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Readers Respond: Living with a dog or cat who has seizures

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Seizures may be caused by numerous things: poisons, skull injury, brain tumor, viral and bacterial infections, congenital malformations, heat stroke, parasites, fungal infections, low blood sugar (diabetics), and so on.

By doing a physical exam and blood work, many causes can be ruled out.

Seizures where a cause cannot be determined are termed "idiopathic epilepsy."

Do you have a dog or cat with seizures? Please share how you found out, how you cope, and tips to help others with epileptic pets.

Share your story and tips

doberman with idiopathic epilepsy

my dobe has had epilepsy since he was 3 he is now 5 i have him on keppra best drug so far, but when he does have seizures, i found that covering his eyes and being absolutley quiet helps a great deal the less stimulus during the seizure the better and the shorter the seizure is, afterward, i leave him alone but stay close if he comes to me for comfort, also i corral him close to the water bowl as he is always thirsty after, i do not let him drink copious amounts but a little is good until he normalizes again, also, i keep his activity to a minimum as his muscles are quite taxed and his lactic acid release is quite large during the seizure. i stay close by and am there for him all through, he is never alone as he cannot help himself during a seizure, so he goes everywhere with me even the shower!lucky for him i have a waterbed as this is the safest most comfortable place for him to have a seizure, he no longer walks outside as i cannot have him go down on the concrete.
—Guest chris

5yo Ausie Cluster Seizures begin

last year, at 5yo, my susie started having cluster seizures. His clusters usually last 2 days (about every 3 mod) and in that time he has from 4-8 seizures. He is on Phenobarb daily and when he has clusters I give him Clorazipate…which makes him very out of it. I have learned some things. 1)Have lots of towels and blankets ready in case he makes a mess. 2) After the seizure, try to distract him by playing a light game of fetch or taking him for a leisurely walk. This helps "a little" with the pacing and nervousness. 3) He is ravenous after the seizures…I try not to feed him too much but oats and chicken broth help. 4) The vets aren't much help. They are so used to pets having seizures that for them it's just routine…though it never seems routine to me. I've learned to not expect too much from them…sadly. 5) When in a panic in the middle of the night the after hours ER Vets are free and available for advise. 6)He likes to be outside after the seizures because it cools him down
—Guest Kim

It's worth a try!

I have only gotten through a couple of pages so far and I feel the need to comment. I will first say that I do not intend to act as though I have the answer for everyone. However, I do have a suggestion. My Benny is a 3 yr old, active, healthy border collie/chow mix. He has had no medical problems except some allergies in the spring time. About a month ago he had his first seizure and 2 days later another. I took him to the vet and said it was epilepsy. Started him on pheno 2x's a day. He has no energy while taking these meds and has trouble even standing up. I feel very fortunate that while waiting in the waiting room at her vet, my sister just happened to talk to a stranger and found out that the same thing happend to her dog and it was the dyes in the dog food that was causing the seizures. I immediately switched Benny to a food that contains no dyes and have been slowly weening him off of the meds. So far it seems to be working! It is certainly worth a try. Wishing you all the best
—Guest Benny's mom

Beautiful 9 yr Akita with seizures

I am writing this as i await word from our vet on how my baby is doing. He started having seizures almost two years ago. He has always had allergies, yeast etc. I started making all his food and treats as i thought maybe that was the cause. At first they started out having three every month, then it got to be more. Once in the span of three days he had eighteen. I came home and found him in a status seizure, just when i thought they couldn't get any worse. He was on deaths door for two days, we transported him to a vet a hundred miles away that is more knowledgeable in this condition. He was resting when we left him, now i called and he had another. They are doing more tests and i pray its not too late. I love him so very much. He has been my rock, i don't know what i will do without him. The house has been so empty without him there. He has always been the best, never misbehaves, is so loving and gentle. What a horrible, horrible thing for our babies and us to go through.
—Guest Rowds Mom

Quick Tips

Melatonin calms my dog - great to use before a seizure occurs too. If you can, hold their head during a grand mal seizure so they don't hurt themselves worse. Pee/poo happens; clean it up fast before they come out of it and make a bigger mess. Keep chicken stock and quick oats on hand if your pet is ravenous post-seizure; it keeps my dog distracted long enough for her to calm down and not tear the kitchen or garbage apart. Go for a walk around the block (if its not too noisy + not too far from home) or play fetch someplace safe (I've used the basement) after your pet comes around post-seizure. The distraction is good. It helps get their mind back to normal. My pooch doesn't always want to walk, but standing in the yard is better for her spirit than confining her. When they begin to clam down even more, minimize noise/lights/electronics. Seizures take a lot out of your pet. They need to relax in a quiet environment. And don't leave them alone! They're scared - be close by for them.
—Guest Julie

seizure in tabby cat

I recently worked with a beatiful gray feral tabby cat who was tested 3 times for FIV. The first test was positive, the second (blot test) was negative and the third was "inconclusive". The cat had a series of issues including an ear infection, a cyst in his throat, and roundworms. He began to lose his balance, was clumsy and would follow me but bump into things. Eventually he became very lethargic and looked like he was "crying". I was told he had "toxoplasmosis". This is a death sentence for cats that are FIV positive. He began having seizures and they got worse.. to the point that I couldn't touch him anymore without triggering one. So anyone who is a cat owner, please test your cat for FIV and if he/she has it, DO NOT LET YOUR CAT OUTSIDE. I had my baby euthenized. This was a horrible experience that I am having extreme difficulty getting over.
—Guest shirl

