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Hi everyone.

First, thank you for creating this forum. I can't express how good it feels to have a place to get information and talk about this topic.

My 12yr old GR, Cody, had a seizure for the first (and hopefully the last) time yesterday (Sun. Dec 16) at 2am. It was about 2 minutes in length, with a minute of extreme disorientation afterwards, where he wondered around and slammed into the fireplace, and then had a bowel movement.

Thankfully, both my partner and I were there through it all and were able to rush him to the emergency animal hospital right away. The vet confirmed it was a gran mal seizure, did some blood tests (normal although his liver is showing normal wear and tear for his age), and said it's likely a brain tumor (we're going to follow up with our regular vet today to try and book a CT scan and a MRI). Luckily, I work from home and can be with my dog 24/7.

As Cody had never had a seizure before, I'm not sure if there were any warning signs. The only change in his behaviour prior to the seizure was that the entire day before he rythmicly gnawned on his stuffed toy. This went on all day in a very rythmic pattern. Normally he rips those toys to shreads in about 5 minutes, but this time just repeatedly bit, released, bit, released, over and over while staring blankly ahead. While the behaviour concerned me, I thought perhaps it was a toothache and he was sort of teething. Any idea if this could be related to the seizure?

Cody's other health issues include myositis (he takes 2.5mg of prenisone every other day), otitis (ear drops twice a day) and an eye problem (eye drops twice a day).

I'm not a fool, I knew when I got Cody 12 years ago that our time together would be limited, but I'm just not ready for this yet. Cody's my best friend, and it's breaking my heart to see him going through this and to think the end may be near. I've been crying for most of the day. After my sister's dog died this summer, I asked several vets, librarians and bookstore employees about books on coping and preparing for canine illness/death, but there doesn't seem to be any. Do any of you know of one?

I'm trying to force myself to stay calm and think positively. Thankfully, my partner is very good at that. Besides following up with our vet and trying to book in the CT and MRI, I've been looking at options to help us if another seizure occurs. One thought I had was inspired by a new product I heard of this year, a dog collar that monitors your dog's temperature and texts your cell phone if he gets to hot. Does anyone know if there's a similar product that would notify the dog's guardian if the dog was having a seizure? I doubt the product exists (yet) but it would be wonderful to have (especially since it could likely track length and intensity of the seizure). If one doesn't exist, but you'd be interested in getting one, message me. Maybe we can start a kickstarter project or something and get one developed.

As a somewhat off topic, but final note, I am lucky enough to have pet insurance which has covered thousands of dollars woth of vet bills over the years (I strongly recommend having pet insurance). The only challenge has been in dealing with the insurance company (PetCare). Currently working with the insurance ombudsman on a complaint regarding PetCare's business practices (ie denying receipt of claims, intentionally double charging deductables and intentionally giving out misleading or out right false information to prevent paying claims). Apparently, PetCare has several similar complaints against them from other policy holders, so I'd recommend going with a different insurer (we can't change insurers because of Cody's pre-existing conditions). As a side note, it's interesting to point out that the pet insurance industry in Canada is neither provincally nor federally regulated. There doesn't seem to be anyone watching what these guys are doing.

Thank you for reading my post. I would love to hear from you.

Take care.
Chris.
 

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Oh gosh I am so sorry your lovely Cody has started having seizures. As you say, there is always a chance this may be a one off. There are many many dogs who have one seizure and then no more and we don't really know why and we rarely hear about them or they are rarely reported because it never becomes a problem.

Good luck with the MRI. It will hopefully give you a diagnosis or it will put your mind at rest about a tumour as the cause. Until you have the MRI done I would try not to worry too much (easier said than done, I know). But given Cody's age I think this step is important. It is good you have insurance as treating and investigating seizures can be very expensive.

The odd behaviour the day before the seizure is not at all unusual and may well be related. The problem is I'm afraid, they don't always show the same behaviour before a seizure - why? Because it depends whereabouts in the forebrain (the part where seizures occur from) the neurones are which are causing the new seizure. The main thing to do now is to keep a diary of EVERYTHING. Any change you have in your daily routine, any change in diet or different treats Cody gets etc and obviously any seizure activity or change in Cody's behaviour - even if it seems insigificant. It may, though no one can promise you, help you to work out when one may be brewing or finding certain triggers that may be causing them.

It is useful if your vets can supply you with some emergency rectal valium and they will explain when and how to use it.

I hope this is the one and only seizure Cody has but you are doing right by checking out as much as you can. Good luck for the scan.
 

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Many of us here know your situation all too well and our heart goes out to you!

Tia had one grand mal back in January. However she has had partial seizures for a year now. We try to keep this under control with Pheno. We decided against the expensive and invasive MRI as the results would not change her treatment at her age. However others feel that it gave them great reassurance to know what they were dealing with.

