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epileptic dog

(18 Posts)
lori88 Fri 22-Apr-11 13:41:32

hi everyone

i'm looking for some advice/ reassurance here.

i have 2 dogs, a staff cross (potentially collie) bitch and a collie cross (potentially alsation/german shepherd) boy. the boy's epileptic, has been since around 6/7 months old. he's now 2 1/2 years old.

my bitch is the friendliest, sweetest dog you could ever meet, loves kids, other dogs, would quite happily go with a perfect stranger etc lol my boy was the same, until he became epileptic and started on phenobarbitol. he changed immediately to a nervous, aggressive to everyone on the street, really difficult dog. apparently phenobarbitol was banned for use in humans as it caused aggression? (my friends mum's a mental health nurse, she told me that).

he's a totally different dog in the house though, very friendly & sweet, loves my 7 month old son to bits etc. he quite happily allows my mum in, and one of my friends he goes nuts for 10 mins or so, seems to realise it's her, and is fine. anyone else is a no-go. he WILL NOT tolerate it. he also "zones" in & out, at times it's like he's not really with us at all.

i got a phone call last week regarding his recent blood tests informing me that
1) the phenobarbitol levels in his blood seem fine, so they don't understand why he is still having seizures. one possibility is it might not be epilepsy at all, it may in fact be a brain tumour, but they will never know as they can't check ( why, i don't know, i mean, surely there are scanners etc).

2) the liver function test was bad news. we expected him to have some scarring due to him not being able to take the potassium bromide to stop his body processing the phenobarbitol so quickly (it makes him excessively sick, so he's vomiting up the phenobarbitol before it gets to his bloodstream, which means he has more seizures, so it's pontless) but it's way worse than expected. the vet said the "normal" amount would be about 120, his is at 570.

he was already on an extremely high dose of phenobarbitol (120 mg every 12 hours) and shouldn't really go any higher, but the vet has told me to raise the dose to 150 mg every 12 hours, which i have done. i've to stop immediately and take him up if he becomes unconcious, is unable to walk, or continues to have seizures (as he'd have to be pts). they did say to give him a week on the seizure front though, as it could take that long for the higher dose to enter his bloodstream properly. he had 1 seizure within the week-long period.soon though (the longest they could give me to hope for was 2 months) this higher dosage won't be sufficient, and he can't have any higher, so he'll have to be pts.

i have noticed a change in his behaviour though. people can walk past the house (even with windows open), people can chap our door etc and he doesn't care. on walks, people can walk right past (previously he would try to drag me across a busy road to get at someone who had the cheek to walk on the other side) and he either ignores them, or wags his tail & tries to smile (hindered by the basket muzzle, which we hate, but advised to use one incase he goes to the "other world" & snaps at someone. he has never, ever bitten anyone, btw, even without a muzzle on). before we got the vet's phonecall, i would have been overjoyed that he seemed to have turned a corner, and was now a pleasure to walk etc, but now i'm worried that the dose is to high & is doping him up, or that after all the seizures he is now so badly brain-damaged (not a nice choice of words, but that's what the vet calls it) that he's not got a clue. i know i probably seem mad, worrying my dogs being "too friendly" but i know my dog & this is not him. it's like he's had a personality transplant.

basically, i'm wondering if this is normal, or to be expected, or a sign of something not being right etc. also, how to make sure his last 2 months (if we're lucky enough that he'll have that long) are the best ever, for him?

please note, as far as the vet is concerned, he is not suffering, he is perfectly happy. i wouldn't drag it out, i love my furry babies very much and would rather pts than allow them to suffer. i'm just so upset to think that soon, he won't be here any more. and he doesn't have a clue, as far as he knows everything is hunky-dory.

sorry this is so long, i've tried to cut it down without editing out important background info, etc

Vallhala Fri 22-Apr-11 14:25:48

I'm so sorry to read of your boy's sad situation. I have a GSD with epilepsy - he's my second epi dog & although I have yet to experience him fitting I know from my first how distressing it is for both dog and owner.