Ty

Our Chesepeake Bay Retriever has had a seizure once a month since March (it's now Oct.) He's been on phenobarital 2 tabs twice a day and now we added bromide 2 1/2 tabs a day. We'll see if that works. Now he has developed weakness in his back and couldn't stand up from a sitting position and was put on Pregnisone a steroid which really messed with him. He was ravenous getting into the trash, food off the table, etc. Mopey and just not himself. I don't know if this is related to the seizures or not. I was told the pheno drug could cause muscle weakness. Anyone have this problem? Pretty scary - he's now very clingey and needs constant attention. Poor baby.
—Guest Carol

So discouraged

My puggle Lucy started having cluster seizures in July 2013. We have increased her phenobarbital twice, the last one being 4 daysago and she just had another seizure tonight. I guess I should be glad it was only one but everytime we up the medicine I think that she won't have another one. So discouraged
—Guest Michelle Garrett

Beagle with seizures

My 8 year old beagle started having seizures a year ago. His condition grew worse over time. He was on zonisamide, phenobarbarbital and keppra. We also had a prescription for clorazepate and valium for when he starts to seize. All his medical tests were negative. The neurologist said it was most likely a stroke that caused damage or late onset epilepsy. We lost him today When he started seizing constantly and after two days in the hospital, they still couldn't get it under control.
—Guest Inessa11

Male cat named Giggy has seizures

My ten year old cat started having seizures daily after I took him to get his teeth cleaned.He was put under anesthesia for dental cleaning.Upon waking he was blind.After 2weeks left eyesight returned with seizures daily.
—Guest Josie

Help with Diagnosis for Senior Feline

A few days ago I witnessed my 17-year old cat have an unexplained episode. She was curled up next to me on the couch when she cried out suddenly. She cried three times in long, throaty, eerily painful meows. Her eyes grew huge and she stopped blinking and didn't look around or turn her head at all. Her breathing was so shallow it was as if it ceased. I started to panic but didn't want to move her for fear of hurting her because I didn't know what was going on. I just pet her and cried silently, telling her "It's ok, kitty, calm down its ok." After about 60 seconds of this she finally blinked, and flinched at my hand hovering over her ears. She turned to look at me and meowed as if she was hungry. I ran to get her some canned food and she ate the whole can! Now she seems perfectly fine and I have not witnessed another episode but that doesn't mean its not happening at night or while I'm at work. My vet doesn't know what to tell me.
—Guest April Schultz

Trying Everything

Our 11 yr old dog started having seizures about 7 months ago and they were happening in clusters. We put him on a mix of phenobarbitone and potassium bromide. He was good for a few months then started having regular seizures again so we increased his medication, All the time he has been on these medications he has been very sedated and not himself, very wobbly on his feet and we feel he has gone down hill in the past month or so and we were giving him what feels an enormous amount of medication (14.5 tablets a day!!) We have just made the decision to trial Zonisamide and slowly remove all phenobarbitone and potassium bromide as a last resort. We hope this will improve his quality of life and bring his old self back. Will keep you all updated as to whether this works!
—Guest Sarah

Mexican Hairless

We have a Mexican Hairless who has had seizures since he was a pup. His seizures would last up to three hours. He was put on phenobarbital, then potassium bromide was added. He was still having a seizure every week or two that would last up to three hours. We gave him valium when that happened. One drugged up dog! He ended up getting pancreatitis and was taken off the potassium bromide. He is now on just phenobarbital and zonisamide. His seizures have seemed to almost disappeared. Only one in the last three months. This seems to be the perfect combination for him. He is seven years old and this is the first time in his life that he has been seizure free for more than two weeks in his life.
—Guest Barbara

Seizure Remedy

Belle, my 8 year old Pyrenees, now passed had seizures that slowly progressed over time. She was fine for seven years. Blood work showed nothing. However, an ultrasound showed a lump growing close to her heart. Fluid buildup and age were a factor and she had to be put down. I realize blood work is necessary, but I would suggest an ultrasound to find out what might be growing inside, if anything. She had no health issues until the growth developed and sometimes x-rays miss these things. Ultrasounds are more expensive, but seem to do a better job finding possible growths & warding off possible seizures. I read that people are using medical marijuana for seizures & it works quite well. I haven't tried on any of my pets, but would certainly go that route for my beloved pet as the side effects would be less than prescription medication. There is a way to process it for dogs, but I am not knowledgeable on this. It's becoming more legalized & believe it will be used in the Veterinary field.
—Guest K. Kirby

My Border Collie Finn has seizures.

His first grand mal was at 3 years old. He is now 7. The seizures vary from 6 days apart to nearly 3 months apart. Just when you think you have a pattern or a reason figured out - it changes. Now he is having status seizures and I am having to give him Diazepam rectally. This is in addition to 1,250 mg of Potassium Bromide, 1, 750 mg of Keppra, 700 mg of Zonisamide, and 180 mg of Pheno every day. The vet says we are at the limit of medications and she can do little more to help him. I am heart broken - he is such a sweetie. Your stories make me so sad for you all. This is one nasty affliction that, at least in this case, is not going to end well. I never put flea medicine on him. I do not give him heartworm meds (they seem to exacerbate the seizures). He gets filtered water and peanut butter everyday. Quite frankly, I am slowly accepting the fact that this is going to be the death of him. Sorry to be so gloomy. I hope you all have better successes than I have had.
—Guest Lois Pettengill

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Living with a dog or cat who has seizures

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