1.5-2 year old Boxer mix status epilepticus

General questions about tests and procedures for diagnosing canine epilepsy. Please note that we cannot make a diagnosis or interpret specific test results via this forum - please consult your veterinarian for specific advice for your individual pet.

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RhondaP
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Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:28 am

1.5-2 year old Boxer mix status epilepticus

Post by RhondaP » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:54 pm

Ruby is a 50-pound boxer mix (beagle? pit bull? not sure) that we adopted less than a month ago. She is between 1.5 - 2 years old. She was rescued as a stray in June/July of 2015 and was underweight but not severely malnourished. She did have a bad case of sarcoptic mange for which she was treated. We did not do any of the treatments but have her records and she's been spayed and vaccinated. Her month with us has been unremarkable. She's high energy, loving and plays great with our other dog.

On Monday she had, seemingly out of the blue, a full blown status epilepticus seizure. My teen son was home with her and he immediately called me when he realized something was wrong and I managed to get home and we got her to the vet. Her seizure was grand mal, full body tremors (severe). She never lost consciousness; she never fell over. She could walk, but barely. She vomited but there was no loss of bowels or anything like that. She seemed aware as she sought out my son when it started and she appeared to come to me when I walked in the door. The time that she was seizing was probably 30-45 minutes. However, she continued seizing at the office (actually a diagnostic center) despite injections of valium, then phenobarbital and then propofol. Even after being sedated she continued seizing and they upped the propofol until they got the seizing down to just small tremors in her paws. She had three more seizures overnight, while sedated. Her blood work was normal and there was no indication of toxins or organ failures. In her vomit I did find part of a (non-latex) glove, but the vet didn't think that had any bearing on what was happening. By process of elimination and her history as a stray the vet surmised that it was perhaps distemper encephalitis - no one knows if she was vaccinated for that in the past or if she contracted it at some point and recovered. We truly thought we had lost her due to the duration and severity of the seizure. On Tuesday afternoon the vet began weaning her off the propofol and she came out of sedation without seizing and was soon up and walking around in her kennel. The vet kept her another 24 hours for observation and released us to her yesterday afternoon. Since he was able to bring her out of sedation without triggering additional seizure, no spinal tap or further neurological testing was performed.

The vet (who is really a diagnostic specialist, not our regular vet) honestly seemed surprised that she was alive, which is great. He said that distemper encephalitis can't be completely ruled out but that it is unlikely since she came out of the seizure. So at this point, with no other identifiable cause he is calling it idiopathic epilepsy and she is on phenobarbital every twelve hours. She's obviously very lethargic but there are no signs of brain damage. She recognized our other dog, us, her favorite chair, goes outside to toilet, so we have a lot to be grateful for.

My questions I guess: are we missing something? My research kind of indicates that a status type seizure isn't really the norm, especially one so severe and of such long duration. Has anyone else experienced this? If she seizes again will it be of this same type or a more "standard" epileptic seizure? Basically the doctor told us that he can't say that she'll ever have another seizure; he also said he couldn't say that she wouldn't have another one on the way home in the car. So, he's clearly not seen this before either. I trust this doctor as we have used him in the past when our regular vet referred. He is a diagnostic specialist, not a neurologist. We didn't take MRIs, CTs or spinal tap as he felt a brain tumor was unlikely because she's so young.

I guess I'm just looking for someone who's experienced this, alternative diagnoses, support. My dog seems fine but honestly I feel like a basket case! We adopted this little girl because we lost our beloved German Shepard back in December and our existing boy definitely does better with a friend. Thanks for reading this super long introduction.

Gentle Jacob's mom
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Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:52 am

Re: 1.5-2 year old Boxer mix status epilepticus

Post by Gentle Jacob's mom » Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:13 am

I'm so sorry you had to go through all of this. It's no wonder you're a basket case. Seizures can present themselves in so many different ways that trying to pin down exactly what causes them, if they will present the same way, or if they will come back at all, is nearly impossible to say. I know you want answers and I wish I could give you something definitive. There are a few things that stood out to me. One, that Ruby never lost consciousness, the vomiting, and the other is the pieces of glove. Did they x-ray or do an ultrasound of his belly to make sure the rest isn't stuck in his intestines? Pieces can get stuck and then break loose and move around and cause a lot of problems. We've been through it with Jake. Also, as much as the diagnostic specialist is a really great doctor I would still make an appointment with a neurologist. They have more experience with seizures and may be able to get a better idea of what is happening.
Outside of having to watch your baby go through this, the unknowns of this are by far one of the most frustrating and difficult to deal with. But you're not alone. Come here when you need to and let us know how you and Ruby are doing.
Lynne

RhondaP
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:28 am

Re: 1.5-2 year old Boxer mix status epilepticus

Post by RhondaP » Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:48 pm

Thank you for your response. Just browsing around this forum has been helpful - just knowing that there often isn't a definitive answer as to cause is helpful.

The vet did not do X-ray or ultrasound - those were next in line tests if she didn't improve. I can't help feeling that the glove played some role. She's been great ever since. Wobbly and a little out of it the first day or two but pretty much back to her old self since. It's been hard to keep her "calm" as the vet recommended. She likes to play and she loves chasing squirrels outside; something she was doing just before her seizure.

I may talk to my vet and see if he can recommend a neurologist. For my own peace of mind if nothing else.

Thanks again!

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