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Hi

Has anyone got any experience of aggression in an epileptic Lab ? We have 2 black working labs, one aged 8 and one 2 years and 2 months Rook. I have been working from home for a year (first lockdown) and my husband was made redundant and now retired around the same time.

3 weeks ago I was just going back to work after lunch 1pm and when I went into the kitchen the 2 year old was having a seizure it was an enormous shock, she was laid on her side body rigid but bouncing, eyes bulging, mouth as wide as it would go with all her teeth showing and the most horrific scream coming from her. I shouted to my husband who shut himself in with her while me and the older dog just cuddled. He was trying to comfort her while she was fitting and after what seemed like half an hour but was probably less than 5 minutes she jumped up and bolted to the corner of the room snarling at him, he was sure she would attack him if he moved, we are not inexperienced and Rook is our 7th labrador. He spoke gently to her and they remained like this for maybe another 3 minutes once this phase was over she was fine. We spoke to the vet who made an appointment for week's time!! We were totally in shock and were just starting to settle down when at 3.30pm she had another. This time we brought the other dog out and just closed her in on her own, my husband kept peeping in and went in once she had pulled round. We spoke to the vet again and were told we didn't need to speak to them again unless she had a third. They took blood a couple of days later and said to wait to see if she had another before going on medication. 8 days later at 3.30pm again I was sat at my computer when I heard that horrible sound again. Again we closed her in on her own to recover and was started on Epiphen the next day 30mg twice a day, apart from increased thirst and following me round incase I might give her more food that was the only change we saw in her.

Before this all started we had booked a pitch on a caravan site at some fishing lakes 4 hours drive away near our son. We weren't sure whether to cancel or not as she had only been on the meds for exactly a week but decided to go ahead with the trip. We arrived on the Saturday and all was good, I was really worried about having both dogs in the cage together, what if she attacks the other dog when she comes round, they are also in a separate section of the car so dont even know if we would hear her, anyway we got through the journey just fine. Everything was great we spent time with family and fishing but then on the Wednesday just sitting watching my husband fish she had gone behind my chair and started to fit - 1pm again ?! My husband moved away with the other dog and I was stood at the other side of the chair, we didn't know what would happen would she run away. She was snarling again when she came round and staggered towards my husband all the hair on her back was up, once again a couple of minutes passed and she was ok, jumping up at him perfectly ok again. I couldn't stop watching her for the rest of the day and I was sure she was going to have another (I think I might have a heart attack, it takes me days to get over them). She was just dozing and I thought this was when it would happen and I still think it would but my husband caught a fish and she likes to watch so she was wide awake then. This was our last night and we went to our sons for a meal, after eating we were just sat, dogs laid at our feet. They have a chocolate lab, their dog started looking at Rook in an odd way and then when she lifted her head I knew there was something wrong her head was wonky, I told my husband who managed to usher her stumbling to the hall where she had another seizure at 7pm. We travelled home the following morning and kept the older dog in the footwell with me, I felt bad keeping them apart but not as bad as I would feel if she attacks her. They took blood from her again yesterday for the levels and we are waiting for the results, I dont know if we are getting them done too soon or not, the vets aren't very informative. When they gave us the tablets there was nothing with them just said give her one twice a day with or without food, I know it is difficult at the moment because we cant actually go into the surgery, everything I know I have found on google.

I just wondered if anyone had any similar experience with the aggression and how to deal with it, what if it happens when we are walking , we will have to stand away from her incase she attacks us, she could run into a road or anything.
 

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Please understand, I'm not a vet. But when it comes to Epilepsy I do have plenty of experience. At one time when I was chairman of a dog training club we had a committee of 7 and 4 of us had epileptic dogs!

