The best-laid plans of mice and men (and all too often dog moms) often go awry. Such was the case last week. I had a terrific post touting the progress Elsa was making both emotionally as well as with her epilepsy on the 3-month anniversary of her being seizure free (and coincidently her 4-month anniversary being at the Ranch). Then BAM! A seizure episode on the exact anniversary date. Phooey.
Not only is that seizure episode troubling in and of itself, it is complicated by the fact that Elsa’s brain gets completely reset in terms of her emotional progress toward learning how to be a dog. Gone, as in wiped out, back to square one. Think of a computer that has been rebooted without being backed-up. A dog that was adjusting and actually learning steps in how to be a dog…erased. She lost all cognition of the fact she was housebroken. Sudden movements made her skittish. She was fearful, reverting to her puppy mill behavior and the connection between her brain and her limbs wasn’t functioning all that well. She was reluctant to take treats from my hand again, clearly preferring them to be laid in her bowl or on the floor. I’d been through this before so I knew what to expect. What I hadn’t counted on it was it being worse than earlier recoveries because of other complications. Nor did I expect this to take such a toll on me which explains why there were no substantive posts last week.
While Elsa’s seizures were not nearly as severe this time, they still were cluster seizures which can be fatal if not treated. Only 2-3% of all dogs have epilepsy, so Elsa apparently is one of those extra special pups. We did all the right things when the ictal stage began, including application of ice packs so as to keep her temperature from rising, which can have dangerous consequences. Dehydration often occurs during this time upon overheating so when it appeared the seizures were not going to end soon without medical intervention, I gathered her up and took off for our vet’s office. When a dog is in full seizure mode, walking into their office where many dogs are waiting for their Monday morning appointment runs the risk of all sorts of complications. The other dogs sense something is amiss, which puts Elsa at risk. Trying to weigh her so as to determine the appropriate dosage of medication to stop the seizures is yet another challenge. Not to mention carrying a 51 lb. dog kicking erratically, with partial loss of consciousness and other dog seizure symptoms makes for an interesting entry. Add to that a wet slippery snowstorm that arrived at the same time and trying to get from a full parking lot at the bottom of a slight slope into a full waiting room without falling down added to my anxiety. The vet ran a full blood panel once the Grand Mal seizures were abated to be sure there was no major organ damage. A titer test covering her Phenobarb levels was also taken and showed they were well in the appropriate range so we won’t be increasing her dosage, at least for now. As it turned out though, she apparently came down with a secondary infection resulting in bloody diarrhea so an antibiotic was prescribed later along with a probiotic for the next couple of weeks and together with those two strategies plus a bland diet seem to have cleared that hiccup for the most part, though that’s always day to day.
While waiting for Elsa to move toward recovery, I lost a boatload of sleep, staying up until all hours of the night monitoring for seizures and bathroom breaks. The house is for basically hardwood and tile surfaces but there are numerous area rugs for comfort. Each of which have been shampooed multiple times. I think we’re back on the ‘I’m a good girl’ now road but I’ve noticed I’m also hyper-alert to any idle paws wandering around.
Ataxia is one of the biggest side effects we’ve encountered when going through each reset process, and Elsa’s mobility has been a little wonky while she recovers. She’s better now although the vet did a thorough exam of her hips which seem to have some issues. We’ll be monitoring them as we move forward. The biggest symptom in the post seizure reset period is the brain fogginess that seems to beseige my little Ninja. She often stares out into space and it takes a gentle prodding sometimes to gain her attention. But she’s doing better and that’s the bottom line.
Sleep well and rest, sweet Elsa. You have a brother who’s waiting to be annoyed.
Live, love, bark! <3