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New member with questions

Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:41 pm
by rkloos
Hi all,
First of all sorry this is so long! We have so many questions and concerns. It’s so nice to find this forum as we’ve felt a bit alone and scared during this long journey with our dog. Dexter is a 4 lb, 3 year old maltese. We first noticed his episode in April but didn’t take it to be a seizure. You’ll see an example in the video below that we finally took. He doesn’t appear to lose consciousness, he responds to us when we call him but he just loses mobility in his hind legs. The first time it happened it came on suddenly, lasted about 30 seconds and then he got up as if nothing was wrong! I thought he had simply pulled a muscle or something. Then it happened again about two months later so I immediately took him to the vet. He was fine and so they suggested videotaping it next time. Below is the video: ... .22.03.mp4

After the vet watched the video she thought it seemed more like something neurologically going on his spine. She ran some blood tests which came back as normal and then did the bile acid test to check out his liver. That also came back as normal so she gave us Gabapentin but referred us to a neurologist. We are lucky because we live fairly close to UC Davis so we went to the neurologist there. They did a basic neurological exam (checked his reflexes, his eyes, etc.) and he passed that with flying colors. They looked at the video and said it looks like focal seizures to them. So we did an EEG which came back as abnormal. Now we are faced with medication options and possible MRI/spinal tap. We may end up doing the MRI (even though the thought of paying that gives me anxiety) because I was rear ended in February with Dexter in the car. He was in his crate but with the impact he did fly forward a little bit. I took him to the vet right after and she checked him out and said he seemed fine. We didn’t notice the seizures until April but what if he did have some mild ones before and we didn’t notice, or we were at work?
I hate the idea of putting my little guy on meds the rest of his life and I want to know what’s causing the seizures (though I know there’s a chance that they could be idiopathic). Has anyone had a dog with focal seizures that look like what Dexter’s do? If so, did you find out the cause?
I also found a tick that had burrowed into Dexter soon after the accident so now I’m of course wondering if it’s connected to the seizures.
Finally, I found a disease called CECS which seems similar to what Dexter has been experiencing, including IBS symptoms. Is it possible that it's something like this, or would the EEG not have shown up as abnormal?
I know this is long, I really appreciate anyone reading it and any advice that you have to give! My husband and I are new to this and scared and want to provide the best care we can for Dexter. I’m so glad to have found this group!


Re: New member with questions

Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 6:22 pm
by Eley's Mom
I'm sorry that you had to find us, but I'm happy you did! We all understand the fear, the unknown, and how unpredictable this disease is. I don't have much knowledge on the focal seizures (my furbaby only has grand mal seizures), but I can empathize with you.

You made a wise decision to video an episode. Often it's difficult to describe exactly what you're watching especially if it's not what most would think to be a seizure. After watching the video, I would have never thought of a seizure in the beginning, just like you.

Did the neurologist provide any sort of information? Possible next steps other than the MRI? My vet said I could do a spinal tap and MRI, but that she wouldn't recommend it. She advised that often times those tests come back as normal and it's just not worth the money - same with a CT scan to rule out a tumor.
I'm not familiar with CECS...

I wish I could offer solid answers to your questions of possible causes. Unfortunately, nothing with this disease is certain and you're going to hear "it depends on the dog" quite a bit. For me, that was extremely frustrating in the beginning. Now I just know to expect it.

Re: New member with questions

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:36 am
by ShilohsMom
I'm so sorry that you all are going through this. Thank you for posting the video, it's so helpful to get a visual. I have to admit it was everything I could do not to cry for you, I could feel your worry and totally understand that feeling of helplessness.

Not sure about the focal seizures as Shiloh has really only had grand mals. About 1 1/2 years ago he started having issues with his walking and hind leg weakness. At first we thought it was related to his meds but it wasn't getting back to normal. The vet did an xray and his hips looked really good so he sent us up to the vet center about an hour and 1/2 from us. They did an MRI of the brain to rule out tumor and another of his back. It turned out he has a damaged disc in his back. If it were me, I'd probably take Dexter in to have the MRI to find out if there's something going on in his back especially if it doesn't seem to be getting better and you have concern over him being in a car accident with you. While Shiloh's walking has improved some you can tell he has issues because his legs scissor (criss cross) when he walks and his back feet drag a bit which wears his nails down so he has to wear boots on our walks. It can be really hard to think about spending that kind of money, but for me it was worth it both in what it ruled out and what it verified. But you know your situation better than anyone.

Hopefully you'll find the solution and Dexter will be back to his normal self. Keep us posted on what's going on.

Re: New member with questions

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 12:08 pm
by rkloos
Thanks all for your reply! It's so nice to have people who can understand what we're going through. So many "friends" have said "it's just a dog" but really he's our child and this has been devastating. Even though the cost is steep, we are going to do the MRI given the car accident. I also read that focal seizures can likely be due to a tumor or head trauma and given that he's still so young we want to do everything that we can.

I'll keep you posted on what we find from the MRI and I'm sure I'll have questions soon enough regarding meds.

Happy Friday and I hope everyone has a relaxing weekend with their dogs!