Sadly this is not uncommon with Epileptic dogs, and at 2 years old she is the right age for the normal onset of Grand Mal Epilepsy. The problem with epilepsy is that the last thing to recover is eye sight, so she is in panic mode, cant see and knows she is not in a position to defend herself if "The big bad wolf" comes calling. As it happened I was never in that position personally because my Beth always found me out when she felt an episode coming on, and as long as she felt me touching her she relaxed. Too bad if it was pouring with rain, I just had to stand there and get wet! The thing about epilepsy is that most vets have never seen an episode. Dogs dont fit to order so the chances of it happening in a vet's surgery is remote! They might see a film while at collage but thats all, everything else is theoretical. I found often the fits would come round in twos, and occasionally three at a time. Epiphen is a trade name for Phenobarbitone.

Below is something I wrote a while back. I've posted it here because it may give you ideas.

Remember, I am not a vet, so what I say here is a lay person’s take on it, based on what I have seen from my own dog, what friends have experienced.

First off, I have to say that it’s unusual for an Epileptic dog to have an episode while active. Unusual but not unheard of. But Epilepsy is not a single condition, of that I’m certain. Are the different forms genetically different?? I would guess so, but it could be that there are different degrees of the same condition. Time will tell when we know the genetics of it. I know various Laboratories are looking for the gene so it will come eventually.

I came into this when my Beth developed it many years ago and have tried to keep up to date with developments ever since. These days vets tend not to medicate if the fits are more than 4 to 6 weeks apart. One reason for this is that the most effective medication is still one of the Phenobarbitone derivatives, and used long term can have very serious side effects. So the longer a dog can go unmedicated the better for the dog. Usually the onset is when the dog is between 9 months and 3 years old. Of course there is always the exception, but for a dog over 6 years old there is normally a reason, something in the body not working as efficiently as in it’s younger days. Very late in life obviously thoughts turn to brain tumours, but they are certainly not always the case so I have to say to anyone with an older dog fitting, don’t think the worst because it may well not be.

My Beth was 9 months old when she fitted for the first time, pretty much normal for Grand Mal Epilepsy. At the time I was offered Phenobarb, but turned it down. I wanted to know just what I was dealing with first. At 9 months old she probably had another 13 years of Phenobarbitone which I was not keen on. As things panned out I never did medicate her and she lived to be just a couple of weeks short of 14 years old. So as you can see, there is every reason that an Epileptic dog can live out it’s fill life. When she did finally pass away it was cancer, so nothing to do with the Epilepsy. With some dogs it is more difficult to control the Epilepsy, time will tell on that front. There are other medications sometimes used today, sometimes given as an addition to Phenobarb (As a means of reducing on the phenobarb, so reducing the risk) Potassium Bromide is often used with Phenobarb. Gabapentin, Keppra and Primadone are others but tend to be a more expensive option, particularly when you cansider that you are going to have to give daily for the rest of her life! Diazepam is often supplied by vets as a suppository, to bring dogs out of a fit, but is really only necessary if a dog goes into "Status Epilepticus" where one fit is following another continuously. In the case of my Beth I often found her have a second fit within minutes of the first, but that is really not enough to be a problem.

Keep a diary, listing the dates of each fit, days between fits and what your dog was doing on the run up to a fit, active, sleeping or whatever. Normally you will find episodes occurring while the dog is relaxed. In fact I found that often, if I noticed a fit coming on, I could take Beth out in the garden and run it out of her.

How do you handle a fit when it occurs. Thats something you need to find out for yourself. In the case of Beth, she wanted to feel me. As long as I was touching her she could relax. Remember, in the wild an Epileptic dog fitting is not able to defend it’s self so it’s a stressful situation for the dog. If I was touching her she was confident that I would not allow anything to harm her, Other dogs can get panicky and literally bite out of fear. After the fit passes you often find the dog quite hyper, rushing about and bumping into things. (Eyesight is one of the last things to recover) so I always shepherded Beth outside into the garden where there was nothing to knock into and hurt herself.

Epilepsy is something you learn to live with. And you can. Beth was Epileptic but she was also my wonderful girl. Not for nothing was she known as Big Bad Bethany. She was my larger than life dog.
 

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Please understand, I'm not a vet. But when it comes to Epilepsy I do have plenty of experience. At one time when I was chairman of a dog training club we had a committee of 7 and 4 of us had epileptic dogs!

