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Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:40 pm
by hammondjx
Hello Everyone! My wife and I were so glad to find this forum. It is filled with great information along with some heartbreaking stories. :(
We got Meara (Border Collie/Aussie mix) in January from an Amish farm near our house, she was born around 10/31/2007. In June, we took her to get spayed at the local SPCA. When we picked her up, we were told everything went perfect. After being home for about 10minutes, Meara started having "chewing-gum" seizures about every 15-30minutes. At first we didn't know what they were and we figured if she was still having them in the AM, we would take her to the vet. Unfortunately she was. When we got to the vet (on the way there she seizured in the car...not fun) they wanted to keep her there with some IV meds and monitor her. Later that evening, we went to pick her up and they said the seizures have slowed down so it was safe to bring her home. We bring her home and within 30minutes she starts having them AGAIN! They continued every 15-30minutes so we took her to the 24/7 animal hospital. They again hooked her up to IVs and monitored her. The vet called us throughout the night to let us know she was still having seizures, but they have again slowed down. Eventually all the vets started talking to us about putting her down, which we finally planned on doing. We took one last visit to our main vet, and were finally lucky enough to be seen by the Lady Vet who my wife and I both liked. She told us it was too soon to start thinking about putting her to sleep and she argued with the other vets who said we should. We agreed and took her home. From that day on she was seizure free, until...

Well, we decided to ween Meara off of her phenobarb 10/17/08 because we wanted to make sure she was definitely epileptic and did not just have some trauma from her spay surgery. Unfortunately, after 48hours of switching her to once a day doses she started seizuring. (Vet guy told us to do it this way, we thought maybe she should have still been on twice a day but lower doses???) It's taken a few weeks, but we believe she is finally regulated. Her Pheno level was very low, so we have upped her dosage, and since the most recent seizures were happening while she sleeps we have added 3mg Melatonin to her nightly ritual. So far things have been better and she has been seizure free since Saturday. Poor young pup, barely older hen a year and having to go through all of this trauma :( Anyway, we are glad to find some people with similar stories and thank you all for the knowledge and experience you bring to this site.

First Seizure: 06/05/2008
Last Seizure: 11/08/2008


Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 2:10 am
by skrpio
Hi Josh and welcome to you and Meara - sorry you had to join us.

Please be very careful when trying to reduce PB. It seems when a dog is on it, it is on it for good. Even lowering the PB gradually not in a rather large step as you did can cause big problems. This is what caused my girl to go into status and I lost her.
What you need to do is check for a thyroid problem - refer to Dr Jean Dodds - see epi guardian angels site through LINKS. Your vet will say that this does not cause seizures but it does.
The next thing is to be careful about what sort of flea and tick treatments you give. Herding dogs are very susceptable to invermocin (spelling?) in products and do not give any treatments that have a PLUS in the name. If you give both make them at least 2 weeks apart. Also check when and what vaccinations she got. A lot of seizures start at about 14 days after the vaccs. If this is the case do not allow her to have any more.
Be prepared for lots of fights with the vets. They say these treatments and vaccinations do not lead to seizures - they do.
Another thing to check is - have you changed her food recently ie just before the seizures started. There is some foods out there that cause problems. The manufacturers can change the formula without notification. Apparently this has happened with Canidae? Keep away from treats and chews made in China - too much junk in them.

There are other drugs that can be used in combination with PB so there should be no talk about putting her to sleep so soon.
The things with PB are 1. It has to be given at the SAME TIME TWICE a day - the vet should have known that...
this is important because of the half life of it. 2. Make sure the vet does a blood test at least every 6 months for liver function. PB can cause liver problems and some may say it should not be used but if tests are done regularly there should be no problems. Many dogs live long and happy lives on it with no problems - but as I said timing is very important.
When she has seizures close toghter it is called clustering and you need to keep a close watch - more that 3-4 she needs to go to the vet.
Did your vet give her a loading dose of PB?

