***This protocol is what we follow for Porter. Please do not follow this protocol without first consulting your dog’s primary veterinarian and/or neurologist.***
******If questioning at all – go to an emergency veterinary service.
Single seizure in a day with no differences or complications
just contact doctors to let them know
Contact Dr. C & Dr. E immediately and go to ER if the following occurs with Porter:
2 seizures within a day
Dogs that have more than one seizure in a 24-hour period are experiencing “cluster” seizures. This requires immediate veterinary attention, and you should take your dog to a veterinary hospital right away for examination
a seizure lasting 3 mins or more
not coming out of seizure at all or having difficulty coming out of it
comes out of one seizure and immediately goes into another
If Porter is no longer seizing, we still bring him to the ER if the following circumstances are occurring:
The postictal stage can last up to 24 hours in some dogs. However, if we still see postictal symptoms after 12 hours but no seizures – this warrants a visit to the ER
If Porter comes out of the postictal phase, and then seems to go back into the postictal phase
If Porter is out of the postictal phase and has another seizure
VERY important things to report to a doctor:
More than one seizure in a day
More than 1 seizure per month
***This protocol is what we follow for Porter. Please do not follow this protocol without first consulting your dog’s primary veterinarian and/or neurologist.***
***Please consult your dog’s primary veterinarian and/or neurologist about choosing the best medication(s) and/or supplements for your dog’s unique needs. Never give your dog a drug or supplement without first speaking to your dog’s medical team***
Not every medication is for every dog with epilepsy which is why it is very important that you carefully consult your dog’s medical team prior to starting any drug or supplement. Every dog can react differently to medicinal and supplemental changes. Porter was on Phenobarbital , Gabapentin, and Potassium Bromide in the past with no success. These drugs did not change his seizure patterns or frequency. In addition, Porter had severe negative medical and behavioral changes in response to these medications. These included:
accidents in his crate that he was completely unaware of
dogs who typically have seizures at night or in the early morning can benefit from a small snack and some melatonin before bedtime. The food helps to keep blood sugar stabilized and the melatonin assists in maintaining a regular sleep pattern.
Porter has had extensive testing throughout his battle with epilepsy.
blood test that provides information about the different cell types in blood
there are several abnormalities on a CBC that might explain seizures
Porter’s CBC was normal
full chem profile
Analyzing various substances (such as proteins, enzymes, fats, sugars, hormones, electrolytes, etc.) provides information about the health of the body’s organs and tissues such as the liver, kidney, and pancreas and aids in detecting diabetes and other metabolic diseases
Porter’s chem profile was normal
evaluates the chemical and physical properties of urine.
necessary for the proper interpretation of the biochemistry profile, especially in a dog that might have seizures due to kidney disease, diabetes, or other metabolic disorders.
Your dog has a seizure… what do you do (or NOT do)?!
These Do’s and Don’ts are just suggestions. As always, what is best for you and your dog should be discussed in detail with your veterinarian. Also, these are not listed in any particular order.
DO remain calm (as hard as it may seem). This can be difficult, but your dog’s health depends on your ability to focus.
DO contact your vet or bring your dog to the ER if you are questioning in any way if the dog needs medical attention
DO contact your vet and/or bring your dog to the ER if
the seizure lasts more than 3 minutes
your dog has 2 seizures within a day
your dog is having difficulty coming out of a seizure
your dog comes out of one seizure and goes immediately into another
DO time how long your dog’s seizures last and record them in a seizure diary. Knowing when your dog’s seizure started and how long it lasted will give your veterinarian important information about your dog’s symptoms.
DO film your dog’s seizures when safely possible and show the videos to your vet. This will help you time the seizure. It will also assist the doctor in identifying the type of seizure and better equip them to advise you.
DO remove as many sensory stimuli as possible such as turning the television off and turning down the lights
DO try and make sure that your dog is not in a position to injure themselves. Keep them away from stairs, cushion their head if needed (Be sure to keep hands away from the dog’s mouth), and move furniture or dangerous objects, etc. away from the dog
DO monitor your pet closely so he doesn’t injure himself; he will be disoriented and unsure of what is happening.
DON’T put your hand near your dog’s mouth while it is having a seizure. Do not put your hands near your dog’s mouth or put their tongue back in their mouth. Your dog is unconscious during this time and has no control. You could be badly bitten.
