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I think my 10 year old shih tzu just had a small seizure. Is…

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I think my 10...

I think my 10 year old shih tzu just had a small seizure. Is this common in old dogs

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. Seizures always look scary. Let's get you talking to the Veterinarian. What is the dog's name?

Suzie! How do I know if it is a seizure? She acted like she was gong to throw up, we took her outside, she was walking to the grass and suddenly her back legs started stripping over the other, she then fell into the splits and tipped over onto her side. She was shaking and seemed scared. She has a little white foam around the outside of her mouth.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Suzie?

No. She will be 10 in October of this year. Shes going a little blind with age, other than than she is healthy.

Submitted: 11 months ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
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Answered in 20 minutes by:
9/21/2017
Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 11 months ago
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

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Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 11 months ago

Seizures in older dogs are not common and may point toward serious underlying health issues.

I am sorry to hear about Suzie's episode of gagging, tripping over her legs, collapse, twitching and foam around her mouth. When a dog seems to lose control like Suzie did we worry about 2 things.

1) A seizure which is a loss of conscious muscle control with rhythmic muscle contractions occurring. These dogs may lose urine or stool continence, they are unaware of their surroundings and their muscles tend to be very tense during the episode.They seem fine afterwards though puzzled about what happened and can be a little tired. This is a link to a video of a dog having a seizure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSL1_yeKo5o&feature=fvwrel

2) the second possibility is a fainting episode (syncope) which can be caused an irregular heart rhythm (either very fast or very slow) such that oxygen doesn't get to the brain and they pass out. These dogs seem to stiffen and then slide to the ground like a wet noodle and have more relaxed muscles. They too tend to lose consciousness, the heart resets itself and they "wake up" and seem normal. Some of these dogs lose urine and stool continence and some do not. They may have minor muscle twitches due to low oxygen levels, but they are not as stiff or rhythmic as true seizures. This is a link to a video of a dog having a quick syncopal episodes. They are usually longer then this dog's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkj4jREIec8&feature=fvwrel

The irregular heart rhythm that leads to syncope can be hard to pick up on a regular exam as they may be triggered by exercise or excitement or even sleep (extreme relaxation). And if they aren't stressed at their exam their heart rate may be slow and normal (these are dogs with tachycardia or fast rate arrhythmias) or if they are stressed then their heart rate may increase to an normal level (these are dogs with bradycardia or very slow heart rates).

Both of these "episodes" can be triggered by excitement. If Suzie has a history of a heart murmur or heart disease then a syncopal episode is more likely than a seizure.

Seizures in older dogs usually signify that there is a medical problem. Younger dogs (6 months to 6 years) are more likely to be diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy or seizures of unknown origin but in older dogs seizures are usually related to metabolic organ disease such that waste products build up and affect brain function or a primary brain problem (inflammation or tumors).

Unfortunately other than keeping Suzie quiet there isn't much you can do at home. She needs a physical examination, bloodwork and possibly further testing (EKG, chest radiographs) to diagnose her condition.

If this is heart disease we need to properly diagnose her arrhythmia to know how to treat her medically and if this is indeed a seizure then looking for and treating underlying metabolic organ disease is needed or medication to help decrease seizure frequency and severity if this is related to primary brain disease.

If you could videotape her (many cell phones have the capability to do this) if she has another episode that would be tremendously helpful for your veterinarian as well.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 11 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, ***** *****

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