Author Topic: Bear - seizures getting worse  (Read 2893 times)

Offline jennifer

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Bear - seizures getting worse
« on: September 13, 2007, 04:46:01 pm »
Hi all.  Sorry for the long post (again), but we had a bad night last night.  Whatever is causing Bear's seizures is getting worse, fast.  He had two seizures in five hours (each about three minutes).  And I'm pretty sure he had one Weds during the day as well, as we came home to a regular-type poop in the main, carpeted hallway and neither of them EVER have normal poops in the house. 

The seizures last night were a little different than the one he had two weeks ago.  He started with the same chomp-smacking kind of behavior, all foamy around his mouth and making a strange whimpering noise, then transitioned into the whole body jerking.  But for these two he tried to get up and move around during the seizure.  Really scared me as he could seriously hurt himself.  His paws were turned under (normal neuro response, I understand) and he couldn't support himself so he just kept flopping over in a very unnatural way.  And with both seizures he was visually impaired when he came to - the second one with total blindness for a few minutes. 

Oh - and Nakita was clearly disturbed by the incidents.  She hopped up on the bed (without invitation - a serious no-no) and curled up right next to me after both seizures.  And stayed that way for the rest of the night.  After the second seizure, when Bear had returned to normal, he wanted to come up too and Nakita snapped at him -- like I've never seen her do.  How do I make her more comfortable with it, or is she just reacting to my stress?  I'm a very "calm in the storm" kinda gal, but she's sensing something, I'm sure.

I'm exhausted, scared, and worried.  And I know this is unpopular and non-pc, but I'm seriously concerned about the additional cost of the vet visits, tests, and now medication.  And how am I supposed to monitor this condition when I'm at work all day?  I'll make it work (always have), but it's one more thing on the list, ya know?

Took the day off, waiting to hear from the vet.  My sweet boy is resting at my feet, with no obviously lingering side-effects.  Kind thoughts welcome.
:) Jennifer
Mom to Saint Nakita and Charlie the cat

RIP sweet Bear (9/02-8/08)

Offline RMSChloe

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Re: Bear - seizures getting worse
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2007, 05:13:23 pm »
oh i sooooo sorry! :-[ ive never experienced this so i really have no advice for you, but im sooooooo sooo sorry. it must be so scary, and i feel bad that your other dog is disturbed by it. i have no idea what would make her more comfortable with it. my prayers are with you and your pupperz.
Shes not a dog... shes a Great Dane!

Offline schelmischekitty

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Re: Bear - seizures getting worse
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2007, 05:33:35 pm »
it's always heart breaking when our babies are sick.  do you have any idea what could be causing this?  is there really any way to figure it out?  i would guess that your little (not so little lol) girl is just upset about the whole situation.  i know i would be a tad uncomfortable if someone i lived with started having seizures, if only b/c it's a new situation and i don't know what to do.  with people, we can at least understand it.  she has no idea what's going on or why he's acting like this though.  i agree with letting her know that no matter if he has a seizure or not, it's not ok to snap at him.  she probably just doesn't understand, feels you being upset, and then on top of it her best friend is acting REAL weird!

i'm not sure about what options are as far as seizures, but i do wish you the BEST of luck in finding a solution! 
steffanie in atlanta

aiden (4), tristan (2), & maya (born sept. 17th)
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Offline shine

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Re: Bear - seizures getting worse
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2007, 06:24:07 pm »
Hi.  I am new here and have not seen any of your other posts about Bear's seizures, so forgive me if I tell you things you already know....but I have years of experience with big dog seizures, and thought perhaps I could help. My Malamute mix, Samson, was epileptic.  He suffered from cluster seizures that were very hard to control...but after doing tons of research I managed to achieve that control, and the dog that so many vets said would never live to age 5 made it 8 1/2 years.  

It is quite possible that Bear has epilepsy, if all his lab work is normal.  Epilepsy is generally diagnosed when  all other causes are ruled out....toxins, traumatic brain injury, tumor, etc.  Some animals develop food allergies that lead to seizures, but in my experience this is rare.

The smacking and chomping is a Focal Seizure - one that does not affect the entire body.  A Grand Mal seizure involves the whole body - classic posture is the dog on it's side, hind legs drawn tight to the body, front legs out stiff and straight, mouth open wide, all muscles very rigid and the body shaking and quivering.  Most dogs do "paddling" with their front paws when they come out of a Grand Mal.  Many are blind and confused afterwards, and can remain so for several minutes to several hours.  This is called the Post Ictal Phase.  Some dogs can be nasty while they are post ictal, so be careful....the y may snap at you or other dogs out of fear.  

The longer the seizure, the more damage it causes to the brain.  A very long seizure or a cluster of seizures that keep coming with little time in between can lead to Status Epilepticus (constant seizing) which is quite dangerous and can only be controlled with IV meds (Valium, Phenobarbital).  

 As far as treatment goes: Epilepsy is usually only treated with meds if the dog has more than 1-2 seizures a month, if they have cluster seizures (Samson never had just one...he always had spells that lasted 3 days with 20-45 seizures!). Unfortunately, these big guys with seizures are generally harder to control.  Most vets use Phenobarbital as their first line treatment.  It is pretty effective, but has alot of side effects....let hargy, weight gain, and liver damage.  Any dog on Phenobarb needs to have their liver enzymes tested several times a year. Phenobarb is cheap. Another drug that is VERY good is Potassium Bromide (Kbr).  It is one of the best for controlling cluster seizures.  It does not cause liver damage (it's processed by the kidneys).  You must be very careful about dosage, as it can reach toxic levels. It's main side effect is Ataxia (hind leg weakness).  Kbr is a compound drug and the prescription must be filled at a compound pharmacy.  It is a bit more expensive, but not bad (cost me about $60-70 a month for Sam, who weighed 110 lbs.)

