This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.


Dawn - "Born on the- Lunar Eclipse"
Barked: Fri Jul 2, '10 4:21am PST 
Dawn's had two seizures so far in her life but they were about 4 months apart. Her first seizure was a series of 3 and was categorized as a cluster seizure. At the time we didn't have the funds to do the proper blood work to figure out what was going on in there. She had another one back in May (the first was in January) that only lasted a few seconds, but she was disoriented longer.

When we took her back to the vet he said he wasn't overly concerned. He is positive she is epileptic but doesn't feel she needs medications or much work right now in her life, as it only afflicts her every 3-4 months and then not very harshly. He also thinks its very much related to her hormones. She's not fixed (we keep a good eye on her, no babies for her). We have her scheduled for a spay later in the year when money is more readily available.

IF it's caused by an imbalance in hormones do you think the seizures will be more or less after spay?

The vet also said that spaying is a high risk procedure for epileptic dogs. Is that true?

Her seizures really aren't that bad. She gets a little stiff and tightens her jaw, but it goes away after only a minute or two. Then, after thirty minutes of some disorientation (vet said that's normal) she's back to her old self again.

Also, does anyone have any tips for caring for an epileptic dog? So far she leads a normal care-free life. However, I've noticed that sometimes she just doesn't feel like herself. Instead of being playful and/or cuddly she gets depressed and just lays there. Is this part of it possibly?

Thanks in advance. wink
Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Fri Jul 2, '10 10:59am PST 
There have been some studies suggesting that spayed females have less issues with epilepsy as seizures can sometimes be linked to the heat cycle.

I have previously written a long answer about seizures for another dog so if you don't mind I am just doing to reprint it here for you. I apologize if I miss taking out that dogs name for yours.

Seizures are a confusing diagnosis in both humans and dogs. Here is a some info on seizures

"Seizure Info

At this point Dawn is about 2yrs old right? This is the age that seizure disorders usually present themselves. At this point I would do exactly what the doctor has reccomended. Start a journal where you record the time, date, length, symptoms/actions, what was happening at that time and weather at the time. It is also important to record any medications he recieved that day and what time. This is important because some animals have seizures associated with medication administration - this happens to some animals after heartworm preventative or flea/tick topical meds.
This journal is very important because it will help you keep track of how often they are happening and give you the ability to find a pattern if there is one.

Seizures are scary events for the witness NOT neccesarily the affected. Most humans report that they have no memory of the seizure and they are generally not painful. So keep in mind your anxiety when Dawn comes around may negatively affect her or cause her stress. During the seizure there are several small nursing care things you can do to help make Dawn comfortable and also help calm yourself as well.
You can start prior to any more seizures by "seizure proofing" your home. Now that you know Dawn is having seizures you should ensure that she is confined to one floor during the times she is home alone. This will help prevent any possible falling down stairs if she loses conciousness. Also look around the rooms she is most likely to be in for any super sharp corners or places that he may fall onto something and hurt herself. It may be neccessary to have a "safe" room for her when she is alone.
OK - Now for DURING the seizure - Most times a seizure is pretty safe for the witness but I also would like to note that there are a small percentage of dogs who have agression associated with seizures. This can be very dangerous so please monitor your pets behavior. If they become aggressive leave immedietly, lock them in another room and contact some ASAP. The seizure should not last long so usually they come around and get back to themselves but NEVER lock yourself in a room with a seizuring animal. I don't mean this to scare you but have seen this happen and it is not fun!
1-Never put your hand near or in her mouth during the seizure. SHe may bite even if she has never bitten you before, and during a seizure she may not let go.
2-Never place your face close to hers - same reason as above - she may bite and it may be very dangerous.
3-Make sure to remove any dangerous items from around her so that she does not hurt himself. Place her on the floor if she is not already. If this is not possible then position people around her to prevent her from rolling off whatever she is on.
4-Make sure she is laying down and not tangled in any blankets. I would remove all blankets from her. During a seizure body temperatures increase dramatically and can cause overheating or heat stroke.
5-Provide a pillow under her head to prevent her from flopping and banging her head on the floor. In general dogs do better during seizure while laying on their sides on the floor.
6-Place a fan nearby (especially in summer) to help cool her. You may also want to wipe her face with a cold face cloth. In my experience the cooling sensation helps them to recover slightly faster and it also helps the witness by giving them something to focus on to stay calm.
OK - Now AFTER the seizure.
The average seizure (shaking/convulsing) should last no longer than 5 minutes. If it is longer or they are not coming out of it at all your regular vet or emergency vet should be contacted immedietly. If a dog is having a seizure for longer than 8 minutes with no sign of improvement OR has cluster seizure that are more frequent than every 10 minutes or lasts 1/2 hour then you should go to the closest open animal hospital for IV medications like valium or phenobarbitol IMMEDIETLY!
The convulsing part is followed by the POST-ICTAL period. This is a period of confusion, disorientation and ataxia that last anywhere from 1/2 to 1 hour. Some people report feeling funny for the rest of the day. This is a time when constant supervision is required for Dawn. She may have trouble standing, walking, may appear dizzy. Some instances vomiting or diarrhea may occur now. Some owners also report dogs become very thirsty following a seizure. At this point you may need to confine Dawn to a small comfortable area and sit with her. Speak calmly and take time to stroke and pet her. Humans have reported that during the post-ictal stage human touch helps them to feel comforted and often helps them feel less stressed. In my experience with dogs they calm down better when you spend time stroking and talking to them after a seizure. This may also be a good time to write in your seizure journal.

