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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14870
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My pup is having seizures, particularly at night when

Customer Question

My pup is having seizures, particularly at night when sleeping. High activity before bedtime an issue? Was told Gabapentin may be used for canine seizures. My vet did nothing. Can you tell me a low dose I could start with to see if it brings any relief to her. She is about 7 months old and weighs 25 lbs.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 4 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear that Hailey has had several possible seizure episodes and I understand your concern for her.

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.

There can be several reasons for seizures.
The most common is idiopathic epilepsy. That means that we don't know why but a circuit of sensitive neurons in the brain gets stuck repeatedly firing. Epilepsy occurs most frequently for the first time in dogs 6 months to 6 years of age so she is in the right age range for this to be the cause of her seizures. We do believe that there is a genetic basis for dogs to have epilepsy as certain breeds are more commonly afflicted and siblings will often have them as well. If mom carried some of the genetics for epilepsy she may not be affected. But if she bred with a male that also carried some of the genetics for epilepsy (and he may not have been affected either) then together if the wrong combination of genes resulted we could get puppies with epilepsy.
Other causes are viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections, metabolic diseases leading to waste products building up and affecting brain chemistry, low blood sugar, or even granulomas or masses in the brain.

Most of the other disease processes that cause seizures cause other symptoms, those dogs are sick or abnormal other than during the seizure. How is she otherwise? Is she normal otherwise?
Some dogs with lower than normal seizure thresholds will seizure in response to being exposed to artificial colors, preservatives or gluten. So you might wish to feed her a diet without artificial dyes or flavors and one that is wheat free. Blue Buffalo purports to produce these sorts of foods.

Decreasing stress is also a way to avoid seizures so if you know an event will be stressful for her avoid it if possible. You can also use calming sprays such as DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) or pheromone impregnated collars to keep him calm.

Exercise should be kept at normal levels. Exercise is a great way to naturally relieve stress and increase positive endorphin levels in the brain. Exercise and activity, unless it is in extreme amounts, should not lead to seizures.

Moving between sleep/wake cycles is a trigger for seizures, so this may be what is going on with Hailey.

In a patient with seizures I would have your veterinarian examine her, check a biochemistry profile to look at organ health and a complete blood count. We do want to make sure there are no underlying problems.

If her seizures become more frequent than once a month or more than one happens in a day, even if it has been several months since the last one, I would discuss medication to prevent them with her veterinarian. The reason for that is the likelihood of status epilepticus (one seizure after another) and possible brain damage is higher with those scenarios and we wish to avoid that. If your veterinarian is not open to medicating her then it is time to find another veterinarian.

The primary drugs that we commonly use in veterinary medicine to control seizures include phenobarbital, Keppra (levetiracetam), potassium bromide, and less commonly Zonisamide (because it doesn't seem to work as well in dogs as it does in people and it is expensive).

Gabapentin alone will not control seizure activity in dogs. It can be used as an adjunctive (add-on drug) in dogs that aren't fully controlled with the primary drugs alone, but unlike people it won't work as a primary drug in dogs. Other adjunctive drugs include diazepam and alprazolam.

The other concern with Gabapentin is that human formulations often contain an artificial sweetener called Xylitol, which is highly toxic for dogs, leading to low blood sugar, liver failure and death. So we need to be very careful using human formulations in dogs.

I know that you want to help your puppy, but this is a medical problem that requires a close partnership/working relationship with your veterinarian to tackle, so I don't recommend trying this on your own.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 4 months ago.

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your pup. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 4 months ago.
Hi Mark,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Hailey. How is everything going?

Dr. Kara