There is also a Valium Protocol that can be used to control/stop cluster seizures.  We used it on Samson for years....if we got to him after the first seizure he wouldn't have any more.  Most vets are not familiar with it (I have had to teach several about it when I moved around the country), and it is tough....invol ves a large dose of liquid rectal Valium followed by oral Valium every 4 hours....but it can be a lifesaver.  

I don't mean to overload you with information... .but figured this might be my one chance to tell you everything.  If Bear's seizures continue and he needs treatment, it will help you to know this stuff.  I have tons more information on medications, liver function, the Valium Protocol, etc.  Those of us with seizure dogs usually end up knowing much more about canine epilepsy than the average vet.  I would be happy to answer any questions you have, point you in the direction of a good vet neurologist if you need one, etc.  Please feel free to contact me!

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Offline Scootergirl

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Re: Bear - seizures getting worse
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2007, 07:47:26 pm »
First of all to "Shine": there is no such thing as overloading us with information. I'm sure your post is exactly what Jennifer was looking for and I learned a lot as well (and I thought I knew everything hee hee!!). Thanks so much for sharing.

to Jennifer: I've sat for dogs with epilepsy before and Bear's seizures sure sound familiar. The good news is they are manageable with medication although it does sometimes take a few adjustments to get the medication regulated appropriately. Hang in there! We're here for you.
"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between dog and man." -- Mark Twain

Offline Moni

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Re: Bear - seizures getting worse
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2007, 08:15:20 pm »
I think that Shine gave you lots of great info!  :)

Tenchi had seizures.  His were only once a day for 2-3 days in a row and it would happen 2-4 times a year.  They were always grand mals though luckily they were so far apart that he never had to go on medication.  His post ictals where very hard sometimes.  A couple times he was blind, sometimes paralyzed, once he seemed to go into a coma!  Then after those moments passed there was the pacing for hours.  I would put him on leash and we'd just go walk until he was ready to stop.

A couple things that I learned was that you might have to be careful with him around other dogs because they sometimes will attack a dog having a seizure.  Another thing was to always have vanilla ice cream on hand for Tenchi since their blood sugar drops dramatically and their temperature rises.  He would always be ravenous and extremely thirsty when he came around.

Best of luck to you!
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Offline jennifer

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Bear seizure update
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2007, 11:16:10 pm »
Thanks everyone.  Your kind words and excellent advice have never had a more welcome recipient.

I just filled a script for phenobarbital for Bear, 2x/day.  Surprisingly cheap, just $25 for a 3-month supply.  We'll see the vet in one month to check his liver and kidney panels.  I've dedicated a notebook to keeping careful track of his seizures and other new or mystifying behaviors - which I know I can research here if necessary (such a fantastic resource!). 

Bear has been fine today.  We had a gentle walk late this morning and he's been sleeping quietly all day (as per usual).  Thanks again BPO.  Love you guys!  :-* 

Now, off to get some ice cream for both of us.   :)
:) Jennifer
Mom to Saint Nakita and Charlie the cat

RIP sweet Bear (9/02-8/08)

Offline GoldenPyrs

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Re: Bear - seizures getting worse
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2007, 11:27:39 pm »
Hi Jennifer, I don't have any experience with epilepsy, so I'm sorry that I don't have any suggestions for you.  I just wanted to agree with Julie, sadly financial limitations are a part of life, so please don't feel badly talking to us about them.  I think the info that Shine posted is wonderful and I've just learned a lot by reading it, so thank you, Shine!  ;D  This is just one of the many things that I love about BPO.  What an awesome group of experienced dog lovers.....

It sounds like you are well on your way toward treatment with the phenobarb and keeping a log is a great idea.  Bear is lucky to have such a caring & dedicated mom.

BTW, I hope that TheBrindlePack sees your post. Cindy has had quite a bit of experience with canine epilipsy too, as I recall.

And my pups:
Daisy a 9 y/o Golden/Lab mix
Sammy a 6-7(?) y/o Great Pyrenees adopted 3/07
Cassie a 3 y/o Pyr/Mystery Snuggle Bunny mix adopted 2/07

My angel girls waiting at the Bridge:
Cara 1989-2001 Great Pyrenees
Sally ? - 1993 Dobie(rescued '92)
Halley 2002-2006 Great Pyrenees

Offline navarre1316

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Re: Bear - seizures getting worse
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2007, 04:02:50 am »
I will ditto everything Shine posted (it's a good thing I read through cause I was about to post the same thing!!)  Navarre had seizures too, the whole body flopping!!!  Anyway, they started him on pheno but it was not controlling them.  Luckily I was working at a vet school/hospital at the time and one of the new professors had done research in canine epilepsy, so they also started him on KBr (she was kind of annoyed that they didn't start him on that first, but apparently there are still some vets that don't know about that protocol).  That was working, so after he was leveled out we actually tried to wean him off of the pheno to only have him on KBr, he never got totally off but we were able to cut it back considerably.

Navarre always had a "pre" episode personality and when I finally realized that was what it was I would crate him when I wasn't at home, his first seizure he rolled right over me off the bed (talk about something scary to wake up to!), so he would be in a safe place in case he did have a seizure.  I also would try to get a blood sample right after he had one, if I was able because sometimes he didn't like to be touched right after.  I know that's not feasible for most people to do but I worked in the lab right next to the lab that would run his bloodwork for his pheno/KBr levels.  I'm sure Bear will be fine it's just going to be a matter of finding the dosage that is going to work with him.  Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask any questions, also do a search on the board, there are a few threads about seizures.
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