There are anti-seizure medications that can be given. These medications have side effects on the Liver, kidneys and also cause poluphagia (increased appetite) and polydipsia (increased thirst). These side effects cause concern so many vets will only treat an epeleptic dog if they have seizures consistantly lasting longer than 5 minutes or they have seizures more frequently than once monthly. These medication require frequent bloodwork to check that they are providing adequate levels in the blood and also to check the liver and kidney functions. The two most common preventative medications are phenobarbitol(tablet) and potassium bromide/KBR(capsule or liquid). There also appears to be a link between KBR and pancreatitis. If you notice a decreased appetite or diarrhea while taking this medication contact your vet. Depending on the severity of the seizures when medication is started your vet may reccomend hospitalization for a loading period. A loading period is usually 24 hours of hospitalization where anti-epileptic drugs are given IV at a high dose that usually causes some sedation (which is why we only do this hopitalized) but builds the drug level up quickly in the system so we can get the seizures under control then start a pill regiment at home. Anti-seizure medications are given either once daily or twice daily.

Some other things to consider are:
1) Some people use bells on the collar of the pet to help notify them when they are unable to keep constant visual contact but are within hearing distance. Bells will shake violently when the dog is having a seizure. This is common practice at alot of vet clinics to help notify nursing staff of a seizure.
2) There is a group on Dogster called "the movers and the shakers". This is a group of other dogs and owners who are dealing with the same things as you and may be able to give some good info too.
3) Consider adding a medical alert tag to Dawns collar incase she gets free or is picked up by a citizen or animal control. This will ensure she is treated properly in case a seizure happens in their care. It is just a emergency notification type thing.
4) Make sure EVERYONE in the household understands seizures and what to do if they happen! It may be neccessary to tell guests as well.
5) Make sure to NOTIFY any place Dawn goes like groomer, daycare, kennel etc so the staff knows. I would also make sure to mention it at every vet visit and bring along the journal too so that the vet has all the info you do. This will be helpful when considering medication and also to help make sure no medications are given that may negetively affect her. Some clients also call their vet after every seizure so that the receptionist or tech can place a note in his file everytime - this is sort of like a back-up to the journal just in case.

Whooooo! Sorry for the long long post but I think I got everything in that I wanted to say. I hope this info helps.

