-2009)

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2012 Dec 1;241(11):1479-83. doi: 10.2460/javma.241.11.1479.


Objective: To determine whether dogs with head trauma have a greater incidence of seizures than the general canine patient population.

Design: Retrospective case series.

Animals: 259 client-owned dogs.

Procedures: Medical records of dogs evaluated for head trauma at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center from 1999 to 2009 were reviewed. Data were collected regarding the cause of the head trauma, physical examination and neurologic examination findings, comorbidities, and the development of seizures during hospitalization. A telephone survey was conducted to question owners regarding the development of seizures after discharge. Relationships between the nature of the head trauma and the development of seizures were then examined.

Results: 3.5% of dogs with head trauma developed in-hospital seizures, and 6.8% of dogs with head trauma for which follow-up information was available developed seizures after hospital discharge, compared with an epilepsy rate of 1.4% in our hospital. Dogs that developed in-hospital seizures were significantly more likely to have been hit by a car or experienced acceleration-deceleration injury. Additionally, 10% of dogs with traumatic brain injury had in-hospital seizures. No visit or patient characteristics were significantly associated with the development of out-of-hospital seizures.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Dogs with head trauma may develop seizures at a greater rate than dogs in the general canine patient population. Particularly in the immediate to early posttraumatic period, clinicians should remain vigilant for the development of posttraumatic seizures and treat patients accordingly.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / etiology*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Male
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Seizures / veterinary*