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Anyone have an epileptic dog?

Post in 'The Inglenook' started by Hearth Mistress, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    My 10 year old Jack Russell Terrier was pretty much diagnosed today with a very mild case of adult onset epilepsy. There are still a few test results we are waiting for but have ruled out everything else like him eating wild mushrooms, toxins from compost, tick diseases, kidney/liver disease, food allergies, etc.

    About six months ago he started chewing on his front paws then snapping at the air. I later found this is called "fly biting" and can be a kind of focal epileptic seizure. Back then, we were tearing the house apart from Sandy repairs and the vet just thought it was stress, made sense, ever live in a house being rebuilt? Not fun.

    Fast forward, over the past few weeks, these fly biting episodes went from once a week to once a day to now several times a day. Saturday, he was really clingy and I knew he didn't seem right. He threw up but seemed better afterwards. A few hours later, he was sleeping on the floor when he jumped up and was walking like he was drunk. His eyes were twitching side to side which never happened before and then started fly biting. I can usually distract him but couldn't this time. It only lasted a minute but I called the vet immediately, they have Saturday hours thank goodness. She explained it was probably a seizure, pulled blood and ran a whole lot of tests.

    My dogs are insured through Pet Plan but my vet didn't think at this stage we needed to go get an MRI or spinal taps to know if there was a brain tumor or not causing his episodes. He is showing no other signs of distress, eats normally, runs around with our other JRT and has otherwise no heath issues, elevated blood serums or anything else. Right now he's running up and down my steps with a muddy tennis ball he brought in from outside. Yeah...he's acting sick :)

    He goes back to the vet Friday to discuss treatment, bromides or phenobarbital as very low doses to keep him from doing the fly biting as it can eventually progress into full blown gran mal seizures if left untreated.

    I love my vet, she has done amazing things for all of our animals, even when others thought she was nuts for her course of treatments. I just fear the unknown of what to expect treating a dog for this and how epilepsy progresses. I thought I'd ask here for other's experiences since we are a unique group ;)

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  2. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    My almost 10 y.o. Shih Tzu has seizures and has had them since she was approx 6 months old. I never ran tests and they are far and few enough that the vet said he didn't recommend meds. I don't have the coin for a bunch of tests so never went tgat route. Interestingly enough, 99% of the seizures have happened when she is in a deep sleep. She screams bloody murder and usually urinates during and poops on floor after and sometimes vomit too. Not fun to wake at 3 am to blood curdling screams from a little dog. She also had a bout with Vestibular Disease last year. That was not fun either.
    Hearth Mistress likes this.
  3. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for sharing your story. We had a dog at the local SPCA that had similar seizures as you describe since they were a puppy. The on site vet seemed to think it was from too many vaccines at once from an inexperienced breeder. Glad to know your dog has lived with it all her life even though I'm sure it's scary when it happens. I am usually not the first to jump to pharmeceuticals, I take the holistic route when ever possible. We've tried Milk Thistle for over a month now but didn't seem to make a difference.

    Just today he had 6 episodes, 5 weeks ago it was an average of 3 a day so they are becoming more frequent, which is the concern. He's such a happy go lucky dog, I'd never forgive myself if this does keep getting worse and I don't treat it now while it's in early stages. He's 10, not a puppy but with no other health issues, I just want to be sure I'm not making it worse with using controlled substances such as phenobarbital if there are other things out there I should try first.
  4. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    My thoughts are with you and yours, Mistress.
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  5. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Poor puppy. :(
  6. akbear

    akbear Member

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    My three year old beagle I suspect had one a week and a half ago, he bolted out of the recliner in the wee hours of the morning, slammed into the cabinets and ping ponged his way towards his door (I suspect temporary blindness and just sheer terror over what was happening, and thankfully he wasn't in the loft at the time or I would have had a flying beagle zooming past me and crash landing on the floor), where once out in his yard he vomited white foam and made runny dog dirt, did the drunk act and sitting around real spacey while biting at the imaginary flies. I'd say it took him a good two days to shake the cobwebs out of his head after that. So far nothing since, and I hope it was just a case of low blood sugar or heat related that set that off (yet even when it's quite warm he'll still hide under blankets), but I suppose time will tell.

    The most helpful site I found was the canine epilepsy guardian angels site http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/site_map.htm and you might want to read through some of that especially if you are considering drug treatment (from what I gather the PB is nasty stuff, and sodium bromide might be the safest way to go (apparently potassium bromide has a risk of stomach upset in some dogs), but they do have a whole bunch of non-drug suggestions too.)
  7. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    HM you're welcome. My babys seizures don't happen often enough for the Vet to put her on meds in his opinion. He said once you start them the meds are for life. They also don't last more than approx. 30 seconds and if I'm here I talk to her and it seems to bring her out of it faster. She has approx. six a year. Oddly enough one was last night.

