New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

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Scruffy Pablo
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:31 pm
Location: Kansas

New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

Post by Scruffy Pablo » Sun May 06, 2018 3:51 pm

Hello all,

I'm so glad I found this forum. It has provided so much information throughout the past month.

I took in a stray on March 7 - he's a small scruffy ball of flufff named Pablo McCartney. He's a tiny boy, about 8 pounds and I think he's some kind of terrier/chihuaha mix. He is 5 years old, and I took him in because he was a calm dog; good for the high rise apartment life I lead. I work very long hours and he came with excellent manners and house training. Just some mild separation anxiety.

On March 30 at 2AM, I awoke to find him wildly convulsing in his crate and foaming at the mouth. He wouldn't respond to me. I thought he was dying. I frantically tried to find out how to get to the vet ER, and by the time we were on our way there, he was normal. But at the ER, they told me he'd suffered a seizure. I had no idea what it was; I didn't know dogs could have seizures. The ER doctor told me to be on the lookout for him during the day, and to get in touch with his vet if he had another one.

That same day, at 7AM he had another seizure that lasted about 20 seconds. There's no way to tell it's coming. I was calling him to come to me so that we could go on our morning walk, and he just stood staring at me, and then immediately dropped and began convulsing. It was terrifying to see. We then drove to his regular vet, where she did blood work and prescribed 15mg phenobarbital (pill split in half, every 12 hours). I also received a few syringes of the valium you administer rectally. She told me it was important to now watch over him closely. I was in complete shock. I wasn't prepared to hear the news.

Later, at 1PM, he had another seizure. Three now, each five hours apart. I somehow managed to insert the valium this time, and it stopped it immediately. But I was still in shock. The following week, we went back to the vet where she said the blood work came out completely normal. She said if he'd been seven or older, she would have been concerned with brain tumors, but he's very healthy and young, so she diagnosed him with idiopathic epilepsy.

Today is May 6: He has not had a seizure since that day when the three came. I am thankful for this. Reading the stories in this website makes me so worried and scared, however. What if he has another one? I am not equipped to handle his medical need, with my long hours at work. I've missed a few scheduled doses because of work, and this has led me to research re-homing options. Thanks to the help of a rescue organization in my city, I'm fostering him until he finds the right home. They tell me it should not be difficult to find an epileptic dog the right home, especially if he's a small lap dog like Pablo. This is very tough and it's the main thing I'm struggling with every day now. I feel like I am failing him by letting him go. I feel like I'm giving up. We've only been together two months and I'm beginning to see him adjusting. I want him to adjust just like this in his new home, but it's hard to think about his future. It ruins my day thinking about it. I've lost weight. I've had issues at work. It has taken a massive toll on me.

When I began speaking about his epilepsy with people familiar with dogs, they asked me a lot about his diet and his routine. He eats Science Diet Active Adult, and he takes monthly Sentinel Spectrum (heartworm preventative) and NexGard (flea and tick preventative). Two separate people were curious about this. I administered the NexGard approximately 4 days before the March 30th seizures.

These people are telling me that he may never seize again; that it was probably the NexGard. I've stopped giving him this medication and stuck only with the Sentinel Spectrum. I did some Google searches and found out quite a bit about NexGard and seizures. I wish the vet had told me about this.

Pablo is super active. We go on long walks, we go to the dog park. He gets excited and so far I've yet to see a seizure. Part of me now wonders if this was indeed a one-off thing and his new mom and dad shouldn't be worried about this. The doctor even implied possibly stopping phenobarbital, but I'm not sure because I've read that once you start, you must continue giving the dog the medication for life.

I'm looking for advice and any possible insights on what to expect: Sometimes I'm optimistic, but most of the time I'm on edge, waiting for another seizure to occur. Is his dosage about average or fairly small for an 8lb dog? I'm surprised the vet gave him medication right away after the 2nd seizure....I'd read that doctors don't bring up medication until the 3rd seizure.

I'm now focused on finding him the right home: One where there's a family, a yard and more people around to look out for him. But I also want to have hope for him, and I wonder if this has "gone away" for good. The rescue organization told me it's actually quite common. I had no idea.

Any information would be appreciated and so welcome! Thank you for reading this.

- Jessica

xxcesarxx
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:59 pm

Re: New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

Post by xxcesarxx » Mon May 07, 2018 10:21 am

Hello:

My dog also lived with epilepsy, it progressed to clusters. I work 11 hour shifts and I used to keep a webcam on him to keep an eye on him. Missing the dose of his medicine can trigger another seizure and if your dog has a seizure that lasts a long time can cause brain damage and even death. You are doing the right thing by letting him go. Hopefully the new owner will be with him all day and take better care. I want you to know that you are not failing him, actually your doing it because you love him. Do what you think is right. I hope my advise helps. Sincerely Herculess Daddy. 😎

Scruffy Pablo
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:31 pm
Location: Kansas

Re: New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

Post by Scruffy Pablo » Mon May 07, 2018 8:57 pm

Thank you so much. It's definitely a heart-wrenching balancing act if you work long hours.