Sorry - there is so much to learn. Read as many posts as you can and if in doubt write down any questions as you think of them.

Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:05 am
by hammondjx
Hi Jane,
Thanks for your response. Last week after she started having seizures again (just one a night), we took her to the vet to get her pheno level checked and decide on what dose to up her too. While we were there I had the vet do thyroid check. The thyroid check and everything else on her blood work came back fine. They did tell us that her liver levels had increased from the last time but they still were OK. We have decided to find another VET. Since the person we liked at our practice quit it has not been the same. This vet didnt even know what Melatonin was :( Not sure if he should have, but it seems like it has been a very helpful drug for some epi patients.

We do not plan on putting her to sleep. She was regulated on pheno for 4months with no problems, it all started after we tried weening her off. Luckily she has not had any clusters, all instances have just been 1 seizure while sleeping, all around the same time of the early morning. I am guessing at this time her levels were at their lowest.

The only problem we are having now, not sure if any of you can help. Lately, she has been barking non-stop! If we are sitting watching tv she just barks and looks at us non-stop. We let her outside, she runs around for a few then barks to come in. Then barks again! She used to do this every once in a whil, but now it is like non-stop. Any ideas? My wife is getting very frustrated as we now have a baby girl we welcomed in to our family a month ago. I believe its an anxious/im bored type of bark and I should probably start doing more things with her..walks, etc. But lately is been raining non-stop and its tough to do those kinds of things. Right now, this barking is more of a problem then the seizures. Any training tips or advice on this would be great!


Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:31 am
by Mandypop
Hi Josh

Sorry to hear about Meara. Having a dog with epilepsy is a huge learning curve, I was so lucky to find this site - you will find it very usefull.

I am surprised your vet advised weaning Meara off of Pb after such a short period of time - I believe (and I am sure I read on this site somwhere) that this should not be considered until the dog has been seizure free for at least a year or two. If weaning is done it must be done very gradually.

My dog has been seizure free for 2 years this year - I am still reluctant to try to wean her off the Pb. I can assure you that apart from a little weight gain (and a period of geting used to the drugs in the first few months) my dog is perfectly normal! It is also important to have regular blood tests and liver function tests.

Pb must be given in equal doses -12 hours apart - as Jane has already said, this is important.

I think you are wise to seek out another vet, if possible try to find a vet neurologist, they would have more experience with epilepsy and treatment.

I can't offer any help re the barking - it may be worth checking with your vet if this could be related to the drugs - if you have restarted her on Pb it might take a while for her to settle. My dog was very unsettled for the first few months and did some odd things!

Good luck with Meara and hope all goes well.


Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:03 am
by MK's mom
HI Josh,

I concur with everything that has been said already. It's amazing how little some primary vets know about epilepsy! It bothers me that the first vets you went to wanted to put your pup to sleep rather than trying to find out from someone who knows about epilepsy, which treatments they could pursue. There are other drugs Meara can be put on before even CONSIDERING euthanasia, so yes, you're in dior need a new vet! :D

As for the barking, I have a boy that does the same thing unless he's very tired and will lay down. It's difficult to watch a program because he's forever in my face and carrying on about something. He's always been this way, so I don't know if it's the epilepsy, drugs or it's just part of his personality.


Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:39 pm
by skrpio
Josh - I would not be surprised if all of this has not been brought on by the arrival of the baby. This is a new thing she has to get used to. Did you change her routine when the baby arrived, like not letting her into certain parts of the house. Has she seen and sniffed the baby?
If not put the baby on the floor and put a leash on Merea and let her have a good look. A lot of problems occur when the family dog is not allowed to see the new ar(rival). Herding dogs are very protective and she may think she is not doing her job properly.
As for the barking wear her out. You and the dog will not shrink in the rain. A quick 15 minute walk is better than nothing and these dogs are bred for running - lots.
Do you have a back yard. You stand under cover and throw a ball for her. She won't mind the rain and if it is boredom the barking will stop.