    You mentioned the eyes darting back and forth and seeming drunk. That sounds just like Vestibular Disease. Not trying to be a keyboard doctor but you might want to google Vestibular.
  8. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Uggh! hoping the best for your pooch. Wish they could tell us what theyre going through
  9. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    My golden has had seizures for years. His are of the grand mal type, he falls over and thrashes his legs around. He takes potassium bromide as he didn't handle the phenobarb well and they have kept him seizure free as long as we don't miss a dose. The increased frequency of your dog's sounds like kindling - the concept of the more you have the more you will get. My husband is also epileptic, so I've done a fair bit of research on it. Our decision is to get on the meds to prevent kindling and damage (each seizure causes some, at least some authorities think). That said, a co-worker's dog had 3 and has never had another one. Good luck. Oh, and one thing my vet advised me to do was to stay away from my dog when he was having a seizure and right after, they are not themselves and my loves everybody golden would come out of the seizure snarling and threatening to rip your throat out for a few minutes. So, be careful.
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  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Good advice HollowHill. You are correct. Overfiring neurons destroy repressor neurons. The damage is cumulative, particularly with larger seizures.
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  11. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    Thanks guys. The vet called a little while ago, the rest of the tests all came back normal so Friday we are meeting a neurologist at the vet to go over treatment options.

    Xena, I appreciate the "keyboard vet" advice, really, as everyone's experiences will only help me sort through this. The vet ruled out vestibular disease from an ear culture and head x-ray as that was a viable possibility because of the way he was acting. That's another crazy adult onset disease that is scary. My neighbor has a Sheltie and you would think she was having a stoke but gets inner ear infections that trigger the vestibular reaction.

    Hollow Hill, that's what my vet thinks too, try to nip it now so it doesn't progress. He's only 23 lbs so she is consulting with a specialist to see how low we can go yet it be effective. There is a compounding pharmacy near me to get the bromide powders but with these focal type seizures, the PB in low doses seems to get better results. Since he has no other underlying medical complications, that will make it a little easier to monitor.

    I appreciate everyone sharing their experiences - I knew I'd be able to connect with folks here about this....Bryn thanks you too ;)

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  12. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    Mistress, sorry to hear about your JRT. I don't want to scare you unduly but our Bouncer, a newfie mix, started to have seizures about two weeks before he passed away at home at the age of 13 from a brain tumour. Your vet will know best based on symptoms. From my experience, our vet is better than most of our medical doctors.:)

    From my experience with humans, some seizures can be triggered by physical activity, stress, and hot weather. Hot weather doesn't seem to be a problem:( but you might want to try to record events just prior to a seizure so your vet has a better chance of identifying type and appropriate medication. I was able to do this for a former client; the doctor changed his medication and only has rare episodes now.
  13. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    Beautiful JRT, Mistress. We had a smooth hair, named Jack, appropriately. We lost him almost two years ago to kidney failure. They are feisty dogs, and it takes a special person to appreciate and care for them. But no doubt, they are wonderful dogs.
  14. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    Forgot to say, hope you are able to get the seizures under control and he is able to live a full and normal life. Well, as normal as a JRT can be, if you count bouncing off walls as normal.
  15. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Take care of a younger sibling who had uncontrollable grand mal seizures. Added high fat diet to his drug regimen, and no further seizures. Johns Hopkins has done studies where putting epileptics who could not be controlled by drugs onto high fat diets has controlled the epilepsy. Just a thought...maybe add some cream to your dog's milk, a pat of butter as a treat. I simply added whipping cream, about 2 Tbsp, to oatmeal cereal 2 x a day.
  16. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    Well, we went to the vet today and it is the opinion of both my vet and the specialist to start him on phenobarbital 1/4 grain 2 time a day, about half dose for his weight. I had to look up why it was in grain instead of mg as I only know ammo/gun powder measured in grain. Who knew it was an old unit of measure based on cereal grain?

    Anyway, he had an episode at the vet and there is no doubt he is having what they call "petite focal" seizures. They are pretty certain it isn't a tumor since all of his bloodwork came back normal and they would have expected to see a blur on his head x-ray but didn't.

    So, Mr. Bryn has started his meds and in 2 weeks goes back for bloodwork and again every 6 months to make sure everything, like his liver/kidneys, are all ok.

    If anything else comes of this, I'll let you guys know. Thanks again for everyone's experiences!
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Barbiturates will make him a bit more lethargic. Maybe not such a bad thing with a jrt? I hope he responds well and this is the last of the seizures.
  18. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    Hoping this does the trick. A small dose shouldn't slow down your JRT too much. They have energy to spare. Good luck.

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