Archive

Archive for June, 2010

The 4 Stages of a Seizure in a Dog

June 30th, 2010 1 comment

The first time Cory had a seizure he was only about 5 months old.  I woke him up from a sound sleep and he started walking as if his legs had gone to sleep, crossing over each other in the front and wobbling as if he’d been drinking alcoholic beverages.  We laughed, thinking it was funny.  I checked in with Cory’s vet a few days later, who shrugged it off as nothing to be concerned about.  This incident happened a few years before Cory had his first grand mal seizure, when we finally understood that the curious symptoms leading up to it meant that he had been having small seizures and suffering from epilepsy all along.  I wish I had been better educated about what to watch for, as I believe if I had known to suspect that Cory was having pre-epileptic episodes we might have possibly avoided that horrific grand mal seizure which I describe in the first chapter of Cory’s Story.

The following article is to help educate you in knowing what to look for in your dog’s behavior, in order to assist your veterinarian in making an accurate diagnosis with the information which you observe.

Cory’s seizures began as curious moments when he would lose muscle control and be unable to walk correctly, or he would assume a blank look and stand as if he were a statue, staring into space with drool running out of his mouth.  Those periods did not last long enough to cause us much concern, especially when we’d get the assurance from various veterinarians that nothing was wrong.  Unfortunately, seizures can gradually worsen over time and eventually become serious to the point of being life-threatening to the dog.  All seizures should be taken seriously, because whatever is causing them is not likely to disappear on its own.  With the increased frequency of the seizures comes the potential for the stage which is known as status epilepticus, a state of continuous seizures with infrequent or no periods of consciousness, which can lead to death without medical intervention.  Therefore, you need to know about the four basic stages to a seizure.  They are:

The Prodome, or “Pre-Ictal” Phase. This is a period of time which may begin moments before a dog’s seizure or even as much as 24 hours prior to a seizure, where your dog’s behavior will be markedly changed from what it is like normally.  In Cory, we saw him become worried and he would run to one of us and want to cling to us for reassurance.  You may also see the vacant look I described above, and excess salivation or drooling.  Your dog may start to tremble or whine, as if knowing that something dreadful is about to happen.  There are two things you can do during this phase – administer Rescue Remedy or give your dog a small amount of preservative-free vanilla ice cream, and give your dog as much assurance and comfort as you can.  With Cory’s early episodes, this phase did not progress on to the next stages for several years.

The Aura. This is the period of intensity of the pre-ictal symptoms, just before the seizure starts.  The dog may be restless, apprehensive, begin pacing, or even try to hide.

The Ictal Phase, also known as the “Ictus.” Ick is the word indeed, as this is a period of intense neurological spasming resulting in a disruption of brain activity that explodes in a chaos of mixed signals flooding the dog’s body.  Most seizures last for 1 to 5 minutes.  Any longer than 5 minutes and you have a prolonged seizure that may require medical intervention.  During this phase most dogs fall onto their side and are either stiff-legged with rigidity, or paddling uncontrollably while convulsing.  Sometimes the dog will lose control of its bladder or bowels during this phase.  The best thing you can do for your dog is to act like you are remaining calm, turn off the lights and any noise, keep the dog from hitting his head on something, and perhaps ocular compression will help lessen the duration or intensity of the seizure.  If your dog has already been diagnosed as having epilepsy, your vet will probably have given you several syringes full of valium which you can use if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, or if one seizure quickly follows another.

The Post-Ictal Phase. Once the seizure has ended, the dog may appear to be dazed for several minutes to several hours.  Many dogs pace frantically.  Some are temporarily blind and will bump into walls.  Your dog will most likely need to go outside to eliminate, and then you should help replace the glucose that will have been depleted by the seizure.  A spoonful of honey on top of some natural, preservative-free vanilla ice cream will help restore the blood sugar levels quickly, and your dog will appreciate lots of fresh, filtered water to drink.

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Treatment for Canine Epilepsy

June 29th, 2010 1 comment

If your dog starts having seizures it is important to get him in for an evaluation by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If the reason for the seizures is a diagnosis of epilepsy, the following are some of the ways that the seizures can be treated. It is important to understand that epilepsy is not the cause of all dog seizures, however. For example, certain kinds of brain tumors or an injury to the dog’s brain can cause seizures, as can certain toxins in the environment. In such cases, treatment for epilepsy will be completely ineffective.

