Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Epilepsy Awareness (a day late)


This post is kind of a PSA with lots of *important* words, but few pictures.


It wasn't until momma got home from the work place and I was reading blogs with her that I discovered that yesterday was totally epilepsy awareness day (thanks to my friend, and fellow seizure dog, Gibson).

But you know what? Better late than ever because there are so many doggies out there who get visited by the seizure monster, so here goes.

The seizure monster first visited me, Mango, The Relentlessly Huge, in July 2010. Momma wrote about it here.

Now momma had read about other doggies having the seizure monster, but had not realized how awful it was until she saw her beloved mastiff in the grips of that devil. But let me tell you something. The Mango has no recollection of it at all. Except that I kind of smelled like pee for a while and was pretty thirsty.

And the vets were all like "we just need to wait and see what happens next." You know why? Because until you know how often the seizure monster is going to visit, you won't know if you have done something to scare him away.

So we waited almost a whole year and that pesky beast visited me every month or two until one time in May of 2011 he visited and stayed a long time and master was home alone with me and was so scared and so I had to take the phenobarbital.

Let me tell you about that, because while I don't really remember any seizure monster visits, I remember when I started taking phenobarbital very clearly.

The first couple of days were like "no problem, feeling a little light headed, but I can deal with this." But by the third day, I was drunk as a sailor. Yup, I could not even get up without help and given my impressive size, one time when momma was home alone with me it took her ten whole minutes to get me up.

Even then, walking was hard and I would sometimes bounce off the walls and fall down again and when I tried to do my business, my bottom components would collapse and so momma contrived to hold my rear ends up for me. It was quite vexing for sure.

But I started to get used to it and to prove it, here is a little movie from just a week after starting my phenobarbital. You can see how my rear still sometimes had a mind of its own. Whoops.







But pretty soon, I was up and around and moving with my usual grace (ignore the date at the end of the movie - momma is so dopey like she totally didn't know April from May - sheesh).





And you know what? I feel pretty lucky because the seizure monster has stayed away for 10 whole months and not only that, but I get cheese food twice each and every day to help make the medicine go down.

So listen up! If the seizure monster ever visits you. Remember, you are not alone and there are lots of doggies who fight that demon each and every day. Gibson has lots of good links and resources on his bloggy here.

And I am going to share with you the movie he made of just some of the doggies out in blog land who live with doggie epilepsy. It is long, but very happy making. You will see (watch it on YouTube here).






Here are a couple of icons you can put in your sidebar if you want to show your solidarity against the seizure monster.





I'm going to sign off for now and then Mango Momma wants to say some of her blue words, OK?

Mango Man! Oh yeah!

Mango Momma here. I want to share what I have learned about seizures in dogs, but please add your wisdom in the comments.

