Pet Epilepsy

posted 3 years ago in Pets
Post # 3
844 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

First off, I am SO, SO sorry that you’re going through this. I think it might help if I share my experience.


We had a large-ish dog who had epilepsy a few years back. I was just a kid, and he had his first seizure when I was alone with him – it was TERRIFYING. I think it was quite severe, though, he was motionless for about an hour before he could stand again.


Anyway, the vet pretty much told my parents the same thing, but they couldn’t do it. He was switched between two medicines – one wasn’t strong enough and he still had fits, the other stopped them but also made him into a zombie. I think after some experimentation though, they found the perfect dosage and he lived the last few years of his life relatively peacefully.


Inevitably we did have to put him down, but that was due to cataracts which caused an accident and brain legion 🙁 Still, I’m very very happy that we had those last few years with him.


I would urge you to think long and hard about this. There comes a point when it becomes cruel to keep them alive, but from what you’ve described it sounds much more mild than my dog’s. It may be easily manageble with medicines. It IS possible for them to live a full and happy life, so long as you’re willing to put in the effort to find the right balance for him.


Good luck. I know you’ll do what’s right.

EDIT: For reference, our dog was a schnauzer crossed with a patterdale terrier. He was about five when he had the first fit and it involved being unable to move, foaming at the mouth, urination and exhaustion afterward. From what you’ve described, yours doesn’t sound anywhere near that severe.

Post # 4
2565 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

He is really young to be having seizures from genetic epilepsy.  Typically they have their first seizure from 6 months- 5 years of age.  Did the breeder you got him from get his first set of puppy vaccines?  Is there anything he could have gotten into (medications, cleaning products etc)?  A puppy having neurologic signs that young would be more likely to be something infectious or a toxin.  There is also a congenital liver disease that can cause neurolgic signs, I had one owner their only concern was the puppy would drool and fall over and it ended up being liver disease.

I think you should have a work up with a vet to make sure nothing else is going on because he is pretty young.  Do you have a vet school or specialty hosipital near you?

Post # 6
2527 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

@megz06:  first, i would take him to a different vet for a second opinion. i would have a hard time dealing with a vet who said to give him back to be euthanized right off the bat like that. 


second, i know you asked about large dog experience and i don’t have a large dog but i do have a small dog who has seizures and she’s on zonisamide and that has stopped the seizures. her vet thinks she might have cushings disease which caused the seizures but we don’t know for sure (so maybe your dog doesn’t have epilepsy).


third, i used to work at a vet that also had an acupuncturist. we had clients who took their dogs  and cats to her to help with seizures and they swore by it. that might be something to look into. 

i hope the vet is wrong and your little guy is going to be ok!

Post # 7
1817 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

I used to nanny for a family that has a golden retriever (not sure if that’s really considered a large breed or not), he had his first seizure when he was about five years old or so. It was a full on seizure with urination and exhaustion. Also, he got pretty aggressive afterward before he went back to ‘normal’ to the point that I took the child I was watching and locked us outside until the dad came home to take him to the vet. The dog was aggressive with the dad too, so it wasn’t just that he was aggressive because he didn’t know me.

Anyway, he had another one and they put him on medication (sorry– I don’t know what it is called). As long as I worked for the family, he didn’t have another seizure. So as far as I know, the medication worked pretty well. And the dog is awesome. 🙂

Like another PP said, there is a good chance that your puppy will have a long and happy life. Also, take solace in the fact that you and your husband are planning on doing the right thing by keeping him and making the hard decision if it comes to that. 

Another thing: I’d also look in to taking him to a different vet. I know that vet was likely just explaining your options, but I don’t think it’s cool that she was saying maybe you should give him back knowing that he would be put down. And a second opinion couldn’t hurt.

Good luck!

Post # 8
563 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@megz06:  While our dog is quite a bit older (8 years old), he is a large breed chow-mix that has been having seizures for a couple of years now. He takes phenobarbital (and sometimes diazepam for anxiety/seizures) to control his seizures. It has significantly increased his appetite, but it helps decrease his seizure activity. Every now and then, if we forget to give him his meds, he will have seizures (sometimes 8 or 9) over the next day or so. Whenever he has a lot of seizures, the vet typically increases his dosage and then he will be fine for awhile. While it is very sad to witness, especially since you can’t explain to them what has happened, medication can be very helpful & it’s comforting to know that there are several meds that can help (if one doesn’t work, you can try something else, just like in humans with epilepsy). I have done some general research on seizures in dogs and while they can sometimes indicate disease or a brain tumor, I suppose genetics can also play a role. I would also suggest looking into the vaccinations that your puppy has had. So sorry this is happening to your puppy. I hope you are able to find something to help him!

