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Late Onset Epilepsy?


Guest Gemma
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I posted a while ago about Peyton (who is going to be 8 this August) messing in the house. That coincided with him being on 2 new medications (one pain med, one supplement) and having a very mild seizure. His medical history shows that he had a few seizures once before, back when he was on a lot of pain medication after his broken leg was fixed surgically. We thought maybe it was the pain med and supplement that caused the last seizure but took him to the vet to be sure. We had a full blood panel done as well as a fecal (checking for parasites), and everything came back normal.

 

Last night, Peyton had another seizure. :( We weren't around for the seizure itself (this was 2am) but we woke to him pacing the hallway over and over again, and found him in the after-stages. He was disoriented, trembling, had hind-leg weakness, and seemed to have more pain than normal in his bad leg. My husband took him outside where he pottied, and then we had him on the bed with us whilst he recovered. He was panting a great deal and noticeably distressed but settled within about 30 minutes.

 

When I spoke to my vet about his previous seizure, she said that it's likely he's always been epileptic but only specific things set him off. I assumed it was the pain meds but he is currently taking a break from them while we re-assess how to manage his pain effectively. She also said that there isn't much we can do until he gets to a point where he's haing seizures regularly enough to safely put him on medication. I've never heard of such late on-set epilepsy and I guess I'm just looking for reassurance from folks who might have been where we are now. If he needs medicating, we're willing to do that, of course. His comfort is paramount, although he bounces back very quick (he's fine today; maybe a little sleepier than usual but otherwise back to normal).

 

Anyone have experience with this?

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Guest LindsaySF

Well crap. :(

 

Usually seizures with a late age onset point to a specific illness or something like a brain tumor. But if he has had seizures before when he was younger it's possible he is just a mild epileptic and for whatever reason was seizure-free for all this time. Has anything changed? I would start a seizure diary to see if there are any patterns.

 

Was he on pain meds for his leg? Might be worth an x-ray to see if everything is ok in there.

 

Another cause for seizures is stress. Maybe he was stressed from pain and that induced a seizure? A bit of a stretch but possible I guess.

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

 

 

 

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Well crap. :(

 

Usually seizures with a late age onset point to a specific illness or something like a brain tumor. But if he has had seizures before when he was younger it's possible he is just a mild epileptic and for whatever reason was seizure-free for all this time. Has anything changed? I would start a seizure diary to see if there are any patterns.

 

Was he on pain meds for his leg? Might be worth an x-ray to see if everything is ok in there.

 

Another cause for seizures is stress. Maybe he was stressed from pain and that induced a seizure? A bit of a stretch but possible I guess.

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

 

He had maybe 3-4 seizures when he was about 4-5 so my vet agrees that he has very, very mild epilepsy and it takes quite specific things to trigger it. Nothing has changed lately that I can tell, except for the fact that he was on Metacam for a while. He was never supposed to be on that long-term so when we finished the bottle, we didn't order more. We're going to discuss pain management with our vet, instead, since I'd rather he not go back on the Metacam (I'm pretty sure it's what caused him to mess in the house and generally have an upset stomach). He had an x-ray taken before going on the Metacam since we took him in to a specialist. Everything is 'fine' in the sense that nothing is broken or cancerous but, as we suspected, his ankle never healed properly and has calcified, which is what causes him pain.

 

I'm keeping a note of when the seizures happen and anything notable that proceeded or followed them. I don't think he was particularly stressed yesterday but he has been three-legging a little more than usual so you might be correct that pain caused the seizure last night.

 

Thanks for your help, Lindsay. We're going to take him to see our vet very soon and have a long chat with her. As weird as it sounds, I am hoping this is just mild epilepsy since his blood work came back clean and he isn't displaying the kind of symptoms I'd expect for a brain tumour. I'd rather epilepsy than something like that!

 

Thinking of you and Sophie, as always, btw. :)

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I hope you can get to the bottom of what's going on. I've heard of late onset seizures but not late onset epilepsy

Edited by cbudshome

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Missing my little Misty who took a huge piece of my heart with her on 5/2/09, and Ekko, on 6/28/12

 

 

:candle For the sick, the lost, and the homeless

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My sweet Pepsi started seizures when she was 6. Phenobarb controlled them to some extent - she only had them once a mnth. Then, they started getting more severe and one night we woke up about 2AM to find her in a non-stop grand-mal seizure. The vet had told me before that I could give her a couple of Phenobarbs if it got really bad. My DH found that if he walked her, she wouldn't seize, but couldn't see- finally, at 3PM we took her to the E-vet (it was a Sunday). We sat in the back of our crew cab while friends drove - Pepsi kept seizing and it was horrible. At the clinic, when DH picked her up out of the truck, she voided completely.

