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Epilepsy in Dogs


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#1 fairymagic

Posted 27 November 2012 - 09:22 PM

Hi all. I don't normally post in this section often but was wanting some reassurance or advice I guess.

We have a 3 year old labrador cross rottweiler. He is gorgeous, friendly and so good with our kids. We have had him since he was a pup. We realised that with the breeds he has in him he was at risk of getting hip dysplasia. Thankfully he didn't but he did develop elbow dysplasia in his left front leg. We had that operated on a year and a half ago and he has been great.

Last Monday, as usual, our alarm clock goes off. Our dog always jumps up at this as he knows if I get up he goes back to bed until I leave for work and feed him or he gets fed if my DH gets up. My DH didn't immediately hear our alarm so when he did, he jumped up quickly scaring our dog. He bolted into our heavy bedside table then collapsed and had a seizure. It was the most frightening thing Ive seen in any pet I have ever had. He came out of it relatively quickly, went outside to the loo and then waited patiently to be fed. I took him to the Vets who said the bump to the head may have been the cause. They gave me the option of getting blood tests done to rule out anything else wrong and they came back all normal.

We relaxed somewhat thinking the knock to the head was the cause. Monday just gone, similar thing happened again this time without any knock to the head. Back to the Vets - they diagnose him with epilepsy and we start him on phenytoin. Im devastated that he has to be on these tablets the rest of his life and that it may not necessarily stop him having fits. He seems okay with it all - even when they took blood from him after the first seizure, the Vet commented on him being a favourite with the nurses already because of his nature. He needs to go back again in 2 - 4 weeks to get bloods taken again to check his phenytoin levels (Im a REgistered Nurse so understand all the reasons behind this).

Im guess what im hoping for is that some of you pet owners on here may have had pets with epilepsy and I was wanting to see how they did generally and whilst on meds. We have changed our alarm clock to music when it goes off since the alarm might have triggered the fit - Im now finding Im waking before the alarm to keep an eye on him and pat him to keep him calm. Any stories would be great.

Thanks for reading

#2 ritten

Posted 27 November 2012 - 09:40 PM

Not personally, but my sisters dog has epilepsy.

She will be on meds for rest of her life, and she has to go in and have regular check ups/blood tests to check the levels of meds, and adjust as needed.

Once stabilised on the level of meds she is fine, she has had a few fits recently, but they also recently moved to australia from nz, so a bit of stressors there.

they also have changed her diet to a mainly raw food diet, raw meats with rice and veg grated through, and her 'treats' are carrot sticks lol.  this helps with the epilepsy in general i think, but they also have to keep her at a certain weight for the dosage to work properly - she is only a small dog though, this might not be as important in a larger dog. Also the medication makes her hungrier, so by having veg as fillers and treats, she is able to eat more without gaining weight.

basically apart from that she has no issues related to the epilepsy at all.

#3 fairymagic

Posted 27 November 2012 - 09:46 PM

Thanks so much for the reply. Im hoping our dog will lead a relatively normal life with this. I dread watching him go through another seizure - the first one he didn't really make a lot of noise -the second he cried a little toward the end of it poor thing. I just sat with him talking to him and crying trying to comfort him.

We did get warned he may get more hungry and be wary re his weight. He is a 49kg dog so we don't want him getting any bigger!! He has been on the meds a couple of days now though and seems ok with them. They warned us he might be more drowsy than usual but he is still a sleepy dog anyway unless we go outside or do something and then he wants to be with us so follows.

Thanks for replying though.

#4 runnybabbit

Posted 27 November 2012 - 11:08 PM

Hi OP,

You mentioned that you'd had your boy since he was a pup. It's not unheard of, but it is unusual for first seizure in an epileptic to occur at 3+ years old. Advanced brain imaging (CT/MRI) to rule out intracranial causes might not be a bad idea, if you have a specialist facility where you live and can afford it.

