Radar in backyard
Radar enjoying an afternoon in the backyard.

In mid May, I was leaving on a trip for a week and had a dogsitter come and stay with my dogs. I was departing early in the morning and my dogsitter spent the night to become more acquainted with the dogs. I decided to change the sheets on my bed and have her sleep in my room and I would sleep in the guest room. This sounded like a good idea at the time but that evening I realized how confusing and upsetting this was for Radar. After about an hour I finally got Radar to settle down in the spare room with me and sleep. The next morning I got up early and left for the airport. The dogsitter was still sleeping so I left Radar out of his crate, not realizing he did not know that anyone was here and this was a deviation from his routine. I always crate him when I leave. That evening I received a call from my dogsitter that Radar had a mild seizure that evening. The seizure started while he was resting in the living room and lasted less than a minute. He did not lose control of his bodily functions but was disoriented and confused after the seizing ceased. After he wandered around for awhile she got him settled and the next morning he was fine. There were no other incidents or after effects except a periodic sore foot that we could not find the source of the lameness (four weeks after his toenail broke and must have been cracked after the first seizure). I spoke with my vet and we decided the seizure was likely a result of stress and would hopefully be a one time occurrence.

On July 4th, I was at our family lake cottage where of course we have fireworks. I decided it would be best to keep Radar with us on the pontoon versus leaving him alone in the cottage. Radar loves being on the pontoon and did really well during the fireworks, barked at a few other boats before the fireworks but actually slept during the fireworks show. I thought he did fine and was not bothered. About 1am, a bark woke me up and when I turned on the light I saw Radar having a seizure. The seizure again lasted less than a minute. He did leak a little urine and expelled some fluid from his anal glands during the seizure. When the seizing ended he was disoriented and restless walking around and bumping into things. Just as the literature says “like they are blind” however this is the first time I have seen Radar “act like he is blind”. He never runs into so many things as he did after the seizure. I finally got him to lie in bed with me and he slept for about 1.5 hours and when he woke, he was acting normal.

This second seizure was about 6 weeks after the first. I started researching and reading about seizures, causes and treatments. I made an appointment with my vet for a total blood workup including CBC and Chem Panel. In my reading I found references to acupuncture as a complementary and in some cases a treatment for seizures. I contacted Dr Schilling of Vet-Energy, my holistic vet to see if I could bring Radar out for an assessment and treatment.

We first went to see our DVM, Dr. Knight and he ran all of the blood tests and we discussed Radar’s situation, symptoms and options. Two seizures in 6 weeks does not warrant anti-convulsive meds as they are not subscribed until 3 seizures or more than 2 in one month. I also found out that anti-convulsive meds have lots of side effects in dogs so it is not something you want to start unless you need to control a lot of seizures. Dr Knight and I also discussed the potential of seizures being genetic due to Radar’s obvious issues from birth – blindness. We have always discussed and I have always known there was a high probability that other medical issues and conditions could occur as the blindness might not be an isolated birth defect. I told Dr Knight of my intent to try acupuncture. We discussed researching his diet and making some changes based on that research. We also discussed tick and flea prevention and other medications and potential changes we might want to make. I decided to keep him on Frontline for flea and tick prevention since that was listed in at least one study as being the least problematic for seizures. We discussed that systemic medications for flea and tick prevention were definitely not to be used.

Radar and I then went to visit Dr Schilling. We reviewed the results of the CBC and chem panel and Dr. Knight’s insights, thoughts and suggestions. Dr Schilling then shared the research she had found and I shared the information I had found. After reviewing everything, Dr Schilling administered acupuncture which Radar had never had because he is too squirrelly. We were both amazed at how receptive Radar was to the calming point and after a few minutes he laid on his side and took a nap. During the nap, Dr Schilling was able to use needles on several key points that are should help with the seizures and stress. Radar appeared to doze or sleep through the entire treatment and did not stir until a few minutes after we removed the needle from the calming point on his head. We discussed adding a Magnesium supplement to Radar’s diet as that can have some impact on preventing seizures. Radar’s next acupuncture treatment will at the end of the month.

Obviously we do not have an answer to why or what caused Radar’s seizures. We do not know if he will have another, nor if our course of treatment will prevent future seizures. We do not know if he has epilepsy or if these were just freak stress reactions. I do not know what or how I will change his diet, I am still researching that. It has been suggested that I start adding Magnesium at the basic level of 50 mg for large dog. As magnesium deficiency can cause convulsive seizures (The Dog Food Project) but I want to do a little more research. My holistic vet also suggested Cholodin which contains sources of choline and phosphatidylcholine, two of the most common phospholipids. “Patients have experienced good results with phosphatidylcholine, which works to stabilize brain cell membranes, and so reduce and prevent seizures, while also providing detoxification support for the liver.” (Source: Preventing Seizures Natural Dog Remedies Can Out-Do Drugs)

Links to the sources of information and research I have used and am using in trying to prevent future seizures:

December 23, 2014 – Radar has been seizure-free (to my knowledge) until this evening. He experienced a seizure around 9pm. The seizure was different than the last two. When it started he seemed to be struggling to breathe and was snarling he got up and moved more towards the corner of the room from where he was lying. Yukon was in the corner bed and he vacated the space and Radar tried to get into the corner but he couldn’t. He laid on his side gauging and convulsing more active than the last one. Previous seizures he has done more of a full body shake and this appeared more stressing on him. He drooled excessively but did not lose control of his bowels. It lasted about 30 seconds. He then got up and immediately started looking for me. He is a bit disoriented but not as badly as before. He does know me and seeks me out. He wanted to go outside so after he appeared a little recovered we went outside and he peed a lot. He is still running into furniture he normally does not but he just went in the kitchen and counter surfed for the dog food up there. He seems to be starving as he is normally not like this.

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