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Sudden onset of fits...


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Hi everyone

I am very concerned about my border collie, Mr.

Last friday he had a fit in the wee houra of the morning. Convulsions, foam and stiffness of joints. Looked like he was temporarily blinded for a few minutes afterwards but the  recognised us and wagged his tail. He also messed himself. Since then, he has had three more fits. Two last night thay were minutes apart. After the last one he started pacing and searching up on the dresser and countertops like his life depended on it. Didnt respond to us like he always does, kind of suspicious and didnt want us to touch or hold him...which is drastic since he is a mega cuddler. Slept after that for 4hrs and then VOILA, my little Mr was back! The vet is aware of the situation except for last nights episodes.

Mr doesnt have ANY history of epilepsy and has never had anything remotely close to a fit before. The only difference in routine I could trace is that we have been feeding them puppy food lately (lockdown...they didnt have adult food when we went to buy...) Our other dog, a german shepherd x anatolian has had no reaction. The vet said it would be good for him since HE has a skin condition and is struggling to put on weight.

I was mixing Mr's food with puppy food. Then reverted straight back to aduly after his first episode. Ran out of adult food a few days ago amd have been feeding him on puppy up until the day before yesterday, when he had his second fit yeaterday morning at 4am I obviously bacame worried. Then two more last night, minutes apart. 

Like I said, the only difference I can trace is the puppy food. Now, before you shoot me down...when Mr was a puppy, he had an allergic reaction to this very food, itching and scratching. I watched for this particularly when I started mixing his meals. No itches...then the fits started. Mr doesnt like to eat weird things, or dead things or even have his food mixed with anything other and his pellets...likes it separate (oh my soul), so the chances are highly unlikely that he would have noshed on something off...

Could he be having an allergic reaction to the puppy food again but its presenting itself differently? And please can anyone tell me their own experiences? I am alone here on the farn with my thoughts...please help me.

PS - I just checked the cabinets next to his bowl and discovered that a mouse has been using it as his toilet...its less that a foot away from where he eats and isnt a closed cupboard...more like a shelving rack for veggies. Cleaned it out and gave him a new bowl. We have been having mice problems...we live on a farm so...

Could this have an impact, just by proximity?

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Sorry to hear Mr is having a rough time lately. Have you used any flea/tick medications lately? I'd be inclined to say the food in not the culprit, however, I do know a few that it was. What do you feed? Brand? Grain Free?

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No medications at all, and we feed him a type called Optiwoof. Have been doing so his whole life except for once, which was when we switched to Montego because of the puppy allergies...

It is the Optiwoof puppy that he was allergic to...but when we cautiously introduced him to the adult food later...after Montego...he was totally fine. 

These are South African brands of dog food, so you might not know them very well, if at all...

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Hi, MVZ. Sorry to read about Mr's fits. I know they're very frightening to watch, and you feel so helpless. 

I agree with Journey, it's very unlikely that the food or the mouse has anything to do with his seizures. I've had 2 dogs that started to have seizures. One was a family dog, years ago, and one was my first dog of my own as an adult, Tillie.  ETA Tillie went on medication, too, and had no further problems.  My dad had epilepsy as a boy, he didn't have any problems with it for about 40 years, and then one day he started having seizures again.  His dr. prescribed something, (I'll have to look it up) and he never had another one. As far as human genetics go, neither myself or either of my siblings has ever had a seizure. Epilepsy is a mysterious disease.

There are some medications, might be the same ones for humans, that are prescribed for seizures in dogs. They're inexpnsive in the US at least, and have a side effect of mild sedation for a few days, while the dog's system gets used to it. Tillie lived to a about 14 years old on that medication, with no further fits and no problems from the medication.

Talk to your vet about possibly medicating him, since he's had so many seizures in such a short amount of time. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

Ruth & Gibbs

Edited by urge to herd
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I just glanced at the food, you are correct, I didn't know it! On a long shot but most is when dealing with Epi..you can test his Taurine levels.  I am not holding out this is it but I'd lean more towards his pedigree. How old is he? Any family history? Have you looked at the Epi databases on line to see if there are relatives that are affected as well? As Ruth said, there are ways to control this with medication, that just depends on the frequency/duration and severity...

