Living the same life as before

Dogs with epilepsy can live as normal a life as possible, continuing in mostly the same way as before the seizures began. Owners should therefore stick to their basic training, albeit with a few adjustments based on expectations and requirements. In fact, a dog’s behaviour can temporarily change due to a seizure, or even in the mid-to-long term as a result of the treatment; this may make your dog slower or, on the contrary, more easily excitable. If you have any problems, don’t hesitate to contact your vet or a qualified behaviourist ( to support you with any challenges that you face.

What about treats for a dog with epilepsy?

Positive reinforcement involves rewarding good behaviour so that dogs naturally choose to act in one way over another. Rewards typically used include treats or a favourite toy. Speak to your vet for specific advice on appropriate treats for your pet if using these for training. The most important factors in deciding on treats for epileptic pets are the calorie content if they are overweight and the salt content is important for some epileptic medications (see Feeding an epileptic dog?).

Can you mix leisure activities and epilepsy?

If your dog enjoys leisure activities or competitions such as agility, it is important to pay careful attention to their needs and not push them beyond their limits. Simply practising what they have already learned, giving lots of encouragement, is a good solution. If your dog is new to lessons, be patient! Exercise should always be enjoyable. Intensive training and sporting achievements are only secondary goals and should not be considered until your dog’s seizures are properly under control.

Ease back into training following seizures

Sometimes after an episode of cluster seizures (two or more in 24 hours) or status epilepticus (seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes, or successive seizures with no recovery in-between), epileptic dogs can be disoriented and appear to have forgotten everything for a few days (e.g. be scared of their owner, soil in the house, not respond to their name). Don’t lose faith. In these situations, vet advice is to gradually ease your dog back into training as though they were still a puppy, and everything should return to normal in time, as long as you are patient and gentle.

Working dogs + epilepsy = change of career?

Working dogs (guide dogs, search & rescue dogs, guard dogs etc.) may also suffer from epilepsy. The earlier the diagnosis, the greater chance that these seizures can be controlled optimally. For many dogs, adequate seizure control is achievable if treated early, meaning that they can continue to work without endangering others. If the seizures cannot be controlled sufficiently, the dog may be more suitable to being a pet.