I was going to ask about Bromide until I saw he can't tolerate it as that Phemo dose is incredibly high. My (big) GSD is on the other end of the scale with the minimum theraputic dose of 30mg per 24 hours.

I'm absolutely no expert here but I know a man who I believe is. He's the owner of a rescue which has several epi dogs and which many other rescues will suggest to folk with epi dogs they cannot keep, such is the reputation he has. It's just a pity that his rescue is normally full to the brim...

His name is Dave, the rescue is Poplar Farm Rescue Kennels - that's the link to the PFK forum. Dave is the "real" owner of my epi GSD as Fish is a foster dog rather than my own although he's been here nearly a year now and we have an unwritten agreement that he's staying with me for life.

There are loads of links to epilepsy resources on the forum as well as a few of us who have/have had epi dogs, including a US-based gentleman who is incredibly well versed in the condition too. What's more the forum is in daily use by us all and by Dave, who will no doubt be happy to offer you advice. Please do come over and join us, register and tell us what you have put on here. Dave may be a bit busy (just a tad, with 60 dogs to care for!) but he will help, bear with him for a few hours if you don't get a response please. Many of us are volunteers and/or owners of PFK rescued dogs but by no means all - what we all are is friendly and welcoming.

If we can help, between us we will, promise. PFK is a strictly no kill rescue and we're all committed to doing the best thing for each dog in need - PTS really is a very, very last resort to us all.

DooinMeCleanin Fri 22-Apr-11 14:38:09

I had an epiletic JRT. Her fits were really bad when she had them, but fortunately she did not have them often enough to require medicating. The vet left it upto us what to do and we chose not to treat her. The symptoms of the meds were much worse than the infrequent fitting iyswim?

She was pretty much the same as you describe your dog to be while on the meds. Much quieter than usual. Not enjoying her walks as much. Just not herself at all.

My vet did tell me there are lots of different medications for dogs with epilepsy. I'd advise you seek a second opinion and maybe try different meds.

Also from idependant research I found that some commercial dogs foods can cause or exascerbate fitting in dogs. You woulddo well to check your dogs diet and change to a higher quality, anti allergy food. BARF is very good for epileptic dogs.

I think Vallhala has some experience of canine epilepsy, so you could try PMing her.

DooinMeCleanin Fri 22-Apr-11 14:39:38

But she got there first smile. That'll learn me for stopping halfway through a reply to deal with my two mutts.

Vallhala Fri 22-Apr-11 14:44:01

I got there before you, Dooin!

I agree very much wrt diet. PFK's experience is that food with additives can cause or exacerbate seizures - they (and I) only feed our epi dogs on NatureDiet or Fish4Dogs, both of which are gluten and additive/preservative free. We've noticed big changes as a result (I'm a PFK hands-on volunteer so get to see their dogs and keep in touch very regularly).

Whatever you do, though I'm sure you know this already, don't reduce or stop the meds - the latter without the vet's backing and frankly although we've known vets to recommend this, I would not advise stopping meds completely at all. We've seen some dreadful results of that advice.

lori88 Fri 22-Apr-11 15:49:53

i use the pdsa. they are adamant phenobarb is the only medication available. even when i suggested to them the possibility of using sodium bromide as an alternative to the potassium (thank you google lol) they basically told me there's no such thing (um, yes,there is) and i was talking nonsense.