The purpose of this article is to explore treatment options so that you will have a better understanding of them once your veterinarian has determined that the cause of your dog’s seizures is epilepsy. Generally no treatment is recommended unless the seizures are occurring at least once a month. You should keep in mind that the purpose of treatment is to reduce the frequency and intensity of the seizures, and that in many cases the seizures will continue in spite of the treatment, so don’t give up and don’t get discouraged.

Anti-Epileptic Drugs, or “AED’s” are usually the first choice of treatment options, with Phenobarbitol and Potassium bromide being the two most commonly prescribed drugs, sometimes independently and sometimes together, if administering just one of them does not produce sufficient seizure control. Diazepam (a/k/a Valium) is used for treatment if the seizures go into what is called “status epilepticus” or “cluster seizures” which is where the seizure goes on for more than about 5 minutes, or one seizure quickly follows another. In my research for this article I was surprised to find that Primidone is still on the list of potential treatment options; however, because of the high concentration of liver enzymes that have been reported and other side effects such as lethargy and excessive hunger and thirst, I was always told that this drug should never be considered, and I knew it by the nickname of “Primadon’t” among my fellow owners of epileptic dogs. There have been studies done in the past 5 to 10 years that have shown that Neurontin (a/k/a gabapentin) can also be useful, and anyone considering using AED’s should do further research about these studies. The caution about using AED’s is that they can cause liver enzymes to become elevated, and dogs on these drugs need to have regular chemistry panels done to be sure that their livers are not being damaged.

Acupuncture or Gold Bead Implants, involve the placement of needles throughout the dog’s body, or placement of gold bead into the acupuncture points. I would try acupuncture before AED’s, but gold bead implants would be a last resort for me, to be considered only if everything else failed.

Diet, Homeopathy and Vitamin Therapy. I believe that diet plays a critical role in the treatment of canine epilepsy, because many commercial dog foods are full of chemical dyes and preservatives. Preservatives have been known to cause seizures in dogs that have a lower seizure threshold, and should be eliminated completely from their diets. I believe that the benefits of feeding fresh, raw food and fresh pulped green leafy veggies actually stopped my dog’s seizures without us ever having to use AED’s. I recommend that you work with a holistic veterinarian to ensure that you are providing the right balance of food, vitamin and if recommended, homeopathic treatments. Serving filtered water may also be helpful, especially in states where the water has fluoride added.

Rescue Remedy and Ice Cream. I found the Bachs Flower Essence called Rescue Remedy, which is sold in most health food stores, to be very useful in lessening the severity of a seizure if you can get 4 or 5 drops of it into the dog’s mouth as soon as the seizure starts, and after a seizure, a spoonful of Breyers All Natural vanilla ice cream (preservative free!) can help to quickly restore blood sugar levels which are compromised by the tremendous amount of energy it takes a little body to experience a seizure. My dog got to where he would go to the refrigerator after his seizures and look happily up at the freezer, wagging his tail expectantly.

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Causes of Dog Seizures

June 29th, 2010 2 comments

In England they often call them “fits” – what happens when the brain loses control of the body. In America, they are more commonly called seizures. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief summary as to some of the many causes of dog seizures.

EPILEPSY. The primary cause of dog seizures is epilepsy, but it is important to make the distinction that not all seizures are attributable to epilepsy. The most common form of epilepsy was made known to the world by a group of idiots walking through the woods one day and they all found themselves on the same path, and collectively observed a wolf in a clearing doing the hokey-pokey. They reported this unusual sighting to the forest rangers and the term “idiopathic epilepsy” was coined. Well, that’s not exactly true, but the scientific reason is a bit more boring and doesn’t make any more sense. In short, the term “idiopathic epilepsy” is a catch-all for when the experts just don’t know what is causing a dog to have seizures.

TOXINS. Unfortunately for dogs, there are all kinds of toxins in their environment, many of which can cause seizures. These toxins range from poisons to get rid of rodents or slugs to flea powders or chemicals that are actually meant for dogs to wear as collars. Antifreeze, insecticides and paint products are also known toxins which can not only induce seizures, but can kill the unwitting animal that ingests them. With early treatment and intervention, most animals have a good to fair prognosis of making a full recovery if they have a seizure as a result of an environmental poisoning.