 

In the clinic, they put her on a Valium IV right away. Palpating her, they found that her abdomen was sore and she cried. I was told that to have this come on so late in life was due either to a toxin, or a brain tumour.That "true" epilepsy's onset occurs when the dog is young. We were given the choice of seeing if the Valium worked, but we were told that it might not, and if it did, we could end up having this happen again. So, I sat on the floor and held the canine love of my life as we sent her over the rainbow bridge.

 

So yes, epilepsy can occur in older dogs.

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Guest LindsaySF

I'm sorry to hear about Pepsi. :(

 

Gemma, when Sophie first started seizing in foster care last year the vet also recommended a thyroid panel and tick-disease panel. You might want to do them if you haven't already, just to rule that out.

 

If Peyton first had seizures when he was around 4-5 that fits with the normal onset age. Idiopathic epilepsy usually starts between the ages of 1 to 5.

 

This is my favorite epilepsy website, it has been sooo helpful with Sophie: http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/site_map.htm

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

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My vet as has several other vets told me late onset seizures are a sign of a brain tumor. My girl Gabby started having them at 5, she had 4 in 45 minutes. At first she was put on a small dose of phenobarbital and then when she had a few due to some sort of family stress, then my vet eventually has her on a large dose. She has not had a seizure in about 3 years. 

Halo on the other hand started having his at 8 yrs old. His former owner only had him on phenobarbital and he continued to have them. When I adopted him, he was evaluated and was immediately put on both phenobarbital and potassium bromide. Unfortunately after a month on the two medications, evidently the brain tumor was growing & he had 10 seizures in one day, usually while coming out of a valium induced nap. I chose to have him put to sleep. He was only 9. 

However in your case, if he's been having seizures all along, I would say this is not a tumor. It could be that with age, and stress the seizures are just showing themselves more & are stronger. 

When he has one, try to put him in an area alone. When having seizures, they have them sometimes in clusters. a lot of times they're actually not finished with the first seizure when someone tries to help them or console them. Gabby goes in her crate & gets at the very far back corner where she can be left alone. Usually about 20 minutes later, they will be fine. 

Please keep us posted.

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My sweet Pepsi started seizures when she was 6. Phenobarb controlled them to some extent - she only had them once a mnth. Then, they started getting more severe and one night we woke up about 2AM to find her in a non-stop grand-mal seizure. The vet had told me before that I could give her a couple of Phenobarbs if it got really bad. My DH found that if he walked her, she wouldn't seize, but couldn't see- finally, at 3PM we took her to the E-vet (it was a Sunday). We sat in the back of our crew cab while friends drove - Pepsi kept seizing and it was horrible. At the clinic, when DH picked her up out of the truck, she voided completely.

 

In the clinic, they put her on a Valium IV right away. Palpating her, they found that her abdomen was sore and she cried. I was told that to have this come on so late in life was due either to a toxin, or a brain tumour.That "true" epilepsy's onset occurs when the dog is young. We were given the choice of seeing if the Valium worked, but we were told that it might not, and if it did, we could end up having this happen again. So, I sat on the floor and held the canine love of my life as we sent her over the rainbow bridge.

 

So yes, epilepsy can occur in older dogs.

 

I'm so sorry. :(

 

I'm sorry to hear about Pepsi. :(

 

Gemma, when Sophie first started seizing in foster care last year the vet also recommended a thyroid panel and tick-disease panel. You might want to do them if you haven't already, just to rule that out.

 

If Peyton first had seizures when he was around 4-5 that fits with the normal onset age. Idiopathic epilepsy usually starts between the ages of 1 to 5.

 

This is my favorite epilepsy website, it has been sooo helpful with Sophie: http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/site_map.htm

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

 

Thanks for the link, Lindsay! I have bookmarked it and plan to sit down and have a proper read tomorrow.

 

My vet as has several other vets told me late onset seizures are a sign of a brain tumor. My girl Gabby started having them at 5, she had 4 in 45 minutes. At first she was put on a small dose of phenobarbital and then when she had a few due to some sort of family stress, then my vet eventually has her on a large dose. She has not had a seizure in about 3 years. 

Halo on the other hand started having his at 8 yrs old. His former owner only had him on phenobarbital and he continued to have them. When I adopted him, he was evaluated and was immediately put on both phenobarbital and potassium bromide. Unfortunately after a month on the two medications, evidently the brain tumor was growing & he had 10 seizures in one day, usually while coming out of a valium induced nap. I chose to have him put to sleep. He was only 9. 

However in your case, if he's been having seizures all along, I would say this is not a tumor. It could be that with age, and stress the seizures are just showing themselves more & are stronger. 

When he has one, try to put him in an area alone. When having seizures, they have them sometimes in clusters. a lot of times they're actually not finished with the first seizure when someone tries to help them or console them. Gabby goes in her crate & gets at the very far back corner where she can be left alone. Usually about 20 minutes later, they will be fine. 