DON’T give your dog additional medication without speaking to your vet first, unless this protocol was already set in place as an action plan by your dog’s medical team
DON’T try to move the dog unless the dog’s safety is in danger (going to fall down stairs, etc)
DON’T try to restrain the dog
DON’T try to give the dog food or water until they are fully alert
1) The pre-ictal phase(aura), is a period of altered behavior in which the dog may hide, appear nervous, or seek out the owner. It may be restless, nervous, whining, shaking, or salivating. This may last a few seconds to a few hours. This period precedes the seizure activity, as if the dog senses that something is about to occur.
2) The ictal phase can last from a few seconds to several minutes, and can vary in appearance. The ictal phase can range from mild changes in mental awareness, such as a dazed look, mild shaking, staring aimlessly, licking lips, to a complete loss of consciousness and body function. If the dog experiences a grand mal, or full-blown seizure with loss of consciousness, all of the muscles of the body move spastically and erratically. The dog usually falls over on its side and paddles its legs while seeming to be otherwise paralyzed. The head will often be drawn backward. Urination, defecation, and salivation may occur. If the seizure has not stopped within five minutes, the dog is said to be in status epilepticus or prolonged seizure (see below).
3) During the post-ictal phase or the period immediately after the end of the seizure, there is confusion, disorientation, salivation, pacing, restlessness, or even temporary blindness. There is no direct correlation between the severity of the seizure and the duration of the post-ictal phase.
As a pet owner, seeing your dog have a seizure can be one of the most frightening experiences you’ll have. Seizures are often sudden, seemingly occur without reason and leave you feeling helpless as the owner.
There are a variety of different types of seizures found in dogs. However, one very important type of dog seizure to be aware of is cluster seizures.
What are the types of seizures in dogs?
Unfortunately, there are actually several different types of seizures found in dogs, and they can vary greatly in severity. It’s valuable to be able to differentiate the different types of dog seizures so you can have an idea of what type of treatment and outcome to expect.
Epilepsy in Dogs
Believe it or not, epilepsy itself is actually NOT a type of seizure, rather a condition that often causes repeated bouts of seizures. The term “epilepsy” refers to recurrent seizures that originate in the brain. There are different forms of canine epilepsy as well, but again, these are not types of seizures themselves.
Grand Mal Seizures
In a generalized seizure, the dog will fall, lose consciousness, and extend his limbs out rigidly. The dog may also have sudden apnea, meaning he will briefly stop breathing. This will generally last for around 10 to 30 seconds. Afterwards, the dog will begin paddling his limbs or start chewing. He may also have dilated pupils, salivate, urinate or defecate.
A mild seizure begins the same way as a grand mal seizure but will typically not involve the extension of the limbs or paddling. The dog usually will not lose consciousness. Mild and grand mal seizures are most often associated with epilepsy.
Petit Mal Seizure
Also known as an absence seizure, petit mal seizures are very rarely recognized in dogs. These seizures are very brief, lasting just seconds, and can manifest as a brief period of unconsciousness, loss of muscle tone, blank stare, or possibly even an upward rotation of the eyes.
During a partial seizure, the associated movements will only be seen in one area of the body. This can be the movement of one limb, a muscle jerking, a turning of the head or bending the trunk to one side or even facial twitches. Partial seizures can progress to generalized seizures and are associated with secondary epilepsy.
Complex Partial Seizures
These seizures are notable for the strange or complex behaviors that they repeatedly cause. In humans, complex partial seizures cause us to distort our thought perception, and certain emotions, like fear.
When they happen to dogs, they might be displayed as lip-smacking, chewing, fly biting, aggression, vocalization, frightened running, covering or hiding. Dogs may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, blindness, unusual thirst or appetite or biting.
These can last minutes or even hours, and can be followed by or progress to a generalized seizure. Like partial seizures, complex partial seizures are also closely associated with secondary epilepsy.
Colloquially known as simply “status,” this type of dog seizure can occur either as a series of multiple seizures within a short timeframe with no periods of normal consciousness in between, or as one continuous seizure that can last up to 30 minutes.
Although closely related to primary and secondary epilepsy, status can sometimes occur suddenly in dogs that have no history of seizures or brain injury. Status can often be difficult to differentiate from cluster seizures. These seizures are considered life-threatening emergencies.
Cluster seizures in dogs occur when a dog experiences multiple seizures within a short period of time, generally considered within a 24-hour window. Like status epilepticus, cluster seizures should be considered life threatening. These seizures are typically brief and isolated, but can also be more serious. Large breed dogs tend to be the most susceptible to cluster seizures.