BRAIN TUMORS. Obviously, one of the easiest things to rule out, as a cause of dog seizures, is whether there is an abnormal growth in the dog’s brain. Growths cause pressure on the brain tissue, which in turn can cause seizures and other neurological abnormalities. Fortunately, there are diagnostic tests (MRI or CAT scans) that can determine if that is the problem; however, only a very small percentage of dog seizures are caused by tumors or head injuries. In either case, anti-epileptic drugs would not be effective for dogs suffering from seizures caused by either of them.

TICK INDUCED DISEASES. The bite of the bloodsucking arachnid known as a tick can cause Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, both of which can cause dog seizures. If the tick is discovered within the first 24 hours after it has attached itself to the dog, the chance of infection is greatly reduced. There are antibiotics that can kill Lyme Disease, and most dogs respond quite well in general to antibiotics.

DISTEMPER. Distemper, in which a fever develops, then diarrhea and dehydration, can cause seizures in dogs, especially puppies, when they lose their maternal antibodies at about the age of 3 months. Only through the use of vaccinations can this debilitating disease be prevented, and once a dog has acquired it, they have a fight ahead for their very lives.

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Canine Epilepsy Treatment (Part 3)

June 29th, 2010 No comments

Hello everyone! Here’s part 3:

Rescue Remedy and Ice Cream. I found the Bachs Flower Essence called Rescue Remedy, which is sold in most health food stores, to be very useful in lessening the severity of a seizure if you can get 4 or 5 drops of it into the dog’s mouth as soon as the seizure starts, and after a seizure, a spoonful of Breyers All Natural vanilla ice cream (preservative free!) can help to quickly restore blood sugar levels which are compromised by the tremendous amount of energy it takes a little body to experience a seizure. My dog got to where he would go to the refrigerator after his seizures and look happily up at the freezer, wagging his tail expectantly.

My next blog post is going to be a big one; it’s called “Health Considerations for the Older Dog.” I think many of you will find super valuable information in it! Stay tuned for it…

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Canine Epilepsy Treatment (Part 2)

June 25th, 2010 1 comment

Hi again! Here’s part 2, as I promised earlier.

•    Acupuncture or Gold Bead Implants, involve the placement of needles throughout the dog’s body, or placement of gold bead into the acupuncture points. I would try acupuncture before AED’s, but gold bead implants would be a last resort for me, to be considered only if everything else failed.

•    Diet, Homeopathy and Vitamin Therapy. I believe that diet plays a critical role in the treatment of canine epilepsy, because many commercial dog foods are full of chemical dyes and preservatives. Preservatives have been known to cause seizures in dogs that have a lower seizure threshold, and should be eliminated completely from their diets.

I believe that the benefits of feeding fresh, raw food and fresh pulped green leafy veggies actually stopped my dog’s seizures without us ever having to use AED’s. I recommend that you work with a holistic veterinarian to ensure that you are providing the right balance of food, vitamin and if recommended, homeopathic treatments. Serving filtered water may also be helpful, especially in states where the water has fluoride added.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this article coming soon! And don’t forget to sign up using the form over there on the right sidebar to get a sneak-peek at Chapter 1 of Cory’s Story, which is currently in the publishing process!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Canine Epilepsy Treatment (Part 1)

June 22nd, 2010 No comments

Hello everyone! Last week it was my pleasure to bring you a 5-part series on causes of dog seizures. This week I’d like to talk about some of the treatments available for dog seizures.

If your dog starts having seizures it is important to get him in for an evaluation by a veterinarian as soon as possible.  If the reason for the seizures is a diagnosis of epilepsy, the following are some of the ways that the seizures can be treated.  It is important to understand that epilepsy is not the cause of all dog seizures, however.  For example, certain kinds of brain tumors or an injury to the dog’s brain can cause seizures, as can certain toxins in the environment.  In such cases, treatment for epilepsy will be completely ineffective.

The purpose of this article is to explore treatment options so that you will have a better understanding of them once your veterinarian has determined that the cause of your dog’s seizures is epilepsy.  Generally no treatment is recommended unless the seizures are occurring at least once a month.  You should keep in mind that the purpose of treatment is to reduce the frequency and intensity of the seizures, and that in many cases the seizures will continue in spite of the treatment, so don’t give up and don’t get discouraged.