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I'm so sorry that you and Mr are experiencing this. I have very little personal experience with dogs having seizures but the little I've had has been frightening. It may help just a little to know that dogs aren't aware of it when it's happening.

There can be a number of causes for seizures in dogs so it's best to consult your vet and keep her or him up to date with all subsequent incidences.

I'm also inclined to suspect that it could be epilepsy. Unfortunately it's known to occur in border collies, especially in certain lines. You don't mention how old your dog is, but IIRC many dogs will start having seizures between 1 and 5 years old. Again IIRC it can become more severe if left untreated.

As well as pharmaceutical options there is some evidence that CBD oil can be helpful in controlling seizures. If your vet doesn't support non-pharmaceutical approaches you may want to consult a holistic vet and/or do some research online.

 

 

 

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I have never had a dog with seizures myself, but I have a very vague recollection of reading about someone on these boards whose dog started suffering seizures in old age saying that the seizure caused their dog to have low blood sugar or something as a side effect, so that the dog was desperate for some calories after each seizure.  I have some memory they would give the dog something like ice cream after a seizure and that helped their dog recover more quickly.  Maybe that explains why your dog was searching the counter tops?

Sorry I can't be more help.

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2 hours ago, Lawgirl said:

I have never had a dog with seizures myself, but I have a very vague recollection of reading about someone on these boards whose dog started suffering seizures in old age saying that the seizure caused their dog to have low blood sugar or something as a side effect, so that the dog was desperate for some calories after each seizure.  I have some memory they would give the dog something like ice cream after a seizure and that helped their dog recover more quickly.  Maybe that explains why your dog was searching the counter tops?

Sorry I can't be more help.

Lawgirl the low blood sugar thing does happen in humans after seizing. I've read about in medical articles. Don't know if it's the same in canines, but would be worth asking the vet.

Ruth and Gibbs

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Re: low blood sugar. Yes, seizures cause intense muscle activity (tremors) and a dog can be ravenous during the post-ictal phase (post seizure but still not quite normal). I used to be a once-a-day feeder but because there’s some belief that consistent blood sugar levels are better for epileptics I started feeding my epi dog twice a day. 
 

Most cases of idiopathic (no known cause—which is most cases) epilepsy develop between 1 and 6. After 6 I’d be looking for other organic causes in addition to considering epilepsy. 
 

It sounds as if your dog had a grand mal seizure the first time around. Seizures that occur in groups are called cluster seizures. I understand them to be more dangerous because it can be more difficult to get them stopped and of course  the act is dissing repeatedly can raise body temperature dangerously high abs also affect the brain.  The somewhat dazed phase after a seizure is called the post-ictal period. That period can vary in length and the dog may appear mostly normal to mostly out of it, depending on the dog. 
 

Do not try to handle your dog in the midst of a seizure. They are unaware and can accidentally bite you. If the dog is in a location where it could be in danger then do try to move it, but be careful. You indicated that you have a second dog—be sure to restrain that dog away from the seizing dog. Things like seizures can trigger attacks from pack mates. Also when you leave the house consider separating the dogs. My Phoebe was perfectly house trained, but for her own safety, should she seize while no one was around, she was crated when I wasn’t home. 
 

One thing you can do right now is keep a seizure diary. Note length of seizure, any behaviors before onset, any activities or unusual occurrences the day of a seizure. The idea us to see if there's a pattern to the onset of seizures. 
 

Seizures, even in idiopathic epilepsy, may have triggers—something that wouldn’t bother a normal dog but that could elicit a seizure in a dog with a lower threshold to that thing or things. For example, your other dog not might be bothered by a flea medication that is deemed perfectly safe but your epileptic dog might have a “sensitivity” to an ingredient in the same medication that results in a seizure. Caveat: sometimes you’ll be able to identify triggers (the diary helps) and sometimes you won’t. 
 

