Location: Usually in a muddy field somewhere
Joined: Nov 2004
I will make this as comprehensive as possible but am a bit busy so please look up posts by me on the subject of seizure or epilepsy or Loki.
My dog has been having cluster seizures since Feb this year. We had all the tests (including MRI) but he has been diagnosed as having idiopathic epilepsy.
Initially prescribed phenobarbital (PB). Reacted v badly to this (adverse reaction) - climbing the walls, hyper, crying, stumbling, manic - so we took it off him and having thoroughly read the Guardian Angels epilepsy website (brilliant!)
decided to ask that he be put on potassium bromide (KBr) instead. This is often used if PB causes adverse reaction (not that common but I think my boy is unique) or as an adjunct treatment or if PB doesn't work. It has taken a good 3-4 months but Loki hasn't had a seizure for almost 8 weeks. SOOOO much better when you realise he was getting them 10 - 14 days apart initially.
KBr has a better side effect profile and does not cause the liver toxicity that PB causes. With PB I would strongly advocate the use of milk thistle as this has been shown to reduce, help, improve liver degeneration.
I'm trying hard to remember everything but with PB also dogs become used to it so the dose has to be increased periodically.
Side effects with PB are increased appetite, ataxia (weakness) of the back legs, confusion, sedation, increased thirst but these should pass with time. Liver problems are a long term reality and liklihood with increased dose.
With KBr - increased appetie and thirst, ataxia, sedation - again these should pass.
From a PERSONAL point of view I would choose KBr over PB but that is only MY point of view. KBr is not the drug of choice for most vets as they are used to administering PB but I have never been one to follow fashion and my dog did not react well to PB.
Many, many dogs do well on PB (see Snorri's article) it just did not work for us.
PB should begin to work (reaches therapeutic levels) within 2 weeks. KBr takes 3 months or longer.
In the meantime the dog will continue to have fits. We were also advised to use rectal diazepam (valium) after the first fit as our dog has cluster fits (lots in a short space of time) and this is meant to stop them. The jury is still out here as I am not sure the diazepam did much- BUT every dog is different and what works on one may well not work on another.
Supplemental stuff - we give taurine tablets, vit C, milk thistle (ever other day or so), kelp.
During a fit try to keep calm, keep noise and light levels low. Make sure you keep away from gnashing teeth and comfort the dog. The post-ictal phase is often the worst where he is pacing, anxious, blind, excited - keep furniture etc. out of his way as he will bang into it. Offer food and drink as this is a very taxing time for them.
An ice-pack on the back (see Guardian Angels website) during a fit may help stop a cluster or bring him out more quickly. Rescue Remedy may help too. Keep blood sugar levels up with organic ice-cream (we give this (a spoonful) before bed) or a rice-cake with honey/low-salt cream-cheese) - that kind of thing.
If the dog is on KBr it is really important to ensure a salt-free diet as the chloride in salt can replace the bromide in KBr and lower the usefulness of the drug.
A natural, preservative-free diet will help - BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin in commerical diets can bring on seizures.
ANy questions PLEASE PM me and I will try to help.
A dog can live a full and happy life with epilepsy, I promise you. As I said my dog has gone from having fits every 10-14 days to CURRENTLY 2 months with the right treatment for him. Can't be bad, eh?