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First Seizure in Border Collie


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My 4yr old and 9 month old Border Collie just had her first seizure last night and I was looking for some information from those who have experience with this. It seemed to come out of nowhere. It felt like it lasted about two minutes and she just started twitching and falling over to her side and then her legs just went stiff as a board and she was basically lock jaw and salivating everywhere. Once the fit seemed to be over she was still pretty stiff and her eyes were bug eyed and glazed over. She'd lift her head up when I'd say her name but was still out of it. Then she just started coming to and responding to her name and wagging her tail and sitting up. I took her to the emergency vet immediately and they ran her blood work and all her levels came back good. The vet suggested it was an idiopathic seizure which is hard to pinpoint a cause. She said its possible it could be an isolated incident and it never occurs again. So at the current moment, we are just keeping an extra eye on her and any changes in behavior. She seems to be back to her normal energetic self today and seemingly acting like she has no idea it even happened to her.

From everything I've been trying to research, it seems like a lot of research suggests that they usually occur while the dog is at rest. This was not the case with Luna. I had actually been out for a few hours and when I arrived at home around 10pm she came running to the door to greet me as she usually does and within 5 minutes of being home, she all the sudden just fell into the seizure. I wondered if at all possible extreme anxiety could trigger a seizure? Usually I greet her right away when I walk in but I walked straight past her this time as I was rushing into the house. Luna is, as her breed tends to be, a somewhat anxious or antsy dog at times. I know she loves to be around people 24/7 and hates being left alone. I started thinking to myself did I just stress her out so much because I ignored her in those first few minutes I walked into the house. The only other recent change in her routine lately that I can think of is that I did switch her food from Merrick to Acana. Other than that, she has been the same sweet energetic little girl she has always been. The vet suggested that she doesn't think it could be epilepsy only because of her age at this point. 

Of course I'm in a little bit of a panic as it's so scary and hard to watch your dog go through that but so any information anyone may be able to share would be so helpful and very much appreciated. Thank you!


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It's very, very hard to watch your dog have seizures. There's literally nothing you can do, beyond keep them from hurting themselves by hitting something. I had a dog who had seizures and that's what the vet told me. My dad had epilepsy and I saw him have a couple seizures, when I was about 13. I've not read or heard anything about anxiety triggering seizures. In my dad's case, he was reading the paper, stood up from his chair and started seizing. He didn't remember anything but starting to feel very odd. My dog Tillie, many years gone, had her seizures at random times. She was a very placid, easy going dog, so anxiety was not an issue.

I've heard/read that it's good to give a dog a dollop of honey after a seizure as the seizure affects blood sugar levels. 

Ruth & Gibbs


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I have almost no experience with seizures but have read that some can be caused by various chemicals in the environment. Have you introduced any new pesticides (environmental or to the dog), herbicides, even cleaning products, etc. into her environment?

ETA: I've also been reading that vets are having some pretty good results w/ CBD for many seizure dogs.

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My Australian shepherd had severe idiopathic (hereditary) epilepsy.  Hereditary epilepsy usually shows up at a younger age, Brenden starting seizing at 15 months.  His seizures occurred during all kinds of activities. He never had one during herding training, but we decided to stop training because it might be dangerous.

It was always terrible to see him have a seizure, I really hope your dog never has another one.  During a seizure, blood sugar levels crash.  Giving the dog something sugary as they recover helps to restore blood sugar levels and shorten the recovery period.  You described this perfectly--after involuntary movements stop, the dog seems dazed.  Be on the look out for absence or partial focal seizures.  These are less severe and don't cause the violent movements; the dog just seems out of it, distracted, perhaps with strange stereotyped movements or behaviors.  Very mild partial focal seizures can go unnoticed, or mistaken for something else.

I hope for the best for your dog!

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To be clear, "idiopathic" indicates of unknown origin. Although it likely is hereditary, the genetics are so complicated that it can't be predicted, and dogs who have never themselves priduced it before from lines not known to produce it can throw epileptic pups. The sire and dam of an epi pup or pups could be bred to different dogs and never produce it again. The complexity of the genetics is the main reason there is no genetic test for it.

My epi did started out having seizures during periods of high excitement (running to the creek with the pack). They happened only occasionally, about once a month and she had a multimonth period with no seizures. Later, when I moved, she started having seizures much more frequently and they occurred when she was resting (so a more typical pattern). I was convinced that something in our new location was triggering the more frequent seizures, but never could definitively figure it out. My vet put her on phenobarbital and she never had another seizure.

The reason someone mentioned changes in chemical use, etc., is because dogs with idiopathic epilepsy have lower thresholds to some substances and so exposure to those things can trigger seizures. If you keep a seizure diary (recommend highly, assuming she has more) you may be able to draw some correlations between exposure to certain things and the onset of a seizure. If that's the case, then you can limit exposure and potentially prevent them from happening in the first place. But that's also fairly rare.

My epi dog was a working dog and worked stock her entire life without any problems (but she was well controlled on Pb).

Seizures are scary to watch, but the dog won't remember what happened. The "dazed" period after a seizure is known as the post-ictal period and is typical. Some dogs have longer, more dazed post-ictal periods than others, like much of the course of an individual dog's epi journey. The main thing you can do during a seizure is to keep your dog safe. If you have other dogs in your house a seizure can trigger those others to attack. Phoebe was perfectly safe to leave unattended in my house but I always crated her so that if she seized while I wasn't there, she'd be safe from any resulting pack behavior from the other dogs.

Finally, it seems that the younger a dog is when it starts seizing the more difficult it *may* be to control the seizures over time. But there are also a lot of medications out there that simply weren't available in the past. If you're on Facebook there is a canine epilepsy group that can be helpful and supportive.


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