Tonight, at 9:34PM CST, I saw Pablo have a seizure for the first time since March 30th. It was about 12-15 seconds. It's weird that it happens the day after I post this cry for help. I'm so sad right now. I tried to administer the valium, but I couldn't because he's so fluffly and he was convulsing so much. I panicked and all the liquid just fell out onto the carpet. I thought we were different; that things were going to be OK with him.

He'd been very energetic today - more than usual. And even after our long evening walk, he was still antsy and wanting to play. He normally gets super tired after our evening walk. And he kept going up to the window, which is floor-to-ceiling and has a long drop (I live on the 22nd floor of a building). I noticed these past few days he's no longer scared of the view (if you're afraid of heights it's quite intense, because it does feel like you could fall!) I wonder if that's what shocked him into the seizure tonight?? Any ideas?

If we're going by what happened to him last time, he should have a few more through the night. I'll be on the lookout for him, but I'm just heartbroken. If he has more through the night, should I get in touch with his vet tomorrow? Should I stay at home to keep an eye out on him?

xxcesarxx
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:59 pm

Re: New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

Post by xxcesarxx » Mon May 07, 2018 10:22 pm

You should definitively keep in touch with the vet, if the seizures are not under control he is only going to get worse, maybe need to up the dose. Every dog is different, unfortunately for my dog he only did well for about 3 or 4 months then we had to up the dose and add a 2nd medicine. I had to take my baby to a neurologist because of how bad they got, keep in mind that Im only giving you my opinion, make sure to always keep in touch with the vet. I will keep both of you in my prayers.

SpencerBhumi
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:25 am
Location: South Australia

Re: New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

Post by SpencerBhumi » Mon May 07, 2018 11:37 pm

Hi Jessica,

I compliment you on taking in this stray, and for persisting with the necessary treatment. Clearly you are concerned for Pablo’s welfare and you should take comfort in the fact that you are doing all you can within your abilities to care for him.

Epilepsy takes on so many variations in how it affects different dogs and in what treatments work. Triggers and causes are a whole other subject – I was suspicious of many foods, chemicals and anti-flea medications. We kept a tight rein on what we gave Spencer.

As you have added pheno, consider giving milk thistle to help combat the liver ravaging effect of the pheno – discuss this with your vet.

It is not uncommon to need to increase medication doses and to add other medication combinations, as each dog responds differently.

I am pleased that you have a Valium plan for Pablo…
The dream for epilepsy is to cure and eradicate it fully. The next best is to minimise the seizures (reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of fits) and find a compromise between ‘acceptable’ seizure activity and quality of life for your dog (and yourself). A single fit now & then is ok. It becomes important to prevent the second/third fit (or a status situation) during an event.

I kept Valium tablets for Spencer to eat (regularly after a fit), and Valium liquid to insert rectally only in serious cluster events. It took us years to get to this plan. After a fit Spencer would always rouse (with post ictal behaviour ranging from almost none to diabolical) and his first active response was to find and eat food - great – eat a little Valium snack, recover and have very few second fits. We also added a 3 day Keppra course after any fit to break the potential for clusters).

On very few occasions I resorted to rectal Valium – where Spencer did not rouse from one fit before going into another. I would always watch the first fit (and protect his body/airway etc.) but await his recovery. In those instances where he was slow to wake from unconsciousness I would gather my emergency kit. If he immediately went on to have another seizure I would prepare the rectal Valium – and wait for the calm unconscious phase following the seizure to administer it.

Unless the seizure is an unrelenting status-epilepticus, most fits will limit themselves to 30 – 60 seconds. Most of the time Spencer would have an unconscious/restful period after this, and then rouse to post ictal behaviour. It is ok to watch and wait for a fit to run its SHORT course – but do protect Pablo from secondary injury during the fit. If Pablo has a period of unconsciousness after a short seizure, this would be the time to administer the rectal Valium – when you are both a bit calmer. Better still, if, as Spencer did, Pablo wakes hungry, discuss with your vet the possibility of giving Pablo some Valium tablets as soon as he can safely eat. As you mentioned in your first post, the three fits were many hours apart. Tablets should start working within 30 minutes so going by this I would go with tablets whenever possible and save the rectal Valium for more critical situations.

I understand your grief in all aspects of dealing with this disease and wish I could be of more help to you (to all-epi dog owners out there).

I wish you well and will keep you in my prayers.

Please keep us informed of your progress.

Regards, Trevor.
In memory of Spencer 7-12-2005 – 22-8-2017

Scruffy Pablo
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:31 pm
Location: Kansas

Re: New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

Post by Scruffy Pablo » Tue May 08, 2018 5:03 pm

Thank you Trevor and Cesar for your helpful information. You don't know how much I appreciate it!! I'm sorry about your struggles with your pups. It says a lot about you that you hung on for your guys. I've learned a lot during these 2 months with Pablo McCartney, and I've got a newfound respect for dog owners. They are unsung heroes, I think.

