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AnnieO
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Discussion Starter #1
I have an English Cream Golden named Harper. I got her as a 3 month old puppy from a shelter after she was surrendered by her breeder due to vision impairments.
At 6 months, she has her first seizure. (Vet said it was a genetic abnormality in addition to the one causing her visual impairment, though not directly related). 2 months later she had her second one. Was put on Levetirecetam twice a day. She had a third seizure a few months after that. We upped the Levetirecetam to every 8 hours, and added Zonisimide every 12 hours.
Seizure 4 was a few weeks ago, one hour after her regular dose of medication. Vet said breakthrough seizures are common and expected. She had another seizure last night, the 5th one for her. It was exactly 3 weeks since the last one. I always give her Valium at the onset of a seizure and so far no clusters (thankfully).
I've never had a seizure dog before, does anyone have experience with breakthrough seizures? When should I be concerned about the frequency she has them? Harper is 1.5 years old now.
 

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I have had two epileptic dogs. One was a sheltie, the other was a giant schnauzer. Both were on phenobarbital and would have occasional seizures, despite being medicated. The sheltie was more prone than the schnauzer, and probably had one or two a year. The schnauzer would have breakthrough seizures much less frequently, but when he did have them, they were much more severe. The sheltie would just shake, but the schnauzer would go completely rigid, slide to the ground, urinate on himself, etc. I'm not sure how bad your dog's unmedicated seizures were, but I think the goal is to lessen severity and reduce frequency. If you feel those things are not happening, then speak to your vet or look for a specialist.
 

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Is the vet you are seeing a neurologist? Was there any testing done prior to starting the medications (blood work, brain imaging, etc.)? Has there been any testing to determine whether the drugs are at an appropriate blood level?

The cut-off I was taught in school, all those many years ago, was that we want to keep the seizures to no more than 1 a month, or at least that was the cutoff for starting meds -- if they had more than 1 a month it was time to start meds. If the answer to any of the above questions is no, That is probably where I would start, but if she is seizing this frequently even on meds, I would definitely say a neurologist is in order. If you are already seeing a neurologist, they are the best one to direct your questions to.

I'm so sorry you are going through this with her -- even if they are somewhat expected, seizures are always distressing to witness, and of course she has no idea what is happening, so that in itself is also distressing. Best of luck in your search for the best treatment for her!
 

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AnnieO
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Discussion Starter #5
She did have tests after the second seizure and that's when it was decided to medicate her. She was only about 8 months at the time. She was also born with a genetic abnormality in her eyes, she had a degenerative retina disorder and cataracts. So maybe it could just be a second abnormality. I'm not sure.
My vet isn't a neurologist but he has been great so far. He did suggest that it could be due to a decrease in exercise. She has a partially torn ACL that happened a few months ago so we did Laser Therapy, rest, leash walks, and swimming to create scar tissue and hopefully stimulate some cell regrowth to support the knee. She has 3 weeks of rest left. I am also in the process of moving so maybe it's stress as well that is contributing?
She is now on gabapentin in addition to the other two. After she can run again, and I am moved into my new house, we will try taking away the gabapentin and see how that goes.
I just hate not knowing when the next one will be. So far all of the episodes have occurred while I was with her, I would hate for her to have one when I am not home.

Is the vet you are seeing a neurologist? Was there any testing done prior to starting the medications (blood work, brain imaging, etc.)? Has there been any testing to determine whether the drugs are at an appropriate blood level?

The cut-off I was taught in school, all those many years ago, was that we want to keep the seizures to no more than 1 a month, or at least that was the cutoff for starting meds -- if they had more than 1 a month it was time to start meds. If the answer to any of the above questions is no, That is probably where I would start, but if she is seizing this frequently even on meds, I would definitely say a neurologist is in order. If you are already seeing a neurologist, they are the best one to direct your questions to.

I'm so sorry you are going through this with her -- even if they are somewhat expected, seizures are always distressing to witness, and of course she has no idea what is happening, so that in itself is also distressing. Best of luck in your search for the best treatment for her!
 