Sadly this is not uncommon with Epileptic dogs, and at 2 years old she is the right age for the normal onset of Grand Mal Epilepsy. The problem with epilepsy is that the last thing to recover is eye sight, so she is in panic mode, cant see and knows she is not in a position to defend herself if "The big bad wolf" comes calling. As it happened I was never in that position personally because my Beth always found me out when she felt an episode coming on, and as long as she felt me touching her she relaxed. Too bad if it was pouring with rain, I just had to stand there and get wet! The thing about epilepsy is that most vets have never seen an episode. Dogs dont fit to order so the chances of it happening in a vet's surgery is remote! They might see a film while at collage but thats all, everything else is theoretical. I found often the fits would come round in twos, and occasionally three at a time. Epiphen is a trade name for Phenobarbitone.

Below is something I wrote a while back. I've posted it here because it may give you ideas.

Remember, I am not a vet, so what I say here is a lay person’s take on it, based on what I have seen from my own dog, what friends have experienced.

First off, I have to say that it’s unusual for an Epileptic dog to have an episode while active. Unusual but not unheard of. But Epilepsy is not a single condition, of that I’m certain. Are the different forms genetically different?? I would guess so, but it could be that there are different degrees of the same condition. Time will tell when we know the genetics of it. I know various Laboratories are looking for the gene so it will come eventually.

I came into this when my Beth developed it many years ago and have tried to keep up to date with developments ever since. These days vets tend not to medicate if the fits are more than 4 to 6 weeks apart. One reason for this is that the most effective medication is still one of the Phenobarbitone derivatives, and used long term can have very serious side effects. So the longer a dog can go unmedicated the better for the dog. Usually the onset is when the dog is between 9 months and 3 years old. Of course there is always the exception, but for a dog over 6 years old there is normally a reason, something in the body not working as efficiently as in it’s younger days. Very late in life obviously thoughts turn to brain tumours, but they are certainly not always the case so I have to say to anyone with an older dog fitting, don’t think the worst because it may well not be.

My Beth was 9 months old when she fitted for the first time, pretty much normal for Grand Mal Epilepsy. At the time I was offered Phenobarb, but turned it down. I wanted to know just what I was dealing with first. At 9 months old she probably had another 13 years of Phenobarbitone which I was not keen on. As things panned out I never did medicate her and she lived to be just a couple of weeks short of 14 years old. So as you can see, there is every reason that an Epileptic dog can live out it’s fill life. When she did finally pass away it was cancer, so nothing to do with the Epilepsy. With some dogs it is more difficult to control the Epilepsy, time will tell on that front. There are other medications sometimes used today, sometimes given as an addition to Phenobarb (As a means of reducing on the phenobarb, so reducing the risk) Potassium Bromide is often used with Phenobarb. Gabapentin, Keppra and Primadone are others but tend to be a more expensive option, particularly when you cansider that you are going to have to give daily for the rest of her life! Diazepam is often supplied by vets as a suppository, to bring dogs out of a fit, but is really only necessary if a dog goes into "Status Epilepticus" where one fit is following another continuously. In the case of my Beth I often found her have a second fit within minutes of the first, but that is really not enough to be a problem.

Keep a diary, listing the dates of each fit, days between fits and what your dog was doing on the run up to a fit, active, sleeping or whatever. Normally you will find episodes occurring while the dog is relaxed. In fact I found that often, if I noticed a fit coming on, I could take Beth out in the garden and run it out of her.

How do you handle a fit when it occurs. Thats something you need to find out for yourself. In the case of Beth, she wanted to feel me. As long as I was touching her she could relax. Remember, in the wild an Epileptic dog fitting is not able to defend it’s self so it’s a stressful situation for the dog. If I was touching her she was confident that I would not allow anything to harm her, Other dogs can get panicky and literally bite out of fear. After the fit passes you often find the dog quite hyper, rushing about and bumping into things. (Eyesight is one of the last things to recover) so I always shepherded Beth outside into the garden where there was nothing to knock into and hurt herself.

