Golden Retriever Dog Forums banner

1 - 20 of 78 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,788 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This week we have had at least 4 new members join the Forum looking for information because they are dealing with canine seizures for the first time. This thread is intended to provide basic information to help people cope and provide better care for their seizure dogs. However, I am not a veterinarian and there is no substitute for having strong veterinary guidance to manage a dog who has seizures.

For newcomers to the GRF, welcome to the Forum! I also offer you a sad welcome to the GRF seizure community. Sadly, there are a number of us who have dealt with this condition. I hope others will join this thread and share their wisdom.

My own experience with canine seizures is described in this thread, where I recorded the information I found during extensive research: http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...ard/85243-seizures-starting-12-years-old.html. Sadly, my Charlie's seizures were probably caused by a brain tumor and we lost him on July 2, 2011. He died in my arms, where he spent much of his life.

I encourage anyone with a dog having seizures to start a new thread and tell us your story. That will give you a place to ask questions and keep a record of the answers. Many GRF members have a lot of knowledge about seizures and will respond to new threads more readily than older ones. It will also help us have a sense of how widespread this condition has become.

Keeping a seizure journal is important. It will help you identify triggers that cause seizures, as Frontline Plus did for my Charlie. It will also be useful to your veterinarian in determining when medications need to change. Note that our veterinary neurologist considered seizures to be "under control" if a dog only has one per month.

It's important to know that some dogs live for many years while having occasional seizures. There are many conditions that cause seizures in dogs, including hypothyroidism, food allergies, chemical sensitivities to flea and tick prevention products, and brain disease. A veterinary neurologist can help you assess your dog's situation and determine the best course of treatment. Unfortunately, seizures are considered to be "under control" if a dog has only one grand mal seizure per month.

When your dog has a grand mal seizure, s/he is not in control of her actions. Sometimes growling and snapping are part of the condition, not misbehavior or aggression. Losing control of her bladder and bowels is also typical of a grand mal seizure. If s/he has already had a cluster of seizures and the situation seems to be evolving rapidly, there may be an underlying brain condition that needs treatment. Your veterinarian should be able to refer you to a veterinary neurologist, who can assess your dog’s physical condition and prescribe newer meds if they are needed.

Phenobarbital is the most commonly prescribed medication to control canine seizures, partly because it is effective very quickly and partly because it is relatively cheap. Pheno usually causes ataxia soon after a dog begins taking it and the problem usually lessens as the dog's body adjusts to the medication. It takes a few weeks for potassium bromide, another widely used medication, to reach therapeutic levels. Once it does, it is common to gradually reduce the Pheno, which may help with ataxia.

Note that hypothyroidism can cause seizures in dogs and the thyroid meds interact with Pheno, causing the dog to need increased thyroxine. Any dog having seizures should have a full thyroid test panel done.

A technique called "ocular compression" can help you quickly stop your dog’s grand mal seizures when they occur. The technique is described here: Controlling Seizures in Dogs with Ocular Compression - VetInfo.

During a grand mal seizure, your dog burns a tremendous amount of energy. To get his/her blood sugar up quickly, immediately after a seizure give her a couple of tablespoons of Hagen Daz vanilla ice cream. The brand is important because it contains no additives that are harmful to dogs, which is not true of other brands. After the ice cream, your dog needs a full meal of her normal food. It is normal for him/her to want a lot of water, to pace a lot, and to be disoriented for up to a couple of hours.

Clusters of seizures cause swelling in the brain and it is important to stop them. That may require giving her liquid valium rectally. That's something a veterinary neurologist can teach you to do. S/he may also need prednisone to reduce the swelling and prevent brain damage. We raced Charlie to a veterinary emergency clinic whenever he had three or more seizures in one 24 hour period. For his last cluster, they had him intravenous valium and Pheno for more than 24 hours before the seizures stopped. Clusters can also be a sign that underlying brain disease is progressing, so your veterinarian needs to know about them.