Please keep us posted.

 

I did think about the brain tumour but he has no other symptoms, and his first seizure with us was in December so it's been 2 months. That's a long time between seizures if this were a tumour, and it wouldn't explain why he had them as a pup. Of course, I definitely do not want it to be a tumour so I'm also trying to reassure myself! DH is a biology PhD student who teaches anatomy to med students and he agrees that the symptoms don't math but we're definitely going to talk to my vet about it sometime this week. I will post what she says. :)

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I hope you can get to the bottom of what's going on. I've heard of late onset seizures but not late onset epilepsy

 

Thank you. :) I hope so too.

 

Did I read right: he had seizures on a pain med, he is now on a pain med and having seizures? What kind of med?

 

He's not on pain meds at the moment, no. As far as I can tell (his records are handwritten and very hard to read), he had his first seizure in 2005 following surgery on his leg. He was on (I think) Rimadyl. It looks like he also suffered a neck injury of some kind in February of 2008 and experienced another seizure. It's not clear from his records whether they put him on meds before or after this; I think before. It looks like 2008 was his worst year for seizures, though they happened quite close together and do not involve grand mals (he doesn't 'seize' in the shaking way; he just gets weak, disorientated, trembling, and appears not to be able to see/focus). We adopted him in October 2008 and had no problems.

 

Then in Oct/November 2009, he saw an orthopaedic surgeon re. his bad leg and was put on a course of Metacam to see how he responded. He was noticeably more comfortable. We were also advised to put him on the supplement Sam-e. Shortly after that, he started messing in the house and had sporadic diarrhea. He then had a mild seizure on December 13th. At that point, he came off the Sam-e. A few days later, we also took him off the Matacam. Sine then, he has been pain med free and has been appearing to feel it in his leg. We've been waiting to see how he would respond off the Metacam so we could disuss his pain management in detail with our regular vet. So last night's seizure was a real surprise. He is not on any medication and we keep all toxic materials out of his reach.

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Just updating to say that Peyton has not had another seizure as of yet and has been acting just fine. In hindsight, I am aware that he's been a LOT more hungry than is normal for him lately and I'm wondering if this has something to do with the seizure as I know blood sugar can have a profound effect on epileptic dogs. We're taking him to the vet this week and we're going to discuss pain management as well as his seizures. I'll be asking for a full thyroid panel and tick borne disease tests. I'll update when/if I know something!

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Guest LindsaySF

Good luck at the vet!

 

 

In hindsight, I am aware that he's been a LOT more hungry than is normal for him lately and I'm wondering if this has something to do with the seizure as I know blood sugar can have a profound effect on epileptic dogs.

Was he hungry before or after the seizure? One potential side effect of having a seizure is increased hunger. After a seizure Sophie paces and acts ravenous. She will chew furniture, bedding, and gates if I don't feed her. Her post-ictal state of pacing and eating small frequent snacks is usually about 2 hours, but some dogs can have side effects for much longer than that.

 

If he had been acting hungry before the seizure, it may or may not be related. But if he's at a good weight there is no harm is giving him frequent meals or snacks to keep his blood sugar up. :)

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

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Good luck at the vet!

 

 

In hindsight, I am aware that he's been a LOT more hungry than is normal for him lately and I'm wondering if this has something to do with the seizure as I know blood sugar can have a profound effect on epileptic dogs.

Was he hungry before or after the seizure? One potential side effect of having a seizure is increased hunger. After a seizure Sophie paces and acts ravenous. She will chew furniture, bedding, and gates if I don't feed her. Her post-ictal state of pacing and eating small frequent snacks is usually about 2 hours, but some dogs can have side effects for much longer than that.

 

If he had been acting hungry before the seizure, it may or may not be related. But if he's at a good weight there is no harm is giving him frequent meals or snacks to keep his blood sugar up. :)

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

 

Well, here's the thing: he was hungry before the seizure but my husband and I both work so it's entirely possible he had an episode while I was away and that's why I returned to a ravenous pup in the evening. He's been less 'give me food NOW' since the seizure, though, so I am going to track when he gets extra hungry and increase his food accordingly. It might be a clue or a trigger or some kind of early warning system that we can watch out for.

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It does seem too much of a coincidence that your boy has had seizures every time he's been on a NSAID and even though he's had another seizure since he's been off the painkillers I'd still be highly suspicious that they caused, or at least triggered, them. My boy Sunny had seizures similar to those you describe for 4 days following a Rimadyl injection and I will never allow him to have any NSAID again. The vet was unwilling to attribute the seizures to the Rimadyl, because the first one did not happen until 24 hours after the injection, but I'm not willing to take the risk of giving him any further NSAIDs; if he needs painkillers now he has tramadol. I know this is something you'll be discussing with your vet anyway, so good luck, and yes, do let us know how you get on!