I was also plagued with fear that the intense seizures would continue. However fortunately they did not. We are one of the lucky ones in that regard. Tia was quite stable in that regard however an official cancer diagnosis was made 9 months later. At the age of 11 we also knew that she could not live for ever.

It is difficult as an old gold owner as you are right they are only borrowed from heaven. I suggest you start looking at the grief forums. Not only do you heal yourself by helping others but it helps you solidify your core beliefs about the meaning of life and heaven. You will find that the words you use to help other people will remind you of how you should be handling your own stress. You will also read a variety of advice from lots of different people about how they handle grief.

Noone knows how much time we have left exactly (it could be less than a few weeks in our case) but I do know that looking at my girl right now that she is as happy as Larry after enjoying the sunshine on her walk. I hope that Cody is giving you the same contented look right now.

How lucky are we to have goldens that have reached the age of 12:)
I hope that you happily outlive everyone's expectations!!

Good luck Cody!!
 

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Welcome to the Forum and to our seizure community, where nobody wants to be but everyone is grateful for the support we can share with one another.

Your story about a dog having a first seizure at 12 and a diagnosis of a probable brain tumor is painfully familiar. You can find our similar story in this thread: http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...res/85243-seizures-starting-12-years-old.html. I hope that it is helpful to you. We had more than a year with Charlie, King of Cuddles, before we had to kiss him goodbye.

This thread has a lot of our collective wisdom about canine seizures and the treatment of them: http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...res/85243-seizures-starting-12-years-old.html.

Please don't hesitate to ask questions about any issue related to seizures. Someone here is bound to have dealt with the same problem and people in this community are more than willing to share knowledge. You can trust that you and Cody will never be alone with this awful condition.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Update and Thanks

Hi all.

First, such heartfelt thanks for your replies. Your outpouring of support and willingness to share your own stories has had a meaningful and positive impact on how we're dealing with this situation. (As a side note: Doug, your use of the word "invasive" in regards to the MRI inspired me to do some further research on the MRI process which has persuaded me to hold off on doing one, at least for the moment. A true example of how this forum and your replies has had a impact on our situation. Thank you!)

Cody continues to do well and has not had another seizure since his first one more than 48 hours ago. I've spoken to our regular vet, Dr. Chris Sheridan at the Don Mills Vet Practice in Toronto (he's been Cody's vet since birth and is FANTASTIC) who said that while a brain tumor is still a likely cause, there are other possible causes to look at (under active thyroid, increase in blood fat, liver function and blood pressure). The liver function is of particular interest to the vet as Cody's liver values have changed drastically (ex. His ALP level is 3.5 times higher now than it was in September). Going to the vets again this morning for more blood work.

Will post an update when we get the results.

Once again, thanks to all 3 of you for your replies. What a wonderful community I've stumbled upon here. It's really helping us get through this difficult time.
 

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Even if you find out it's a brain tumor, the treatment will be the same, medication. I think we have had two or more Goldens here with confirmed brain tumors who lived over a year or more. So don't lose hope. Educate yourself on the meds availible. Some of the side effects sound awful, but resolve within a couple weeks and are certainly worth it if they control the seizures. Starting with the thyroid is a good place.
I would suggest going to this site and reading EVERYTHING HEMOPET.HTM
It should explain a lot.
 

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Hi there Cody's dad, so sorry to hear your news. I've been away for a week so I'm late onto your story. Really pleased you found this place - it was such a help to me when I was struggling with Alice's epilepsy (Alice - late onset epilepsy) and has continued to support me after losing both my girls this October.

There is so much knowledge and experience here - not to mention the care and warmth.

I wish you all well and hope so much that Cody's seizure was a one off.

Take care,

Lyn
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
After about a week and a half in the clear, Cody had 2 seizures last night (about 2 hours apart). After the first seizure, he became quite aggressive towards my partner and ended up biting him (an absolute first for Cody as he has always been the most gentle dog). We rushed him to Animal Emergency hospital in Whitby, Ontario which got him on an IV drip of vallium for the night. Picked him up this morning. He seemed sleepy, but happy. Took him to our regular vet's office, which has put him on an anti-convulsant (Potassium Bromide 50mg/ml. Giving 3.2mls orally every 12 hours for 5 days, then decreasing to 1.6mls orally once a day)

Anybody out there have experience with the BP meds?

Also. Would really love to find an in-person or via-telephone support group for people coping with their emotions regarding their ill/dying/deceased pets. Any siggestions?

Thanks guys. You are all so amazing!!

