Can Invisible Fences Cause Seizures?

Invisible fences have been widely accepted as an appropriate method by which owners can maintain their pets within the borders of their property. However, there has been controversy regarding whether invisible fences are safe—particularly whether they result in seizures.  The short answer is that invisible fences may cause seizures in dogs.

The rest of the article is going to cover how and why invisible fences may cause seizures among dogs, what you can do to prevent them, and what you can do if it does happen.

Let’s go.

How Do Invisible Fences Work?

One effective way to maintain your pet’s safety while also making sure that they will not run off your property is to install an invisible fence system. Generally, invisible fence systems work by giving your pet a small electric shock if they cross the fence border.  The system will usually come with a device collar that you can place around your pet. 

Invisible fences get their name because, well, you can’t see them!  They work by using digital radio frequencies that broadcast their signals from a transmitter to a receiver, kind of like the radio in your car receives broadcasts from a central transmission station.  The receiver is of course the collar that you put around your dog. Some of these invisible fence systems are installed underground around the border of your yard or property, with the transmitters buried beneath the grass.  It resembles a buried cable that acts as the transmitter.  And once the transmitter detects that the receiver is beyond the cable, the signal is sent which activates a small electric shocking system embedded in the collar.  So Shocking!

Why Do Invisible Fences Cause Seizures in Pets?

Invisible fence systems can cause seizures among pets for a variety of reasons, which we will explore here.

In the literature, by far the most mentioned reason that a dog may suffer a seizure after a shock from an electric fence system is due to an epileptic condition, especially one that may not be known by the dog’s owner. Dogs that suffer from certain unique or severe skin rashes or other skin issues may be susceptible to seizures from an invisible fence system.  The pain that may ensure from the invisible fence system receiver-collar may put additional pressure on the dog’s skin, and the resulting pain could instigate a seizing response.  Finally, dogs that take certain medications that render them sensitive to stimulation can result in overstimulation of the dog and the possible consequence is a seizure effect from the explosion of stimulation.

There are others who believe that the seizure-causing is a no more than a myth.  Some of these naysayers believe that the shock from the dog’s collar is too weak to induce a seizing condition or harm the dog in any way, and that the shock would never be able to pierce the dog’s skin.  However, the anecdotal evidence is plentiful and appears to suggest that there are a fair amount of dog owners who have had to go through the harrowing experience of reviving their dog from a seizure induced by an invisible fence shock.

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How To Prevent a Seizure Response From An Invisible Fence?

The last thing you want is for your pet to suffer a seizure from an invisible fence.  Thankfully the following precautions are available to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Don’t Install an Invisible Fence

It’s the most obvious but also the most effective—if you don’t install an invisible fence on your property, then you will never have to worry about your invisible fence system instigating a seizure in your dog.  Building a physical fence is a possibility and is safely effective at maintaining the safety of your pet and making sure they can’t run away.  For those with property that is not conducive to fence-building, using a leash whenever the dog is outside can be an effective way to keep your dog on the property.  Finally, keeping the dog inside and only going outside with the dog on a leash would prevent the dog from running away but allow it to maintain some freedom without installing an invisible fence system.

Be Aware of Your Dog’s Conditions and Health

If a physical fence is impossible to apply to your property but you’d still prefer that your dog have some freedom in the yard (especially for those of you with big dogs), invisible fences can still be an effective way to maintain your dog’s safety and keep them from running away—just make sure that you know about whether your dog may possess a characteristic that makes it more susceptible to seizures from invisible fence shocks.  Make sure before you adopt or purchase your dog whether the dog is epileptic; ask the seller or former owner whether the dog has ever had a seizure before.  Inspect the dog for weird rashes or skin conditions, especially around the collar area.  If the dog requires daily medications, research thoroughly those medications and flag any side effects or other properties that might make your dog more susceptible to seizing.  If you absolutely must have an invisible fence system installed, just make sure that the dog you are adopting or purchasing will not suffer unduly from your preference.

Make Sure the Invisible Fence is From a Reputable Supplier

Finally, just don’t have your invisible fence system installed by any old company.  There are a few companies that are highly reputable in the industry—make sure to do your research so that you find the right one. 

What To Do If You’re Dog Has A Seizure

If the worst-case scenario happens, make sure you are prepared.

If the worst happens, take action immediately:

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  1. Stay Cool and Calm.
  2. Remove any debris from around your dog that may harm them.
  3. If the seizure continues for a few minutes, pour cool water on their feet to try and prevent overheating.
  4. Try to reassure your dog and calm them down.
  5. If the seizure continues for over six minutes or your dog falls unconscious, take them immediately to the vet.


Make sure you are properly educated on the dos-and don’ts of invisible fence ownership before you make the decision to subject your pet to its shock! 

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Do you have an invisible fence or are you thinking of purchasing one?  Make sure you know the how what and why of invisible fence seizures among dogs.