Seizures questions

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Indiana- Jones

Car?! Did you- say car?!
Barked: Wed Feb 2, '11 6:39pm PST 
Indy is 6.5 years old. He has had 5 seizures since 9/08/09 that we know of. I know that is not a lot, but I am still concerned. We brought him to the vet the first time it happened and they pretty much said there isn't much they could do since it only happened once and they can't diagnose the cause unless he is having the seizure when he is brought in. They also said if it happened again soon or with more frequency, I should bring him in again. The next episode was 3/12/10 then 5/27-10, 8/31/10 then today.

My Mom had him today. He goes to her place about once a week to get a break from the condo and play with his step sister. She had gone to get horse feed on her way home with him and she said he barks up a storm when people put the feed in the back of the car. He isn't vicious, just very loud!

When they got to her place, it was probably a hour or so after when it happened. He doesn't fall over or pee or anything like that. He tries to walk and is very wobbly and disoriented for a couple minutes. All you can do is hold him until it's over. Then he snaps out of it and seems fine.

So I don't know if it's from barking or what is causing the seizures. I know he went to jump in her car this morning, missed the seat and fell back down, but then jumped right back in. Being a JRT, he gets overly excited especially when my Mom comes to pick him up.

Are there any tests that will give any indication what might be causing the seizures? I'm not putting him on meds since they are so infrequent. We also have web cams on him during the day when my husband and I are at work. So I keep a pretty good eye on him even when we aren't home.

I did notice that perhaps he had been pulling on his collar on his leash prior to a couple of the seizures. He was pulling this morning because he knew my Mom was out in the parking lot waiting. But she comes to get him at least once a week, so I would assume it would happen more often if it was the collar.... He has a soft collar choker that he only wears when he goes out. Otherwise, no collar in the house.

He doesn't get much rawhide. Not much junk/table food either. He eats Iams dry (green bag) and he is not over weight. Carrots are his favorite snack.

I appreciate any advice or input. Thanks

Vaccine free- -Disease free- goes pawinpaw
Barked: Thu Feb 3, '11 7:50am PST 
Indy, it sounds like partial seizures. (the stiff legs, but no total loss of control)

Stress is a big trigger for seizures, so the barking could have done it. Any new changes, or certain smells and foods, chemicals, vaccines, and medications can trigger them also.

You can start with a blood test and tick panal which can indicate if the seizure is from a few problems there. At this point if nothing changes I wouldn't go testing beyond that but I would take steps like no more vaccines, no household cleaners with harsh chemicals, TTouch massages to help relaxation- things like that.

Here's an on line group for epi dog owners for additional info/support:

They may suggest meds but I agree with your decision for no meds, though I would and have used homeopathy with success for seizures.

You also might have to have either conventional or alternative remedy on hand for an emergency (many seizures in a row for example) hug

ETA: I hesitated writing this because it's not my place to tell you what to feed. But there are some ingredients that are chemicals in Iams that might be contributing to seizures. There's a brand at Costco called Kirklands Best that would be about the same price if not cheaper and it has less of those ingredients that harm.

Edited by author Thu Feb 3, '11 7:55am PST


Gone, But Not- Forgotten.
Barked: Thu Feb 3, '11 8:14am PST 
hug Scary stuff, huh? Once you've had a blood panel done, it can rule out the thyroid, etc. I'm at work, so I don't have my references with me, darn it.

Some seizures are reactive. IE: Lots of stress and/or excitement can bring on an attack. If this is the case, it just takes time to learn the triggers.

Most seizures are idiopathic, ie: no rhyme or reason for it. All you can do is keep a journal, write down dates, times, duration, and if you think something led up to it.

My dog had the latter. Her seizes were all over the place in terms of spacing: 3 months, two months, two weeks, one week, and now (knock wood) she hasn't had one for a year. I went through this for years. I don't think she's cured. We just have a break at the moment-I'm not kidding myself. If you're around your dog when it happens, just keep it contained so it would hurt itself. My dog has fallen off a chair and gotten stuck under the bed during a seizure.

I'm sure Dylan will pop in to give you resources to check into and helpful info to guide you through this. It's scary stuff, but doable.

Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Thu Feb 3, '11 9:54am PST 
Here is some info I also have posted in my Diary about seizure, what to do before, during and after, meds and testing.

Idiopathic seizures/Seizure disorders/epilepsy normally presents in dogs around the age of two. Seizure activity prior to this is often associated with endocrine issues (hypoglycemia, liver shunt etc) and seizure activity arising later in life is more commonly associated with endocrine issues (namely diabetes), neurological disorders or cancer (brain/spine). Idiopathic epilepsy is defined as epilepsy with no known cause. What it means is that the seizures are caused by a genetic or congenital issue rather than a endocrine, organ, toxin or disease process. This type of epilepsy can be controlled in most cases.

The following breeds are some that have a known genetic idiopathic epilepsy diagnosis; Beagles, GSD's, Irish Setters, Belgian Tervurens, Poodles, Saints, Keeshonds, Cockers, Labs and Goldens. Any dog developing seizures should be considered unbreedable. As hormone influxes can cause seizures to worsen serious consideration shoud be made in speutering a pet with idiopathic seizures.

In some cases a dog may have one seizure during its entire life and never have another witnessed by the owner. In other cases your dog may have a seizure every couples years, yearly, every few months or closer together. Medication is not recomended until the seizures become longer in duration than 5 minutes, come in clusters (more than 1 seizure within 30-60 minutes) or happen closer than every 6-8 weeks.

Every case is different. If your pet has a seizure there are several steps you can take to help determine their need for medication, additional testing, nursing care etc.

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 Charlie comes around may negatively affect him or cause him stress. During the seizure there are several small nursing care things you can do to help make your dog comfortable and also help calm yourself as well.

You can start prior to any more seizures by "seizure proofing" your home. If you know your dog is having seizures you should ensure that he is confined to one floor during the times he is home alone. This will help prevent any possible falling down stairs if he loses conciousness. Also look around the rooms he is most likely to be in for any super sharp corners or places that he may fall onto something and hurt himself. It may be neccessary to have a "safe" room for him when he is alone.

OK - Now for DURING 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!

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 someone(this may include your neighbor, family member, police, animal control, veterinarian etc-all precautions should be taken to keep you and your pet as safe as possible-seizure induced aggression usually lasts less than 30mins but may be longer-if your dog is aggressive DO NOT RISK TRANSPORTING THEM UNRESTRAINED IN A VEHICLE-Crate them OR get police/AC to take them) ASAP. The seizure should not last long so usually they come around and get back to themselves but NEVER lock yourself in a room/car 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 his mouth during the seizure. He may bite even if he has never bitten you before, and during a seizure he may not let go.

2-Never place your face close to his - same reason as above - he may bite and it may be very dangerous.

3-Make sure to remove any dangerous items from around him so that he does not hurt himself. Place him on the floor if he is not already. If this is not possible then position people around him to prevent him from rolling off whatever he is on.

4-Make sure he is laying down and not tangled in any blankets. I would remove all blankets from him. During a seizure body temperatures increase dramatically and can cause overheating or heat stroke.

5-Provide a pillow under his head to prevent him from flopping and banging his 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 him. You may also want to wipe his 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.

7-Your dog is likely to lose control of bladder and sphyncter resulting in both urination and defecation. It is most likely to get all over them so keeping things like towels or doggie pee pads close by is a good thing.

OK - Now AFTER the seizure.

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 your dog. He 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. You should limit the amount of water you offer at one time to reduce the chance of him drinking very large amounts then vomiting. Offer 1/2 cup amounts every 15-30 minutes until he is satisfied and discontinue/call your vet if he vomits.

At this point you may need to confine your dog to a small comfortable area and sit with him. Speak calmly and take time to stroke and pet him. 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.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS-----------------------------------------

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 your dogs collar incase he gets free or is picked up by a citizen or animal control. This will ensure he 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 your dog 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 him. 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.

MEDICATION INFORMATION----------------------------------------

There are anti-seizure medications that can be given. These medications have side effects on the Liver, kidneys and also cause polyphagia (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.

A newer medication being used is Keppra which can be cost prohibative for larger breeds.

TESTING ----------------------------------------------------

Ther e 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 know it was available and that it may be something to condider especially if your dog is younger. Dogs who have seizures disorders at his age often will have them for life.
Dylan aka- Dilly,my- angel

frisbee- s rule
Barked: Thu Feb 3, '11 4:31pm PST 
cant really add to what leah said.

but border collies are coming up fast on the list of breeds
epilepsy is the top genetic breed illness

I use an ice pack on the back while he seizes. shortens the length and helps cool him

Dylan had most of his while sleeping.

good luck
Indiana- Jones

Car?! Did you- say car?!
Barked: Thu Feb 3, '11 8:58pm PST 
First let me say thank you very much for the replies. I appreciate you all taking the time to respond.

I checked my notes that I took when Indy had each episode and there were 6, not 5.


I believe you are correct in it being a partial seizure. Perhaps the trip to the feed store with the protective barking was stressful. But other times nothing was going on. Just resting at home at night or in the morning when he was sleeping. I didn't write down the times of day they were happening until the last 2 entries.

There were no unusual chemicals being used the morning it happened. The only thing going on was me getting ready as I do every day....Shower, hair spray, perfume....etc. He is usually under the covers on the bed during this time or if he wants to hang by me, I make sure he stays out of the bathroom. My Mom is super diligent with chemicals because she has a Macaw.

Although we have a local vet, I will probably be taking Indy in for blood work to our old vet where I used to live. They are a no BS vet and have generations of knowledge (think outside the box).

I'm all for homeopathic therapy. I will look into it more.

I'm glad you mentioned the food. It's perfectly ok. When he was a puppy, the Iams was the only food that didn't give him diarrhea which is why we stayed with it. Canned food was not even an option. I have tried gravies to spice up his food if you will, but it just gives him gas. He rarely has gas at all on his current diet. But I will certainly look into the Kirkland food. I am a member of Costco.


Yes, it is scary. I feel so helpless and scared for him. The first time it happened, I was freaking out. We didn't really know what was happening. I thought he was choking on something. My husband was trying to see what he was choking on while I am screaming to get in the car and rush to the vet. By the time we got to the car, he was fine and looking around like 'What's going on? Are we going for a ride??' The second time, not as bad but still....I've had a variety of pets with different illnesses or issues, but nothing this scary when it's happening.


Wow! Thanks for this information!

I didn't realize there was an increase in temperature when there is a seizure. Anything I can do to comfort him will hopefully help the severity of the episode.

Since his seizures are fairly infrequent, I am hoping I will never need to medicate him.

It seems as though the seizures are difficult to diagnose. Especially if they don't happen with any particular pattern. I will take more detailed notes. Of course when you are writing something down, you think you will remember more from just referring to it later, but that is not always the case.

If nothing else, I would like to get the blood work done just to see if there is anything unusual and to check for diabetes. He doesn't show any unusual signs of thirst of wanting to go potty more like a human does. I assume the symptoms are similar?


I'll pick up some soft ice packs and keep them on hand.

Thanks again everyone. I really appreciate your feedback.

-Indy's Mom ♥

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Fri Feb 4, '11 7:05am PST 
Max hasn't had seizures for 6 years, knock on wood. He had half a dozen 6-8 weeks apart between ages 2-4 years and they were triggered by chemicals and stress. Once an extra joint supplement was eaten and he had a seizure! Perhaps there was a scuffle getting that was stressful too, don't remember. A too long walk without Sassy and playing with a puppy at the park AND walking across some nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium fertilizer granules triggered one. They were not very bad ones, he came out after a very long minute or so and was never tired after or anything. Supporting him with training and regular exercise - with Sassy along - helped a great deal. Now that he eats raw with all that protein and fat he is calmer and I wonder if the 21-25% protein kibble he ate back then was not supporting his needs. Eating raw happened long after the seizures ended though there isn't a direct correlation, just wondering if he would never have had one if he had eaten a diet that oversupplied protein and other nutrients.

Nobody mentioned this site. Loads of ideas on what might cause seizures though most are dealing with acute problems, not the low level sort Max and Indy seem to have/had.

Dogs are supposed to synthesize their own taurine and some groups of dogs with seizures respond to taurine supplements. IAMS hasn't any taurine added but it has plenty of meat protein so I doubt it is low in taurine or the amino acid it is supposed to be synthesized from anyway but you could add a human quality taurine supplement to his diet in case it is marginal. There are a lot of seizure triggers, rosemary is a common one and IAMS uses it. IAMS is low in Omega 3, never heard that it is a problem for seizures but you could supplement the diet with fish oil capsules, fish oil or even buy canned sardines, salmon or mackerel and mix in a little every day. Perhaps the just a bit too low levels of any one of these nutrients for him or any number of other nutrients plus a little too much stress and he goes over the threshold?

Vaccine free- -Disease free- goes pawinpaw
Barked: Fri Feb 4, '11 12:11pm PST 
Glad you're sounding better, remember you are not alone in this!

(LOL my dog has gas eating good food!)

Anyway if/when you do change food, if you add in some probiotics that might help cut down the gas from the diet change. Maxwell made a good point about taurine. Amino acids are important to brain health.

if you ask on yahoo k9epilepsy some people there have used homeopathy for their epi dogs and are usually willing to share their experiences.

Edited by author Fri Feb 4, '11 12:18pm PST

Indiana- Jones

Car?! Did you- say car?!
Barked: Sun Feb 6, '11 8:02pm PST 

It's difficult to discover a trigger. I know dogs are more sensitive to smells, especially chemicals used to clean or deodorize.

I hate it when my condo lawn care people use pesticides or fertilizer on the lawns. They put out a bunch of flags saying keep dogs/kids away from the area and it seems there is no where safe to allow Indy to walk. They treat huge areas all at once giving us dog walkers no where to go. Even I can smell the chemicals they use on the lawn. But now is not the time of year when the lawn gets treated (NJ).

When I use cleaners, I always make sure there has ventilation and the Indy is not in the room. The seizures didn't start until he was 5, so if chemicals/cleaners were a trigger, I would assume he would of reacted sooner? Plus all the times he had them, there were no cleaners being used before hand. I was reading on that site you provided (thank you for that) the list of things that can trigger a seizure, and I don't use any of the household products they mention, but we do use scented candles and I use perfume. But again, none of these items were used around the times leading up to the seizures. I would contribute excitement/stress/anxiety to it more then anything else. Except the time he had one when he was sleeping in the morning when I was getting ready for work. So again, it's hard to find a trigger or pattern.

What raw foods do you feed your dogs?

I do want to get him some vitamins. And I will be getting him a blood test.


Thanks. I know Indy's seizures aren't nearly as bad as some others, but I would still like to see if there is something he is lacking that could be causing them even if they aren't very often. I'm actually surprised he doesn't have gas. My other dogs could clear a room! lol. But they were also naughty and would get into the garbage and my Mom would let them have greasy foods or lick a pan from just cooking something in the oven. Not good I know, but that was a long time ago and I don't do that with Indy. He does get the occasional bite of food from a meal we have, but it's always in moderation. Tonight I made an over stuffer roaster and it comes with the innards like liver, gizzards, neck, etc....I cooked and shared the liver with him. His favorite snack is carrots and have been since he was a baby.
Indiana- Jones

Car?! Did you- say car?!
Barked: Sun Feb 6, '11 8:23pm PST 
Hey Adam! Indy just had gas!...LOL...He tooted and turned to look/sniff at his hind end. He was as surprised as I was! Maybe it was the liver.....

Just thought I'd share big grin