Your dog probably has some seizures when you are not around. This used to be our biggest fear about Charlie. When s/he will be alone, it is important to leave your dog in a place where it is relatively safe for him/her to have a seizure. That means keeping your dog off of stairs, which s/he could fall down during a seizure. S/he shouldn't be anywhere that there is a pool of water, since a seizing dog could easily drown. It also means keeping the dog away from tables that have anything on top that might fall on him/her if s/he bumps the table during a seizure. We removed some furniture from our family room to make it safer for Charlie. We also installed gates across doorways and at the head and foot of the stairs. If you need pointers to some, let me know.

Other animals - even trusted family pets who seem loving to the seizure dog - sometimes attack a dog that has a seizure. This is an instinctive response based in fear. If it hasn't happened in the past, that doesn't mean it won't happen in the future. If you have other dogs, your seizure dog needs to be away from them when no humans will be around.

You're at the beginning of a learning curve and it takes time to absorb all that you need to know. One of the most valuable resources for learning about canine seizures is here: Canine Epilepsy and Dog Seizures Table of Contents - Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels. This site is also good: Canine Epilepsy Network. So is this one: Links.

Please try to be gentle with yourself, as well as with your seizure dog. It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the demands of caring for a seizure dog. It is exhausting to wake up in the middle of the night because you hear the paddling of a seizure and race to your dog's side to care for him/her or rush your dog to the emergency clinic. Seizure control is a rollercoaster ride of adjusting meds, waiting for the dog's body to adjust to the dosage so that ataxia lessens, and then waiting for the effectiveness of the dosage to wane so you start again.

Finally, remember that you have to go on with the rest of your life, despite your sweet dog's seizures. This condition can take over your life and you mustn't let it. Your dog wouldn't want that and you can't sustain it for the many years that we hope you have left with your dog. I look back at our last six months with Charlie and realize that our lives were ruled by his medication schedule, which was utterly inflexible. Our social lives were restricted and our participation in many pleasures was reduced because we didn't want to leave our boy alone more than we had to. Given his age (almost 12) when his seizures began, we knew our time with Charlie was limited. If your dog is much younger, in some ways that makes the situation even harder to handle.

Please keep us posted and ask all the questions you need to. Someone in the GRF has dealt with almost any problem you're likely to face.

Remember to breathe...deep, slow breaths to calm yourself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
My 12 year old Golden "Jewel" just had her first seizures today. I think one between the time my hubby left for work and I got home as she had obviously been incontinent. Thinking it was just incontinence, I got everything cleaned up and didn't worry too much. But then an hour later she started thrashing her legs, drooling, eyes open but not responsive. When she was finished, about 10 min later she got up off her bed and I realized she had again been incontinent. Then she started pacing and bumping into things, so I really felt like her vision was impaired. I got her into a small dim area and she is now laying there.

How soon should I take her to the vet? She weighs 80 lbs and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis so I can't lift her. I live in the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain and the closest vet/hospital is at least 1/2 hour away.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,788 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
My 12 year old Golden "Jewel" just had her first seizures today. I think one between the time my hubby left for work and I got home as she had obviously been incontinent. Thinking it was just incontinence, I got everything cleaned up and didn't worry too much. But then an hour later she started thrashing her legs, drooling, eyes open but not responsive. When she was finished, about 10 min later she got up off her bed and I realized she had again been incontinent. Then she started pacing and bumping into things, so I really felt like her vision was impaired. I got her into a small dim area and she is now laying there.

How soon should I take her to the vet? She weighs 80 lbs and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis so I can't lift her. I live in the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain and the closest vet/hospital is at least 1/2 hour away.
First, welcome to the Forum. I'm glad that you have found us. There is a growing community of people here who have or had dogs with seizures.

From what you describe, Jewel had multiple grand mal seizures in one day, which qualifies as a "cluster" of seizures. She needs to see a vet as soon as you can arrange it. If she has another seizure in the next 48 hours, she needs to go to an emergency vet clinic where they can put her on intravenous valium and other medications to stop the seizures, which can cause brain damage and/or become life threatening.

I encourage you to start a new thread about Jewel and to share her experiences and yours with her seizures. That will help you engage with others here who have a lot of current experience and wisdom about the issues you face.

