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Last week we had to put the dog I grew up with to sleep

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Hi. Last week we...

Hi. Last week we had to put the dog I grew up with to sleep after seizures, and I'm really struggling with feeling guilty and not being sure what happened.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Seizures always look scary. Let's get you talking to the Veterinarian. What is the dog's name and age?

Lizzie was nearly 14 and a lab/golden retriever mix. She was in really good health, just weakeness in her back legs, but she started having grand mal seizures every other week or so three months before. We talked to the vet and they said not to be too concerned and to watch out for if they got worse. She went a few weeks without any seizures, but then last week she had three, each about two hours apart and lasting about a minute. She seemed to recover well between the first two, was alert and following me around the house, but after the third she was really tired and just lay there. I called the vet and they said to bring her in if there was another, and there was. She was anxious and alert for a little while after the fourth, but she couldn't stand on her own, and on the car ride in she closed her eyes and started shaking and was non-responsive. The vet gave her a shot of phenobarbitol when we arrived, but she didn't wake up, and after an hour of waiting she had another seizure. They gave her more phenobarbitol, but as soon as it wore off she started doing what seemed like involuntary movement of all her limbs, like a seizure but slower and longer. The vet said it seemed like an ongoing neurological event and we sedated her. She was really relaxed and calm, just blinking and sighing, but when the sedation wore off she started doing the same involuntary-seeming movements. We sedated her again and the vet said she likely had permanent neurological damage, and my dad and the vet decided together that it would be the right thing to euthanize her. She was so calm and didn't die in pain, but I feel so worried that she might have been okay if we had waited. Does it sound like she was in some kind of continuous seizure? Was there anything else we could have done? Sorry this is so long. Thank you so much.

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

No, that was it. Just that she wasn't on any seizure medication beforehand.

Submitted: 4 months ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
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Answered in 7 hours by:
3/16/2018
Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 4 months ago
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 34,806
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 4 months ago

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. My condolences for your loss of Lizzie. In retrospect, when she was clustering - more than one seizure within a 24 hour period - she should have been prescribed an anticonvulsant drug such as levetiracetam or zonisamide. Clustering often leads to status epilepticus - the state in which my patient's brain remains over-excited until I heavily sedate or anesthetize my patient. It sounds as if Lizzie did enter that state and suffered too much brain damage to recover.

Most of us will accept one mild (lasting less than 5 minutes, no thrashing about, no loss of consciousness) event monthly before prescribing an anticonvulsant. Seizures first arising between the ages of 1-5 years are usually considered idiopathic (unknown cause) epilepsy. Seizures arising after 6 years of age are often caused by brain tumor or, less commonly, adult onset epilepsy. Golden retrievers are over-represented with brain tumor. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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