i do however, use my local vets for yearly boosters, got them neutered there etc and they are excellent. ( when i was pregnant, the pdsa were
constantly trying to get me to put him down saying "he'll attack the baby" or "what if he fits and lands on the baby/ knocks the baby out its pram etc" which i knew was total bull as when he feels a fit coming on, he comes over to me & whines (both dogs do this when they sense my dh is about to have a fit too, then go sit/lie beside him) then goes to a quiet part of the room/house out everyones way, checks to make sure i'm following him, then sits/lies down & waits for it to happen. i mentioned this to my local vet who said "what rubbish!!" gave me a few tips to ensure both dogs accepted the baby into the household, & told me to tell them i had sought a second opinion who said they were wrong & agreed with me. he also said to give them his number if they persisted and he'd speak to them- luckily it didn't come to that )

they are fed dry food, as meat made him too hyper. the brands i use are wagg or james wellbeloved. they have meat on special occasions such as their birthday, or xmas, but that's it.

i would never stop the meds, as on the rare occasion he's spat a tablet without me noticing, he's had horrendous seizures for a day or three afterwards.
his seizures are getting worse, he's now usually soiling and/or wetting himself during them or shortly afterwards, and the last one he didn't but he vomited all over me instead.

thank you for your replies i will check the link out later once the babies asleep, & sorry for yapping on, i'm just really upset (& quite angry too) about this whole situation.

DooinMeCleanin Fri 22-Apr-11 15:58:41

My dog did not get Phenobarb. I can't remember what she was given but it was none of the things that have been mentioned on here.

At first she was given Diazapam confused, but this was to stop the first instance of fitting, which was really bad, I stayed up with her all night as she was fitting at least once an hour, after that it settled down and she only had them about once a year. I had a baby at the time she diagnosed and no-one reccommended putting her to sleep. I think I would have slapped them if they did angry

After the diazapam she was given something that had a name very similar to DH's meds (Epilim). Under the supervision of the vet we slowly lowered the dose (DO NOT DO THIS YOURSELF - I am sure you wouldn't anyway)

Also I noticed that you say your vet said they could not scan your dog for tumours? I'm not sure why this is. My vets were going to do that as a next step if the Diazapam did not stop the fitting, so it is possible. My vets are attatched to vetinary hospital and university. I don't know if this makes a difference?

I'd stop the Wagg and stick with JWB. My parents used to use Wagg and I seem to remember it being all kinds of weird and wonderful colours. Not the colour food should be. JWB is a very good food, but possibly not as good as Nature Diet if you can afford it.

lori88 Fri 22-Apr-11 16:14:32

he's had diazapam before, in an instance when he's been cluster-fitting , and once he's been kept overnight at the emergency vets on a valium drip, again due to cluster fitting.

it's the pdsa, so they won't scan (too expensive) but i'd quite happily pay them a percentage every week or whatever until it's paid off, but they wont. i'm annoyed, as if they had told me they suspected it may be a brain tumour when they first suspected it (they suspected 2 years ago, only told me on tues 12th, this month!!) i could have saved up & got the dog scanned privately long ago.

my dh takes epilim too lol

a few times i've queried why theres so many ep. meds for humans & only phenobarb for dogs, i've been told "because they're dogs" - when asked to elaborate they've got huffy & one even stormed out the room.

wagg apparently has "no unnatural colours or flavours" so i thought it was a good bet? confused i think i've used the natures diet sachets before, i'm not sure.

Lizcat Fri 22-Apr-11 20:51:30

I find the does of epilepsy meds is hugely variable like Valhalla's I have some on tiny doses and I also have a collie on 150mg of Phenobarb twice daily and 325mg of potassium bromide twice daily too (he has been on this for four years now). Phenobabritone (epiphen) and potassium bromide (libromide) are the only licensed meds avaliable for dogs.
There are newer meds avaliable by cascade as they are human meds the main one Gabapetin is really useful, but I suspect at around £135 per month for a 10kg dog is out of the PDSA's reach financially - PDSA budget for longterm meds is around £25 per pet per month. The other new human meds are even more expensive. I suspect the vets at the PDSA are in a difficult position as they are not supposed to perscribe under cascade (more restricted than private vets) and are not supposed to discuss the financial constraints with you either.
Personally I don't get excited about liver enzymes in an epileptic dog when they are in the thousands.
I personally am a fan of james wellbeloved, Wafcol or nature diet only for epileptics and find they do best on these.
From my experience there is a good chance that your dog will settle with the higher dose of phenobarb, I often find that the stabilise on one dose and then after around 9 to 18 months they require a higher dose due to liver enzyme induction. And also live a good length of time.

