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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.
 

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What am I missing? Is this just a "normal" part of aging for my boy?
I am not an expert and I don't have a seizure dog but if I had an older dog that just started having seizures I would suspect some other process going on in the brain, such as tumor, stroke, infection or some other brain injury. If those were ruled out then I might consider this as a late onset epilepsy. I would not consider this a "normal" part of aging.
I am so sorry you are having to go through this with your senior pal. I hope you are able to find a balance of medication that controls the seizures and keeps your dog comfortable.
 

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Goldensgirl

Goldensgirl

I just went to search on here and typed in seizures and came up with all of these posts:

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/search.php?searchid=1438884

I googled Seizures in a Senior Dog and found lots of information. So sorry your boy is going through this. My Golden Ret. will be 12 in Feb. 2011.

http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5516492_causes-seizures-senior-dogs.html

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4TSNA_enUS370US370&q=Seizures+in+a+Senior+Dog
 

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Where The Bitches Rule
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Not all seizures are caused by "brain" issues. Sometimes they can caused by some toxicity in the system. My Keeper had one around 12 years of age. Due to her also having liver issues we chose not to run any tests for them and watched her liver values even more closely. She never had another and we are sure the seizure was caused by toxicity. If you have not run full a senior blood panel on your dog recently it might be worth while to do so.

Good luck!!! :wavey:
 

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Black walnuts cause seizures

I just learned that eating black walnuts, especially moldy hulls from them, can cause seizures in dogs. And we have multiple huge black walnut trees in the yard, with hulls and nuts in abundance. I don't know whether Charlie has been eating them, but it would be like my boy to do that.

I don't know if it's possible to clean up all of them, but we will do what we can. And we will increase our watchfulness with baby Sunny is outside.

Thanks for all comments and pointers!

Lucy
 

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I'm sorry that Charlie is having seizures. I've placed him on our Prayer List. I too had a Golden with seizures, but his started at age 6 and no cause was found. He was put on phenobarbital which controlled them. Starting at age 12, I too think there may be an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.
 

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I just realized you're in Maryland also. I too have Black Walnut trees on my property, though neither of my boys ever bothered with them but they do make walking through our yard painful on the feet.

I hope it's the nuts, but you should have him checked by your Vet to rule out something else.
 

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Specialists?

Thanks again for all suggestions (and prayers).

We are working the medical issues. Charlie has had a thorough blood work-up and he will see our vet again this week. We are still trying to come to terms with this, initially with meds to limit the seizures and now trying to find the underlying cause. So far, we don't have a clue about the cause of the seizures, except for my recent post about black walnuts. Since this began suddenly and at a relatively advanced age, toxicity of some kind make sense.

Another factor is that Charlie had his spleen removed about 5 years ago. There was no sign of cancer then, but the surgeon warned me that it could be hiding. My boy has lots of fatty tumors, as well as cysts in his eyes.

We are in Maryland near Columbia, about half way between Baltimore and D.C. Does anyone know if there are specialists near here that we should consult for Charlie? When Sabrina was diagnosed with kidney disease we lived in the state of Washington and I took her to specialists at the vet med school at WSU, which was about 70 miles from us, where I got excellent advice. I know there is a vet med school at Virginia Tech, but I don't know about one any closer.

Thanks again,
Lucy
 

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I am so sorry to hear about Charliue. My last golden, Sandy, started having seizures when she was 12 and we found out after an xray that she had a very large cancerous tumor on her liver. I pray that this is not the case with your dog. Have you done any xrays? Please keep us updated.
 

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Here are a few links to specialists in Maryland:
Chesapeake Veterinary Surgical Specialists - Annapolis and Towson MD - Home

Veterinary Specialists
this second link has a further link to specialists Directory for MD & VA

And a teaching Hospital in Virginia, covering Maryland as well.VMRCVM -Veterinary Teaching Hospitals
Thanks, Paula. The VRA center in Gaithersburg treated Sabrina when she her kidney disease got the better of us, and they diagnosed her cardiac cancer. Don't know why I didn't think of them. A little digging showed me that they have neurologists, and epilepsy is at the top of the list of neuro conditions that they treat. I'll talk with our vet about this and figure out whether this makes sense for Charlie.

Thanks again,
Lucy
 

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My Beau had seizures starting when he turned 10 years old. One of the best things we did was to start keeping a journal of what he ate, time and meds given, things put in the yard. etc. We started to see a patten at certain times of the month right after we gave him his heartworm medicine Heartguard within 48 hours he would have a seizure. I did some research and found that the ivermectin in the medicine can bring on seizures in dogs prone to them. So I switched to Interceptor and his seizures stopped at the beginning of the month. Also switched to non chemical stop put in the yard for fleas.

My vet told me that when seizures start in older dogs most of the time it is unexplained epilepsy. Basicaly they can find no cause for it. One thing that was suggested to me with the thyroid meds is to give it on an empty stomach 1 hour before feeding or 3 hours after feeding. That way it gets into the system more effectively.
 

