Life with a Seizure Dog

Tate, our most recent Greyhound, who joined our pack in fall 2010 is a seizure dog. The first seizure was in April 2011, and they have happened ever since. Even with medications, we can somewhat control the frequency of seizures, but they will likely be part of living with him until he crosses the Rainbow bridge, a day that is hopefully far in the future.

At first they were terrifying, a loud scream, a three or four minute period of convulsing, and a long recovery period. The first one we naturally ran him to the emergency vet. He was there overnight for observation (most of Tate’s seizures are at bed time, when he is just dozing off). Nothing out of the ordinary.

We had hoped it was a one off event, but the second seizure came about 3 weeks later when Tate was at boarding. Fortunately the lady we boarded with was on top of the seizure, and was able to drag him afterwards to our vet.

So began a long juggling act of medications and dosages to control the issue. Starting with Phenobarbital, the standard medication, he was under control for several months, until September 2011. But then the frequency increased drastically. Finally in early 2012, he was having seizures every couple of weeks.

Fearing the worst, we wanted to rule out tumors in his brain (a common cause for escalating seizures), so we had an MRI done. Good news was that no abnormalities were detected. No tumors, no cancers, no deformities, thus we knew that his seizures were just canine epilepsy.

At that time we also started him using Kepra, a human anti-seizure medication in conjunction with his phenobarbital.

We have been monitoring his frequency with our veterinarians, and adjusting his medication dosages. However, we have been concerned about the dosage of phenobarbital, knowing that long term it will destroy his liver function. Now we are working on tapering off the phenobarbital, and will probably add a second anti seizure medication.

The day after a seizure? Tate is completely normal. You wouldn’t be able to tell that anything happened.

Seizures are frightening. Particularly in large dogs, the amount of energy they expend is massive. But you must remember that when they come out of it, they really have no recollection of what happened, and are completely disoriented, blind, and unsure of themselves. I am glad we have been there to help him out of the process.

Like with epilepsy in people, the ultimate cause is elusive.