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Old 10-18-2012, 04:57 PM
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Default Jasper has been diagnosed w/Canine Epilepsy

Our sweet boy Jasper, for a long time now has suffered from some "behavioral issues" that were thought to be a form of anxiety disorder, but lately things had gotten worse and a pattern had developed or some might say a "chain of events" that would frequently repeat itself. Recently, Jasper also started having some upset tummy issues and although they passed, Ralph and I both thought it was time for a check-up and a full blood chemistry panel. Jasper was a very good boy for all of this! Despite the issues he has endured and his dislike for the vet he is no worse for wear. His blood work came back very good other than 1 Liver enzyme level being a bit high (ALT was 149)and 2 enzyme levels being off with his pancreas (1 was high and 1 was low). Organ functions were all excellent. All 3 levels being off may be due to the fact that Jasper had eaten with-in 12hrs of the blood work. Bottom line diagnosis is that Jasper is suffering from what is known as a canine form of Epilepsy. In his case he has partial focal seizures (meaning he DOES NOT violently convulse, salavate or loose unconsciousness), but his behavior does become altered/erratic, he compulsively air licks, shakes, becomes slightly disorientated, hunches, hides and goes through a few other symptoms in a pattern. It happens in 3 stages, so we know when it is about to happen, we see it occur and we know when it is passing (to put it in basic terms). At this point he is on 16.2mgs of phenobarbital twice a day (or every 12 hrs like clock work). It will take about 7-10 days to take effect, and for the 1st 3-5 days there has been a few side effects that should soon pass. We have been and will continue to keep written track of any changes we observe and take Jasper back to the vets in 30 days to determine if he is getting the correct dose of Phenobarbital. The goal is to keep Jasper in therapeutic range. We will also retest the liver and pancreas enzyme levels to make sure they are not too high or too low. Both tests will be done every month until Jasper stabilizes, then the med test will be done every 30 days and the enzymes will be done every 60/90 days if the levels maintain at a certain numbers. ***The next time the test is done for the Pheno. barb. it will be 4-6 hrs after Jasper has taken it> per FDA guidelines. The liver and enzymes test will be done at the same time. Our vet recommended not with holding food, so the ALT level of 149 will be used as a guideline.

There is a high risk of long term issues with the use of PB. so again the blood work will be necessary every 30 days , but there is also another drug called Potassium Bromide (KBr) that epileptic dog owners have had very good results with. This drug does not cause issues with the liver, but it can take up to 3-4 months to work. Thus, we have to stick with what Jasper is on now and perhaps in time ween him off the PB and gradually introduce the KBr into his therapeutic drug program. KBr also requires blood level checks monthly , but in the long term it might be a less risky alternative for him.

At this point, Jasper is doing relatively well on the PB although he does drink a lot more water which of course leads to frequent urination and he is sleeping more, but over all there is some improvement in him already. ***Not much but some...it has only been 6 days on the med.

The only other thing we plan on going over with out vet in terms of treatment is to have a full thyroid test done to make sure Jasper does not have Low Thyroid or Hypothyroidism because both can cause seizures if left untreated. What has caused the Epilepsy we will probably never know. Our objective now is just to treat it and help him through any seizures as best we can. Of course lots and lots of love along with extra amounts of TLC and prayers will be the order of the day for our Jasper

I am wondering if anyone here has ever owned an dog with epilepsy and if so maybe he/she can share some info or experience. Mommy,daddy, Moose and Ginger are taking excellent care of him but please send some positive vibes, thoughts and prayers to Jasper.

Jasper waiting in the car outside the vets office:

Jasper saying OMG daddy don't let the bad man take blood from me:

After the vets he got a nice walk and a bit of ice cream. You can see he was very happy about it!


Last edited by lynx8456; 10-18-2012 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:18 PM
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I am so sorry hun. My previous chi had epilepsy- grand mal seizures. It was horrible to watch. He was on phenobarbital for nearly a year before my mom decided she didn't want to risk his liver, etc.

With Max, he had to get blood drawn every 30 days, then after a few months every 60 days to check his liver function and other organ function. His epilepsy symptoms were controlled, but he did experience some side effects from the pheno.

His was thirsty a lot. We always made sure he had clean, fresh, COLD water. He got hot easily and was heat sensitive so he couldn't really do long walks. Other than that he was basically okay. When we took him off of it, he had 1 or 2 seizures a year. For us it wasn't worth the side effects. He was fine after his seizures and was in perfect health other than that and LP.

My sister has severe epilepsy and is on high doses of meds. I see what it's done to her. None of Max's side effects were that bad, thank goodness.

I'm sure Jasper will be okay. Please keep us updated. Hugs to you all.

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Old 10-18-2012, 05:28 PM
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Im sorry you are going through this!

