Seizures

We sometimes have greyhounds listed on Craiger’s List that have had a history of seizures.  We think that this article may be helpful to those who do not understand seizures and who might consider adopting a dog that has had seizures.  It was written by Connie Brown who at the time was experiencing seizures in her dog Marley.  Since this article was written, Marley crossed the bridge from cancer.

The following is recount of my own personal experience with greyhounds and seizures and the prevailing medical advice on seizures.  Unfortunately, I have experience with cancer in two of my greyhounds but never with seizures.  Seizures are extremely frightening to witness, and can be life threatening for your dog.

I adopted Marley November 21, 2005.  Marley just turned nine years old on April 1, 2012.  Marley has had no medical issues at all, well minus the tail caught in the door – the roommate did that – Marley has never even needed a dental!

Marley’s first seizure happened on October 21, 2011 at 4:20 a.m.  Marley was sleeping with me when he suddenly jumped up and headed towards the top of the bed, stumbling and staggering until he fell off the bed landing on the floor onto his side.  His legs were rigid and thrashing, eyes glazed, he was drooling, and I kept yelling at him to please stop, I was so scared.  I later learned you need to be calm for the dog’s sake.  The seizure seemed like it lasted forever but was between one to two minutes.  When Marley finally came to, he was very disoriented and unsteady on his feet, I finally got him downstairs but he just could not settle, he paced and paced for about an hour before finally settling down.

I called the emergency clinic; they said if the seizure did not last longer than five minutes and/or he does not have another seizure within the next couple of hours that I could wait until his vet’s office opened.  Marley did not have another seizure and I was able to have Marley seen that day by his vet.  Due to his fall and the injuries he suffered, minor but sustained, it took Marley almost two full days to recover from this seizure.  Marley’s initial blood work came back negative for anything attributable to a seizure but his antibody test for tick borne disease was positive for Rocky Mountain Fever and Ehrlichiosis with a very low titer.  He was treated with a thirty-day supply of Doxycycline.

On December 18, 2011 almost two months to the date of his first seizure, Marley had his second seizure at 6:40 a.m.  As before, Marley was sleeping with me but this time he jumped off the end of the bed and ran straight for the stairs, luckily Marley went into the seizure prior to falling down the stairs.  This seizure also lasted between one to two minutes but this time I did remain calm.  It was another hour before Marley was able to finally settle down.

I crate Marley while at work.  After witnessing his first seizure, I was afraid to put him back into his wire crate for fear he would break his legs so I set up his soft sided crate used for travel until I could find something safer.  I found a round soft sided crate online they call a playpen.

On January 30, 2012, Marley had his third seizure at 4:30 a.m. except this time he was in his playpen downstairs.  I did not hear it although Otis, my other greyhound; certainly wanted me to know something was wrong by barking.  I did not actually witness Marley’s seizure; however, the aftereffects were the same.  Fifteen hours later at 7:30 p.m., Marley had his fourth seizure.  Marley was in his playpen with the door open.  Marley fortunately bounced off the side of the playpen knocking it onto its side (not collapsing) keeping him safe from injury.  With Marley’s first two seizures, when the seizure started, he jumped up and ran.  The main reason I purchased the playpen was to provide Marley with a crate that had a soft side for him to bounce off as opposed to possibly hitting a wall or falling down the stairs.  I cannot say enough about this playpen, it kept Marley safe twice on this January day.

I was able to get Marley seen by a neurologist the following day.  There is a long list of why dogs have seizures; a neurologist can narrow it down to a short list after examination.  Marley passed all the neurological tests, his blood work was “fantastic” but the antibody test revealed he was positive for Rocky Mountain Fever and Ehrlichiosis with a low titer count so an additional test was needed.  Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis can cause seizures so I had an additional tick panel run at the North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine.  Marley was negative.

At Marley’s age, a brain tumor was one of the most likely causes of seizures.  I had so many questions for the neurologist, but without Marley having an MRI, a lot of my questions could not be answered.  What would I do if he had a brain tumor?  I was not sure, but I wanted to know to get the answers to my many questions, so I opted to have the MRI done and am happy to report that Marley does not have a brain tumor.

Finding the exact cause of why a dog is having seizures requires a lot of testing, some invasive, and can be very expensive.  I will probably never know why Marley is having seizures (because current medical science does not know what causes epilepsy) although having the MRI and full tick panel eliminated a lot of my questions as to why.  Marley is currently on medication and doing extremely well.  Did I ever think I would be writing an article about seizures?  Never, however, Marley and I wanted to share our experience and what we have learned about seizures.

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