Chris
 

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I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this situation. Remember that the aggressiveness is a side effect of the seizures and not a new normal for Cody. The meds that control the seizures will probably deal with this problem, at least from what I have read.

Potassium bromide is widely used, but it takes longer to take effect than Phenobarbital, which is usually the first medication prescribed. We have several members with experience with both drugs (and others) and I hope they will weigh in, too. One advantage of potassium bromide is that it builds up in the system and is less "brittle," meaning that the consequences are not dreadful if you're a half hour late with the meds, unlike Pheno.

Has your vet told you that Cody is dying? If not, please don't leap to that conclusion. We have members with dogs who have lived with seizures for a decade or more. That you need support to handle this with grace ... well, I think we all agree that it isn't easy to live with and support a seizure dog, but that is true with any animal who is ill, including humans. Shalva has a Facebook group for people with epileptic dogs. That's another potential source of online support.

Hugs and prayers,
Lucy
 

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Awh I am so sorry to hear this. :'(
It must be so insanely tough. The unknowns are scary.

Yes the aggressive behaviour is common with seizures and many people regularly live with these experiences. Dealing with seizures becomes a part of their lifestyle and they are able to handle things much better with more experience. Cody will need a supportive space in order to settle herself. Finding the right medication can be tricky at first but once you do it can be miraculous.

I do not know of any verbal support systems out there. However petloss.com has a forum that deals with grief and reminds you that things could be a lot worse.

The book Journey of Souls also completely cemented my outlook on life and death.

I hope that you are guided to find the right help you need so that Cody can settle down and enjoy his golden years in peace. Fingers crossed the PB will do it! In the meantime you have many happy times ahead!
 

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Really sorry to hear your latest. What an awful place you're in at present - the uncertainty of everything is so stressful. Read up on here, as much as you can. There is so much experience to draw on, which will help you as you learn to cope with Cody's condition and the unknowns you face.
Remember Cody doesn't go through that worry and stress. He will carry on with enjoying his life - although you are likely to see some alterations in his behaviour while he becomes used to his meds.

I do hope the situation eases for you and Cody bounces back to himself very soon.
Wishing you all the best,
Lyn
 

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Sorry to hear Cody has had another episode. As others have said the biting is just down to the fit and nothing at all to do with Cody. He would be totally unaware that he had done anything.

It is so heartbreaking to see a dog seizing, but hopefully the meds will work. I am surprised that phenobarbitol was not suggested first as this only takes a couple of weeks to reach a therapeutic level as opposed to a couple of months for the potassium bromide. Has your dog any problems with the liver ? -as this could be the reason that the pheno was not the first line of treatment.

In the UK the Blue Cross have a pet bereavement helpline, but I do not know if there is an equivalent in the US. We lost our labrador 4 months ago and I found them to be very helpful, but also you will find there is a lot of support from sites such as this. Talking to like minded friends also helped a great deal. As Lucy asked, has your vet suggested that this is terminal or are you just fearing the worse? Monty, our GR, has had epilepsy for 3 1/2 years. In fact he had some sort of seizure this morning although it was not the normal grand mal. It is a very difficult condition to live with but it can be done as a good many on this thread know.

I hope that Cody, and you, recover Ok from this latest ordeal and that the meds will help.
 

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Thanks again to everyone for their comments and support. I truly feel blessed to have found you all. :)

Cody is doing okay, and hasn't had any additional seizures since the two on Boxing Day (Dec. 26th). The Potassium Bromide does seem to be making him thirsty, hungry and a bit lethargic, but these side effects are expected to pass as he gets used to the medication. For anyone wondering, the PB is 500mg/ml. He's on a loading dose of 3.2mls every 12 hours for 5 days, then will get 1.6mls every 24 hours. I wish the PB came in pill form, but luckily Cody is great at taking meds, so he doesn't put up a fuss when I squirt the PB in his mouth with the syringe (apparently it's beef flavoured. Yummy!)

I talked to my vet about Phenobarbital when Cody had his first seizure, but he wanted to use PB instead as he finds it a more effective medication, plus Cody takes prednisone for his myositis (he's had the condition since he was a pup) which has elevated his liver values. As a side note, the prednisone has been wonderful, and Cody hasn't had a single issue from the myositis in years.

Going for our first visit with the neurologist on Jan 2nd. Will post an update then.

Take care all, and my eternal thanks for the comments, advice and support!
C.
 