My friend's Sheltie has epilepsy; he takes a pill twice a day every day at the same time each day but otherwise is fine. She has someone pop into the house if for ANY reason she cannot make the exact time for the pill, she's very diligent about it and he hasn't had a seizure for years now. He is 5 yrs old.

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Old 10-18-2012, 05:39 PM

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I'm sorry to hear that Laura.

Our last dog Ringo was a Cavalier King Charles, the very first day we got him my daughter came running into me that Ringo had lost the power of his back legs, after about 10 minutes he was fine, but I rushed him to the vet convinced that maybe he'd been dropped - but the vet couldn't find anything wrong with him - this continued happening over a year or so, but again by the time I'd get him to the vet he'd be fine.

Eventually the vet referred him to a vet hospital where they scanned and did all kinds of tests, which came back with a diagnosis of epilepsy. He was prescribed Phenobarbital. However over time his symptoms changed to all four of his limbs flailing and his eyes darting all over the place - but he did see to keep conscious all the time - gradually over the years, his Phenobarbital was increased and increased but he never had any kind of tests done - this all started about 16 or 17 years ago, I didn't know better and the vets never suggested it. Even on the Phenobarbital he always had fits, but maybe just 4 or 5 bad ones a year and a few mild ones.

At the age of 5 he got a heart murmur which is so common in Cavaliers - so every day he took his Phenobarbital and heart medication - he did sleep a lot, which I thought was normal until I got these 3 pups and realised they don't sleep half as much as he did.

But despite his epilepsy and heart issues, all round he was a happy, loyal, gentle and funny dog right up until he died at 12.5 years which is really good for a Cavalier, especially as he had all his issues from such a young age.

Whenever we went away we left him with a lovely dog minder, who minds 4 or 5 dogs in her home - we always told her to never leave Ringo on his own with the other dogs, I was fearful as to what their reaction to Ringo fitting would be - his fits would last about 15 minutes and could have been frightening to the other dogs. He was an only dog in our house.

I would be very hopeful that the diagnosis of epilepsy won't effect Jasper too much, you sound like you are totally on top of it, you are testing for things we never even thought of, considering other types of medicine and veterinary medicine is streets ahead of what it was when we had Ringo.

I wish you the best with Jasper
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Old 10-18-2012, 09:19 PM
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Hello! Sorry to hear about Jasper's diagnosis but I'm sure he will adjust fine to being on meds. I used to work at a couple different vets offices for about 7+ years, and one of the things I did consistently was handle dogs for lab draws for PB levels when owners brought them in for their routine checks. It was tedious in the beginning no doubt for all of the blood work appointments, but once the vets can figure out the appropriate dose for him, he should be in the clear. Figuring out that correct dose for "maintenance" is the hardest part, so once that's over with you'll be able to see which symptoms still linger. Meanwhile just keep lots of water available (a fountain is great, like the ones they sell for cats, to encourage hydration) and offer enough potty breaks to compensate for his increased fluids.
My "future" brother in law has a Chihuahua named Zip who is also epileptic. He had frequent seizures, and a few here and there during the 'adjustment' period of the meds, but now that he's on a regular dose he is symptom free. =)
I wish you all the best, Laura, and keep us posted on sweet Jasper!! <3

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Old 10-18-2012, 09:43 PM
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I owed a dog with idiopathic epilepsy and have fostered several others (I work with Italian Greyhound Rescue, and epilepsy is, unfortunately, one of the more common health problem in the breed). Phoebe, the IG I owned, used to have partial seizures every 6-8 weeks. She would wobble and sway for 5-10 minutes, then throw up and nap hard for a couple hours. Because the seizures were less than once a month, we opted not to use medication. However, when I transitioned everyone to raw feeding, her seizures reduced from one every 6-8 weeks to one every 12-18 months.

Another dog, a foster IG named Pepper, also had seizures. He came to me on phenobarbital, but blood tests showed his liver values were not great (he was 10), so we decided to try and wean him off the pheno and switch him to KBr. We did both at the same time, though we had to play with the KBr dose, because I found, after using it for about 2 months, he lost a lot of mobility in his back end and his legs would give out on him. Reading more about KBr, I guess this is an uncommon side effect that can occur, and when we reduced the amount of KBr he was getting, his mobility returned.
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Old 10-18-2012, 11:25 PM
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Awe! Poor baby Jasper!! It sure sounds like you've got everything under control!! Way to go mommy & daddy!! Sending healing prayers your way! Don't have no experience with epilepsy. Sorry.

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Old 10-18-2012, 11:29 PM
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Laura ...I am so sorry to hear about Jaspars diagnoses....I pray the PB is effective and his liver enzymes remain within an acceptable range.....maybe in a few months you will be able to try the KBr....I know you and Ralph will be working closely with your DVM....he looks so happy in the last 2 pics..he knew he was going to get a treat for being such a brave boy.....hugs to him from the girls....
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