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My dog has been having cluster seizures. How dangerous is this to his quality of life?
Hello,I'm sorry to hear you and your dog are going through this. Some additional information will help me to answer your question.What breed (or mix) is your dog?Is phenobarbital the only medication that has been tried?Has your vet been able to find a cause of the seizures? What tests have been done?When did your dog last receive vaccinations?
My dog is a beagle. Yes phenobarbital is the only thing tried so far. I know we are very early in the treatment problem, but I haven't been able to find a job and my husband is the only one who works. So we can't afford the back and forth to the vet for much longer to get him on the right medicines. I have had so much trouble finding specific information on how cluster seizures affect his quality of life. I have read they are extremely dangerous especially the number of them he is having, but that is where the information ends. He has been diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy after blood test, thyroid test, CT scan, and spinal fluid tests. He last received vaccinations a few weeks before the seizures started and the booster the day before they started as well but they ruled those out as a cause. After this recent cluster of seizures our dog has not yet gotten back to his old self and its been a full week. He still seems a little scared and I feel like he doesn't know who we are yet.
I'm sorry to hear that your finances prevent further testing because my first recommendation would be to see a specialist - a veterinary neurologist. Cluster seizures do often have an underlying cause that a specialist can detect. Since that isn't possible, I'll give you some other information.The seizures will have an effect on your dog's quality of life. As you've already seen, it can take a long time to get over the seizures. They can also cause brain damage, which would have a great effect on quality of life. Cluster seizures can also progress to what is called status epilepticus. That is a long seizure that doesn't stop. There is no regaining of consciousness in between like there is with cluster seizures. Status epilepticus is a dire emergency and often results in death if it isn't quickly treated. With all that being said, there are some additional things you can do to help your dog. I recommend that you speak to your vet about the possibility of obtaining some rectal suppositories of Valium. They have been found to stop cluster seizures, and are often given to dog owners to use at home. Being able to stop the seizures right away will greatly reduce their effects on quality of life. The following site has information on this treatment. You may want to print out the information for your vet.http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/rectal_valium.htmIt isn't possible to completely rule out vaccines as a contributing factor. You can reduce that possibility in the future by getting only required vaccines, and getting boosters no more often than every three years. Vaccines have been found to be effective for 3 to 7 years, possibly longer, in most dogs. Many local vets continue to give yearly boosters, while the veterinary teaching hospitals and the American Animal Hospital Association now recommend less frequent vaccines. Recommendations are similar for dogs, and your elderly dog probably only needs the legally-required rabies vaccine. I suggest that you read the information on the respected UC Davis site before making a decision.http://www.vmth.ucdavis.edu/vmth/clientinfo/info/genmed/vaccinproto.htmlArtificial colors and flavors are another potential factor. You should get your dog on a food that doesn't contain them. At the following site, you can find more complete information on choosing a dog food and all aspects of feeding a dog. http://www.dogaware.com/dogfeeding.htmlAmong the better brands are Solid Gold, Innova, California Natural, Castor & Pollux, Canidae, Eagle Pack, Old Mother Hubbard, and Evanger’s. You should be able to find some of these in larger pet stores. Some vets sell them, too. I also recommend that you go to these two sites for more information, including different medications that may work:http://neuro.vetmed.ufl.edu/neuro/seizures/seizures.htmhttp://www.canine-epilepsy.com/overview.htmlToxins, such as pesticides, cleaning products, air fresheners, scented candles, etc. may also be a factor in seizures. In beagles, stress is also a precipitating factor, so an effort should be made to keep the environment as calm as possible.Beagles are one of the breeds especially prone to seizures. The American Beagle Club has a whole page on the subject on their site. You will certainly want to read that. The site states that a drug called Mysoline is especially effective in beagles, so that is something else to ask your vet about. Here is the site:http://clubs.akc.org/NBC/epilepsy.htmlThey do state that such seizures can usually be brought under control. If you're thinking that euthanasia may be necessary, I wouldn't consider that until you look into the options of rectal Valium, and trying other medications. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your dog's seizures can be stopped.
Thank you, I will be reading through some of these websites that I have not seen before. I do have a couple more comments/questions. We already have diazepam suppositories that we are supposed to administer in case of seizures. We gave him two doses during this past "episode" of cluster seizures before finally breaking down and taking him in to the vet for the IV drip. After the IV drip after the medicine was decreased he had yet another seizure, before being put back on the IV drip. Also, it was a neurologist who reviewed his CT scan when we had the initial testing done. We are Americans living in Germany due to the military so maybe part of our problem is the language barrier, but we are 99% sure it was a neurologist that gave us the CT scan results. With the cluster seizures, does it usually get worse over time and eventually turn into status epilepticus, or can it all of a sudden turn into status epilepticus? Or is it possible that he won't have cluster seizures every time? Could part of our problem be that there is not a whole lot of information on cluster seizures? Lastly, when should we begin to worry that he has some brain damage? Since it has been 7 days already we are not sure if he'll go back to normal. Thank you again for your help and patience.
You're welcome - I'm happy to help as much as I can. Yes, there's a lot that isn't understood about cluster seizures, as well as seizures in general. They are unpredictable. Status epilepticus can occur suddenly in a dog who has cluster seizures or in a dog who has only had one single seizure. Any of the possibilities you mentioned above could happen. The cluster seizures could get worse, he could have only single seizures sometimes, status epilepticus could occur at any time. It's even possible for him not to have any more seizures. No one can predict.A neurologist could perform tests to determine if there is brain damage. But again, there is the expense.Since you can't go that route, you'll have to look at other factors. Has your dog slowly been getting better, or has he stayed the same? The longer he stays the same, the worse the prognosis. How far away from normal is he? Does he recognize you? Does he eat and sleep well? Does he enjoy some of the things he has always enjoyed? Or, conversely, does he seem confused? Does he not get much joy out of life? Has he forgotten his house training? Those are factors you'll have to consider. If he stays this way with no improvement at all for a few weeks, you'll want to discuss what to do with your vet. There is no definite way to make a decision in a case like that, and it would be very difficult. I hope it doesn't come to that.