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AnnieO
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the personal experience. I appreciate the information. I would be thrilled if she has one or two seizures a year! It's been right in the border of concern recently.

I have had two epileptic dogs. One was a sheltie, the other was a giant schnauzer. Both were on phenobarbital and would have occasional seizures, despite being medicated. The sheltie was more prone than the schnauzer, and probably had one or two a year. The schnauzer would have breakthrough seizures much less frequently, but when he did have them, they were much more severe. The sheltie would just shake, but the schnauzer would go completely rigid, slide to the ground, urinate on himself, etc. I'm not sure how bad your dog's unmedicated seizures were, but I think the goal is to lessen severity and reduce frequency. If you feel those things are not happening, then speak to your vet or look for a specialist.
 

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I have no knowledge of dogs with epilepsy, but I am an epileptic so I can speak from some personal experience. first of all, your dog is not stressed by the seizure itself. in my case I don't even realize it happens until I have someone screaming in my face asking a bunch of questions I have no answer to. If no one was around when I regain consciousness i slowly regain memory and brain function. it's not confusing, or stressful, I'm just blissfully unaware of anything. I am on two medications, one of which is Levetirecetam aka, the brand name Keppra. I have no idea what they give dogs or dosing but I would keep working on it to reduce the qty of seizures as much as possible. my neuro told me that even when you don't have a breakthrough seizure that you can have seizure activity in your brain all the time. this activity causes damage over time. we kept doing tests after a change in meds to make sure there was not activity during normal consciousness. if one medication is not working for it by all means try to change them. my original neuro had me on huge doses of depakote which is a standard medication that is available in extended release tablets so you only have to take it twice a day like keppra (another med to ask your vet about) this medication just did not work for me personally (causes organ damage at high doses and was giving me weird personality issues) and I had to go and research meds myself until I found something that I wanted to try. keppra was that med and worked great with no side effects. good luck to you and Harper!
 

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AnnieO
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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks so much for the personal experience. I know she doesn't realize what is going on, especially because she gets a little aggressive when she comes out of it. Seems like she is deaf and blind. She will get up and run into the wall and she doesn't respond to sounds for a few minutes.
She is currently on Levetericetam (every 8 hours) Gabapentin (every 12 hours) and Zonisamide (every 12 hours).
I will ask him about the other medication also. Thanks for the information!

I have no knowledge of dogs with epilepsy, but I am an epileptic so I can speak from some personal experience. first of all, your dog is not stressed by the seizure itself. in my case I don't even realize it happens until I have someone screaming in my face asking a bunch of questions I have no answer to. If no one was around when I regain consciousness i slowly regain memory and brain function. it's not confusing, or stressful, I'm just blissfully unaware of anything. I am on two medications, one of which is Levetirecetam aka, the brand name Keppra. I have no idea what they give dogs or dosing but I would keep working on it to reduce the qty of seizures as much as possible. my neuro told me that even when you don't have a breakthrough seizure that you can have seizure activity in your brain all the time. this activity causes damage over time. we kept doing tests after a change in meds to make sure there was not activity during normal consciousness. if one medication is not working for it by all means try to change them. my original neuro had me on huge doses of depakote which is a standard medication that is available in extended release tablets so you only have to take it twice a day like keppra (another med to ask your vet about) this medication just did not work for me personally (causes organ damage at high doses and was giving me weird personality issues) and I had to go and research meds myself until I found something that I wanted to try. keppra was that med and worked great with no side effects. good luck to you and Harper!
 

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Thanks so much for the personal experience. I know she doesn't realize what is going on, especially because she gets a little aggressive when she comes out of it. Seems like she is deaf and blind. She will get up and run into the wall and she doesn't respond to sounds for a few minutes.
She is currently on Levetericetam (every 8 hours) Gabapentin (every 12 hours) and Zonisamide (every 12 hours).
I will ask him about the other medication also. Thanks for the information!
In regards to the aggression, it is more to do with confusion. the first seizure I had I happened to be driving and hit a telephone pole at low speed right near the fire station. I was completely unaware of anything until I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. I worked with the fire stations shift supervisor at his second job at the time and he told me I was extremely uncooperative and it took all 6 guys that responded to get me strapped to a gurney. Realize your dog won't know who you are (or even who they are, I don't know my own name and have trouble speaking initially) for several minutes after the incident. best thing I would advise there is give her space to get her head together. running into things may be a fight or flight response caused by the confusion or truly a case where she can physically move before the rest of her senses come back.

good luck and she is lucky to have you working to make her life better!
 

