Great dane had a seizure last night - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-27-2010, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Our 2 year old great dane had a seizure at midnight last night. Freaked us out, honestly! It lasted 2 minutes or less, but was pretty violent, there was froth and blood all over my hardwood floor (she bit her lip).

When it was over she at first was calm and panting, then she got panicked and tried to get up, but her back legs wouldn't work (plus she couldn't get any footing on the frothy/bloody floor). We tried to help her get up and get outside (thinking she might start peeing or pooping at any second) and she started snapping at us (did bite my husband, but not badly). Then we got her outside and she started stumbling around and running into things, almost like she was blind temporarily. Her reactions were slow and over-exaggerated for about an hour, and she was still snapping at my husband (although not at me, she was startling away from me, but not trying to bite). We got her calm, got her to drink some water, then helped her back into the house.

By this time an hour had passed, she was able to walk again, able to see again, not panting heavily anymore, etc. She drank some more water but was still very unsettled. She ended up pacing the house until 2am despite all my attempts to get her to settle down onto the couch.

This morning at 5:30am I got up for work and she was sound asleep. At 6am I woke her up to put her outside and she was acting normally, a little weak perhaps, but otherwise normal. She went outside, peed, drank some more water, then came in and got back on the couch.

This is her second seizure. She had one about a month ago, but at the time she had been on my mom's farm for 2 weeks and had run herself to the ground, I blamed it on heat exhaustion. It was really hot, and she was so excited being on a huge farm that she was being MUCH more active than normal for her.

She's always been a very thin dog, she's rather tall for a female at 33in at the shoulders, but weighs less than 100lbs. The vet was okay with her low weight since she's so young, but we expected her to start gaining more weight by this age. Now with two seizures (and no explanation for this second one, she was asleep on the couch in the air conditioning, obviously not overheated or exhausted) and us unable to get any weight no her...I'm worried!

We're taking her to the vet, obviously, but I am nervous. I keep thinking about how violent that seizure was, and if one of the kids had been on the floor playing when it happened, we'd be dealing with an injury. I completely understand why she was biting at my husband, and she shows no signs of that this morning, but it still bothers me. I know that often seizures can be controlled with medication, but I'm worried that it might take us a while to find the right med or the right dosage, and we can't deal with her having seizures at home around the kids. I don't want to make her an outside dog, she's a family pet that has always been fully integrated with us. She's just so BIG, so her having a seizure can tear apart a room in minutes, and injure anyone near her. I don't want to have to re-home her, it would kill me, but I guess I have to consider that maybe she needs a home with no kids that she could accidentally hurt

Mommy to BigBoy Ian (3-17-05) ; LittleBoy Connor (3-3-07) (DiGeorge/VCFS):; BabyBoy Gavin (10-3-09) x3 AngelBaby (1-7-06)
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Old 07-27-2010, 11:18 AM
 
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honestly, I wouldnt be thinking about rehoming until you figure out whats going on. There are a ton of danes in rescue and one with unknown seizures is not going to be easy to adopt, or a known illness or disorder even. I dont mean for this to sound harsh, but its the truth. And most definitely can not make a dane and outside dog.

As kids and dogs shouldnt be alone together anyways, until you figure it out just keep an extra close eye on them...if she starts to go into a seizure, clear the kids out and keep everyone separated until she is back. I have a friend who had a dog who has pretty violent seizures...he will attack when in one or coming out...they just basically leave the room until he comes back. Not saying its easy, but at this point anyway it should be manageable.

Again, I dont mean for this to sound mean...I guess I am just a little put off by the tone, but I realize its the internet and things get lost in the reading. Your post seemed to me not a help, whats wrong and how do I handle it but a uh-oh there is a problem, have to rehome.

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Old 07-27-2010, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Again, I dont mean for this to sound mean...I guess I am just a little put off by the tone, but I realize its the internet and things get lost in the reading. Your post seemed to me not a help, whats wrong and how do I handle it but a uh-oh there is a problem, have to rehome.
My goodness. I was up with my dog until 2am then up for work at 5:30am, plus caring for my three kids this morning. So yeah...sorry if my post was off-putting. I'm tired, I'm worried, I'm stressed. And my dog is home alone right now, hopefully sleeping.

I am not taking her to a shelter today, I am taking her to a vet, and hoping like mad that they say it's something very easy (maybe some virus she has). I really hope it's not epilepsy, because that is a risk that we will have to consider.

I'm not saying "what's wrong and how do I handle it" because I'm assuming that no one online can tell me that! Hence why she has a vet appt. Depending on what the vet says, I might be back later to ask for experience or advice, but for now I was just venting and looking for sympathy that something is wrong with our beloved pet.

My very large, usually extremely calm dog had a violent seizure and took hours to recover from, during which time she was (understandably) aggressive to my husband. My heart was in my stomach last night as the thought of having to find a new home for her occured to me. But if there's an increased chance that this could happen again, then I have to consider my childrens' safety.

You say dogs and kids shouldn't be alone together, but often she is laying on the couch while the kids are sitting next to her, or on the floor playing, or whatever. If any of the kids had been in a 5ft radius of her last night, it happened so quickly that there's no way I could have safely removed them all without risking someone getting hurt.