Post # 9
38 posts
  • Wedding: June 2012

My dog is relatively small (a beagle), but she’s had epileptic seizures ever since we got her and it hardly affects her quality of life.  The rescue didn’t disclose them to us, but we figured out what was going on pretty quickly.  The most important thing is to rule out any medical cause for the seizures.  Your vet should be able to do that.  If the seizures are just genetic, then you can control them with medication.

My dog takes 2ml of potassium bromide every night on a piece of bread when she gets in from her last pee of the night.  She loves having a snack before bed, lol!  On the medicine her seizures are controlled.  We don’t notice any personality differences in her with the medicine.  Your vet will probably do a blood test or two to make sure that she has the right levels of medicine in her blood.  We pay about $50-60 for a bottle of the potassium bromide and it lasts us at least 4 months.

As far as the seizures themselves go, it’s important to remember to just make sure your dog is safe (can’t roll off something and get hurt) and to just wait it out.  It looks scary, but he’s not in pain.  Honestly, it sounds like he’s only having very minor ones.  Our dog would lose consciousness and then vomit and urinate when she regained awareness.  She would get very scared when coming out of it and so we also made sure that we were petting her so she knew that everything was going to be ok. 

This is a really scary thing to see in your new puppy, but honestly with some medication, he should be just fine!  You and your DH also sound like wonderful people to be so committed to him!!

Post # 11
97 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

As a vet tech I can tell you that your vet was probably just being honest, there are A LOT of “breeders” that will euth a puppy like this, it’s sad and I don’t think it’s right but it is true, breeders dont want “problem” animals in their “line” so it happens. As for the puppy st.bernards are tricky and can definitely be hard to manage on anti-seizure meds, not to mention expensive but it’s worth a try if you are willing, you sound like you will be wonderful pet owners and I hope for the best for your little guy! 

Post # 12
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

@megz06:  My border collie lab has seizures about once a month.  When I first adopted him as a puppy he had a full grand mal seizure within a day or two.  I had the same thought you did; I didn’t want to get attached to a dog that may keel over and die from seizures.

However, he didn’t have any more seizures for 3 years.  Then he had them intermittantly for two years.  Now he is having them regularly every 1-2 months in clusters of 2-3 which last less than 15 second each.  They usually occur at night while he’s in bed with us and he will usually urinate the bed during the seizure.  We prefer to have him sleep with us so we know when he is having seizures and we can protect him from hitting things (he got a busted lip from one we suspect he had in the living room while we were at work a few months ago.)

The seizures are way more upsetting to us than they are to him; apparently a side effect of seizures is not remembering them so even though they look painful, your dog doesn’t really have any lasting memories.  The lasting effects are to his brain and over time seizures will become more frequent and last longer until you and your vet decide it’s appropriate to medicate him.  Per our vet, one seizure per month lasting less than 30 seconds is considered controlled on medication so coupled with the fact that our dog is only 6 years old, the vet didn’t feel it was appropriate yet to put him on epilepsy meds.

Eventually we will have to medicate him and eventually the meds won’t work anymore and we will likely have to euthanize him when the seizures get really bad (if the seizures don’t kill him first because that can happen too.)  It’s upsetting but we love our dog and since he seems to suffer no lasting effects from the seizures we will continue to care for him and medicate him when the vet agrees that it’s time.  Other than that he is a normal, happy tail wagger who loves to chew his toys, snuggle on the couch, and go for walks.


Post # 14
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

Oh and if it matters, the vet attributed his first seizure when he was a puppy (approximately 8 weeks old) to his innoculations since he had so many at one time along with treatment for an amoeba infection and de-worming.

Post # 15
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

@megz06:  Vet said the crate is safe too.  When he lived with my mom for a year after my divorce, he had a few seizures in his crate at night there and he didn’t suffer any injuries.

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