Re: New member with questions

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:35 pm
by ShilohsMom
That is the great thing about this forum is how supportive everyone here is. There are times when someone may not agree with what someone is doing, but for as long as I've been on I've never seen someone get nasty or berate them for their choice. I think one of the things that makes dealing with this disease is how it affects each dog differently and there is no "one size fits all" diagnosis.

People look at me like I'm nuts when I tell them Shiloh's meds run me around $225 a month, not counting blood work, ER/vet visits. But like all of us on here we take our commitment to our babies seriously and don't give up on them just because they've become too much of a burden and cost too much.

I think the MRI will help put your mind at ease especially if you're concerned about something else going on. I don't think most people need to do them, but with the accident and the leg issue I think it'll be helpful for you.

Wishing you all the best.

Re: New member with questions

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:59 pm
by cesullivan
Just curious if the person who rear ended you had insurance. One would think that the MRI might be covered by their insurance...yes, I know it's a dog MRI, but the dog was in the car.

Video taping is non-epileptic dog had "tremors", didn't know what they were until the video tape got to the vet. She was having a reaction to medication for another issue.

Re: New member with questions

Posted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:16 am
by rkloos
Hi again,

I wanted to address some comments/questions: Yes, we've definitely called our insurance company. If the MRI comes back showing head trauma then we should be able to get reimbursed from the other insurance company. Dexter had another seizure this morning, this one was a little worse than the others. Still focal but he definitely didn't appear to be "with it" even though his eyes were open. We get the MRI the Monday of Thanksgiving and then will also discuss medication.

His vet did suggest the MRI to "be as thorough as possible" which at first I thought was just because she didn't want to be liable if we decided not to do it and it was something serious. However, I trust them and figure since he's only three, it can't hurt to be thorough.

I did discuss the possibility of CECS with his primary vet and she agreed that he fit a lot of those symptoms. There is such little research and study on CECS but one dog who had it improved after going on a low protein diet. We decided to try that and have slowly been switching his food over from hypoallergenic diet to a low protein diet. Now I'm wondering if that helped trigger today's episode?

One other thing that happened last night, Dexter snapped at me when I went over to give him a kiss good night. He's never done this before and I remember thinking, "I wonder if he's going to have another episode" and sure enough, he had one when he woke up this morning. Is it possible that he could feel it coming on and that's why he snapped?

Thanks again everyone! I'll keep you posted on what the MRI shows, I'm hoping nothing, or at least nothing serious! I'm also not looking forward to putting him on medication but I know that these are happening too frequent now for us not to.

Re: New member with questions

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:16 pm
by rkloos
Well we did the MRI/Xray/Ultrasound and Spinal Tap. No head trauma showed up. He had slightly higher than normal amount of fluid around his brain and in his spine. Not enough though where the vet thinks that is what is causing the seizures but something for us to keep an eye on. So basically the cause is idiopathic. The vet wants us to start him on the lowest dose of Phenobarbital. We haven't started it because we hate the thought of the horrible side effects. Dexter now seems to have these episodes every two weeks (had his most recent on Saturday) but it's still the same as the video and he appears conscious. A family member mentioned the exact same thing was happening to their cat and it was something called TIA (like mini strokes/blood clots) and they saw a cardiologist. I asked the neurologist about that and she said that while they can't rule it out 100% nothing showed up on the ultrasound so that probably isn't it.

I also read about doing a thyroid panel and asked the vet about that. She said the most common signs of that are excessive hunger and weight gain and he isn't showing those signs so it probably isn't that. I guess I'm wondering if I should just stop grasping at straws and put him on the Pheno? I'd hate to lessen his quality of life because he seems 100% other than the 1 min. seizures. I obviously don't want them to get worse though. Anyway, I've been bawling my eyes out at the thought of medicine for him and this has caused so much stress for my husband and I. I'm sure all of you know exactly how I feel so it's comforting to write about here.

I hope all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their pups.

Re: New member with questions

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:18 pm
by Eley's Mom
I know the thought of medicine is scary...and sad. Some dogs experience worse side effects than others.
My Eley has only had one focal seizure (that I've seen) all the other times she has grand mals and is quite the clusterer. A typical episode for her is about 8-10 grand mals in about an hour.

Personally, I would go ahead with the phenobarbital. I think with the seizures, it's better to try to stay as ahead of the game as you can.

Eley hasn't really experienced any negative side effects to her meds yet. When we increase the phenobarbital she'll usually be a little more sleepy for a couple of days, but then she's back to normal. She gets a little more thirsty and hungry, so now she just gets some extra treats of apples and carrots. Since Eley's seizures are so bad when she has them, it was a no-brainer. Any side effects from the meds would be much less than her seizures. I don't feel her quality of life has been lessened the least bit. Some dogs will naturally tolerate certain drugs better than others though.

I won't tell you what to do. It's a very personal decision. Most of us here aren't vets or trained medically. We're just people like you going through this terrible disease. Definitely research and keep throwing questions to your vet and neurologist. Become as much of an expert as you can.

I think most of us here question if we're making the right choices (I know I certainly do!!). Truth is, I don't think there really is a "right" answer. Hang in there. If you decide that medications are the right choice, please don't feel terrible about it. All of us have been in that same struggle and for many of our dogs, medicines have helped.