Lizcat Fri 22-Apr-11 20:53:02

Sorry meant to say about liver enzymes I'm not excited till they are in the thousands.

lori88 Fri 22-Apr-11 22:10:20

yeah problem is though, lizcat, my boy's body processes the dose too quickly, like he'll be put up to a certain dose, and 2-3 months later he starts having seizures constantly (once he's went 4 months) and the dosage needs to be put up again. the dose he's on now is too high re: height & weight, but they're willing to try it. once his body gets used to this dose, and he starts fitting again, he'll have to be pts as they're not willing to go any higher with the dose, as he's already higher than he should be. i've been told he'll be lucky to get 2 months, esp. when you factor in the liver scarring etc... i mean, i don't know if they're telling me the truth, or are just up to their old tricks again hmm

Vallhala Fri 22-Apr-11 23:00:44

Lori, please have a word with Dave on the PFK forum if you feel Gabapentin might help. He may be able to advise - I'd forgotten about the drug but now it's been mentioned am reminded that some of their dogs are on it.

He's very selective and cautious about his choice of vet as he has always maintained that some would PTS when some of "our" dogs have been at their worst. He's proved that this isn't necessary in 99% of cases... we did lose one dog to the bastard condition a couple of years ago, who had entered rescue in a terrible state as a pup and although he stabilised for a couple of years then went downhill and was unable to be saved.

But there are others, one on GP, who we never thought would make it and are still here and doing very well. This is Eddie's story. When he came into rescue, having fitted en route from the pound where he was about to be put to sleep, we had little hope for him. The first few months were terrible and when I originally met him he was confused, bumping into things, just not "there" with us. Thanks to Dave's determination and a good vet he is amazing now, you'd think he was a different dog. Eddie's is a long thread but if you skim past our AWW's and Ahhh's you'll see that the episodes and treatment are recorded, as is his progress.

Eddie's a little chap - meds and food come to about £16 per week total and his dosage combined and quite high. Surely somehow we must be able to find some help for your boy and a lower price of meds. I know that PFK get a lot of meds online (cheaper therefore) with a vet's prescription... could this be an option for you?

Vallhala Sat 23-Apr-11 00:28:08

PMing you, OP.

lori88 Sat 23-Apr-11 09:12:14

i've PMed you back

DogsBestFriend Sat 02-Jul-11 14:00:20

It's not my place to report this really but Lori's without computer access atm, I understand. As a result she sent a text to the rescue which helped her.

Her boy was recommended to have Gabapentin for his partial fits in order to ward off a full blown GM but Lori had a tremendous struggle getting the PDSA to prescribe. Poor boy had several fits in the meantime. He got his drugs eventually but IMHO it was too little too late. He deteriorated and Lori had no option but to say goodbye to him.

In the short time that Lori was a member of the rescue forum all of us forum readers felt that we knew her darling boy and we were all gunning for him to stabilise so much.

I'm so sad for Lori's boy and for Lori herself. No-one could have cared more than she did. sad

RIP precious boy, you touched a lot of hearts.

rebelpunk Sun 03-Jul-11 13:49:53

thanks val. my girl doesn't know what to do with herself, now she's not got her (big) wee brother around to baby & mother.

rip kaikai x

DogsBestFriend Sun 03-Jul-11 14:25:54

Oh bless, it's so hard on the other dog as well as us isn't it?

Give her loads of extra hugs (I know you will anyway) but make some from me, and hugs to you too.

RIP Kai indeed.


rebelpunk Tue 05-Jul-11 17:50:34

thanks smile she's currently lying on the couch all sad & depressed sad

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