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Doc Sara
Doc Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 952
Experience:  I am a dog and cat veterinarian with a lifetime of experience in our family veterinary hospital.
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My senior boxer (12) had a seizure and I was holding her up.

Customer Question

My senior boxer (12) had a seizure and I was holding her up. Her right side was limp and she was hacking foamy spit. She was disoriented after the 30 second episode still unable to walk or stand straight for a couple minutes. She finally got on couch and was restless until falling asleep. Her heart rate is 150s. It seems tachy-Brady. It's 150s then 40s for about 10 seconds then back to 150s for a minute or two. She is sleeping on the couch. She has cushings disease and has lost to 46 lbs. she eats drinks and poops normally. I wondered if it was actually a seizure and not stroke. Her blood sugar is regular with never having issue.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 2 years ago.

Hi there I'm Dr. Sara. I'm a licensed veterinarian who works exclusively with dogs and cats.

Based on your description of the abnormal heart rate and rhythm, I strongly suspect that what you saw was actually a syncopal episode rather than a seizure. Syncopal episodes are basically a pet who "passes out". This can be caused by inadequate circulation from a failing heart. It usually happens when they get excited or active and the failing heart cannot keep up. 40 is a dangerously low heart rate for a dog, and when there's an arrhythmia present it can absolutely be life threatening. This could potentially be a very dangerous situation for her. There are a handful of diseases that can cause irregular heart rhythms - boxers even have one named after them! Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy is often called "boxer cardiomyopathy". Now just because she's a boxer, that doesn't guarantee that it's ARVC. Dogs can get atrial fibrillation as well as a whole host of other arrhythmias.

Unfortunately, dogs with the type of arrhythmia that you are describing are also at high risk for sudden cardiac death - obviously more likely if left untreated than if worked up and treated. Work up consists of chest X-rays, an EKG, often times an echocardiogram, along with senior blood work if it hasn't been done recently. Unfortunately it can be expensive, so if cost is a barrier, some vets will try therapy with heart medications. It's also not unreasonable to begin to consider euthanasia, especially if she is having frequent syncopal episodes or her quality of life is poor.

I would seek emergency care for her ASAP, based on what you are describing. Please let me know if I can answer any other questions

~Dr. Sara