One more thing - There is really only one way to diagnose 100% seizures and that is an MRI (MRI) and CSF (ceribrialspinal fluid tap - CSF tap ) tap - This test can be expensive and requires anesthesia (usually costs about $1500-2000 depending on the area MRI'd and the CSF tests). The MRI will show any issues in the brain and the CSF shows infectious diseases, brain chemical inbalances etc. These tests are not an everyday option in most areas and a referral to a board-certified neurologist may be neccessary (and in my opinion IS VERY necessary). There are many many dogs out there who have seizure disorders and have never seen an neurologist so it definetly is not required but I wanted to make sure you knew it was available and that it may be something to condider especially since Charley is so young. Dogs who have seizures disorders at his age often will have them for life. They can lead relitively normal lives but may end up on daily medications. On the other hand he may only have 1 or 2 seizures a year for the rest of his life. At this point you need to just see how things play out and go from there.
Good Luck!!"

I hope this helps Dawn

Dawn reports "So far she leads a normal care-free life. However, I've noticed that sometimes she just doesn't feel like herself. Instead of being playful and/or cuddly she gets depressed and just lays there. Is this part of it possibly?"

I would report these in the journal as well. This could be indicative of a post-ictal phase for an unwitnessed seizure.

Edited by author Fri Jul 2, '10 11:08am PST


Dawn - "Born on the- Lunar Eclipse"
Barked: Fri Jul 2, '10 1:05pm PST 
Thanks very much Leah. That was a very helpful post. Some of it I already knew from my research (the risk of biting, for instance) but some of it I hadn't read yet.

She normally sleeps in a solid plastic crate with only a kennel pad at night. This way if she seizes while we are asleep she'll be right next to us and we'll hear her and wake up. When she's not sleeping in the crate at night she's sleeping with us. I have already proofed our room, which is where she spends the majority of her time.

I will consider the bell but it will likely drive my partner crazy. He doesn't even like the sound of dog tags! All the same if I convince him it's for the better for Dawn he'd probably give in. smile

I will make sure to order her the tag you suggested so that if she gets out whoever finds her will know. We normally take the precautions to be sure that our dogs don't get out, but sometimes someone else will leave our gate open. My partner's dad's dog often gets out because of this - and she's a roamer!

For the two seizures I was there to witness, the first one was scariest. I was in the bathroom at the time when she did it, and the very first one from the onset of cluster seizure was horrible. Her front legs were twisting back over her head. The two immediately after weren't nearly as physical and as soon as she was able to walk on her own we took her in to the vet.

The second was in May and it was a very short period. I had just woken up and sat up in bed and she seized as I did so. I tried to catch her but she rolled right off. Luckily, our bed is on the floor. :| She also happened to land on the pillow my partner had knocked off the bed. Since then I've slept lighter (I guess I'm more aware in my sleep) and have wanted to keep her in the crate more.

Would you suggest keeping her in the crate or letting her roam at night? She is always confined to our room unless we go with her upstairs or outside. This is because we share the house with another family and they don't like it when she randomly invates their space (or the other dogs for that matter).


Mommy's Little- Velcro Dog
Barked: Fri Jul 2, '10 2:18pm PST 
Have you had any bloodwork done? Whenever we have a dog that has seizures we generally will run a comprehensive blood panel and take head x-rays. Sometimes a low thyroid can cause seizures. Here is one of the BEST seizure sites I've ever seen, it is very comprehensive. We have a male siberian husky who was having 'hormonal' seizures once a month, it was really weird always around the same day of the month. But I do think spaying would help with the epilepsy/seizures as the hormones can set seizures off.

Clicky --> Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels

Dawn - "Born on the- Lunar Eclipse"
Barked: Fri Jul 2, '10 11:13pm PST 
We haven't had her bloodwork run yet. We really are just barely scraping by with our bills. I spoke to the vet about it the last time we were there. He told us not to worry about it for the time being and if she had one that was more severe than the others, or started having them more frequently, he'd want to go ahead and do it anyhow. He said he's not overly concerned at this point, but I still wonder if it's right. I've been thinking of calling another vet to ask. Do you think I should? I know asking never hurts, but I trust my vet. puppy

Finally Seizure- Free!
Barked: Sat Jul 3, '10 8:45pm PST 
Hi Dawn,

Leah was referring to me. Charley started to have a seizures a month ago. He actually has his more often and the vets are wanting to put him on the medication. I just wanted to let you know that I know what you are going through and to give some encouraging words.

