Ellie had two seizures within 12 hours over the weekend. Based on her behavior, I suspect she's been having them for the past week when I've been gone. I took her to the emergency vet both times I saw the seizures, and the second time they admitted her to start a phenobarbital load. I discussed several possible causes for the seizures, but three vets agreed it is most likely idiopathic epilepsy. I'm to make an appointment for more blood work in 2-3 weeks.

She's been home since Monday afternoon, and she's still pretty groggy from the pheno load. Yesterday was scary because she was stumbling around and lost control of her bladder once when she stumbled and landed in a squat. She seems better today, but still very sleepy. I left her in her crate with her blanket and water, but no collar just in case, while I came to work for half a day. I'm worried sick about her. She hasn't spent a whole day in her crate in almost a year. She seemed pretty confused about why I was putting her in there. I hope that doesn't stress her out, but I don't want to risk her hurting herself on the furniture if she seizes or even if she's too groggy to stay upright. I really didn't want to leave her today (or ever again!), but I have to and watching her stumble around and sleep all day and not really be herself was stressing me out as well as disrupting our schedule. I know neither thing is good for dogs, especially anxious dogs like Ellie.

Has anyone else dealt with this? Anything I should be aware of or anything to ask the vet at her next appointment?

UPDATE 8/5/15

Ellie has had four seizures since she started taking phenobarbital 2 1/2 weeks ago. Three of them happened in the last 24 hours. She went in yesterday for blood work and to test pheno levels. Since her blood work came back clean, the vet wanted to wait for the pheno levels to come back from the lab. In the meantime, she said to give Ellie another 1/2 tablet if she seized again, which I did. She called a couple hours after that to say that Ellie's results had come back and that she was at the very low end of therapeutic levels. Since that isn't controlling the seizures well enough, I'm to give 1 1/2 tablets twice a day now, then come back in a couple weeks to test levels again.

We're going to a neurologist in a week so we'll have their expertise to help us out as well.

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I have dealt with epilepsy in cats and know people with dogs having epilepsy.  Is it possible that maybe the dose is just a little high for Ellie?  In the cases of the cats, all required some slight changes in the dose of phenobarbital.  Once the proper dose was decided upon, all of these cats have lived comfortably for years with the daily meds.  Do you have a small room with limited furniture where she could go when you are away?  Sometimes a small bathroom with toilet lids closed can do the trick.  They don't often like being confined there, but if you are concerned about her being in her crate, that is an alternative.  If you give her plenty of love and attention when you are there (and I am sure from your post that you do), then she won't hold the confinement against you.  Hopeful you get the dose fine tuned so she is comfortable with it.

The vet said that the side effects of the pheno load are pretty severe the first three weeks, but that I should notice those gradually declining as she gets used to the medication. I don't think the dose she's on is meant to do this. It's the initial, injected dose that preps her body for the oral pill that is the cause. If she's always like this, I will be banging down doors to get answers.

When I got home this afternoon, Ellie was happy to see me and go meandering around our backyard. She didn't seem to hold the crating against me at all, so I guess that should be all right after all. What a relief! She's had a few stumbles and the pace is slower tonight, but I can definitely see improvement over yesterday. I hope that means she's adjusting to the medicine fast.

I know the pheno side-effects can be awful at first, but the worst of it usually wear off fast and then you continue to see gradual improvement over a period of weeks.

I wanted to add that our girl has seizures and we simply put a baby gate at the bottom of the steps and let her have run of the house.   If you position the furniture so she can't get jammed up anywhere, she should be ok.   An epileptic dog doesn't normally need to be crated all the time, as far as I know, as long is there is nowhere they could hurt themselves.

They really want to pace after the seizure is over,  and I'd prefer not to have a seizing dog crated.  They can lose bladder control and froth at the mouth a lot and if they are crated, that means they are stuck with that til you get home.  They can also get themselves up against the side of the crate while they are seizing. 

I would remove the collar if you crate the dog...could possibly get stuck.

I work with people who have seizures and med changes(or starts) can take a bit to get right. A level should work after she has been on for a bit.

There's no need to worry about that, Jane. As I said, I've been taking the collar off anytime I put her in the crate. Now that Ellie is more alert, I've stopped crating her during the day while I'm gone. I take off her collar anytime I'm not home with her, just in case.

I think at the beginning stages, until you know what exactly the seizures are and how to deal with them, the crate is the absolute safest place she can be.  As soon as you go to work she will just curl up and go to sleep.  Isn't she groggy anyway?  If you leave her out and she has a seizure she may injure herself falling off a sofa or banging her head on something.  Plus, they come out of them a little confused.  Being in her little den might give her a feeling of security.   I've had two dogs get seizures.  Its scary as heck to watch.  Best of luck with your vet visit!

I think it depends on how bad they are and how often they are having them.   My vet wanted us to keep her in as normal a situation as possible.  When we asked if we should keep her separated from our other dog, she asked if we thought he would attack her and we said absolutely not.  She said if not, then NOT to separate them but to leave them loose together and keep everything as close to normal as possible.

Changing their lifestyle completely is upsetting to them.  They don't understand why.  Can they fall off a sofa?  Sure they can, but they can fall off a sofa if they are not seizing too.  Other than stairs, there is not much in my house she could hurt herself on.   The long term health risks of falling from a sofa are probably lower than the long term risks of spending hours every day in a crate, not moving.   Just my opinion, but my vet agreed and never suggested we crate her.  

I think you have a point, Beth, but I'm too scared to leave her out until the initial side effects wear off. I've watched her stumble into furniture, walls, and glass doors these past couple days. She's slipped on the tile so much I'm surprised she hasn't hurt her stumpers. I probably will not keep her crated forever, just until she's more coordinated. I agree with Susan that she's groggy and needs a safe place to sleep it off, but I do want her life to be as normal as possible.

My Ringo also has epilepsy.  He has been on phenol since March.  The side effects you are describing is from the phenol and should subside within 2 to 3 weeks.  I agree with the no collar on her during the day but if she is having Grand Mal seizures I wouldn't put her in a crate.  She could get one of her paws stuck or bang her head on the sides.  It is better to put her in a kitchen or another room without furniture that she could fall off.  I know how hard this is to go through.  I still have a difficult time leaving Ringo home all day. 

If you haven't found them yet. There are some great groups on facebook that can be very helpful especially if this is your first dog with epilepsy.

I know that Ellie isn't too happy about going into her crate during the day now that she's starting to snap out of her daze. If she does well this weekend, I might leave her out of the crate next week and hope nothing bad happens. Secluding her in one room isn't going to happen. She is the destroyer of baby gates. (She ate one. I never found all of it.) But the only piece of furniture she can climb on is the couch, and I can keep her off pretty easily by piling up blankets or something. I'm more worried about her hitting her head as she falls.

I'm really confused about Ellie's epilepsy and what I should do for her. I had another fit of hysterical tears over it all again last night. (And I normally do not cry, ever.) Ellie came to comfort me because she's a wonderful dog. No one has been able to tell me whether the two seizures I saw were grand mal or partial. I had one on video and still don't have the answers I need. I made an appointment with the neurology department at Cornell for later in August. I think I can get better answers from them than our local vets. I think Ellie has gotten good care from them, but they're not specialists. Maybe it's idiopathic epilepsy, but I want to be completely sure. I didn't know about the Facebook groups. I'll look into that. Thank you.


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