Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
I am sorry to hear that Ares is having episodes which you believe are seizures.
Seizures are rhythmic, repetitive, muscle movements which the dog is unable to control and often loses consciousness during. Many dogs will repeatedly have chewing motions and/or leg motions and can lose urine and stool control. After the seizures the dog will often seem confused and very tired.
Syncope or fainting episodes can look somewhat like a seizure, as the dog may have some twitching and muscle movements and may open and close their mouths or vocalize, but they tend to be less tense and dog seems to collapse and behave as if they are weak, rather then tense, as they lose consciousness. They may pass urine or stool. They tend to recover fairly quickly, as once they collapse (which is due to low oxygen levels due to poor heart function) and relax, the heart is able to catch up, oxygen returns to the muscles and they are able to get up and move around again.
Twenty seconds is a very short period of time for a seizure. In a dog with diagnosed heart disease that would more likely be a syncopal (fainting) episode.
If your pup's heart function is poor enough to have fainting episodes then his heart disease is not well controlled. He may need more drugs added to help his heart muscle function more efficiently, such as Pimobendan. I recommend that your pup see a veterinary cardiologist to have his heart evaluated and get him started on the proper medical therapy.
Best of luck with your fellow, please let me know if you have any further questions.
Thanks for your response. Syncope was never mentioned by the vet. Ares usually falls over with rigid legs and yelps as if he is in pain. Sometimes he has rapid leg movements, other times they remain rigid. We try to calm him by petting and talking to him gently. When he recovers, he seems a little confused for a while, but then begins playing again. He always looses urine.
Thanks for the further information. From your description and the fact that we know he has heart disease this does sound more like a syncopal episode rather then a seizure because he doesn't always have repetitive muscle movements.
This is a link to a dog fainting, although he doesn't completely lose consciousness you get the idea that there may still be muscle movements or stiff legs but it isn't repetitive
like a seizure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUOlOsr6ps0&list=PL1B12C81DA1E9B1EE
This video is a dog having a seizure and you will notice the repeated muscle contractions as well as how long it goes on:
I cannot say for sure which one your pup has because I haven't seen Ares's episodes but seizures are rare in older dogs, unless they have a serious concurrent health problem like organ failure or a brain mass, and a dog with known heart disease is more likely to be experiencing syncope.
He had 2 episodes tonight. This is the first time that he has had 2 within 5 minutes. The first was when we put him outside when we got home, and the second one was when we brought him in. He starts to look wobbly and then falls over. I've been keeping my phone close by to try to video him, but I haven't gotten one yet.
I'm sorry to hear that he has had a couple more episodes tonight.
I understand your frustration with not being able to get video as that would help.
Another option is having him wear an external heart monitor called a Holter monitor for a day or two. This tracks his heart electrical impulses and if you see an episode you write down the time and they can match his heart electrical activity at that point to see if he had abnormal heart rhythm or irregular beats at that point.
These are usually placed and the results are read by a veterinary cardiologist. I am concerned that his episodes seem to be happening more often. In most cases they do come out of them fine but sometimes their heart cannot recover its normal rhythm and we lose them. I would hate for that to happen with your fellow.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.