A lot of epileptic dogs do all right. Most can and will have breakthrough seizures over the course of their lifetime; some take a lot of tweaking medication-wise, I've come across dogs who also end up being on a bit of a drug cocktail to keep their seizures in check. It takes a lot of commitment and money, and acknowledging that it's a disease that needs to be managed, but ultimately can't be cured.

Knowing what to do when a seizure occurs and when to take him to the emergency vets would be a good start. Many owners start to recognise the pre-ictal aura and can see a generalised seizure coming before it actually starts.

Good luck OP, it's hard caring for a pet with a chronic disease, check in whenever you need support. original.gif

#5 FiveAus

Posted 28 November 2012 - 05:05 AM

Sorry to hear about your dog. Epilepsy is a cruel and horrible disease. My son had a beautiful English Setter who developed the disease at age 3, he deteriorated rapidly and despite the very best of care, and the very best medication, had seizures that were longer and nastier each time. The meds made him very anxious, he drooled and paced constantly, and eventually they did very little good. He was put to sleep at age 4 1/2 as the seizures were extreme by then, lasting up to an hour and the medication used to stop them no longer worked.

I hope your dog has a better outcome, some do and lead a reasonably normal life. But it's a nasty disease so best to be prepared for everything.

#6 fairymagic

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:11 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Runnyrabbit - the Vet told us that between the ages of 3 - 6 years is the most common times epilepsy seems to show up in dogs. Since he is 3 we didn't think it unusual. Both Vets we saw didn't recommend doing CT or MRI right now. They said if it is epilepsy, the scans whilst expensive and requiring anaesthetic to do, would show nothing. Since he is otherwise healthy and showing no other neurological signs of anything else going on, they said to leave it as an absolute last resort.

You talked about recognising pre-ictal auras? Can you explain this please? I must admit that on the Monday just gone when he had his second seizure, the running around blindly for a second or two before the fit warned us it was coming but otherwise, he simply got up quickly from his bed and went round to my DH's side of the bed which he does everyday. I must admit though, the last couple of days when the music has gone off he hasnt' jumped up like he used to. Im hoping the alarm we used to use was a trigger and that not using it will keep his seizures to a minimum.

FiveAus - that is terrible. Im hoping our dog does not go down the same route as your son's dog. He too is a big dog so Im hoping he will be well managed on his meds.

#7 Guest_AllegraM_*

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:22 PM

Our labbie has his first fit at 2 1/2. Labradors are prone to epilepsy. Our boy has one about every 6-8 weeks so our vet is happy to keep him off medication until they get closer together. He is currently 8.

He feels them coming on and rushes over to lean against us. We just clear the floor for him and stay near him to give him confort. Our labbie has never bitten during a fit but apparently this can occur so please keep any children or other pets away.

Sorry your dog has this. It is very frightening for them.

Edited by AllegraM, 28 November 2012 - 02:22 PM.


#8 CFMummy

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:23 PM

We had a duckling born with epelepsy saddly nothing could be done and it drowned during a siezure. With good care your dog should be fine

#9 BetteBoop

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:27 PM

QUOTE (FiveAus @ 28/11/2012, 05:05 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Sorry to hear about your dog. Epilepsy is a cruel and horrible disease. My son had a beautiful English Setter who developed the disease at age 3, he deteriorated rapidly and despite the very best of care, and the very best medication, had seizures that were longer and nastier each time. The meds made him very anxious, he drooled and paced constantly, and eventually they did very little good. He was put to sleep at age 4 1/2 as the seizures were extreme by then, lasting up to an hour and the medication used to stop them no longer worked.


I had a chihuahua cross who developed epilepsy around age 1.5.

The medication did not work. It simply made him fat and sluggish. He still had fits and they lasted for around 20-30 minutes.

I was finally given a sedative to administer mid fit. I noticed no difference with that either.

The seizures eventually lead to a heart attack when he was 9 years old after which, I had him put down.

