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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This must be so stressful for you.  I sure hope they get a handle on the right dose to keep the seizures under control.  These changes you mention are good signs, for sure.  Just am hopeful that they find exactly the right dose to keep her seizure free.

Glad she's feeling a little better.  What you are describing does not sound like a grand mal seizure.  A grand mal seizure is falling on the side and paddling the feet, along with frothing at the mouth.   Then a period of confusion for quite awhile follows.

"Absence" and just not responding, without collapsing on the side, is, I believe, a different type of seizure BUT can be several other things as well.

I would definitely bring the video to the neurologist.   Please keep us posted.

Good luck!

Per canine-epilepsy.net


"The other type of generalized seizures in people is the absence or petit mal seizure. Petit mal seizures differ from other seizures in several important aspects. First there is little movement during a petit mal seizure. As the name "absence" implies, the person simply loses contact with the world during the seizure. They stare blankly and may blink but do little else. Absence seizures are also different in that they probably represent a storm of inhibition rather than a storm of excitation within the brain. This creates a unique EEG pattern. This means that very different drugs are used to treat petit mal seizures. We're not sure if petit mal seizures really occur in pets. Most of the seizures that are called petit mal seizures in pets are actually focal seizures."

Thank you for more information, Beth.

I realize I never fully described the seizures, but Ellie IS having grand mal seizures when she seizes. She DOES fall on her side, paddle her feet, vocalize, and doesn't respond to me. Not all dogs froth at the mouth or urinate/defecate, although they can. She is confused and stumbling around afterward. How confused and uncoordinated she is depends on how long the seizure phase lasted.

What I described as not being "there" is what happens AFTER she's fallen over, padding, etc. I didn't know what other vocabulary to use because I didn't have a good definition of "lack of consciousness" until I found the University of Ohio's canine epilepsy page. I have video to show the neurologist for their opinion, but I am pretty sure now that they are grand mal seizures.

FWIW, we had a cat who lived with epilepsy his entire long life.  Most of the stress was on us, not him.  He'd have spectacular grand mal seizures (like, we'd wake with a start, the entire bed shaking, with him shaking like a berserk defective high-powered sewing machine).  These would soon pass, he'd come out with a leap, then he'd inspect the house like he'd never been there before.

The vets told us we could spend a few $k on tests and a CAT scan (really), and then they'd tell us he had epilepsy and there was nothing we could do about it.

Moral of story:  IF the animal is in a safe environment -- like, can't fall out a window or something -- the siezures themselves may not harm it.  So it's not obvious to me that crating is necessary.

The underlying cause may be another matter.

Best wishes.


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