Sam here with an update on my baby sister, Miss Elsa. We encountered a bit of a ‘hiccup’ over the weekend. Last Friday marked the 2-week mark for bringing her home and she had been making lots of progress on the socialization dog-o-meter. Friday evening she started having seizures. Mom and dad whisked her up and took her to the ER vet. While they were both very concerned about Elsa, they both remained calm until the tech took her to begin anti-convulsive drugs. Then mom lost it. She sobbed, her eyes got puffy, she couldn’t speak. How can something so inexplicably rotten happen to such a lovely girl you ask? No doubt because of genetics. If behavioral issues don’t shanghai puppy mill dogs, health issues certainly will. Since we have no idea of Elsa’s pawrents or lineage, we can only presume the worst. Damn puppy mills! Grr.
Elsa suffered multiple cluster seizures, meaning she’d start to come out of one and then immediately move back into another. These can be very serious neurologically speaking so the vet gave Elsa a big dose of Valium. Valium is frequently used to stop seizures right away and then they started her on a dosage of Phenobarbital along with fluids. Phenobarb is often used in the treatment and for preventing future seizures. One drawback is it pretty much resets the clock on brain activity and all of Elsa’s socialization progress went ‘poof!’ Bottom line…we went back to square one. That initial dosage also seemed to give her quite the ‘hangover.’ She’s has been a little unsteady on her feet. Her back-end hadn’t quite been receiving messages from the brain to move in conjunction with the front half. She slept a lot.
At first her legs splayed out but then she started getting used to the meds. I heard something about “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” but really don’t know what that means. We were able to bring our little girl home the next day where she slept and stumbled…repeatedly. Mom starting calling her Weebles. I still called her a pain in the tuchas but sure missed her going on my walks. I was kind of getting used to
the brat her.
After a few days, the fog seemed to lift a bit and “Weebles,” I mean Elsa’s, personality started coming back. She began playing with some of my toys (the nerve!) and re-learned how to jump up on the sofa after a couple fails. She’s not fully coordinated yet, but seems to improve daily. I hope her goofy personality comes back, I think it is since she barked back at the mean Akitas that live next door who alway try to scare us when we go outside. Man those dogs scare me and I’m just glad my little sister
protected me decided she’s not taking any guff from them. Mom started taking Elsa for short walks yesterday and she started tracking the squirrel scents shortly after starting our walk. It made my mom smile and whenever she smiles, I smile.
Mom took my sister back to our regular ‘dogtor’ to follow-up after our weekend of hell. Dr. Olivia fell in love with her for being super patient and letting her poke and probe her from stem to stern. She thought she was in good shape considering what she’d been through and thought the initial diagnosis of “idiopathic epilepsy” was probably accurate. That’s what they call it when they can’t identify any other cause for seizures. She goes back in 3 weeks to have her blood retested and to make sure her blood levels are within therapeutic range. Phenobarb inhibits seizures by decreasing neuron activity. Sadly, it affects all neurons and its side effects are well documented. Sedation, lethargy, excessive urination and thirst plus a loss of coordination or hind end weakness are common long-term side effects. Monitoring her blood levels for liver damage will be critical and will need to be part of her ongoing healthcare. Long term liver damage can become irreversible and even fatal so we have to really watch for that.
Miss Elsa must be feeling more like herself (whatever that is-hard to tell since we just got her) since she has been dragging shoes and MY toys out and chewing on them. It’s kind of exciting to have a soul-mate leather chewer in the family though.
Elsa isn’t the first dog mom diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy but at least she kind of knows what to expect, though it’s been over 20 years ago. It’s still scary to witness seizures knowing the potential problems that come with treatment. We’re staying optimistic about Elsa’s condition and hoping for the best. It’s all we can do.
Have you ever had a dog with epilepsy? Got any tips or thoughts to share?
Live, love, bark! <3