What Toxins can Cause Seizures in Dogs?

Dog Health Recent April 15, 2024
Best Low Fat Dog Foods
Avatar photo



What Toxins can Cause Seizures in Dogs?

This page contains affiliate links. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post through our independently chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn More


Toxins, such as rat poisoning, insecticides, and certain food products, can cause seizures in dogs and other health issues. However, not all toxic food products trigger seizures in all dogs, and some are more susceptible.

If your dog is drooling or acting unusual, it may be an early sign of exposure to a toxin. If your dog is acting uncharacteristic or suspects he may have eaten something he shouldn’t have, it may be time to see a vet.

What is a Seizure?

A seizure happens when brain neurons spontaneously begin to fire excessively and concurrently. When your dog suffers a seizure he may salivate, howl, vomit, urinate, defecate, twitch, shake, collapse, or convulse. While this occurs, your dog may have limited use of his senses.

Seizures in dogs can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, or in more extreme cases, even hours. In some cases, your dog may have seizures without you even knowing it, but in other cases, your dog can lose consciousness.

What Toxins Can Cause Seizures?


Alcohol in household products is considered a toxin that can cause dogs to have seizures.

  • Ethanol is found alcoholic beverages, and raw bread dough.
  • Isopropanol is rubbing alcohol.
  • Ethylene Glycol is what you find in antifreeze.
  • Methanol is found in varnishes, paint, shellacs, windshield washer fluids, and adhesives.

Certain Foods

Certain foods found in our homes are known to be potential toxins and can cause your dog to have seizures.

  • Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in gums, candies and sugar-free foods.
  • Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, and various sodas.
  • Ethanol found in alcoholic beverages and medicines like nasal spray.
  • Theobromine is a toxin found in dark chocolate.


Some metals can be toxic and possibly cause your dog to have seizures.

  • Lead is found in lead based paints.
  • Zinc is found in pennies.

Illicit Drugs

Illicit drugs can also cause your dog to suffer a seizure. Those are:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiates
  • Methamphetamines


You may have medications in your medicine cabinet that contain potential toxins that will cause seizures in dogs. Those include:

  • Analgesics are found in aspirin and ibuprofen.
  • Antidepressants are SSRIs and TCAs. 
  • Theophylline  is an asthma medication.
  • Chlorpheniramine is found in antihistamines.
  • 5-Fluorouacil is found in cancer medications.
  • Beta-blockers are a cardiac medication.
  • Decongestants that contain ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine.
  • Muscle relaxants contain Baclofen, Carisoprodol, Methocarbamol, Tizanidine and Cyclobenzaprine.


Some everyday pesticide toxins that can cause seizures in dogs are:

  • Bromethalin is found in rodenticide.
  • Metaldehyde is found in snail bait.
  • Organophosphates and Carbamates are toxins in weed killers.
  • Pyrethrines and phyrethroids are used as commercial and household insecticides. 
  • Strychnine is a highly toxic, colorless, bitter, crystalline alkaloid used as a pesticides.
  • Zinc Phosphate is used in mole bait.

Certain Plants

Another common group of toxins that can trigger seizures in dogs is plants, which include:

  • Brunfelsia is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the nightshade family.
  • Mushrooms, which include gemmed amanita, panther cap, fly agaric, Smith’s amanita, and warted amanita.
  • Humulus Lupulus which is in Hops.
  • Sago Palms contain cycasin, which is the primary toxin.

Carbon Monoxide

Smoke inhalation, or carbon monoxide poisoning, is a toxin that can cause dogs to have seizures.

Types of Seizures in Dogs

Seizures in dogs can occur for several reasons. However, not all are related to toxins and other things can contribute to seizures in dogs.

If your dog is healthy and suddenly has a seizure, it is important to find out why. The cause will require that your vet run a neurological exam and perform other tests to determine whether the seizure falls into one of three main categories for dog seizures. The following three categories are seizures that occur in dogs:.