Sadly, most of us who have older dogs that have begun having seizures late in life don't get good news from veterinarians. My own Golden sweetheart, Charlie, was almost 12 when he began having seizures. By the time he died in my arms with the aid of our family vet, it was evident that he had a brain tumor or other brain lesions that caused his seizures. Even so, we had a very special year with Charlie during which I researched canine seizures, treasured the time with Charlie, and learned a lot from him about Grace. Charlie, my very own King of Cuddles and Cookie Monster, lived until he was ready to say goodbye on his own terms, as he lived all of his life.

Holding Jewel and you in my thoughts and prayers,
Lucy
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,788 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Sources of information

Here is a list of sources of information about canine seizures, gathered in the same place for the first time (at least by me). I hope others will add to the collection as you come across more sources.

Canine Epilepsy and Dog Seizures Table of Contents - Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels - Canine Epilepsy Guardian
Angels, a support community for people who have seizure dogs and a great source of information.

Emergency Care For Canine Seizures - Epi Guardian Angels - how to care for a dog during and after a seizure or having a "cluster," or multiple seizures within 24 hours.

Canine Epilepsy Research

Dogs with Disabilities, Caring for and Loving a Disabled Dog - Epilepsy - includes an extensive list of known seizure triggers, including some that I have not seen anywhere else. The site has many links to other resources.

Companion Animal Epilepsy Research :: North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Canine Epilepsy Website - from the U.K., a comprehensive body of information about canine seizures.

Seizure Disorder - An excellent source of information about causes of seizures at different ages, medications used to control seizures and the side effects thereof, emergency treatments, etc.

15 Prescription Medications for Controlling Dog Seizures - VetInfo - information about 15 different medications that are used to control canine seizures.

Naturally Treating Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders - information on “natural” treatments for seizure disorders. There is also an extensive discussion of seizure triggers, ranging from simple things like vitamin deficiencies and low blood sugar to brain tumors.

INTERACTIONS: Epilepsy/Seizure Disorders and Essential Oils - covers links between seizures and “essential oils” (rosemary, sweet fennel, hyssop and sage).

Behind the label: Listerine - The Ecologist - discusses many concerns about chemical in Lysterine (used by some GRF members to treat hot spots and other skin conditions), including the observation that eucalyptus oil in Lysterine can trigger seizures.

Canine Epilepsy Resources - has lots of links to information about seizures, their causes, treatment, etc.

Canine Seizures: 6 Potential Causes - VetInfo

Epilepsy: A Cause of Seizures in Dogs

Dr. Barbara G. Licht - researcher studying canine seizures.

Chinook Dog Health and Genetics

Many medications interact with commonly used seizure medications. For example, phenobarbital interacts with thyroid medications like soloxine, causing the dog to need more of the thryoid med. I recommend doing some research on drug interactions every time a seizure dog starts a new medication.

Finally, if you are having trouble handling a dog suffering from ataxia (the "drunken sailor" walk that we often see when a dog starts on a new seizure med," some of the devices listed in this thread may help: http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...y-breed-standard/92648-assistive-devices.html
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,788 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
This Long Beach Animal Hospital site has very thorough coverage of canine seizures, with a lot of information about causes, tests, treatments, etc.: Seizures and Epilepsy. Some of this I have not seen anywhere else - at least not so concisely.

Here is another site with a great many links to information about canine epilepsy: canine epilepsy links. Be careful when you look at a site like this, since not all Internet resources are equally reliable. One good sign is references to publications in journal of veterinary medicine.

This site has links to videos of dogs having seizures: seizurevideos. The grand mal seizures depicted are typical of what my Charlie experienced.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,788 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Seizure tracking tool

Just found this site with a tool for tracking seizures: https://www.seizuretracker.com/. It looks like there are some interesting options for tracking meds, seizures types and seizure frequency. This was set up for humans, but I don't see why it wouldn't help with dogs, too. The graphs can be downloaded and printed so you can share with your vet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,498 Posts
We also have a facebook group for epi-pets... called that... epi-pets

My cuinn has had seizures for 9 years now... he is almost 11 and started having focal seizures at the age of 1 and then grand mals right after he turned 2....
 

·
Dog Lover
Joined
·
42,038 Posts
Lucy

Lucy, thanks for doing this!
How Kind of you!!
It will be a great help for all those who are dealing or have dealt with seizures!!
 