When a dog experiences cluster seizures, he will usually have one, seem to recover, and then have another a few hours later. However, the dog never fully recovers from the first seizure before the second strikes. This can continue on and on until the dog is in critical condition. With the aforementioned status epilepticus, these seizures won’t be spread out, but will be one long seizure that doesn’t stop. Both are true emergencies.
Cluster seizures can be managed with medication, but the cause of the seizures must first be established before any medication can be prescribed.
What causes cluster seizures in dogs?
Cluster seizures in dogs are often caused by a problem in the dog’s brain, such as a tumor that interferes with the communication between parts of the brain. They can also stem from a lack of oxygen in the brain, low glucose level in the blood, known as hypoglycemia, or hypothyroidism, which is a deficit of thyroid hormone production.
If the seizures seem to happen for no apparent reason, then idiopathic epilepsy may be the cause. This type of epilepsy is difficult to detect because it leaves no lesions or lasting damage on the brain. Genetics can also be a factor in dogs having seizures, but this is not yet absolutely proven.
What dogs have cluster seizures?
Any dog of any age and breed can experience cluster seizures, but they are most often seen in middle-aged dogs. Breeds like Border Collies, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, and Boxers are known to be susceptible. Research has actually shown that male dogs are more prone to cluster seizures than females.
What are the symptoms of seizures in dogs?
It’s important to note that most seizures are brief, and that your dog can live a normal life when given the proper dog seizure treatment. However, cluster seizures are much more serious, and can cause serious brain damage, or worse.
A dog experiencing a seizure will most often suddenly collapse, exhibit abnormal movement in its limbs, excessive drooling and uncontrollable jaw movement, as well as incontinence. The dog will usually be unconscious and unresponsive, and have no control over its spasms.
In cluster seizures, the dog will seem to recover between seizures, although he will be very tired and lethargic, potentially even staggering, as seizures are exhausting events.
Though their demeanor will otherwise seem fine, they do not fully recover in between seizures and can get progressively worse. If they don’t regain consciousness at all, or seem to have a prolonged seizure lasting up to 30 minutes, this is not a cluster seizure, but status epilepticus, which is extremely dangerous to your dog and can be life threatening.
How are cluster seizures diagnosed?
Dogs that have encountered cluster seizures should be brought into the veterinarian immediately. Once there, your vet will give your dog a glucose test. Often, your vet will also test to see if your dog has ingested poison.
A lot of the diagnosis will come down to what you are able to report to your vet when you bring your dog in. Pay attention to the symptoms your dog displayed during, before, and after a seizure. If you suspect cluster seizures, tell your veterinarian why and that will help them make a proper diagnosis.
Your vet may also conduct a CT scan or an MRI to see if there are any brain tumors or lesions. Since cluster seizures are so serious, you can expect a full round of testing.
How to Treat Cluster Seizures in Dogs
Medication will be prescribed by your veterinarian in order to treat a dog that is experiencing cluster seizures, but there are also a few things you can do at home to help care for your pet.
If you happen to notice your dog having a seizure, you can spring into action if necessary. Make sure your dog isn’t near anything sharp or close to stairs. Note your dog’s behavior during the seizure and, if possible, try to pinpoint the trigger. Comfort your dog after the seizure and see your vet immediately, especially if another seizure occurs.
If your dog has had cluster seizures, you should also be sure to monitor his other bodily functions. Things you’ll want to monitor include:
“Epilepsy” is a general term for neurological disorders that are characterized by recurrent seizures. In some cases, the seizures are caused by trauma, a toxin, a brain tumor, an infection, or an issue with your dog’s blood, kidneys, or other organs. At other times, the epilepsy is referred to as “idiopathic,” which simply means that there is no identifiable, underlying cause.
Seizures commonly fall into two categories: generalized (grand mal) or partial (focal). Generalized seizures commonly appear as involuntary jerking or twitching movements of all four limbs with loss of consciousness. Partial seizures may involve one limb, side of the body, or face. Partial seizures may progress to generalized seizures. Seizures may also result in abnormal behavior, vocalization, salivation, chomping/chewing, and involuntary urination and defecation.
Dogs with idiopathic epilepsy typically have their first seizures between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. Though idiopathic epilepsy can occur in any breed, it is considered an inheritable disease in many breeds and in some breeds a genetic basis has been identified. Therefore, dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy should not be used for breeding. Commonly affected breeds include:
Is a seizure painful or dangerous to the dog?
Despite the dramatic and violent appearance of a seizure, seizures are not painful, although the dog may feel confusion and perhaps panic. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not swallow their tongues during a seizure. If you put your fingers or an object into its mouth, you will not help your pet and you run a high risk of being bitten very badly or of injuring your dog. The important thing is to keep the dog from falling or hurting itself by knocking objects onto itself. As long as it is on the floor or ground, there is little chance of harm occurring.
