Blogathon 2010 – Seizures in Pets

Seizures are scary, no matter how many times you have seen them, or if you know your friend is going to be ok, or even if you have the medical knowledge to understand exactly what is going on and that it will end.

When Ernie Dog (Mom and Dad’s tiny Poodle) was one year old, he had a general seizure secondary to carbon monoxide poisoning.  (SO scary – Mom was there too, and they are both fine nine years later!)

All Four Pounds of Ernie Dog!

Some dogs will develop a seizure disorder secondary to liver disease or a brain tumor or something equally ominous.

Usually the pets I have treated for seizures have a disease called Idiopathic Epilepsy.  This is a disease of exclusion – if we can rule out the scary stuff with examination (a general physical exam and a neurological exam, where the veterinarian focuses in on the nervous system) and testing (blood tests, sometimes imaging, even including CAT scans or MRI’s at speciality hospitals), we diagnose Idiopathic Epilepsy.  Remember what idiopathic means?  ha!  No, though it has the same base as idiot!  It means unknown cause!  And once we get to that diagnosis, seizures are much less scary and can be handled with medication, regular check-ups and bloodwork.

Our first dog, Benji, had idiopathic epilepsy.  He was well-managed on oral phenobarbital twice a day.  He had a few “breakthrough” seizures (seizures that occur even when epilepsy is well-controlled).  And like I said, seizures are scary no matter how used to them you are.  I always hated seeing Benji seize, but it did not phase him a bit.  Pets vary quite a bit in their pre-ictal (before the seizure) signs and post-ictal (after the seizure) signs.  Benji’s pre-ictal and post-ictal phases (that I saw) were always pretty subtle.  Some dogs will become agitated before seizures and very sleepy afterwards.

Have you dealt with seizures in your own pets?  Or patients, veterinary types?  Next up…the smallest epileptic patient I have ever had!  WAY smaller than Ernie Dog himself!

Clicking here will bring you to the webpage with information about Bradyn and an opportunity to donate towards the training of his service dog from 4 Paws for Ability. ♥

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16 Responses to “Blogathon 2010 – Seizures in Pets”

  1. Tamara says:

    My youngest kitty, now 11, had seizures as a kitten after she was spayed. Scary!!

  2. Mary Haight says:

    Hi Shawn – told ya I’d stop by to see how you were doing during the blogathon! How are you holding up;)I’ve never had an animal that had epilepsy, but did give riding lessons to a young girl who had it. It is indeed, a very scary disease!

  3. admin says:

    oo is your kitty ok now Tamara? That is scary! If they do not recur, sometimes we never know what caused them (anesthesia maybe?) but the prognosis is very good for one-time-only seizure events!

  4. admin says:

    Mary! Hi! :) Thanks! I am doing ok – hungry way later in the night than I should be!I bet your riding lessons helped her alot. I have only known one child with epilepsy. It seems (though I do not know for sure) that the causes and presentation of seizures in people are much more varied than in our pets.

  5. Tamara says:

    Nope, none since. We’re pretty sure it was the “kitty cocktail” she was given. We are careful not to use drugs that ‘may’ cause seizures now though :)

  6. admin says:

    *phew* Glad she is ok now. Yeah, some of those drugs can have pretty potent side-effects or even adverse effects, like with your poor kitty. Fortunately, she probably never even knew anything had happened!

  7. Mary Haight says:

    Yes, nothing like being able to accomplish something as wonderful as riding a horse. Children really hate to be seen as “different” – I had thought what a struggle to have such a disease so young.I see you’re still going like the energizer bunny….but noticed you did not finish the rhyme on that post for Fuzzy Wuzzy – did you nod off??Hope you don’t have much to do tomorrow cuz would bet you’re going to be a little foggy! You’re doing a good thing, Shawn! Don’t eat any cat litter pizzas:))

  8. admin says:

    Ha! Never! I DID finish the rhyme! Ya think I should write it out normal? I will go do that now zzzzz

  9. Mary Haight says:

    Oh – it was a rhyme in pictures with a little help? Ok, it’s late -though not much later than usual for me…gotta walk the dog for his last call;)It gets a little bit spooky out there at three in the morning – and it’s turned really cold! Must be in thirties! Two days ago it was 72!Back…hey, we scared a poor little rabbit! Tashi never startles at these things, and looks like he’s saying “hey, where ya goin’ so fast?”

  10. admin says:

    yes! A picture rhyme! Ha! That’s right – forgot you are a SERIOUS night owl!Yup, snowed here last night for the first time this season. I started the day in flip flops. *sigh* Oh well! It is pretty!

  11. Kathie says:

    Gretl had inflammatory bowel disease from an early age although it wasn’t definitively diagnosed until she was 5 years old. At the age of 6 she had the first of 3 grand mal seizures. It happened just before dawn and was one of the most frightening experiences I’ve had – since it was unexpected and at first I didn’t realize what had happened. She had two additional seizures – one on the bed – both also in the hours before dawn. Neurological examination seemed reassuring that there was no tumor or similar pathology as the cause. I did lots of research and reading and several articles suggested that there was possibly a hypoglycemic element to some seizures. Gretl’s seizures seemed to correlate with active phases of her IBD and I began the practice of keeping a small bowl of kibble on my nightstand and would give her a small handful at night before going to sleep and as soon as I heard her stir early in the morning. Treating her with any of the anti seizure medications was problematic due to her IBD. She had no further seizures in the year prior to her death.

  12. admin says:

    Oh Kathie! I am so sorry you had to go through that! Seizures are even scarier when you do not know WHY they are happening. They can happen with hypoglycemia. Maybe that was what was happening with Gretl. I am glad she had you.

  13. Kim says:

    Oh man – this brings back memories. Our kitty Bailey had what seemed to be a upper respiratory infection (which seemed to be getting better with meds) but then it led to seizures. When people say how scary seizures are, there’s no way of understating it. By far they are the most frightening thing I’d ever experienced. It took over 4 week to figure out why the seizures were happening. We went to vet visits, neurology consults, dentists, etc. In the end, it was a large brain tumor. I think all the vets who knew us (we had 5 animals so we came in for one thing or another all the time!) wanted it to be something else and in the end, all of us were devastated by the results and lack of options.Luckily we put him on medication which didn’t help the tumor (because it was a terminal case) but we were able to give him some great final days. There were even seizure-free days where he could be his usual playful, purring, cuddly self and those days were the BEST.

  14. admin says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Bailey Kim! It is something how the memories come back just as strongly as when you were in the middle of going through that with him, huh?He was so blessed to have you. I would guess those last days were some of his happiest. I am sad for you that you had to let go of him though.

  15. dog beds says:

    I always hated seeing Benji seize, but it did not phase him a bit.This is the great wisdom of animals: that they can accept things as they are, and go on functioning in the face of things that would drive a human being nuts (or, at the very least, make that human being pointlessly angry), while at the same time being grateful for every kindness. This is why I like being around pets.- – – – – -Jack@PDB

  16. admin says:

    You are right, Jack. Epilepsy in pets is so different probably for that very reason – there is no difficult emotional side to it, just the physical reality, which does not really bother them! …well, you said it better!

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