  1. Seizures are very common. That's good and bad. Good because your vet will have seen it before, bad because it happens far too often.
  2. Watching your dog have a seizure is terrifying and nothing you can prepare yourself for.
  3. Most dog parents will rush to the ER after the first seizure. You should. You should do that even though they will likely take some blood, rehydrate, and then send you home with a prescription to "wait and see."
  4. Your dog does not know that he or she is having a seizure. But when it is happening you should;
  5. Stay away from the dog except to try and make sure he/she has a clear, soft space (if possible). With Mango it is just too dangerous for us to approach him at all. His jaws are chomping and his legs thrashing with such force that when he had a seizure in the bathroom he moved the toilet 1/4 inch.
  6. Talk to your dog. Just repeat over and over, "momma's here" and try to keep a calm aura.
  7. Clear all pets and children to a safe place immediately for their own protection.
  8. When the seizure abates, let your dog get up on his own. Dogs are often blind and very disoriented and might not recognize you as a friend. LET YOUR DOG COME TO YOU.
  9. Make sure your dog has plenty of water. If possibly, offer some vanilla ice cream to get their blood sugar back up and apply a cold compress to the neck to help lower body temperature back to normal.
  10. Be patient. Mango typically takes an hour to begin to recover. During that time I close off rooms and sit in one place talking to him. I let him wander and settle when he is ready (Dexter is kept away).
  11. Your vet will want the seizures to establish a pattern before prescribing medication. Rule of thumb is 3 seizures within 24 hours or any seizure lasting more than 10 minutes. Mango had seizures every 1-2 months for almost a year before he had a giant cluster seizure that tipped the balance for us.
  12. Try to make your house as seizure friendly as possible. We (finally) put up railings on our back deck out of concern that Mango would have a seizure on the deck and fall off. Close off rooms (like the bathroom) where having a seizure could harm the dog. I also recommend closing off stairways. In the few seconds before a seizure, Mango would sometimes wander blindly to some part of the house never visited. An open stairway could lead to a serious tumble.
  13. Phenobarbital is (in my experience) much worse than most vets will let on. This "cure" was more horrible for Mango (in the beginning) than the disease. He was unable to get up or down or even walk more than a few steps without assistance three days into his treatment.
  14. If you start phenobarbital, do not be afraid to negotiate a lower dose. Mango's dose was cut in half four days into his therapy. The side effects were unmanageable. He has done well on the lower dose.
  15. Is it possible that a dog can have seizures from vaccinations, heartworm, flea and tick preventative, or any number of chemicals you use on your lawn or to clean your house? Absolutely. With Mango, I held my breath as I continued life as usual for all those things and did not detect any correlation between them and the onset of a seizure. But it is good to keep track just in case.
  16. Finally, reach out to the DWB community. A seizure dog can be all consuming and it helps to have friends who understand what you are going through.
Most seizure disorders will not get a definitive diagnosis. We were offered a brain scan to look for a brain tumor in Mango. We declined. As with any procedure, you need to think about the "what if?" For Mango, the "what if?" of a brain tumor is no different than what we are already doing; helping him enjoy life as much as he is able. That, my friends, is the #1 (and the hardest) prescription for every human with a seizure dog.

Love your dog. Help him or her live their lives to the fullest.

18 comments:

scotsmad said...

Thank you so much for the information. So far, we've been lucky and have never had a dog have a seizure...but your practical advice is very valuable.

Thanks again.

XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

Bouncing Bertie said...

Thanks so much for the info, Mango and Momma. When Hamish first had a fit I hadn't a clue what to do.
Cheers, Gail.

Jake of Florida said...

Mango, and Mango Momma,thank you for giving us all such clear and important information. Between you and Linda, our community has the best resources to deal with these scary events.

Joan

Priscilla said...

Thanks for the important information about the seizure monster. One of my sister's dogs had been visited by this notorious monster twice last year and it totally freaked my sister out.

Sue said...

Very good advice. We experienced one seizure with Bentley and it's possible that Tsar could have one at any time as his tumor grows. We hope it never happens, but we need to be prepared.

Macintosh Mitch said...

What a great post! So much valuable info. Thank you, Mango momma!

Love ya lots,
Mitch

rottrover said...

Mango, dude! Another very helpful postie. We are so glad that those little pills have kept the monster at bay. You are a wonderful spokesdog :-)

-Bart and Ruby

chicamom85 said...

Thank you for that very informative post. That is excellent information. Mommy has never experienced anything like that with any of her doggy pals and especially not me, but you never know. I must tell you that it physically hurts Mommy to think of Mango having to go through that, she loves him. You are such a good Momma and Mango and Dexter are lucky to have you.

Loveys Sasha

Ina in Alaska said...

True words, Mango and Momma! and now that Halle is a member of the club we are getting used to her new lifestyle as well.

We are in DAY 1 of Phenobarb and Soloxine. We too decided not to go the route of having 13 year old Halle have an MRI. At her age the only treatment we will do is to keep the seizures at bay and keep her happy.

