Canine Seizures: One Family's Story

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    This article will describe my personal experience dealing with new onset canine seizures and how we have worked together as a family to love and take care of our family pet through this situation. Canines and felines can have seizures, just like people. This article will discuss how my family and I learned about this on a personal level.

    Canine Seizures: One Family's Story

    Her name is Baby.

    I am a bit biased, of course, but I think she is the cutest little doggy in the whole world. She is a 4 1/2 pound Yorkie. She will be eleven years old in July and we have had her since she was 11 weeks old and weighed two pounds. She is our little girl. And we were her world. You see, this little story has an unfortunate twist. Baby no longer knows who we are. We are strangers to her. Really friendly strangers. I guess I should start at the beginning.

    Yesterday, Baby had her first grand mal seizure while napping with my daughter. She had three seizures that first hour and the fourth while we walked from the car into the vet's office. Thank goodness our vet is open on Saturdays. Two hours later, after some labs and an x-ray, we walked out of the vet's office with a bottle of phenobarbital and a dog with canine seizures. Our little girl. Seizures.

    Since then we have been on the internet researching canine seizures. We have learned a lot since yesterday. Some things I learned from first hand experience. Did you know sometimes dogs will have temporary blindness after a grand mal seizure? This happened to Baby. It only lasts 5-10 minutes. We learned that is important to have a seizure journal. We keep track of her medication administration and document seizure activity.

    The first twenty four hours were tough. It was like having a newborn baby. She is a lap dog and normally sleeps as much (or maybe more) as a cat. She slept one or two hours in the first twenty four hours. Otherwise she would only pace or wander the house. She wouldn't sit or lay down. I picked her up a lot to try to get her to rest. But she isn't herself yet. She doesn't really remember who we are. She wants us in the room with her and lets us pick her up but if we try to pet her she is a little hesitant. She doesn't want to do any of her normal relaxing activities: no dog bed, no toys, she is even ignoring a tissue or piece of paper on the floor. Normally a tissue to Baby is like chocolate to a woman. But she passes it by. All she will do is pace and wander. She eats, drinks, goes potty, and paces.

    She is sleep deprived. (We are too.) Her gait is unsteady. She has that dazed look in her eye. She walks but stumbles at times. She doesn't always go potty where she should. We take her out every half hour or so. One good thing happened this afternoon. She realized her soft kennel is for laying down and for sleep and she has had some really good, and much needed naps today. And we have been able to rest and sneak in some naps and showers while she rests. Everyone has pitched in and cared for her, watched her as she wandered the room, potty breaks or fed her. We all love her so much.

    This afternoon I took her potty outside. As she walked, she stumbled and fell on her face. I picked her up and held her. She let me this time. I held her close and told her I was sorry. I am sorry you don't feel good. I am sorry this happened to you. I am sorry you don't remember who we are. But know that we love you. And you WILL get better (I hope. Once the medicine starts to work.) You will remember us again and that you are our Baby.
    Last edit by Joe V on May 2, '13
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    About nursefrances, BSN

    Nursefrances has been a nurse for 4 1/2 years and a Mommy to Baby for almost eleven years.

    nursefrances has '6' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Ambulatory Surgery, Ophthalmology, Tele'. From 'USA'; 44 Years Old; Joined Dec '08; Posts: 3,661; Likes: 5,702.

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  3. by   nursefrances
    This is Baby...
    Last edit by Joe V on Apr 30, '13
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  4. by   tewdles
    How sad!

    I own a rottie, my second, and 11 years would be a nice long life...a bit short for a dog that size I imagine.
    I wonder about the pacing...surely this is a telling symptom? And not sleeping...
    I hope the phenobarb helps.
  5. by   TopazLover
    I have me in tears. How sad for you and your family. I suspect there is a great deal of brain irritability that the petting makes worse. We see that post stroke in people. I am glad she found her bed comforting. She obviously finds you comforting and likes to be near you.

