I would like to hear from other members who have senior Goldens who have seizures, especially if they began having them late in life.
At 12 years old, Charlie began having seizures about two months ago. He has been on thyroid medication for about three years and the levels are checked at least once a year, including a test about three months before his first seizure. From everything I have read, the seizures are classic "grand mal." He had a second seizure about a week after the first and our vet put him on Phenobarbital, with gradual increases in the dosage. He now takes 1.5 Pheno tablets in the morning and two at night.
When a seizure begins, he falls on his side and gets the facial distortions and rigid legs, then goes into vigorous paddling. I usually sit on the floor behind him and stroke him gently, talking softly and just loving him. I find the seizures are shorter (about 2 minutes) if I do this. After a seizure, we follow recommendations we found on one of the canine seizure sites, Canine Epilepsy and Dog Seizures Table of Contents - Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels
. We give him a couple of tablespoons of melted vanilla Hagen Daz (no chemical additives) ice cream and follow that with a full portion of his kibble, which he gobbles down. He is invariably thirsty, drinking lots of water and needing to go outside frequently. Like many epileptic dogs, Charlie is a bit clumsy and disoriented immediately after a seizure, and he is anxious and over-active for an hour or so after a seizure. During this time, we try to let him work through it and help him calm down. So far, he has not had any "cluster" seizures.
We are learning more than I ever wanted to know about epilepsy in dogs. For others going through this and needing information, Canine Epilepsy Network
and TOBY'S FOUNDATION - PROVIDING CANINE EPILEPSY INFORMATION, INCREASING AWARENESS, ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS, SUPPORTING THE RESEARCH FOR AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS
are useful sites, along with the Guardian Angel site I mentioned above.
Our vet has suggested an MRI, but I'm not sure that makes sense. My beautiful boy has already had three major surgeries in his life and I will not put him through another, nor will we go through heroic treatment for the cancer that I suspect. As winter approaches, I am concerned about how we will keep Charlie comfortable, since he needs meds for arthritis. Last year he was on Rimadyl, which worked well, but our vet is worried about interaction with Pheno and stress on his liver. Charlie also needs dental work, but I am worried about anesthesia.
What am I missing? Is this just a "normal" part of aging for my boy? It isn't possible for someone to be with Charlie all the time, and I worry about seizures when his only companions are our other dogs. Do we need to be concerned about his interactions with our other Goldens, nine-year old Joker and 15-week old Sunny? Joker is a sweetheart who tries to take care of Charlie, and Sunny is an energetic and joyful puppy whose high-voltage attention sometimes irritates Charlie.
Are there enough of us coping with seizures in our Goldens to make a support thread a good idea? Or does one already exist?
Thanks in advance for support and suggestions.