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Old June 24th, 2011, 10:25 PM
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Possible Causes of Seizures

Hello, I am starting to research possible causes of seizures in dogs and I was wondering if someone could help me out.
My dog Jesse is a six-year old beagle. He is slightly overweight, although I do walk him daily (when I'm home from university). He has had four seizures in the past couple years. I am terribly worried about him and would like some advice.
He had his first seizure in 2009 (when he was four years old). His body shook/twitched (however you describe it) and it lasted a few minutes. He panted for a long while afterwards. We thought it may have been a one-time spell because he didn't have his second one for another seven months. The second one was worse (it was longer and he lost control of his bowels. That time his spasms were so bad he damaged his tail and it now has a permanent bump in it). We rushed him to the vet but they didn't diagnose him with anything. His third one didn't occur for another ELEVEN months after that (similar to the first), but his fourth one occurred just the other day, only ONE month later.
Jesse seems to know when they are coming. He gets scared, will try to find a family member, then will lay down and start trembling. Afterwards he'll shiver, pant heavily (this lasted close to an hour), and become dry/thirsty.
The closest vet is 30 minutes away and we can't always get him there. They have not diagnosed him with anything, but it's really hard. I never know if he is going to live and its scary watching Jesse go through that and knowing how scared he is.
What could be causing these unexpected seizures? I want to try my best to avoid triggers and help him through them. Any help would be immensely appreciated.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 10:45 PM
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I read the other day somewhere, will have to find it that Frontline can cause seizures, don't know if you use it..will have to find the link
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Old June 24th, 2011, 11:54 PM
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Hi 31Girl

I'm sorry you are going through this. I have a dog with seizures as well, and it's horrifying to watch

There are SO many causes of seizures. Mine started because he had meningoencephalitis, most likely caused by vaccinations which spurred an auto-immune disease (similar to Lupus). They are sure he has brain damage/scarring of the brain (which has resulted in epilepsy) as his are grand mal and last upwards of 4-5 minutes most of the time. In your dogs case, I would suspect Epilepsy. 4 yrs is not an uncommon age for onset. Onset in dogs is typically between 1 and 5 yrs, not to say puppies and older dogs "can't" develop it, but it's far less common, and the fact that he has them so far apart. Some of the typical, non-epilepsy related issues would be liver shunt, meningitis, encephalitis, hypothyroidism, neurologic disorders, immune system disorders etc. If your boy had any of these, I would *think* they would be a lot more frequent. Some dogs with epilepsy will have only 1 or 2 a year, others several in a week. Our boy had them weekly until we finally got a diagnoses and treatment for the meningo, then they went to between 4-6 weeks in between (which is where they are now). He is also Hypothyroid, which can cause seizures, especially in dogs who are "border line" low, which he was, and was having seizures every 2 to 2 1/2 weeks until we got him diagnosed and on thyroid supplements.

The rule of thumb for epileptic dogs is this:

If the seizures are every 4 weeks or more, they shouldn't be put on medication as the side effects and damage to liver/kidneys can be severe. If the seizures occur more than once a month, then they should be on something to control them.

Common triggers for seizures are stress and heat. The episode you explained where you said he seemed to know... it's called an aura (or pre-ictal phase)

This is a wonderful link for dog seizures and has helped me understand things a lot better:

http://www.dogseizures.net/

I would first have your vet run a thyroid panel. Not just a t4 test, but a FULL thyroid panel just to rule that out. But again, most of the medical reasons for seizures would most likely result in more frequent seizures than once every few months. If it is epilepsy, some dogs remain at only 1 or 2 a year, whereas others will tend to have more frequent seizures over time. Good luck and please let us know how he's doing, and what you find out
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Old June 24th, 2011, 11:59 PM
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Ah, seems Beagles are prone to epilepsy/seizures. It's a good possibility that's what's happening, but I would still have the vet run a complete cbc, thyroid panel and rule out any other possible underlying conditions.

This is a quote from one website I googled

"Seizures in Beagles (epilepsy) are a serious concern in the breed."

Just google Beagle health issues
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Old June 25th, 2011, 09:02 AM
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Thank-you so much for the help! I greatly appreciate it. I wish there was a quick fix, but in reality there never seems to be.
I'm sorry to hear about your dog. I don't think my family could handle it if Jesse had them as often as your dog does. Even now, every step he makes that seems slightly abnormal has us worried.
I was wondering, what do you do when your dog has his episodes?
The triggers were also very helpful. Do you think over-exercising could be a trigger?
Thanks again!
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Old June 25th, 2011, 09:17 AM
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We had a dog that would get hypoglycemic when he exercised heavily, 31Girl, and at one point he had a grand mal seizure in the woods because of it. The cure was to carry treats for him when we were out galavanting, but the trick was to get him to eat any of them. He just wasn't interested in eating anything when he was running. So we'd just make sure he rested frequently and had a chance for the blood sugars to replenish a bit before moving on.

Does Jesse seem to have his episodes only while exercising?