  • Reactive seizures: This type is caused by toxins or can be caused by a metabolic disorder within the dog. This means the dogs body is reacting to the toxins or something else going on in the body. This could be a high fever or increased blood sugar.
  • Idiopathic seizures: This type of seizure has no identifiable cause but is usually inherited. Usually, dogs that have epilepsy fall into this category, and you are aware they have had seizures. The problem is that you are unsure of what episode triggers your dog’s seizure.
  • Symptomatic seizures: This type of seizure is created by a structural change within the brain. This maybe something your pup is born with, an inflammation in the brain, head trauma, a stroke, or even a tumor growing in his brain.

Toxin-causing seizures in dogs are not the most common reason for seizures. However, thousands of cases of dog poisoning are still admitted to veterinary hospitals around the world annually.  Because of these statistics, it is important to know what toxins will cause seizures in dogs, especially knowing that our homes are full of them.

Other Causes of Seizures in Dogs

Any breed of dog can be susceptible to a seizure but it is more common among certain breeds. Those breeds include Beagles, German Shepherds, Labradors, Border Collies, and Golden Retrievers. Besides toxins, your dog may suffer a seizure

Brain Injury

A brain tumor or injury has been known to cause seizures in dogs. Seizures has been known to occur if your dogs brain suffered trauma that caused inflammation.


Breeding dogs who have signs of epilepsy should be tested because seizures can be inherited. A dog that tests positive for this genetic trait should not be used for breeding. The most common type of seizures in dogs is Idiopathic epilepsy, which is an inherited disorder, but its exact cause is unknown.


If your pup has an untreated infection in the nervous system or brain, it can sometimes cause seizures. A viral infection like distemper causes disturbances in the brain’s activity, and can lead to seizures if not treated.

Heat Stroke

When your dog is unable to lower his body temperature, a heat stroke may happen and if severe enough, it can cause seizures in some dogs.

Organ Diseases

Dogs who suffer from liver or kidney disease can also suffer seizures. When these organs are not filtering toxins and waste properly, high levels can build up and lead to seizures.


If your dog has an infestation of heartworms, tapeworms, roundworms, or hookworms, they can possibly damage nerves.  This damage can interfere with proper transmission of electrical signals to the brain and cause a seizure.

Low Blood Sugar

If your dogs blood sugar levels drop significantly and remain low, his brain is not getting the sugar it needs to function normally. This can trigger electrical fluctuations that have been known to cause seizures.

Low Blood Calcium

Calcium plays a vital role in regulating electrical activity in the brain and is important in nursing moms. If your dogs calcium levels fall too low, it can disrupt proper brain function and ultimately lead to seizures.

‍What to Do if Your Dog Has a Seizure

Witnessing your dog suffering a seizure may be terrifying and seem to go on forever. However, these involuntary disturbances of normal brain function are normally done in less than one minute. Usually when a seizure occurs is followed by uncontrolled muscle activity, and may be limited to a single body part, like an ear twitch, or a leg movement.

If your dog suddenly experiences a seizure you can try one of the following:

  • Avoid touching your pup to prevent injury to both of you.
  • Try and time the length of the seizure, or take a video.
  • Turn off all bright lights.
  • Remove dangerous objects from the area to prevent your dog from getting hurt.
  • Try to put soft blankets, pillows and padding near your seizing dog in order to prevent injury.
  • Immediately contact your veterinarian.

How are Seizures Treated?

Your vet can administer medications to stop an active seizure in your dog, but they are not preventative. There are also anti-seizure medications that you can give your pup daily however, your vet will need to determine if they are necessary.

There are side effects associated with some anti-seizure medications, and every dog has their own specific needs. This is a lifetime commitment and should be well thought out.

Final Thoughts

Recognizing the signs that your dog is having a seizure, along with what the cause of it is can help extend your best friends life. It is always good to know what type of toxins that can induce seizures in dogs are lying around our homes.

Avatar photo

Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *