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Old 05-30-2014, 11:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Looking for experiences with epilepsy/seizures

Last Friday night, I had to rush Keeta, 10 yrs old, in to emergency for seizures. She ended up having cluster seizures, went into shock, and the vet wasn't even sure if she was going to make it to morning. Blood work was normal and didn't pinpoint any internal organ problems of toxicity. X-rays were taken, and part of the abdomen cavity was showing a strange haziness which disappeared in follow-up x-rays the next day. Vet even did an ultrasound, but no organ abnormalities or tumors were found.

She was shot up full of Valium, and kept seizing, so she got a shot of phenobarbital, and that seemed to do the trick. We've done follow-up more in-dept bloodwork and urine analysis, and she is healthy as a horse! There is no explanation for why she went into shock, other than the severity of the seizures, but she has not had seizures, not even minor tremors all week since being on phenob.

The phenobarbital is making her very tired, very groggy, very unsteady, desperately thirsty, and incontinent. She does have spay incontinence that she had since she was around 2 years old, but it was kept under control with her raw diet. I know there is usually a 2 to 3 week adjustment period for her body to get used to the phenobarbital, so I'm hoping the fatigue, the constant thirst, and the incontinence will all resolve themselves in the next two weeks or so.

So I'm looking for other stories of apparently healthy dogs developing epilepsy - if anything inducing the seizures was found or not, how your dog responded to phenobarbital, how long the side-effects lasted, and how your dog has been doing long-term.

Have to say I was very impressed with the vet clinic - all the vets in my town (80,000), take turns being on call for emergency. I didn't know this vet, but she stayed the night at the clinic to watch Keeta, and the vet tech that was called out came by the next day on her day off just to see how Keeta was doing. I was very moved by their concern for my old girl.
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Old 05-30-2014, 11:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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at her age they would probably suspect a brain tumor
sorry you are dealing with this
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Old 05-30-2014, 12:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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castle, any mention of an MRI, she will adjust somewhat to the pheno barb. you may find you can cut down the dose gradually under supervision of your vet. hope all goes well.
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Old 05-30-2014, 12:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Problem is distance - we did talk about an MRI, but the closest place to take her would be Vancouver or Calgary - A full day of travel one way (12 hours or so) . So for now, no big panic to get an MRI if the phenobarbital keeps working.
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Gryffon Vom Wildhaus BH
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Old 05-30-2014, 04:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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castle, in people it it is all a matter of dosage. i am sure your vet did a neuro check which can be pretty accurate. sometimes dosage is cut back until a seizure occurs and then add a little more. actually with people and and all the ne drugs it is abit mor than trial and error. i am hopeful you will still have good years ahead with your pal.
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Old 05-30-2014, 04:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It's is nearly unheard of for a 10 year old dog to have epilepsy. At that age seizures are generally caused by something else. Toxin, tumor, endocrine disirder(thyroid). Not sure what bloodwork they did, but if they did not check her thyroid, I would at least have that done.

The most likely cause is a tumor. The phenobarbital will control the seizures, until it doesn't. If it is a tumor, eventually it will grow to a size that even phenobarbital can't control.

I am very sorry your poor girl is going through this. Seizures are terrifying.


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Old 05-30-2014, 05:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi Castlemaid,

My dog is on phenobarbital. For the most part, we have had really good seizure control on it. We had to adjust the dosage once as his levels had fallen below the recommended therapeutic range. In terms of side effects, when we first started with the phenobarbital, I noticed some increase in appetite and thirst as well as very slight ataxia for the first week or so… since then, nothing really.

Given the severity of Keeta’s seizure event - and that fact that the valium shot did not work - I suspect the vet gave Keeta a loading dose of phenobarbital. Loading doses are designed to quickly bring the pheno level up to the therapeutic range. Dogs who are given the loading dose often have much more pronounced side effects as the initial dosage level is higher than what the dog would need once the pheno level is within the therapeutic range. I think that the side effects you are seeing now will significantly diminish, if not disappear, once the dosage is adjusted to maintenance levels and the dog adapts to the medication.

Wishing you and Keeta all the best.

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Old 05-31-2014, 08:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsdsar View Post
It's is nearly unheard of for a 10 year old dog to have epilepsy. At that age seizures are generally caused by something else. Toxin, tumor, endocrine disirder(thyroid). Not sure what bloodwork they did, but if they did not check her thyroid, I would at least have that done.

The most likely cause is a tumor. The phenobarbital will control the seizures, until it doesn't. If it is a tumor, eventually it will grow to a size that even phenobarbital can't control.
I didn't know that epilepsy is dogs does not just spontaneously develop later in life. Can it develop like this for no reason in humans?

I'm not quite conversant in medical/blood work protocol, but the blood work did look for kidney and liver failure, red and white blood cell count (and types of white blood cells). I did ask for copies of the results, so I can refer to them with some guidance as to what I'm looking at. A few people on message boards have mentioned the thyroid levels, so this does seem something to check into.

Brain tumor - possibility of this was discussed. We'd need an MRI which as mentioned won't be easy to get. At this point if the medication keeps her seizures under control, we'll just go by quality of life before deciding on the next step. I just can't see brain surgery done on a dog - is it done? Not sure if I would consider it, especially at her age.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LifeofRiley View Post
Hi Castlemaid,

My dog is on phenobarbital. For the most part, we have had really good seizure control on it. We had to adjust the dosage once as his levels had fallen below the recommended therapeutic range. In terms of side effects, when we first started with the phenobarbital, I noticed some increase in appetite and thirst as well as very slight ataxia for the first week or so… since then, nothing really.

Given the severity of Keeta’s seizure event - and that fact that the valium shot did not work - I suspect the vet gave Keeta a loading dose of phenobarbital. Loading doses are designed to quickly bring the pheno level up to the therapeutic range. Dogs who are given the loading dose often have much more pronounced side effects as the initial dosage level is higher than what the dog would need once the pheno level is within the therapeutic range. I think that the side effects you are seeing now will significantly diminish, if not disappear, once the dosage is adjusted to maintenance levels and the dog adapts to the medication.

Wishing you and Keeta all the best.
Thank you for this! Just getting this kind of feedback really helps.
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Keeta BH, OB1, TR1, AD
Rottweiler/Hairy Dog mix?? Shelter rescue
Gryffon Vom Wildhaus BH
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Look for t4. On her bloodwork. That's the most common thyroid value. Although if suspected I would get a full thyroid panel done, it gives lots of values for lots if the cascade.

Toxins can sometimes be ruled out with basic chemistries, but if it's suspected, then Special tests need to be done.

Yes. There is brain surgery on dogs. But is not done often.

I think you are on the right track with keeping her comfortable, getting her used to the meds and giving her a good quality if life. Phenobarbital can be tough to get used to, but must dogs do.

Keep some vanilla ice cream on hand for post seizure periods(old wives tail, but people swear by it),

Good lyck


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Old 05-31-2014, 09:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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When Banshee had her first seizure, the vet told us the most likely diagnosis was a brain tumor. If it is you'll see signs such as loss of balance, head tilting to one side.

Here's the problem with diagnosing thru an MRI. First, they are extremely expensive. Second, if there is a tumor then what is the treatment for a senior dog.

I'm very sorry you and Keeta are going thru this. We treated the symptoms. Curcumin for anti-tumor properties and inflammation. There were a couple other things we were giving her but I can't remember. She went several months seizure free and then went into clusters in the middle of the night. If you search for the thread I created about Banshee and seizures Ugavet had given several suggestions for meds that were better than pheno.
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