  • Anti-Epileptic Drugs, or “AED’s” are usually the first choice of treatment options, with Phenobarbitol and Potassium bromide being the two most commonly prescribed drugs, sometimes independently and sometimes together, if administering just one of them does not produce sufficient seizure control.  Diazepam (a/k/a Valium) is used for treatment if the seizures go into what is called “status epilepticus” or “cluster seizures” which is where the seizure goes on for more than about 5 minutes, or one seizure quickly follows another.  In my research for this article I was surprised to find that Primidone is still on the list of potential treatment options; however, because of the high concentration of liver enzymes that have been reported and other side effects such as lethargy and excessive hunger and thirst, I was always told that this drug should never be considered, and I knew it by the nickname of “Primadon’t” among my fellow owners of epileptic dogs.  There have been studies done in the past 5 to 10 years that have shown that Neurontin (a/k/a gabapentin) can also be useful, and anyone considering using AED’s should do further research about these studies.  The caution about using AED’s is that they can cause liver enzymes to become elevated, and dogs on these drugs need to have regular chemistry panels done to be sure that their livers are not being damaged.

Stay tuned for Part 2 soon!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Causes of Dog Seizures (Part 5)

June 18th, 2010 No comments

Yesterday I covered the 4th cause of dog seizures: Tick induced diseases.

Today I’ll cover the 5th and final cause in this series:

DISTEMPER.  Distemper, in which a fever develops, then diarrhea and dehydration, can cause seizures in dogs, especially puppies, when they lose their maternal antibodies at about the age of 3 months.  Only through the use of vaccinations can this debilitating disease be prevented, and once a dog has acquired it, they have a fight ahead for their very lives.

Stay tuned to the blog for my next series: Canine Epilepsy Treatment!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Causes of Dog Seizures (Part 4)

June 17th, 2010 No comments

Yesterday I covered the 3rd cause of dog seizures: Brain Tumors.

Today is the 4th cause:

TICK INDUCED DISEASES.  The bite of the bloodsucking arachnid known as a tick can cause Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, both of which can cause dog seizures.  If the tick is discovered within the first 24 hours after it has attached itself to the dog, the chance of infection is greatly reduced.  There are antibiotics that can kill Lyme Disease, and most dogs respond quite well in general to antibiotics.

As always, thank you for reading and remember to check back tomorrow for the 5th cause of dog seizures!

P.S. – Have you signed up for our fan club yet? You’ll get to read Chapter 1 of Cory’s Story for free immediately after you sign up!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Categories: Dog seizures Tags:

Causes of Dog Seizures (Part 3)

June 16th, 2010 No comments

Yesterday I covered the 2nd cause of dog seizures: Toxins. Today is the 3rd cause:

BRAIN TUMORS. Obviously, one of the easiest things to rule out, as a cause of dog seizures, is whether there is an abnormal growth in the dog’s brain. Growths cause pressure on the brain tissue, which in turn can cause seizures and other neurological abnormalities. Fortunately, there are diagnostic tests (MRI or CAT scans) that can determine if that is the problem; however, only a very small percentage of dog seizures are caused by tumors or head injuries. In either case, anti-epileptic drugs would not be effective for dogs suffering from seizures caused by either of them.

Check back again tomorrow for the 4th cause of dog seizures! And don’t forget to sign up for our fan club on the right sidebar =) You’ll get a sneak-peek at Chapter of Cory’s Story as our thank-you!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Causes of Dog Seizures (Part 2)

June 15th, 2010 2 comments

Yesterday I covered the first cause of dog seizures: Epilepsy. Today I’ll cover the next cause:

TOXINS. Unfortunately for dogs, there are all kinds of toxins in their environment, many of which can cause seizures.  These toxins range from poisons to get rid of rodents or slugs to flea powders or chemicals that are actually meant for dogs to wear as collars.  Antifreeze, insecticides and paint products are also known toxins which can not only induce seizures, but can kill the unwitting animal that ingests them.  With early treatment and intervention, most animals have a good to fair prognosis of making a full recovery if they have a seizure as a result of an environmental poisoning.

Come back tomorrow for the next cause in this 5-part series! And in the meantime, if you’d like to get a sneak-peek at Chapter 1 of Cory’s Story, just sign up using the form over there on the right sidebar, and you’ll be able to read it instantly. I hope you like it!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.