I am PRAYING that this is something simple and "fixable". But yes, my mind is going to all alternatives right now. She literally trashed our entire living room in minutes during this seizure, then required our attention for 2 hours before we felt safe leaving her so we could go to bed.

http://blockboys.blogspot.com/2008/1...uge-puppy.html

She is a very-much loved member of our family.

Mommy to BigBoy Ian (3-17-05) ; LittleBoy Connor (3-3-07) (DiGeorge/VCFS):; BabyBoy Gavin (10-3-09) x3 AngelBaby (1-7-06)
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Old 07-27-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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Oh man, I'm sorry. That happened to our whippet, the seizure and aftermath description is sadly familiar. He had two seizures at about 2 yrs old, and was put on phenobarbital. No more seizures for 4-5 months, then he started having them again, in clusters of 2-3 in one day, we were given a prescription of valium to use in this scenario to stop the seizure chain and help him calm down afterward. This seizure day occurred more and more frequently until it was about once a week, at which point he was put on potassium bromide as well as the phenobarbital. This seemed to space out the seizure days, but they were still every 3-4 weeks. Soon afterward, he died of heart failure at 3 yrs old, not really sure if it was related to the seizures or not.

About the safety - at least in our case, with a not as large dog, there was no safety concern. During the seizure, the only danger I can think of is flailing legs and involuntary snapping jaws, but as long as the kids can immediately leave the area at any sign of seizure, I don't think there is much danger. He was more prone to biting right afterward as you said, but only if you tried to interfere with him or make him do something. If he was left alone (well, I mean supervised but not touching him) he would not bite. They weren't agressive bites, but "hey, leave me alone" bites. Again, supervision to make sure the kids leave the room as soon as a seizure starts would solve the problem.

So although there was no safety issue for us, it definitely was a pain to deal with, on top of the worry for the dog's health. There was the mess of froth and sometimes urine after the seizure, and the restless, anxious, and forgetful dog to supervise afterward, even if it was the middle of the night. The valium did cut down on the length of time of this period before he would get back his normal personality and go to sleep. There was also worry over leaving the house when we didn't know if he might seize. And of course, there were a lot of vet bills. The medication itself was not very expensive. Do go to a human pharmacy with a prescription though, this is a lot cheaper than buying from the vet. The expense was more from frequent vet visits with blood tests for monitoring medication levels, and trying to rule out other solvable causes was expensive too.

I think our experience, where we were never able to stop the seizures with medication, is the unusual one though. I think the majority of seizure cases can be controlled by medication, where the dog is on medication for the rest of their life, but never or rarely seize. I hope your dog falls into this category.

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Old 07-27-2010, 12:00 PM
 
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About the safety - at least in our case, with a not as large dog, there was no safety concern. During the seizure, the only danger I can think of is flailing legs and involuntary snapping jaws, but as long as the kids can immediately leave the area at any sign of seizure, I don't think there is much danger. He was more prone to biting right afterward as you said, but only if you tried to interfere with him or make him do something. If he was left alone (well, I mean supervised but not touching him) he would not bite. They weren't agressive bites, but "hey, leave me alone" bites. Again, supervision to make sure the kids leave the room as soon as a seizure starts would solve the problem.

So although there was no safety issue for us, it definitely was a pain to deal with, on top of the worry for the dog's health. There was the mess of froth and sometimes urine after the seizure, and the restless, anxious, and forgetful dog to supervise afterward, even if it was the middle of the night. The valium did cut down on the length of time of this period before he would get back his normal personality and go to sleep. There was also worry over leaving the house when we didn't know if he might seize. And of course, there were a lot of vet bills. The medication itself was not very expensive. Do go to a human pharmacy with a prescription though, this is a lot cheaper than buying from the vet. The expense was more from frequent vet visits with blood tests for monitoring medication levels, and trying to rule out other solvable causes was expensive too.
This better explains what I was trying to say regarding management.

And to the OP, I never meant to imply you didnt love or care for your dog. I realize you were up all night. I also know seizures are horribly scary to witness. All I was trying to say is rehoming most likely isnt a good option.

She is really beautiful. The weight thing may be a bit of a concern too, and danes are notoriously hard keepers. If you are interested, pm me and I can send you a link to a very informative dane forum that may have some help with the weight issues if you are looking for that.

Again, I am sorry if what I wrote came across harsh. I admit to being a bit on edge this week as on another forum I am on there has been a rash of people looking for any and all excuses to rehome (in their case get rid of) their dogs at any sign of the dog not being perfect

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Old 07-27-2010, 12:04 PM
 
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I'm crying as I read your post. We had a "rotten retriever", (1/2 rottie, 1/2 golden), who was the sweetest dog in the world. She was also large, well over 100 pounds. When she was about 2, we took her with us to my husband's grandfather's house for July 4, and it was very hot, 100*. A few days later, she had a seizure. They continued for the rest of her life. I always wondered if the heat somehow triggered it.