#10 overtired

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:42 PM

I have a male lab and he has epilepsy. I inherited him off a family member with no known medical history (wouldn't of changed anything even if I knew), about 2 months after getting him I walked outside one morning and he walked up to me shaking with tail  between him legs (very unusual). I walked him inside to my DH who was still in bed and he just made it to the bedroom before collapsing on the floor and having a fit. I completely freaked out (I thought he was dead at first), DH got up and tried to calm him down. Once he came out of fit, DH took him straight to the vet. Vet suspected epilepsy, and said that it was very common for most dogs to have at least one fit in its life but most times it goes un-noticed. He gave us 7 days worth of tablets (can't remember exactly what they were) and said that he would probably be fine and have no more, but if he did to go back and have some blood tests done and that if it happened he would probably be on medication for life. He was only 2.


The week went by without us seeing another fit, so we thought all was good. It was not to be a couple of days after he finished the tablets we saw him have another fit, so back to the vet we went and he was put on 1/2 a epiphen (sp?) tablet morning and night.


Fast forward 5/6 years and he is now on 2 different types of tablets (epiphen & epibrom (sp?) twice a day, and all up he is taking 6 tablets a day. He has just had his bloods done again and all his levels are in the normal range and the fits are being controlled. Was told that even with medication he would still be likely to have at least 1 fit a year. He has a couple a year but for the most part they are controlled. The medication is very expensive but he is very much a part of our family. We consider him to be our 6th child.

I will say the hardest thing is going on weekends away/holidays. I can't just leave him for other people to feed and walk. He either comes with us, or goes to my parents who I completely trust to give him his medication on time every day.

#11 FiveAus

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:46 PM

My sons girlfriend thinks the English Setter was having mild seizures before he was properly diagnosed, as she says now when she looks back, she can recall the dog staring off into space and being "not with it". Not a seizure but maybe a forewarning of what was to come.
It was a truly devastating thing to happen. Epilepsy is awful, there's no two ways about it. They loved their dog like a child and to lose him at such a young age was terrible. They came to a dog show with me last weekend and saw an ES there, the same colour as their dog and spent ages patting him (with the owners permission). They really miss their boy and I'm sure they'll get another one eventually.

#12 countrychic29

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:10 PM

Hi OP

We have 2 x German Shepherds (same litter) that began having seizures at age 5.
The female had one the day after charging head first into a huge tree (we heard the thud)
Male had one approx 3 weeks later, very mild but then he had one 4 weeks after that Vet put him on medication - i was not happy about this so only gave him half dose as in a previous dog growing up it just turned her into a vegetable.
Anyway 6 months went by - levels tested - not therapeutic - we took him off and saw nothing.
Female never had another one until 3 months ago - Male had one 2 weeks later first in a year and he had one on the weekend in the middle of the night.

What im trying to explain is that it can be environmental as well .. there are too many coincidences with my 2 litter mates (with only 2 other dogs out of breeders 250 plus dogs bred having seizures) we put it down to the weed spray DH used on the property and something about springtime ... as they have only got them this time of the year and not long after he sprays ... he now no longer sprays the weed
And we just keep a very good eye on the them...i find a good way is when on Christmas holidays generally one of us is home at all times or dogs are with us and we didnt see any seizures in 3 weeks so im happy not having them on medication i can handle a couple a year ... but would of course prefer they didnt original.gif

I hope your doggy gets better on his meds. original.gif

#13 fairymagic

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:59 PM

Thankyou Countrychick29. I too was hoping it was either the bang to his head or he has Cartrophin injections every three months for his arthritis and his last one, they have changed products. It was given a couple of weeks before he had his fit so I asked the Vet if it were possible and was told no. I should research the drug a bit more but I am not sure of its name - it is supposedly chemically the same as the Cartrophin he was on but still......

Thanks for all the replies. I don't think I will rest easy for a few more weeks yet to make sure he doesn't have another fit. We too will have problems if we want to go away. Friends of DH looked after him for the first time in the last school holidays and fell in love with him. They live next door and still pop over to take him out for a walk and have said they will have him anytime but Im not sure they will want to now he is epileptic. We don't go away often I guess but still, having them so keen to look after him made it a possibility in the future. We'll see what they say when DH talks to them when they get back from their holiday.





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