    Prayers that the med works and she can have more years with you. 11 does not seem that old for a small dog.
    Please keep us updated.
  6. by   BCgradnurse
    It's so hard to watch our furbabies suffer and they can't tell us how they're feeling. I hope the meds work well and she has years of good health ahead of her.
  7. by   navymom072507
    I have a Yorkie who started having seizures two years ago.....I thought for sure he was dying. He's on phenobarb also, but still has seizures 2-3 times a year that I know of. When he's seizing I sit with him and tell him I love him and like you tell him I'm sorry. I'm getting teary eyed just writing this because I would be lost without my baby boy!!!
    Last edit by navymom072507 on May 1, '13 : Reason: delete comment
  8. by   nursefrances
    Quote from tewdles
    How sad!

    I own a rottie, my second, and 11 years would be a nice long life...a bit short for a dog that size I imagine.
    I wonder about the pacing...surely this is a telling symptom? And not sleeping...
    I hope the phenobarb helps.
    I read online that they will pace when having an aura or post seizure. We think she was having multiple focal seizures that first and second day. (we documented 11-14 focals, involving her face, that first day)

    It is now Wednesday, the fourth day out. We haven't witnessed a grand mal seizure since Tuesday and it was the only one that day. The focal (mouth/face twitch) seizures are also much less. She is eating again, walking a little better, still stumbling a bit. The first few days we spoon fed her. We found this great canned food that looks better than progresso chunky chicken soup. I put it in my Ninja processor and made it into a puree. She is loving that. Yesterday while my daughter was spoon feeding her, she looked at the bowl and stuck her face in it and "grubbed", as my daughter put it. She knows her name again and has a more familiar look to her face. She has the look of love when she looks at us again. We really missed that. She is still a little loopy but much less.

    Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.
  9. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Quote from nursefrances
    She knows her name again and has a more familiar look to her face. She has the look of love when she looks at us again. We really missed that. She is still a little loopy but much less.

    Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.
    awww... I pray she continues to recover!
  10. by   TopazLover
    With such a tiny pup I can well imagine any amount of phenobarbital would make Baby loopy.
    Speedy recovery, please.
  11. by   Esme12
    I had a half Newfie Half Chow Chow....she was 100 lbs of solid fur with a purple tongue. She was rescued by a friend she wasn't even weaned....her eyes were not even open. I bottle fed her and gave her antibiotics IV. She had parvo. Her name was Bear and I loved her so! She crossed over to the rainbow bridge in 2000.

    She had her first seizure when she was about 2......she performed search and rescue with me for many years.....she survived a fire after being resuscitated by the fire department when she was 11...she lived to be 2 months shy of 17.

    She was on primadone/mysoline for over 15 years. Of course I can't find a picture of her right now to post but I hurts when they are sick but they can live with the seizures.

    Once Bear was medicated well....she would have a seizure maybe once a year.....I had to be meticulous about her diet because the meds were hard on the liver. After her seizures quire comfort no excitement is the best treatment to quiet that scattered brain.

    I am sending prayers and positive vibes for your fur baby....((HUGS))
  12. by   debsgreys
    Prayers and hugs to Baby, you and your family. This article brought tears to my eyes. We had a greyhound named Aljo, that would have frequent grand mal seizures. He started with them shortly after we adopted him. I often wonder if that is why they stopped "making him race". They were frequent in the beginning until meds were adjusted. Aljo was a big goofy boy. Rarely did we leave him alone even for an hour. When he would seize my other furkids would lay near and watch quietly as we tended to him. In our situation Aljo lived for over a year. Forever in our family's hearts.
  13. by   nursefrances
    Baby Update:

    She seems to be doing better. Starting to remember more. She went potty when asked this morning. She wouldn't do this 2 days ago. (We had an RV in the past, she was trained pretty well regarding going potty when we traveled-you could tell her "Baby go potty" and she would, at rest stops, etc.)

    She was not really eating yesterday, the day before she had gotten her appetite back so we thought we were going a step backwards again. We were talking about it last night and realized that yesterday we opened a new can of food that was a different flavor. We went to Petsmart and bought another can of the first flavor. Bingo! We realized she doesn't like peas. Since she is eating a little more we are able to sneak her medicine in. Those first few days were a struggle with the meds since she didn't want to eat. If you tried to force her (open her mouth, etc.) this stressed her and sometimes she would have a focal seizure from the stress. But we are good now. We are still taking it a day at a time. Slowly but surely, she is coming back.
  14. by   SchoolRNAmy
    So sorry you are going through this with Baby. She's lucky to have your love and compassion.
    Hugs to you and your family. Hope she continues to recover.