I stayed home with Pablo all day to monitor his behavior. I'm glad my boss was flexible with me. He was very low key today, and he's been sleeping most of the day. He's not been playful at all. Normally during our inside time he keeps busy with his chew toy, or a food puzzle toy but today he's just been lying down.

On my end, I'm terrified to leave him alone. I got the day off today, but I have to get back to work tomorrow. I'll be taking him to doggy daycare, mostly for my peace of mind. I've been trying to figure out if anything was different yesterday...WHAT made him have this seizure? But nothing was different. It was a typical day. I know; I keep a detailed log of his behavior. I called his vet this morning to notify them of what happened, but his doctor wasn't in yet, and they never called to follow up with me, so I am very disappointed because I was hoping his vet would have some insight.

I forgot to add that on April 20th he had a major dental cleaning where he was given anesthesia and everything. He'd never had his teeth cleaned and his tartar build-up was severe. Even that day he was totally normal after the procedure, though. Today the rescue organization that is helping me re-home him got in touch...Someone will be visiting us soon to evaluate him and officially allow me to surrender him. Seeing him next to me, sleeping and just being calm - this just destroys me hard. I feel disgusting.

I'll be looking into milk thistle as a way to protect his liver. Is the 15MG dose of phenobarbital pretty standard, or is that a high dosage?

EVENING UPDATE:
I got a call from Pablo's vet tech. She immediately wanted to up his phenobarbital dosage, and I asked if we should wait and see what happens before we put his body through that. On Friday, he's getting blood work to check his phenobarbital levels. I'm scared to give him more without knowing how often it's going to occur. Technically this is the first time he has a seizure since he began medication (the day of the 3 seizures he hadn't started medicine until after the 2nd episode at 7AM).

xxcesarxx
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:59 pm

Re: New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

Post by xxcesarxx » Tue May 08, 2018 11:12 pm

My dog was a German Shepherd, he weighed 80 lbs, he was taking about 130 mg twice a day of phenobarbital. The only way to know if Pablo is taking the right amount is when you get the blood results. But you are on the right path. I tried to figure out what triggered the seizures but honestly I never figured it out, I strongly believe that nothing in particular triggered his seizures. Thank you so much for taking care Pablo.🤗

Scruffy Pablo
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:31 pm
Location: Kansas

Re: New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

Post by Scruffy Pablo » Thu May 10, 2018 5:25 pm

Thank you, Cesar. Yeah, I don't know what could trigger this. I don't feed him junk; we exercise and he eats well in general. Would your dog seize during playtime or other high-energy activities? It's Thursday - no seizure since Monday's re-occurrence. Tomorrow afternoon we're going to the vet to check his phenobarbital levels. The doctor isn't keen on raising his dosage for now, since he's only had one seizure since starting medicine.

The bad news is that I'm now in a leg cast with crutches, unable to walk Pablo. On April 17th I injured my ankle during one of our morning walks. I haven't stopped walking him, as I can't afford a regular dog walker (it's $30 for 30 minutes!) Well, the ankle has not healed or stopped hurting, and today the doctor took some x-rays and it's worse than we thought: My ankle is fractured. I'm unable to walk for at least the next two weeks. I wish I could tell you how trapped and helpless I feel for Pablo and myself. I've been crying all day. It just feels like the ultimate failure to Pablo, I guess. Here he is, sick and needing more care than I can provide, and now I can't even take him outside to do his business.

I don't have friends or family here in Kansas. I don't have a yard or a garden. To walk him requires me to get on an elevator and walk a block down to the nearest grass patch (I live in the city center, in a high rise). With crutches and a leg cast this is now extremely difficult. I have asked the rescue organization to help me find a dog sitter or new foster situation. I feel like I'm screwing him over. I hate myself so much. Today I'l have to resort to dog walkers again, even if it's expensive. I need to be off my feet for two weeks - ridiculous. I feel like in one day, my situation just took a massive turn for the worst. More than sad, I am angry at myself and my failure to Pablo. Last night I exploded. Once again I did not go to work today. Things are just bad.

I only hope and pray that he can't sense my despair. To me that's the saddest part. I want him to feel taken care of.

Thank you for just letting me rant on here. I'm trying to hang on and make him feel as comfortable as possible.

xxcesarxx
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:59 pm

Re: New to dog ownership & seizures (questions)

Post by xxcesarxx » Fri May 11, 2018 9:52 am

It's ok to rant, I understand your pain. We all go through it. We feel scared, lonely, helpless. I've only had one dog in my life Im no expert but I believe since Pablo is small he doesn't require as much exercise as my 80 lbs dog did. I promise you that by letting him go you are making sure someone keeps an eye on him. Do not feel bad my friend. You have already done so much for him. You are in my prayers , stay strong.

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