Anyway, she went through some testing at the vet, ended up costing a couple of thousand dollars. We put her on phenobarbitol and it controlled the seizures fairly well. She went on to live another 3-4 years. She did have to go back for bloodwork every 6 months to make sure it wasn't damaging her kidneys.

She wasn't violent, but her teeth did snap during her seizures. We would just hold her head, pet her, talk to her, try to calm her. The vet said she wouldn't remember the seizure after it was over, that was a relief. It's most important to make sure they're safe, not in a position to fall down stairs, etc.

So sorry

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Old 07-27-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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One of my lab mixes started having seizures a few years ago. She was also quite aggressive after a grand mal seizure, which I later learned was because she was probably temporarily blinded - it was terrifying because she's an amazingly gentle dog who never even barks. She was thankfully in her crate at the time so we were able to safely contain her, but I was always afraid she'd have another one when I had her out on her leash or loose in the house. My heart goes out to you!

Our vet put her on phenobarbital, which immediately got the seizures under control, and gave us a valium suppository to keep on hand for emergencies in case she seized again - they said it would immediately stop a seizure and knock her out for a little while, preventing the post-seizure disorientation/violence. We couldn't afford to do the neurological testing they suggested. She had severe skin problems and food allergies at the time, so we focused on getting those under control, and once we figured out her allergens (gluten, primarily) and got her skin healed up, our vet suggested we try tapering her off the phenobarbital and see what happened. It's been well over a year now, and she hasn't so much as twitched since she's been off the meds.

Seizures can be caused by a lot of things besides epilepsy, and since you say she's young and isn't able to gain weight, I'd suggest taking a close look at her diet - my dog was never able to gain weight either, which was one of the things that caused us to start looking at food allergies as a possible cause for the seizures. Even if it is epilepsy and there's no outside cause, it's possible to get good control with medications. I hope your vet is able to help you figure out what's going on!
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Old 07-27-2010, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the sympathy.

She is a beautiful, unique dog, the biggest baby, and is much bigger than those pictures in the link I put up (she was only 8 months old there!).

She doesn't show any of the typical signs of allergies (coat issues, stool issues) but we did have to put her on large breed adult food rather young because she was knuckling over as a puppy. She just grew so fast that her joints couldn't keep up. I researched it and talked to the vet and we took her off puppy food and put her on adult food. That stopped the knuckling over (after a few weeks of crate rest and light exercise). So we've kept her on adult food ever since.

Since we started having weight concerns, we've been giving her some egg whites, some peanut butter, and will sometimes give her grease (like from ground beef). The grease wasn't sitting well with her, so we stopped that, but continued the egg whites and peanut butter. I will ask the vet about allergies.

Mommy to BigBoy Ian (3-17-05) ; LittleBoy Connor (3-3-07) (DiGeorge/VCFS):; BabyBoy Gavin (10-3-09) x3 AngelBaby (1-7-06)
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Old 07-27-2010, 12:30 PM
 
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Many danes end up needing a pretty high calorie food to keep weight on. And yes, in general no puppy food for danes (or other giant breeds). Grain-free is my preference for a kibble.

My dane is about 32" and 107 and 18 months. She just recently put on those last 7 lbs. She is on raw and even then I sometimes have problems getting her to eat...she is ridiculously picky!

Here's hoping that your vet is able to get some answers for you!!!

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Old 07-27-2010, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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**UPDATE**

She was fine all day, still a bit weak, but acting normal.

Took her to the vet this afternoon. Her stool was normal, no parasites or blood. Her physical exam was normal, no heart issues or skin issues or digestive issues. Blood work will be back tomorrow (just a basic panel).

She has lost more weight. The vet thinks that her low weight is the cause, or at least exacerbating anything that might be underlying.

The thing is...we feed her. We put out food each morning for the two dogs (we also have a husky mutt) and I'm always sweeping up pieces of food that got dropped throughout the day. She gets offered all the food she wants (the husky not so much, she's borderline overweight). She just doesn't eat. She's incredibly picky, doesn't eat much human food even (if the kids drop something, for example).

The vet sent us home with a can of a high calorie food to mix into her dry food, but she didn't eat it. I put a big glob on peanut butter in her dry food tonight and she ate it well.

The vet suggested that we separate the dogs, maybe the husky is eating more than her share (possible). That will be hard since there isn't a set "meal time", we let them graze all day. But in the evenings I will make a point of putting the husky outside and putting peanut butter in the dry food and letting Daisy have full dibs for an hour. A friend of mine is also bringing over a bunch of jars of baby food meat that she gets from WIC, I"ll try mixing those in.

As for the seizure, the vet doesn't want to medicate until we have her weight back up and they continue, or if they are more frequent than one a month. Unless of course something funky shows up in the blood work.

Mommy to BigBoy Ian (3-17-05) ; LittleBoy Connor (3-3-07) (DiGeorge/VCFS):; BabyBoy Gavin (10-3-09) x3 AngelBaby (1-7-06)
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Old 07-27-2010, 11:47 PM
 
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Glad you got some answers....though I guess they are not real definitive! Hopefully they are done!!

Free feeding is generally not recommended...for many reasons but one you touched on is you dont know actually how much they are eating.

Do set meal times, get her hungry and give her a high quality food.

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