If it is stress related find a vet supplies that sells DAP. Dog appeasing pheremone and use that on a bandana around her neck. It sure helps my boy when he needs calming down.

Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:05 pm
by hammondjx
Hi Everyone! We took our other dog (non-epi) to the new vet today, we liked her a lot! We talked to her about Meara's situation and she is going to read over all of her paperwork and be in contact with us. She said they have several EPI-Patients and seemed to know a lot more then our previous place. She didnt agree with the method they used for weening her off the Pb and said that she would have lowered one of the doses initially and kept her on twice a day. The past is the past I guess, so no reason to dwell on it. Hopefully it is smooth sailing from here on out.

As for the barking, for now I am going to keep her leashed when we are relaxing and if she gets in to a barking fit I am just going to give her a lite tug and tell her to be quiet. So far today it has proved to be a decent method!

Thanks again for all of the responses!


Posted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 7:21 am
by Dylans Dad
another border collie, what a shame.

reduseing the PB is not a good thing
and finding a good vet isnt easy but well worth it.
mine isnt an expert, but he cares and is learning more all the time.


Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:02 am
by hammondjx
We had another episode with Meara last night, she had two seizures around 11PM and another one at 3AM. They didnt last too long, about 15-20seconds. Her last phenobarb level was VERY low, so we switched her to 2 pills twice a day. I am thinking of adding another half pill to it, since last time her level was like 11, which wasnt even near theraputic! We have a new vet now which I will call tomorrow, but do you think it will hurt to add another half of a pill to each dose?

It sucks we have to leave for the day and she will be in her crate :( I hate to leave her here, but life has to go on I guess.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:32 pm
by Dylans Dad
no, it wont hurt. I give dylan extra doses after his seizures I also give him a "boost" before I go to work if the weather is calling for strong thunderstorms. especially if the levels are low to start with.
at one time my vet suggested splitting dyland dose to 3 times he thought he might be metobolizing it faster then some dogs and maybe every 12 hours was too far apart

do you have bumper pads around the inside of the kennel? I would be afraid if she seized in there she could injure her legs.

Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 6:49 pm
by hammondjx
Anything we have tried to put in her cage as protection she has eaten to pieces :( Maybe if we get a DAP plug-in or something that will help her out a little and allow us to put stuff in there.

Thanks for the response!

Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:54 pm
by hammondjx
sigh! i came to this site and as im reading stuff, my dog goes in to a full blown seizure. That's 4 in the last 4 days, 3 wednesday night, 1 today. Since Thursday I have been giving her an extra half pill. Not sure if the pheno isnt working anymore or what..Prior to the recent episodes she was seizure free for 4months until we decided to try weening her off of the pills. The seizure she had tonight was near our 6week old baby so that put some perspective in to things....if it can't get back controlled like it was before i don't know what we are going to be able to do :(

sigh :(

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:19 pm
by skrpio
Weaning off is very difficult and you might need the vet to give a loading dose to her her back to the theraputic levels.
have you tried the DAP to reduce tensions.

Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:52 pm
by hammondjx
So far Meara has been doing great. She is taking 2.5 37.4mg tablets twice a day at the moment, no seizures since 11/30 (i know thats not that long, I just hope she can get back on track to months without them!). For her unctrollable barking the vet reccomended we try the citronella spray collar. They are about 100$ in petsmart, 75$ at the vet. I found it for 40$ brand new on ebay w/ a Refil! BEST 40$ I have ever spent!!!! Usually she would bark non-stop all night, now she might bark 3-4 times. I love it, and I am sure its better for her too!

A few times since 11/30 we have woken up in the middle of the night to thumping under the bed (where she usually seizures). I think she was just scratching because as soon as I called her name the noise stopped and she came out running to me which is uncharacteristic if she had just had a seizure.

Hopefully we are on the path to controlling this beast again, we love her too much to give up :o

Posted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:49 pm
by skrpio
Keeping fingers, toes and paws crossed for you