We love you Mango and Momma and thank you for all the good info on seizures. We are going to take some time now to get used to the medicine regime and read up on seizures.

Hugs from Alaska!

houndstooth said...

I totally agree! We made a lot of small lifestyle changes when Treat was with us. We closed off access to the stairs and a lot of the house. Our other dog was extremely good with her -- I often wonder if he could have been a seizure alert dog. Treat learned to recognize the signs of a seizure coming on herself and would come to one of us to help her lay down, because she couldn't do it on her own. If she couldn't come to us, Hawk always came to get us and he worried over her something fierce. Once we were with her, he stayed in the background, but he made sure we knew. We had a cooling pad for her to lay on afterwards, because she did get very hot during her seizures, and we kept a log of them and described what the seizures were like. It helped us to get a better idea of them ourselves. Hers were every three weeks like clockwork. There are other drugs besides Phenobarbital that can be used now, and it's worth it to ask your vet about the options and definitely know the signs that indicate if your dog is getting too much or having a reaction to the drugs. We tried potassium bromide but it didn't help her. The phenobarbital did, but we didn't have any of the effects for her that you describe. It might have made a difference that she was a lot younger than Mango when she started taking the meds.

Bunny's wordy mom

houndstooth said...

I totally agree! We made a lot of small lifestyle changes when Treat was with us. We closed off access to the stairs and a lot of the house. Our other dog was extremely good with her -- I often wonder if he could have been a seizure alert dog. Treat learned to recognize the signs of a seizure coming on herself and would come to one of us to help her lay down, because she couldn't do it on her own. If she couldn't come to us, Hawk always came to get us and he worried over her something fierce. Once we were with her, he stayed in the background, but he made sure we knew. We had a cooling pad for her to lay on afterwards, because she did get very hot during her seizures, and we kept a log of them and described what the seizures were like. It helped us to get a better idea of them ourselves. Hers were every three weeks like clockwork. There are other drugs besides Phenobarbital that can be used now, and it's worth it to ask your vet about the options and definitely know the signs that indicate if your dog is getting too much or having a reaction to the drugs. We tried potassium bromide but it didn't help her. The phenobarbital did, but we didn't have any of the effects for her that you describe. It might have made a difference that she was a lot younger than Mango when she started taking the meds.

Bunny's wordy mom

Marjie said...

I'm happy for every day that goes by and Mango has no seizures, even though he doesn't live here with me. My nurse daughter, when I told her about his problems with the phenobarbitol, told me that it should be cut until the side effects no longer harmed him, and that generally a lower dose would be effective. I'm so glad it's worked for my pal Mango.

I was reminded of Mango last weekend when watching a movie which totally sucked, except that in the dog park scene, there was a brindle mastiff. And, yup, he was doing what mastiffs do and standing there. Then I shut the movie off, because it was so bad, and the mastiff wasn't a star.

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Howdy Uncle Mango and Momma, thank you for all the info on Epilepsy. Thankfully we have never experienced this but we are always here to support anyone/doggie who suffers the Seizure Monster. Special hugs to all. This is just another example of how our community love and help each other during times of need. Take care Uncle Mango, love ya big dude. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

Minnie-Moo (Rescue Lab) said...

Oh Mango, we are sending you huge hugs from the UK after watching those videos. We are really glad that you have been doing so well for ten months now - and long may that continue.

Love from Minnie-Moo, Muzzle & Co xxx

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Hugs to you and Mango.

jen said...

This is such important and helpful information! It is so great for you to share your experiences and wisdom about epilepsy:)

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

So sorry that such any wonderful pup has to live with Seizure monsters! Excellent advice.

I was driving in my neighborhood yesterday and spied... a baby Mango!!! He was SO cute!!!!

Leslie said...

What a wonderfully informative post.

When Beau had his first seizure (16 years ago?) there were no blogs to turn to for support and information. What a fantastic thing this community is for people and pets going through such frightening times.