Poor Harrison, what a tough week it’s been. We’ve had a blip, you could say. Since the last seizures came on in the Lake District and last Tuesday morning before I was about to leave to go to work, he’s suffered quite a few more. Saturday morning, Saturday night into Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening. on this run, they were very unpredictable and everything just felt very unstable. Harrison just wasn’t himself, the activity felt very frequent and all of the usual characteristics just weren’t there. We felt very much out of control, as we didn’t get those little warning signs we’ve grown accustomed to. We managed to get through about 200ml of rectal diazepam as well, so very desperate times!
Talked to our vet this morning who suggested we add in another medication called Libromide (Potassium bromide), alongside his current epiphen (phenobarbital). He advised that often dogs need two complimentary meds rather than a higher dose of just the one and this allows things to be maintained to quite a stable level once the dosage reaches the therapeutic range. Really hope this has the desired effect as this feels worse than ever as things are so unstable and unpredictable.
So I had taken a small break from blogging, as things were going so well of late, we have been living life to the full and enjoying every moment with our little dude, Harrison! Following a very traumatic visit to the emergency vets a few months ago we ended up on some medication which seemed to be really making a difference. Harrison had a good clean run of 69 days seizure free, which we never thought possible at once stage things got so bad! It enabled him to become much more settled and really gave us time to get some solid training in, so he is developing into a really gorgeous and (mostly) obedient pooch. But sadly, whilst on a lovely little family holiday in the Lake District last week (absolutely breathtaking – make sure you go up there, if you haven’t yet!) Harrison started seizing Friday night after a long walk round Langdale Pikes and the aptly named, Harrison Stickle!
Of course we had gone on holiday prepared for any eventuality, so when the moment came we saw the signs immediately and knew just what to do. Luckily we were back at the hotel so had quick access to everything we needed such as an electric fan, small confined space, copious amounts of his kibble and ice cubes. Thanks to the lovely staff at the Shap Wells Hotel who acted quickly in our time of need!
On our arrival home we called the vet to restock our diazepam, then after we picked it up yesterday I had to use it again this morning as Harrison had more seizures just 4 days later. I was home alone and managed to quickly grab the diazepam and act fast enough so he only had a cluster of 3 this time. Poor little baby is recovering now after lots of food, water and 2 hours of wobbling about.
So this is just a little post for therapeutic purposes as I sit here, ankle swollen and throbbing from falling down the stairs right after him this morning as I tried to grab him frantically before he fell. Poor baby. Canine epilepsy, you really are THE WORST!
I like research. I’m a geek, I like to hunt for information, gather lots of facts and learn from other people’s experiences as well as my own. This way, I feel like I can build a better understanding of what is going on, but also be in a position to ask the vet better questions to ultimately help Harrison and manage this condition to the best of my abilities.
But you do need to be really careful what you read online and approach with skepticism. I remember the behaviourist at the Dogs Trust offering the same advice regarding training when we first brought Harrison home back in October 2015. She just explained to be wary of bad advice. Over the years research, theory and treatment can advance a lot, so what may have been standard a few years ago may not be the case any longer.
I think the veterinary professionals can be wary too when you ask questions about things you have read online which could be triggers, causes etc. Essentially every dog is different anyway, so in a way you need to just think of it as a blank slate and create your own records and experience log.
At the beginning, some of the things I read online were terrifying and made the whole situation even more daunting. I really feel for some of those I still read about who’s furry companions are suffering very regular seizures, even whilst heavily medicated.
I joined a couple of Facebook groups too, to seek advice and talk to others experiencing the same with their dog(s). There you get to see other group members painfully sharing final posts and leaving the group, as they’ve had to have their dog put to sleep. They always thank the group and state how helpful its been to be able to talk and discuss their situation with others going through the same. I would say its more for catharsis, like a kind of a group therapy than to really share tips or experience. Of course that happens as well, but I think ultimately you need to let the veterinary experts guide you correctly when it comes to your dog anyway.
I wanted to share some things I have learned that I wish I had known right at the start;
- I know this is so much easier said than done, but try to remain calm, although horrific to witness the seizures are generally not harmful. Try to protect their head to avoid them banging it on anything during convulsions and be prepared for them to eliminate during the seizure. They may urinate, defecate or release their anal gland, or all 3…! Believe it or not, the seizures do get easier to deal with, whether this is from being desensitised or you just better at coping and less shocked with it all I don’t know, but you wont feel like a cry baby about it forever – promise!
Continue reading “Google Vet”
So, like many of us dog owners, I wear my heart right on my sleeve and Harrison is my whole world (aside from my better half, of course!)
To learn he has epilepsy and see him endure these seizures again and again is the kind of thing I wouldn’t wish on anyone, dog owner or beloved dog. It is truly horrific! Worst of all, I feel an overwhelming sadness for my oblivious little pooch, who aside from those terrible phases immediately before and after a seizure (during which he is absolutely terrified and I am just heartbroken) is perfectly happy and his usual self. I wish I could explain to him, make him understand that the awful feeling will pass and that he’s safe and we’re there and we’ll do all we can to help him whatever happens. But I can’t and that’s one of the worst things. If he was my child I might be able to explain when he reached a certain age, it might not make it any less scary but it would be worth a go.
The best thing is that the seizure itself he is unconscious and has no idea what’s happening – thank goodness! This part is worse for us, having to witness that and feel so helpless.
Continue reading “The ’emotional wreck’ stage”
That first seizure was actually not the worst one. Yes, the first one is definitely very scary and everything is unknown, but it feels perfectly reasonable that it could be a one off and then the vet leads you to believe that it could be a one off too. Then, your worst fears are realised and it keeps happening 😦 the second time was by far the worst. It catches you totally off guard, even though you have gone away and done your research, you’re still clinging on to the idea that it could have been a one off. Or at least, that it wouldn’t happen again for a long while. Witnessing your poor little pooch have a fit is truly horrific, you feel totally helpless, they are terrified and worst of all, you can’t explain to them what the hell is going on.
Since 23rd February (15 days ago), Harrison has had 7 seizures. The vet advised after the first one that any more frequent than once a month would require lifelong medication to manage the condition. So, he has started his first tablet trial today, something called pexion. Really hope it works out for him, otherwise we’ll have to try many more to find the most suitable and effective drug for him, or a combination. Personally I am fairly opposed to human medication, let alone for my animal. I prefer a more natural and holistical approach wherever possible, but the risk of long term damage is too high with such regular seizures, or by having several in quick succession (called “clusters”), so we have to try him with medication now.
The good news is that even though the condition is incurable, a dog with epilepsy can still lead a full and happy life, if you can learn how to manage their unique needs properly – every dog is different. So, this is the start of a new chapter for us!