As Rgeurts says, there are so many things that can trigger a seizure and often the causes remain hidden. However, if there is a veterinary school within reach for you that has a teaching hospital, their neurologists might be able to help diagnose the problem. Something to keep in mind, anyway, especially if your regular vet doesn't find anything abnormal upon examination or in the blood workups.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelrunpack View Post
The cure was to carry treats for him when we were out galavanting, but the trick was to get him to eat any of them. He just wasn't interested in eating anything when he was running. ... Does Jesse seem to have his episodes only while exercising?
I used to carry water with us when Jesse and I went for walks but he hates having to stop sniffing to drink. Like your dog, when he has the chance to be exploring he just isn't interested.

His last episode occurred an hour after I had taken him for a walk. We went our usual route though. Nothing seemed any different. I think this is the first one he has had that I can directly link to him having exercised beforehand.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 09:42 AM
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Probably not hypoglycemia, then. The seizure would occur at the height of the activity.

Did the vet see him after this last seizure? I'm thinking that if he's still walking tentatively and not seeming 'right' after a few days, he should be seen by a vet. Certainly, if he's not had the full thyroid panel done, that's a good suggestion, too--if it does turn out to be hypothyroidism, it is something that is likely to get worse as he gets older but it does have an easy fix (thyroid replacement meds).

Even if he had the thyroid panel done a year ago, he should have another done now. A dog can test normal one year, then show hypothyroidism the next as the condition develops.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 31Girl View Post
Thank-you so much for the help! I greatly appreciate it. I wish there was a quick fix, but in reality there never seems to be.
I'm sorry to hear about your dog. I don't think my family could handle it if Jesse had them as often as your dog does. Even now, every step he makes that seems slightly abnormal has us worried.
I was wondering, what do you do when your dog has his episodes?
The triggers were also very helpful. Do you think over-exercising could be a trigger?
Thanks again!

Believe me, I'm a neurotic mess most of the time
I have both our vets on speed dial and use the numbers frequently
When Nookie has an episode, we give him 20mg Valium rectally. It helps to bring him out of the seizure and also reduces the risk of additional seizures, then we just monitor him for the next few hours. As Hazel said, I would definitely look at the possible cause being low blood sugar, especially if it seems to happen after exercise.

If it does turn out to be epilepsy, I wouldn't do anything at this point. If his seizures start coming more than once a month (on a regular basis, not just once or twice), I would look into putting him on something to control them. It scares the hell out of me every time he has one, and breaks my heart, but I don't want to risk him having organ damage just because I don't want to see the seizures. So for now, we don't have him on anything except Chinese Herbs which have worked wonders for him. A good holistic vet may be able to help you as well

Good luck to you and I hope you get some answers!! I'll be travelling for the next few days, so I won't be able to respond. But I'll definitely check back at my first opportunity!
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Old June 25th, 2011, 09:59 AM
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For the thyroid panel, I think Jesse had one of those. Although at the time we were looking to see if the activity of his thyroid was abnormal and that was the cause of his issues with weight. Wouldn't they have discovered something then?

I have so many questions it seems, haha! I just want to be more knowledgeable for the next time.

What I'm mainly wondering is, when Jesse has seizures how likely are they to be fatal?
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Old June 25th, 2011, 10:30 AM
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mikischo mikischo is offline
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There are many different types of seizures with varying causes (some unknown) and although there are some types of seizures that can be fatal, most are not.

Several years ago we had a chihuahua who had seizures similar to what you described (likely epilepsy although never definitively diagnosed) from the time she was about four until she passed away from unrelated causes at age 17. She typically had them only once or twice a year throughout her life although there were a few occasions throughout the years where she would have two or three within approximately a one month period and then would be free of them again for a long period of time. Due to their infrequency, nothing was ever done to try to treat them. As others already said it is best not to give anything if it is epilepsy unless seizures are very severe or are regularly more frequent than once a month.

Although frightening especially the first few times you experience it, there is little you can do that I am aware of when a seizure is taking place. If the TV or radio was loud I would turn it down. Being a small dog, I made sure she wasn't in danger of falling on the floor if she was on the sofa at the time. Other than that I would speak to her in a soft, soothing voice. I don't know if any of this helped her but it did make me feel less helpless to feel like I was doing something.

Hopefully Jesse's seizures will form a pattern similar to my Dixie's (never really getting worse over the years). The fact that he had two seizures in a one month period is not necessarily an indication that they are getting worse. Time will tell. Hopefully it will be some time before he has one again.

If you are able to find out some things that may be triggering them or find an underlying cause that is treatable, so much the better. In Dixie's case we never did but she still lived a long and happy life.
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Last edited by mikischo; June 25th, 2011 at 10:42 AM.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 31Girl View Post
For the thyroid panel, I think Jesse had one of those. Although at the time we were looking to see if the activity of his thyroid was abnormal and that was the cause of his issues with weight. Wouldn't they have discovered something then?
Not necessarily. Thyroids can be tricky. There are different causes for hypothyroidism. Our dogs have the immune-mediated kind. In the early stages, the regular thyroid hormone level test was normal, but another test showed that the body was producing antibodies against its own thyroid. The thyroid hormone levels fell within a few months to the point where we needed to begin treatment with thyroid meds.
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