A canine seizure typically occurs in stages. Some consider the first stage to be a prodromal phase, characterized by behavioral changes that anticipate the actual seizure.
As the seizure approaches, the prodromal phase progresses into the aura or pre-ictal phase. Behavioral changes become more intense and can include restlessness, whining, and the apparent desire to escape or hide. Some dogs seek affection from their owners during this phase, which may last seconds to hours.
The seizure itself indicates the onset of the ictal phase. Seconds to minutes long, a seizure can cause the dog to experience a change in awareness or consciousness.
Full loss of consciousness occurs during a grand mal seizure, in which the dog typically falls to the ground and experiences muscle contractions. If this lasts longer than five minutes, the dog is in prolonged seizure and needs immediate medical attention.
The end of the seizure begins the post-ictal phase. The dog is likely to be disoriented, confused, and restless. Some dogs experience temporary blindness but remain conscious, though not necessarily responsive.