And now one of the dogs has epilepsy

Or at least what I assume is epilepsy.

He\’s had a couple of fits before but we thought this might be heat. Then he had one yesterday in the cool in the daylight, where we could see him properly.

Sure looked like a grand mal seizure to me. Two or three minutes, then a bit bleary for a couple of minutes then he was fine.

So, anyone know anything about epilepsy in dogs? Three fits in 6 months…..that bad, near normal and don\’t worry about it, appalling and he needs help desperately?

Sure, of  course, if they become more frequent then there\’s obviously something, a tumor, a cyst, something, causing them. But at what point do we need to start worrying? Anyone know?


25 thoughts on “And now one of the dogs has epilepsy”

  1. One of my dogs had what appeared to be a stroke. He started off with what looked like a fit. His head ended up all cock-eyed and he kept falling over and walking round in circles. It turned out to been infection of some kind. After a few days he was back to normal. It may have been that. It is called Canine Vestibular Syndrome
    Or if it is epilepsy, you could try:

  2. Dear Tim. Presumably you are a responsible dog owner and thus have insurance. I talked to the vet in the extended family (one of the cadet branches) and she came up with an endless list of what could be causing the problem. Bite the bullet, raid the piggy bank and get him down to the vet pronto – unless you want to be known as Pol Pot to your nearest and dearest.

  3. We had a black Labrador that had fits regularly. There were pills which stopped it but they put it into a permanent stupor. We decided the fits were better than having a 4 legged zombie. It lived to a decent age too. This was 25 years ago though so maybe mutt medicine has moved on?

  4. We have had 2 Dobermans who suffered from epilepsy, best as the vet could tell. I don’t think there’s a definitive diagnosis.

    One made old bones for a Doberman – 13+ – and he never had any issues apart from the fits. I don’t think he remembered them at all. He died of getting old. The other died of heart disease aged 7, so he died with epilepsy, not of it. Again, it never gave him any issues, apart from the fits. Both had almost-entirely petit-mal seizures, I can only recall a handful of grand-mal events for both dogs, and even they were relatively-benign and over in less than 5 minutes.

    LSS, you can go the intensive medical route and you may end up with an unhappy dog, a whopping bill and no further forward. Or you can take a wait-and-see approach that priorotizes the dog’s overall health and happiness over your discomfort at seeing him have a relatively-benign seizure that he probably doesn’t remember anyway.




  5. Epilepsy isn’t a disease, it’s a pattern of symptoms. And there can be many different causal diseases.

  6. @ dearime. You mean you don’t have some form of canine insurance, not even 3rd party? If your mutt runs into the road, causes a car to swerve, hitting council property, YOU are liable. Equally, if the mutt breaks a leg in the accident, you either put it down or pick up the tab. Insurance will pay the bulk of the claim. Your choice – no pressure.

  7. Our dog has Epiphen, which is a barbiturate. It stops the fits (which in our case were pretty impressive) but does leave the dog in a permanent semi-stunned state. I’d wait as long as possible, until the fits are really regular, before resorting to the drugs.

  8. Over the years we’ve had three labradors with seizure disorders. Apparently it’s quite common in the breed and it’s not easy to breed out as by the time a bitch shows signs she may already have tens to hundreds of offspring.

    The first started having seizures at about four. The vet prescribed the smallest dose of phenobarbital/day and he never had another seizure.

    The second was really terrible. He started having odd, small seizures at about two. The vets thought it was a gag reflux resulting from a gastro-intestinal disorder. A couple grand later one vet suggested it might be seizures and put him on the barb and the seizures went away for a couple years. Then they came back with a fury. after the barbs they tried potassium bromide and eventually valium suppositories (oh, joy). It got so he was either in a seizure state or comatose so we had to let him go at eight.

    We currently have a female who has seizures rarely. She’s on a dose of potassium bromide which appears to mostly control them. She still has one or two seizures a year. They last about a minute or three and are pretty alarming, but she is still an active, playful girl. No telling how the future will be.

    If the dog is young, they apparently don’t want to do the barbs because of possible liver damage though the vet says that phenobarbital is less likely to induce lethargy than is an adequate dose of potassium bromide.

    No fun overall — good luck with it.

    On the insurance thing: Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not providing you with good deals. Vet bills are ordinary and customary expenses of owning a pet and are not the sort of thing that you need insurance for. Buying pet insurance is sort of like buying insurance against having to pay your mortgage. If you can’t afford the payments, don’t buy the house. If you can’t afford the vet bills, don’t buy the dog.

  9. It is rather odd how people have to be ‘responsible’ these days.
    Over the last seventy plus years I’ve worked through numerous cats , quite a few dogs ( asorted) and children ( and one wife still current) and there wasn’t any insurance back then that I know of.
    Life seems to have got very complicated recently.

  10. A family member’s cat has epilepsy and takes pills regularly. It’s worth looking at treatments because fits can cause the pet significant damage.

    I expect it wouldn’t be too hard to treat them as dogs will pretty much wolf anything down if served to them in the right way. 🙂

  11. Beginning today’s list of things I did not need to find out about, 1, canine valium suppositories.

  12. Epilepsy – what others have said – far too early to leap to any conclusions and there are other conditions (some breed specific) which have similar symptoms. Vet or not, your choice.

    Insurance – vet’s bills have risen immensely over the last 30 years, and there are a lot more ‘treatments’ and ‘vaccinations’ than there were – maybe matching the soaring suburnanisation of the whole of the UK, the rise in pet insurance and the increase in disposable income to spend on pets.

  13. “Over the last seventy plus years I’ve worked through numerous cats , quite a few dogs ( asorted) and children (and one…”

    Please say you mean owned or lived with…

  14. Doug: If vets bills are rising, then insurance premiums will be rising along with them. As hedberg says, insurance companies are in business to make money, not to provide you with good deals.

    Insurance is for things that are unlikely to happen but would wipe you out financially if you did. Buy insurance against the house burning down, or coming down with some illness that would cost £100,000 to treat (unless of course you have £100,000 to spare), or a potential massive legal bill. With pets, you have the option of looking at the potential massive vet bill and deciding to put Fido to sleep instead.

    Of course, if emotionally, you’re not the sort who could put Fido to sleep if there’s another option no matter how financially crippling, then paying the insurance makes sense. But otherwise it’s more economic to cover high, but non-massive (by your own standards) costs out of pocket, as they come up.

  15. It might be a form of diabetes. We had a Cocker Spaniel who developed fits. Turns out that she had a form of pancreatic cancer which caused diabetes.

    Feeding her glucose tablets worked for a while, but only aleviated the symptoms and didn’t cure anything.

  16. Tracy W: Sure, that’s one POV with some validity.

    I’d also suggest that if vets know there’s insurance around, their bills (added services – not ‘unnecessary’ but maybe not as necessary as posited) inflate over time.

    And insurance costs rise – probably increasing their margins too.

    It’s not a conspiracy, but I’d suggest that it is symbiotic… along with pet owners’ becoming aware of better (and more expensive) care options, which might drive insurance purchasing….. and so it goes.

  17. One of our Rat Terriers “contracted” canine epilepsy after a severe fever. She has a couple fits a month. If there’s not involuntary muscle clenching, then it’s not *her* style of epilepsy.

    Treatment is phenobarb. It merely reduces the frequency of seizures.

  18. I’m rebuilding the following website at the moment…

    They have an ‘Ask The Vet’ section. The site is owned and managed by fully qualified and experienced vets. It’s free to ask a question and they’re normally pretty quick at coming back with an answer.

    I hope you don’t consider this comment as SPAM. I’m merely recommending it because I think it’s a good service.

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