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When a relationship of love is disrupted, the relationship does not cease. The love continues; therefore, the relationship continues. The work of grief is to reconcile and redeem life to a different love relationship. ~ W Scott Lineberry

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Cullen had late-onset epilepsy. He then developed retroperitoneal hemangiosarcoma. At first we thought they started b/c he had bothvery low thyroid levels and Lyme disease. They were treated but the seizures continued.

 

He had a clear brain MRI. He had been on meloxicam and tramadol, so who knows if that triggered anything.

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From what I've read in trying to understand and manage Piper's epilepsy, it sounds as if something triggered the earlier seizures (the ones when he was 4-5)--perhaps meds or something else. Once a dog has had a seizure/seizures there seems to be an increased risk of future seizures. People refer to this as a lowering of the seizure threshold. It may be that his brain is now more susceptible to triggers that start the uncontrolled electrical activity that is a seizure.

 

Certainly brain tumors are a possibility with late onset seizures but when discussing that possibility for Piper 2 different vets said that in that case we would soon begin seeing other neurological signs of brain cancer.

 

I wish I had something more concrete to offer than good wishes that his seizures remain few and far between and mild.

 

--Lucy

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Lucy with Greyhound Nate and OSH Tinker. With loving memories of MoMo (FTH Chyna Moon), Spirit, Miles the slinky kitty (OSH), Piper "The Perfect" (Oneco Chaplin), Winston, Yoda, Hector, and Claire.

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It does seem too much of a coincidence that your boy has had seizures every time he's been on a NSAID and even though he's had another seizure since he's been off the painkillers I'd still be highly suspicious that they caused, or at least triggered, them. My boy Sunny had seizures similar to those you describe for 4 days following a Rimadyl injection and I will never allow him to have any NSAID again. The vet was unwilling to attribute the seizures to the Rimadyl, because the first one did not happen until 24 hours after the injection, but I'm not willing to take the risk of giving him any further NSAIDs; if he needs painkillers now he has tramadol. I know this is something you'll be discussing with your vet anyway, so good luck, and yes, do let us know how you get on!

 

This is how I felt previously but now I am not so sure. I am going to discuss the time line with my vet and see if she agrees. I'll probably be avoiding NSAIDs in future, though, just to be on the safe side.

 

Cullen had late-onset epilepsy. He then developed retroperitoneal hemangiosarcoma. At first we thought they started b/c he had bothvery low thyroid levels and Lyme disease. They were treated but the seizures continued.

 

He had a clear brain MRI. He had been on meloxicam and tramadol, so who knows if that triggered anything.

 

I'm sorry. That sounds very stressful for you both. I'm definitely going to keep a very close eye on Peyton and be better for checking him for lumps or unusual growths.

 

From what I've read in trying to understand and manage Piper's epilepsy, it sounds as if something triggered the earlier seizures (the ones when he was 4-5)--perhaps meds or something else. Once a dog has had a seizure/seizures there seems to be an increased risk of future seizures. People refer to this as a lowering of the seizure threshold. It may be that his brain is now more susceptible to triggers that start the uncontrolled electrical activity that is a seizure.

 

Certainly brain tumors are a possibility with late onset seizures but when discussing that possibility for Piper 2 different vets said that in that case we would soon begin seeing other neurological signs of brain cancer.

 

I wish I had something more concrete to offer than good wishes that his seizures remain few and far between and mild.

 

--Lucy

 

It's helpful hearing from others, so thank you. :)

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Just a quick update to say that Peyton saw the vet yesterday and she's pretty confident about diagnosing him as epileptic. No meds needed unless things get worse but I did insist on having a full thyroid panel done. I should get the results early next week. Vet suggested Rimadyl for pain but I talked her around to Tremadol as I'm not comfortable putting him back on a NSAID. Peyton had his second dose of Tremadol this morning and is so far doing fine. I suspect his thyroid results will be fine and I'm hoping the new pain meds will help a great deal with his leg pain, hopefully making further seizures less likely.

 

Thanks to everyone for the advice and support thus far! Y'all are great. :)

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Thyroid panel came back fine! YAH! Also, the Tremadol has kicked in and Peyton is like a puppy again. :) I really didn't notice the difference until he perked back up! Right now, I am happy with this outcome.

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EVEN MORE good news on H and M!

 

I am happy for you guys!

 

 

Yay! :yay

 

Thank you, both! :) I am really pleased with how things are going and it's a weight off my mind to know that we've exhausted all diagnostics (excluding an MRI, of course, but that's a lot of stress to put him through). It's early days, yet, and things might get worse but, for now, we're taking one day at a time and Peyton seems happy and calm, which is all I can ask for.

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