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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1376
Experience:  I have over 20 years experience in small animal and emergency veterinary medicine
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my min pin is having seizures

Customer Question

she originally starting having seizures about 5 years ago.they would come about 1-2 a year, arching of the back and the whole body would become stiff and she would lose control of her bladder...they lasted about 45 secs.
however, the most recent was yesterday morning around 6:30am-she was flailing about and her tongue was hanging out of her mouth, her breathing was fast and then is stopped and she went limp! I thought she was dead, so I gave her mouth to snout and in about 4 breaths she took a huge gasp of air-she was out of it for about 15 mins after it and then within about 30mins she was her normal happy self. She is almost 12 y/o and is basically in good health-no other issues, however she had another seizure this morning around 4am-I awoke to her panting very loud and she had lost control of her bladder again-so i must have missed the whole episode. the past 2 weeks she has been licking at her paws and doing this lizard thing w/her tongue-is this any relationship to the seizures?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 years ago.


It is not very likely that the licking at the paws and the "lizard tongue thing" is related to the seizures, but there is one possibility that these are mini-seizures - this would not be very typical though and that is why I don't think ti is likely. A good oral exam to see if there is something in the mouth that is not quite right and also close examination of the area she is licking to make sure there is nothing going on with the paws the paws would be a good idea. Licking at paws is a very common sign of allergies in dogs, but it would be unusual for a 12 year old dog to suddenly develop allergies, so it could also be a bit of a nervous habit.

The episode where your dog went limp does not sound like a typical seizure and I have to wonder if this was caused by something different than her "regular" seizures. Dogs can have episodes of syncope (fainting like behavior) that is usually related to the heart and that is more likely to cause a dog to become limp, rather than the stiff paddling that is usually associated with seizure activity. In general, irregular heart rhythms or inability of the heart to pump blood to the brain is what causes syncope.

Since she is now having a different type of episode than she has had in the past and is doing things that is new for her (the licking paws and the lizard tongue thing), it would be a good idea to get her checked out by your vet. At 12, she is considered an older pet, so they may want to do some blood work to make sure organ organs are still functioning normally. They may suggest some tests to better evaluate her heart, including a chest x-ray, an EKG (electrocardiogram to check heart rhythm) and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).

It is common for dogs that are prone to seizures to have those seizures become more frequent as the dog ages. If they reach an unacceptable level, medications can be started to help control these seizures, but it is important to make sure we are treating the right thing - if we treat this as a seizure disorder when it is really related to the heart, the medication won't be effective.

I hope this answers your questions. If so, please click Accept. If you need additional information, please let me know.

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
I did take my dog to the vet after her seizure yesterday, he did blood work. In addition, I had asked him, "why would she pass out/go unconscious and stop breathing"?
He said, she more than likely was still breathing, and I just didn't notice because it was so upsetting to me. He didn't recommend putting her on any med's due to the infrequency of her seizures. As I had mentioned before, her original seizures were--"arching of the back and stiffing up all over & losing bladder control for about 45secs" Yesterdays episode she was, flailing about, breathing rapidly and then she just went limp-like she was dead!
She had a heart murmur when she was little and that went away-she has always made noises when sleeping, almost like she had an issue with her lungs...but no evidence...always clear.
You had mentioned and "oral", could an infection of her gums, cuz seizures? And why now does she have the "grand mal" ones---I mean just all of the sudden? The only change in her diet, or than the occasional table scrap is "good life dog food"

Please advise~
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Dr. B.'s Post: forgot to tell you something...the past week or so she has been sneezing once or twice a day. I don't think she has ever sneezed a day in her life, until now. She doesn't have a temp nor does she show any signs of having a cold.
okay, that's it~
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 years ago.


It is because this last episode was different than her previous ones that I suggested looking for a different cause. It is common for owners to say the dog stopped breathing during a seizure when they really are still breathing, but it is not common for dogs to go limp. That is why this is different and makes it worth looking for other possible causes, including the heart related ones I mentioned above.

No, an infection of her gums would not likely cause seizures, but that could explain the licking behavior you were seeing. It could also explain the sneezing if the infection is quite severe. Some of the roots of the teeth extend into the nasal cavities so if they are infected you may see some sneezing. Also, more serious but less likely, a tumor within her nasal cavity could cause both seizures and sneezing. You would probably have noticed significant discharge from her nose if this was present though.

The original seizures you describe with the arched back, stiffness, loss of bladder control would be classified as grand mal seizures, so this is not really new. Seizures often become more severe and more frequent as a dog ages - The severity and exactly what a seizure appears as depends on exactly what parts of the brain are being stimulated by the excessive electrical activity in the brain (this is what causes the seizure) - a mini-seizure would be where only part of the body is affected - a facial spasm or twitching of one limb. A seizure in which the whole body is being affected such as the original seizures you describe is a grand mal seizure.

It is good that your vet did blood work on your dog, but that really doesn't evaluate if there could be something going on with the heart. Hopefully he listened carefully to the heart during the physical exam, but even that does not necessarily mean everything is okay. The additional tests I mentioned above to evaluate the heart would be a much better way to more completley evaluate this. If your dog continues to have episodes where she becomes limp as opposed to stiff, I would check into these tests further.

If you are not already doing this, it would be a good idea to keep a written record of any abnormal episodes that you see. Write down exactly what your dog did, how long it lasted, and if there was anything unsual going on at the time in her environment (construction in the neighborhood, particularly active play session, just anything that is out of her normal routine). Sometimes patterns will be seen easier if they are written down. It will also help to evaluate if the episodes are indeed becoming more severe or frequent.

Let me know if you have additional questions.

Dr. B. and 3 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Relist: I still need help.
You had mentioned "tumor" wouldn't it stand to reason that if my dog starting having seizures about five years ago, I would either have a dead dog by now or one showing others signs; such as blindness, agility/motor function and just plain mental health of the animal, plus I had complete blood work done last year before she got her dental done....I guess they do an more advanced blood work as they get older?
Can you tell that, I love my dog-more than some family members!:)
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 years ago.

Our four legged friends are often much easier to love than some of our two-legged family members, so I understand where you are coming from:)

I mentioned a tumor in the nasal cavity as a possible cause of the sneezing and seizures, but if there was a tumor in the nose, these are usually malignant and there is nasal discharge that is pus-like or bloody, so that certainly wouldn't explain the seizures from 5 years go.

Tumors in the brain in dogs are often benign and very slow growing, so you do not always see other things such as you listed above. It would all depend on where in the brain the tumor is located. Often worsening seizures can be the start of a decline where a tumor is starting to put pressure on surrounding tissue. We always have to put brain tumors on the list of possible causes for seizures. Brain tumros would not be apparent by even the most complete blood work, as these require an MRI to detect them. This test is available for dogs, but is definitely not routinely done because it is very expensive and if they do find something, most the time there isn't too much that can be done. If you are interested in having this test done though, be sure to let your vet know as he should be able to make those arrangements for you. It most likely will require a referral to a speciality facility that has the proper equipment.

Many times prior to an anesthetic procedure, the blood work done is simply a mini-panel, but I do not know if that was the case with your dog. It is definitely a good idea to have a more complete chemistry profile done as they get older as this checks for more things than the mini-panel does.

Let me know if you have additional questions.