While it will be scary when your dog has a seizure, you will calm down and not panic. It is never easy to something so scary but you will become a pro at handling the seizure and what to do afterwards.

During Charley's seizures, we remove Isabelle to another room during the seizure. When the seizure is over and he is disoriented, we do not touch him, we do not allow the cats or Izzie near him, we let him come to on his own. After this, Charley usually can't walk and needs help. He gets rinsed off and taken outside to go potty (he always has to potty afterwards). While outside, we bring Izzie to, as Charley is himself. At first Izzie would be aggressive towards him but now, she seems fine with the strange smell he leaves.

Unfortunately, we seperate Izzie and Charley at night because of the seizures. These two are glued to each other all day but at night I feel better knowing Charley is with my brother and Izzie is with me because of safety for both dogs.

As for the encouraging words, if the vet doesn't want to put your dog on the medication, he/she has good reasons. The medication affects the kidneys and maybe the liver. I have to admit that I am terrified of putting Charley on the medication becaue of the side effects, but my vet says this is the last option in control.

Dawn will hopefully live a full life, though she may seize every once in awhile. You can p-mail me if you need encouragement or if Dawn had a particuraly bad day.

I hope all goes well!

Dawn - "Born on the- Lunar Eclipse"
Barked: Thu Jul 8, '10 11:54pm PST 
Thanks again for the awesome responses.smile

Dawn now has a bell and though it is annoying to my partner he does understand it's purpose. She now jingles lightly while moving along, and jingles like mad when she jumps, falls, twists, or runs. So at least I have that as some comfort.

Dawn usually goes on herself during the seizure. She can't seem to hold it until after shrug The vet said that was normal too though.

Thanks again. smile
Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Fri Jul 9, '10 4:10am PST 
Charley - glad to hear its going well

Dawn - It is not uncommon for other pets to act aggressively towards pets who seizure. This is why keeping Dawn in a crate at night might be a better option than free. So many accidents can happen free and I have been witness to the after effects of pretty bad attacks by other family members to a pet in their seizure or post ictal phase.

Rocket Dog!
Barked: Tue Jul 13, '10 6:34pm PST 

Hugs to everyone. We've just recently come to realize Rocket has epilepsy as well (though very mild.) And like everyone says, even though at first its really scary, as you learn how to deal with it it gets better and easier.

We took Rocket to the vet after his last seizure (Mostly because he also tore a paw pad, but we also brought that up,) and my vet also said she wouldn't put Rocket on the medicine unless the seizures were very frequent and actually hindering his quality of life.

I think she said it best when it came to not putting him on medicine. Firstly, its comes with a ton of side effects, including liver failure (for phenobarbital at least)and you have to monitor his organs heavily. Secondly, our dogs don't drive cars, they don't have to hold down jobs, they aren't going to walk to the store and have a seizure while crossing the road, all the reasons we have to treat it aggressively with humans. She said just be sure to keep him away from stairs and from pools while he is not being supervised, make sure he's in a safe place, and all will be good.

Leah posted this great information in my thread when I wrote about Rocket, you're getting good advice here.hug

Izzat chicken?
Barked: Tue Jul 13, '10 8:15pm PST 
Someone usually gives Tally a blanket when she is about to have a seizure or has one. It can obscure your vision of what happens, but her pattern is pretty standard, so I usually know what's going to happen, and to the extent it obscures everything, it actually helps me to calm down too. T, for the most part, becomes lethargic a few minutes before and after each seizure, but she's back to normal usually within about five minutes. The only really scary time when I was worried something was going to happen to her was when we were on a walk around the neighborhood. My neighborhood has no sidewalks, so we were walking on the road, and I was worried that a car would come by without seeing her. Best thing I can say if you wind up in such a situation is not to leave Dawn's side. The cars may or may not see her, but they can see you. hug

EDIT: Ah, one other thing. Tally, I think, is somewhat conscious, at least at first. When I notice a seizure and I'm worried about her toppling, I usually give her "sit" and "down" commands quickly in order to get her into a safer position. I usually have, maybe ten or twenty seconds to do this.

Edited by author Tue Jul 13, '10 8:23pm PST