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My Beau had seizures starting when he turned 10 years old. One of the best things we did was to start keeping a journal of what he ate, time and meds given, things put in the yard. etc. We started to see a patten at certain times of the month right after we gave him his heartworm medicine Heartguard within 48 hours he would have a seizure. I did some research and found that the ivermectin in the medicine can bring on seizures in dogs prone to them. So I switched to Interceptor and his seizures stopped at the beginning of the month. Also switched to non chemical stop put in the yard for fleas.

My vet told me that when seizures start in older dogs most of the time it is unexplained epilepsy. Basicaly they can find no cause for it. One thing that was suggested to me with the thyroid meds is to give it on an empty stomach 1 hour before feeding or 3 hours after feeding. That way it gets into the system more effectively.
Thanks BeauShel. (Or should that be Carol?) These are excellent suggestions. We are keeping a journal about the seizures, but have not kept the kinds of details that you suggest. I have been suspicious about the timing of seizures relative to when Charlie gets Interceptor and Frontline, but we don't have the documentation - yet. We will fix that.

Changing the timing of his thyroid meds also makes sense.

Thanks again,
Lucy
 

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No seizures for 2 weeks

We are celebrating that has been 2 weeks since Charlie's last seizure. Our vet increased the dosage on his Pheno, which seems to have done the trick - at least for now. We are waiting for blood test results that will tell us how his liver is handling the medicine. The doctor does not like the idea of switching to one of the bromides, though it looks to me like they are less "brittle" in the sense that they stay in the system longer and there is a little more tolerance for minor schedule variances (important given work requirements). Nor does the doctor encourage extensive testing. I think he is telling me the time to let go is coming sooner than I'd hoped.

I worry about my big boy and have such mixed feelings about how to handle this. Part of me wants to try everything possible to lengthen his life, but another part argues that helping him enjoy these golden days - even if they are his last - is the more loving way to go. I know others have faced these choices, too, as I have before. It doesn't get easier with experience, does it?
 

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I didnt do all the tests on Beau because my vet told me truthfully even if they find a tumor in his brain usually there is nothing they can do. But he also said in older dogs it is unknown reason for the seizures. One thing I also did for his liver levels that really helped was using Sam-E and milk thistle. They help to cleanse the liver. My vet noticed a difference in his levels after he was started on them. My Beau lived for 3 years after he started having seizures. Once you get him on the right level of pheno it makes a very big difference.
Truthfully I love the seniors and after my Beau passed I really missed having a dog that needed so much extra attention. But Beau had alot of other issues.
 

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We are celebrating that has been 2 weeks since Charlie's last seizure. Our vet increased the dosage on his Pheno, which seems to have done the trick - at least for now. We are waiting for blood test results that will tell us how his liver is handling the medicine. The doctor does not like the idea of switching to one of the bromides, though it looks to me like they are less "brittle" in the sense that they stay in the system longer and there is a little more tolerance for minor schedule variances (important given work requirements). Nor does the doctor encourage extensive testing. I think he is telling me the time to let go is coming sooner than I'd hoped.


I would not read more into this than what was stated. As some have posted earlier in this thread we do noot always find the cause foor the seizures. And the dog quite possibly will never again have one.
I remember when my Keeper was 10 years old and some issues started. Took her for testing and preliminarily I was sure it was the big "C". Which one I did not know but I was sure the "time" was almost here. Took her in for an ultrasound and it really did not show anything. We put her on a course of an antibiotic and some supplements to help the liver. Over the next 3 years she had a few "bad" days but always bounced back right away. Even added a couple of her titles in those Golden years. Around the time she turned 13 and the following 7 months we went to vet 3 times "knowing" she was not coming home. The first two times we were wrong and she again bounced back with some antibiotics. The third trip I was unfortunately right. I actually fekt quilty that the prior times I had given up on her, though she NEVER gave up.

I worry about my big boy and have such mixed feelings about how to handle this. Part of me wants to try everything possible to lengthen his life, but another part argues that helping him enjoy these golden days - even if they are his last - is the more loving way to go. I know others have faced these choices, too, as I have before. It doesn't get easier with experience, does it?
Listen to the part that is telling you to help him enjoy his Golden days - HE will let you know when it is time. And there will be plenty of time for tears THEN, not now. And no, it never does get easier.
 

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I think I know why your Vet is recommending the MRI.

12 years is pretty old for onset Epilepsy. I have a feeling he is looking for a Mass of some sort.

Discuss with your Vet having Valium Suppositories on hand. If given at the onset of a seizure, it can help it break quicker.

I also put a cool, damp cloth on Dakota's forhead when he had his.

Here's something important thing to remember. The first one is the scariest because you don't understand what's happening. Now you do.

So calm down :)

Do what you have to do calmly, and quietly. No more stumping of toes on the furniture running around. No more near-collisions with the bed post. No more falls/tripping over whatever is on the floor. No more forgetting to open the gate and flying head over heels onto your head or back.

I'm speaking from experience here. Hurting yourself won't help matters :) I spent 5 years with Dakota and his Epilepsy (his hit when he was around 5), and I'd say he had around 50 seizures during that 5 years. They don't get easier, but they do get less dramatic. If you let them.



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.
 
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