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So sorry you're going through this. I too rescued my Kai from a breeder and he started with seizures about 2.5 years ago (he's now 5 + years). He has had every test known to man !!! MRI, CSF taps, every type of blood test, the lot... It hasn't changed the outcome, he continues to have seizures very frequently around every 2 - 3 weeks, he appears disorientated and blind walking into walls etc !! Unfortunately for Kai when they come they are mostly cluster seizures. In between he has mini episodes every night.
All this despite his medications of epiphen (phenobarbitone), Libromide (Bromide), and Levitiracetam (Keppra). Up until recently they didn't stop him having fun, running, swimming exploring. Seems so unfair, I know ?. Infections of any kind and illness can expedite seizures, so that's something to be aware of. My Kai has recently been very poorly with several different infections, so isn't having the best of times.
Just wanted to let you know your not alone, please feel free to message me anytime. It's a hard path to take, looking after these poor dogs who suffer from this disease. ?
 

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AnnieO
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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the information about your poor puppy. Harper just had another seizure last night but it was very mild, and her last one was 5 weeks ago so we are doing well so far. She is currently on Levetirecetam every 8 hours, Zonisimide every 12 hours, and Gabapentin every 12 hours. The addition of Gabapentin has really seemed to help. If we can keep them more than 4 weeks apart I will be happy.
But thanks again for the support!

So sorry you're going through this. I too rescued my Kai from a breeder and he started with seizures about 2.5 years ago (he's now 5 + years). He has had every test known to man !!! MRI, CSF taps, every type of blood test, the lot... It hasn't changed the outcome, he continues to have seizures very frequently around every 2 - 3 weeks, he appears disorientated and blind walking into walls etc !! Unfortunately for Kai when they come they are mostly cluster seizures. In between he has mini episodes every night.
All this despite his medications of epiphen (phenobarbitone), Libromide (Bromide), and Levitiracetam (Keppra). Up until recently they didn't stop him having fun, running, swimming exploring. Seems so unfair, I know ?. Infections of any kind and illness can expedite seizures, so that's something to be aware of. My Kai has recently been very poorly with several different infections, so isn't having the best of times.
Just wanted to let you know your not alone, please feel free to message me anytime. It's a hard path to take, looking after these poor dogs who suffer from this disease. ?
 

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Can you tell me what happened during the seizure?

My Bowser boy was dizzy/falling over and his eyes were twitching around. Seizure?
 

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AnnieO
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Discussion Starter #13
The first seizure, she was outside playing, and she was running really strangely. It looked like she had string wrapped around her legs or something cause they weren?t all working. And she ran over to me and fell down, started paddling her paws severely, her mouth was open and she was making crying noises. It looked like she was choking at first.
Now she usually has them when she is sleeping, and it starts out looking like when dogs dream and paddle their paws a little bit, but just something about seems off, it?s hard to explain without seeing it, but it?s a little different looking than just a sleeping dog. And I try to wake her up (because sometimes she actually just dreaming and I?m mistaken) but if she?s seizing, I can?t. And then she starts chomping her mouth, drooling a lot, paddling her feet severely and making crying noises. She sometimes relieves herself by accident, or expresses her anal glands during the seizure, but not always. Then after, she looks confused and dazed and sometimes she looses sight and hearing completely, and she gets slightly defensive aggressive. Meaning she will back into a corner and bark for a few minutes until her senses return.
I hope this description helps a little. If any any other questions please let me know

Can you tell me what happened during the seizure?

My Bowser boy was dizzy/falling over and his eyes were twitching around. Seizure?
 
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