A single seizure is rarely dangerous to the dog. However, if the dog has multiple seizures within a short period of time (cluster seizures), or if a seizure continues for longer than a few minutes, the body temperature begins to rise. If hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) develops secondary to a seizure, another set of problems need to be addressed.
Symptoms Prolonged seizures lasting more than 5 minutes or two or more consecutive seizures without full recovery are referred to as status epilepticus. This is a true emergency and you should seek immediate veterinary care for your pet. Two or more seizures in 24 hours are referred to as cluster seizures and are an indication for beginning anti-seizure medication.
In dogs, seizures often occur in three distinct phases:
The first is called the aural phase and the most common signs are behavioral changes. These changes may be subtle and include restlessness, attention seeking or anxious behavior.
The second phase, called the ictal phase, is when the seizure itself takes place. A seizure can last from just a few seconds to several minutes.
The final phase is called the postictal phase, which occurs after the seizure. During this phase, your dog may seem restless, uncoordinated and/or disoriented. Occasionally, temporary blindness, deafness or other neurologic abnormalities may occur.
It may be difficult to watch your pet have a seizure but most are of short duration and cause no permanent harm. Avoid being bitten by keeping your hands away from your pet’s mouth during a seizure. If it can be done safely, provide padding and move your pet away from stairs to prevent injury.
Diagnosis Your veterinarian will take a complete history and perform a thorough physical and neurological exam to determine if there is an identifiable, underlying cause of your dog’s seizure.
In order to do so, the following tests may be recommended:
Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels and electrolytes
A complete blood count to screen for infection, inflammation, anemia, and other blood-related conditions
PCR testing and/or serology to evaluate for infectious diseases that may cause seizures
Referral to a neurologist for advanced testing including MRI and cerebrospinal fluid analysis
Cultures, PCR testing, and other specialized tests that can identify if specific parasites or diseases could be the cause
Treatment Epilepsy cannot be cured, but it can usually be controlled with anticonvulsant drugs. If your veterinarian determines that your dog’s epilepsy is idiopathic, one or more of the following medications may be prescribed:
Phenobarbital helps reduce the frequency of your dog’s seizures and is the most prescribed medication for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. It is generally a well-tolerated drug.
Potassium bromide is another seizure medication that may be added to your dog’s treatment, if she does not respond well to phenobarbital alone.
With these medications, as with all drugs, some patients experience side effects. In order to make sure an adequate dose is being given, and to monitor for side effects, it is important that blood levels of each medication as well as complete blood counts and blood chemistry profiles be monitored periodically. Liver function tests may also be indicated. Your veterinarian will advise what monitoring needs to be done and how often. Medication dosages should not be changed without talking to your veterinarian.
Dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy may require treatment for life, and sometimes more than one drug is needed for adequate seizure control. And while many dogs are well controlled, some are not despite multiple medications. In addition, adequate seizure control does not necessarily guarantee that a dog will be entirely seizure free. The degree of seizure control may need to be balanced against potential side effects of the medications.
Management Besides medication, there are many ways for you, yourself, to help manage your pet’s epilepsy:
Maintain a seizure log that lists date, time, length and severity of seizures as well as videotape and share this with your veterinarian
Do not change or discontinue medications without consulting your veterinarian
Have blood work and other lab work done when recommended by your veterinarian
Consult your veterinarian whenever you notice a change in your pet’s condition
Put a medical alert tag on your pet’s collar so that if he becomes lost, whoever finds him will be aware of their seizure disorder and need for medication.
Several treatments are available for pets with epilepsy. By working closely with your veterinarian, you can maximize the chances of controlling the disorder and giving your pet a long, happy, and comfortable life.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
January 1, 2019 was unseasonably warm here, so Margarita kicked off 2019 with a 6.5 mile hike at Franklin Parker Preserve , a 16 square mile former cranberry farm located in the heart of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
We had never hiked here before, and were surprised throughout our hike with so many exciting things!
First, we came across a suspension bridge to cross.
The forest trails were gorgeous.
We came across random huge Adirondack chairs to take a rest along our path! Next time we will have to plan to stop and eat lunch here!
There was even an abandoned railroad.
The old cranberry bogs were mesmerizing, especially as the sun began to set.
There was a flooded area and Margarita refused to go through the running water, so I had to carry her.
This is a hike we will definitely be doing again with some of our other pups!