  • Like
Reactions: GoldensGirl

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,576 Posts
Lucy, that tracker looks really good, I have got my own tracker on an excel spreadsheet calendar which works well for me. If you wish I can email it to you with all Tom's details included. pm me your email address if you would like copy
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,788 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for your offer, Dave. Our seizure tracking days are over now, since Charlie died last July and my other dogs don't have seizures (at least not so far). I'd be happy to look at Tom's records if another mind on the problem would help, but I have a lot of faith that you and your vet are doing a good job for him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
193 Posts
Thanks Lucy for this info. Have been thinking of organising some sort of graph on PC for a while, but not that experienced wih making up graphs. This could be a great help.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,435 Posts
My golden Finn has mild idiopathic epilepsy. I learned that checking lead levels/ lead exposure is important before deciding on idiopathic. We keep rectal valium/Diazepam for Finn in a form called Diastat so seizures can be stopped dead in an emergency.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GoldensGirl

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,788 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
When you feel all alone...

Here's a pointer to a GRF poll about Goldens with seizures: http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/golden-retriever-polls/42409-seizures.html.

As I read this, about 47% of the respondents either have or used to have a Golden that has/had seizures. That's a frightening statistic to me, though I suspect the number is biased by the likelihood that people with a seizure dog might be more likely to open the thread in the first place. We know there are a lot of us, though. :uhoh::(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,576 Posts
if the date is correct when that poll was started ( 2008 ) then Tom hadn't even started seizing until july 2009. Will have a proper look at it later
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Hi everyone, just registered and yet to find my way about properly. I have two goldies, Alice the younger, is aged 10. She began having seizures about 18 months ago and is now taking 2x pheno barb 60mg twice each day and 1000mg potassium bromide once each day. The potassium bromide was added this March after a cluster. She had a single fit in June and had a cluster of 5 (about 5 hours apart) last Monday 23 rd July . She had 2 extra half tablets of pheno barb to help stop them, on vets recommendation. I used an ice pack and ice cream. Bloods were taken to check potassium bromide levels and they came back within therapeutic levels. She took 3 days to really come round but in that time was having what I now know are single focal seizures. Very mild, head bobbing or just 'popping out for a minute" always conscious and stopped as soon as I spoke to her. Yesterday, after consulting with a neurologist, her vet increased the pot bromide by 250 mg. Last evening she started having a different focal seizure where the head bobbing was more pronounced and she couldn't stop it when I spoke. Must admit I think I panicked a bit, and over reacted, thinking she was heading for another cluster - and also I had to collect my daughter from the station so didn't have time to wait and assess things, so I gave her a half pheno barb, desperate to avoid more clustering. When we returned about 35 minutes later she was sleeping quite happily. This morning she seems ok, little to see of focal seizures and usual lovely Alice behaviour. Does anyone have any helpful comments please? Also, does anyone know how long the extra raised dose of potassium bromide will take to take effect. Really pleased to have found this forum! :crossfing
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,576 Posts
Hi Lynlegs, sorry to hear you have found us by looking for help with epilepsy.
If you look under health you will find a subcategory for epilepsy.
Tom started with a similar focal type seizure after a cluster earlier this year which progress into what I think is a complex motor seizure, his head bobbed side to side then when he tried to get up he couldn't, and when he did finally get up he would make a bolt for a corner and would clear anything in his way, it was very very scary and also very bizarre. The neurologist put him on keppra, which he is still on, and I've also made drastic changes to his diet again.
It will take at least 2 weeks for an increase in Pheno to take effect and about 4 to 8 week for an increase in kbr.
Hope Alice is more settled now !!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,788 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Welcome to the Forum, Lynlegs. I'm sorry to hear about your girl's seizures.

My Charlie had both focal and grand mal seizures. For the focal seizures, he was on a drug called zonisamide that worked pretty well and was effective pretty quickly. There are a couple of threads about zonisamide. Let us know if you need pointers.

I hope you'll start a thread of your own in the seizure sub-forum (where this thread is), so that you will have a place to share your stories. It will also be a good reference place for you, since you'll probably get a lot of advice from our seizure community and having it in your own thread will make it easier to find when you need it. We have several members from the U.K., by the way.

Wishing you a happy seizure-free day,
Lucy
 
1 - 20 of 78 Posts
Top