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Hi Cody's dad. I'm so very sorry to hear Cody is having seizures. I wanted to post and tell you the great success my boy Helo has had with potassium bromide. Helo is approximately 7 or 8 years old. I adopted him from a GR rescue in May 2011 and he had at least 2 seizures every 2 weeks from May to August of that year. He was on phenobarbitol but it wasn't helping and everytime he'd have another seizure they just told me to increase his dose. In August of 2011 he had a cluster of 5 seizures in a 12 hour period so I took him to another vet who put him on potassium bromide. It was 250mg/ml (and butterscotch flavor if you can imagine. Who makes butterscotch flavor for dogs? He didn't like it so I have to put it on food to get him to eat it.) We started with a loading dose of 5ml once a day and from the moment he started taking the PB he stopped having seizures. I feel like it's been a miracle! He has been seizure free for almost 16 months! I gradually reduced his PB and he is now taking 3ml once a day at night (his seizures always occured in the evening and night). He is also taking 1 phenobarb pill per day but the vet thinks he can probably stop taking that altogether. Helo had some back end weakness when he was on the higher dose of PB but that has gone away and he doesn't have excessive thirst. HOWEVER he is always hungry and would eat non-stop if allowed. I don't know if that's the PB or just the way he is! He is also on thyroid medication which we recently had to increase. Has Cody has his thyroid tested? I wish you all the best and will be looking for futures posts on how Cody is doing and what the neurologist says on Jan. 2nd. I have not taken Helo to a specialist. I live in small town Utah 1-2 hours away from any sort of vet specialist. If he had continued with the seizures, I would have found a specialist but since they have stopped and he seems to be a happy healthy dog, we are just going with the flow. Take care and I hope the potassium bromide works as well for Cody as it has for Helo!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi everyone!

A sad update. Cody's MRI yesterday showed that he has a brain tumor. Looks like surgery is an option, but there's a fair amount of risk involved (10% of dogs die from the surgery), and best guess is that it would extend his life by about 6-9 months. If we don't do the surgery, the neurologist suggests Cody probably has 3-6 months left.

Currently trying to digest -- and cope with -- all the information, and decided what path we want to take. As always, any comments, suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
Cody's Dad.
 

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Hi Cody's Dad,

So very sorry to hear your sad update - my heart goes out to you. My immediate opinions and thoughts, for what they're worth, are below.

Don't feel rushed into making your decision. You must be very shocked at present and as you say, you need to digest all you have learned.

I guess the crux of it is whether Cody will gain enough quality time from going through the operation. I would want to know how long the recuperation period from surgery is and how much they can tell you about the speed and nature of deterioration without surgery. There isn't a huge difference between the likely lifespan given for each option.

Without the surgery, you can concentrate on filling the remainder of his life with as much fun and love and treats as possible. That might be limited if you take the surgery route I guess.

Either way, you are having to come to terms with losing your beloved dog prematurely, and I do know how devastating that can be. All you can do is make the decisions as they are needed, for the right reasons - ie for him, not for yourselves. If you do that, then you can do no more. That isn't to say that you shouldn't look after yourselves - you need kindness and support too.

Life can be so rough and unfair. I hope you will be able to see, at some point, that despite this awful time, Cody is one of the lucky dogs, to be with loving owners who care so much for him.

I know this community will be here for you and I hope the support offered will help.

Sending you love and hugs,
Lyn
 

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I'm so sorry you are going through this. My only advice would be quality vs quantity of life. You are only possibly gaining abt 3 months...sorry I don't mean to seem blunt, I just don't know a soft way to say it. But for me personally, if the extra 3 months aren't going to be quality, then why put your boy through it....Hugs to you and your pup!
 

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Cody's Dad, I am so very sorry to hear about Cody's diagnosis. My angel dog Cody died from seizures either related to his degenerative myelopathy or a brain tumor; we didn't have a necropsy, so the answer isn't definitive. All I can tell you regarding making a decision for surgery or not is that whatever decision you do make, it will be in your guy's best interest. When you make those heavy decisions with love in your heart, it can only be the right one. My Cody had loads of medical issues, but seizures wasn't one of them. He was over 14 years old and had seizures in the night, continuing into the next day. I took him to my vet, who gently explained that we could start seizure meds, but that he was quite sure the cause was not epilepsy. I ran through the checklist in my head of what my dog loved doing, even in his dotage, and decided to give him an old-fashioned Irish wake all that day. Most of his favorite people came to say goodbye, he ate tons of treats that he adored, and he was lovingly given his angel wings on our back porch by our wonderful vet. Your grief will overwhlem you....there's simply no way out of it. Your suffering will be a testament to a great love that went both ways, and it will eventually ease. The folks on this forum will listen to your sorrow and say comforting things, coming from experience. You might call your local vet school if you have one; they often have grief services, either in person or on the phone. Your local humane society might also provide those services, as well, or at least put you in touch with a pet grief counselor. Again, I am saddened that you and your beloved dog are in this position. Here's my Cody on his 14th birthday, holding paws with his brother Toby. Cody's on the right.
 

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