There is a canine epilepsy group on Facebook if you happen to be on FB. There used to be a listserv group as well but I don’t know if it still exists. 
 

At any rate, I’d avoid foods and anything else that you think could be triggering (mice and mouse poop are unlikely; some feed ingredients could be possibilities) and pay close attention to the things that occur with your dog in the day leading up to a seizure. (I know you can’t predict seizures, so you just need to take mental or physical notes daily for a while, again looking for patterns). 
 

And although we’re all social distancing, more than one seizure—and especially cluster seizures—merit a vet visit or at least a consult. Usually, by the time you get to the vet after a seizure the dog appears normal and the bloodwork is unremarkable. BUT, just in case there is an organic cause to the seizures you should have bloodwork done so you can rule out disease or metabolic issues as a cause for seizures. 
 

Finally, there are a lot of medications available to control seizures. My dog was put on phenobarbital and was completely controlled for the rest of her life. Many vets don’t like to prescribe it now in favor of newer meds that might have fewer side effects (Pb can cause liver damage over the long term), but I also hear of people struggling to get seizures under control with some of the newer meds as well. My epi dog was on Pb for years. We did bloodwork yearly to check Pb level in circulation and liver function. I kept her on liver support (milk thistle, Denamarin, “liver support factors”—there’s lots of such neutraceuticals out there) and her liver enzymes stayed fairly normal over the years, and she was on a fairly high dose of Pb from age 4 to 12. Anyway, work with your vet to figure out the best way to manage/control the seizures and it’s best to do that sooner rather than later. 
 

If you have questions I’m happy to try to answer!

 

J. 

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  • 4 months later...

I am resurrecting this thread because I have to change what I said above.  I now have a dog who has had a fit of some kind.  It happened last Friday night with George, our eight year old BC.  I was just getting ready to feed our dogs, after we had eaten.  George had been given a few (less than ten) small hot chips/French fries from our meal that night as a special treat.  He currently weighs about 24kgs/53lbs, which is a very healthy weight for him.

As I bent down to pick up one of the dog bowls, George suddenly had his rear legs collapse out from under him next to our sideboard in the kitchen.  He then lay down.  I was not sure what was wrong, so I called out to my SO, and then tried to lift him up so I could check his legs.  He stood up with all four legs splayed for perhaps two seconds and then collapsed entirely and began barrel rolling wildly with legs outstretched across the floor of the kitchen.  I screamed for my SO, who was only coming from the lounge, maybe 20 steps away.  He arrived at the kitchen door and grabbed George and held him still so he would not roll into furniture.  he called George's name.  George immediately stopped moving, and came out of whatever was happening to him.  He was able to respond to his name, give his paw etc.  The whole incident lasted probably less then 10 seconds.

We took George to the emergency vet straight away and he was normal when examined in terms of cranial reflexes, heart rate, temperature etc.  Because we had to call the vet in to the clinic, she could not do bloods etc that night, but we took him back the next morning when they took bloods.  His kidney and liver function were all normal, red and white blood cells normal, haematocrit normal, cholesterol is good.

Fortunately there have not been any repeats of that really scary experience.  The vet has said because it was so short, and because he came out of it so quickly and so well, there is probably not much to worry about at this stage.  He was not hungry afterwards, and did not eat tea that night.  He was a bit stiff the next day, but has otherwise shown no further signs of problems.

The only thing that had been different about his routine before this was that he had a mild yeast ear infection and was receiving ear drops to treat it in the five days before the episode.

Totally scary, even if not repeated.  Fingers crossed this was a once off weird thing.  Also, we are never giving him hot chips again.

 

 

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Yes, the ear infection was pretty much gone.  We were on our last day of ear drops when this happened and he was not showing any more signs of irritation in his ear.  He had no symptoms of vertigo/vestibular issues with holding his head to the side, nausea, drooling, vomiting.  The vet was able to manipulate his ears without pain, and the infection was apparently only a mild yeast infection.

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