Epilepsy is something you learn to live with. And you can. Beth was Epileptic but she was also my wonderful girl. Not for nothing was she known as Big Bad Bethany. She was my larger than life dog.
Hi John thanks for that, in fact I have read all your previous posts, including anything else I could get my hands on including videos, even one from an American vet who showed you how to handle them with a cuddly toy. I found it very amusing that he was telling us to keep away from the teeth and showed how to remove a seizing dog from a cage by their back end, never had a dog that laid in a cage with their face to the wall myself !!!

I think they key thing for us is the aggression, tbh I dont think she would attack the other dog but dare not risk it and think maybe she had 2 or 3 before. I went into the kitchen a couple of months ago to find pools of saliva and thought she must have an upset stomach, she might have had one then, also there have been a couple of mornings where there were wet patches on the mat in the utility room where they sleep, wish i had written the dates down now, i couldn't work out what it was as i knew it wasn't wee
 

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Hi John thanks for that, in fact I have read all your previous posts, including anything else I could get my hands on including videos, even one from an American vet who showed you how to handle them with a cuddly toy. I found it very amusing that he was telling us to keep away from the teeth and showed how to remove a seizing dog from a cage by their back end, never had a dog that laid in a cage with their face to the wall myself !!!

I think they key thing for us is the aggression, tbh I dont think she would attack the other dog but dare not risk it and think maybe she had 2 or 3 before. I went into the kitchen a couple of months ago to find pools of saliva and thought she must have an upset stomach, she might have had one then, also there have been a couple of mornings where there were wet patches on the mat in the utility room where they sleep, wish i had written the dates down now, i couldn't work out what it was as i knew it wasn't wee
Do you know how often she will have them John ?
 

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The vets have just called and told us to double the dose to 60mg twice a day so see how we go with that. It's all very sad, it's amazing you can have so many dogs and be totally unaware of what some people are going through with their pets.
 

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Do you know how often she will have them John ?
This is only me talking now. To my knowledge not something vets say. But to me the frequency appears more like a sine wave. I drew this to illustrate what I mean. There is no scientific proof in this, just the way it appeared to me.

26712


With my Beth, from peak to peak seemed to be 6 weeks. Sometimes, for some reason she would miss, and then it would be another 6 weeks before it came round again making 12 weeks between. But always it seemed to be in multiples of 6 weeks. That was the reason I suggested keeping a diary. By doing that you might start to see a pattern. Also from the drawing you can imagine why you might get a cluster in a relatively short period, while she is in the period of high risk. But as I said, I know of no veterinary proof that this is anything other than an old man's musing, but it certainly did seem to hold true with both my Beth and some others I've been involved with over the years.

and think maybe she had 2 or 3 before.
A friend lived in a bungalow. She never realised her GSD was epileptic until one night she was awoken by her bedroom door rattling. On investigation she found her dog was laying against the door and it was the shaking of the fit rattling the door. As I said, it tends to happen while the dogs are relaxed. In the days of Beth was had a touring caravan and the dogs always came with us. Beth never once fitted on holiday, but invariably fitted within a week of returning home, which I put down to the cessation of any stress she felt on holiday. In those days I was instructing at dog training clubs and Beth was always with me to demonstrate. It was only when she was a very old lady that anything happened at a club, when she collapsed while I was taking a class. I had to call one of the experienced handlers in to finish the class while I sat on the floor with Beth. But she was easy to handle, a lovable hooligan.
 

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Thank you this is really helpful, I have it on the calendar when and what times. I think I will buy a diary to record the circumstances too. You think you will remember forever imprinted on your mind but my memory wasn't what it was so I am sure it will be helpful in the long run. I didn't even realise until yesterday that the first ones we saw were April fools day !!
 

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Sorry to hear about your girl, no experience of epilepsy with dogs, but I did suffer juvenile epilepsy myself, and know how confusing and horrible it is even with people talking and you understanding as you're coming round, so can only think how much worse it is for our dogs if they have the same sort of feeling but have no understanding and their senses are compromised. I know with my epilepsy before onset I'd get a very strange taste, so it may not just be eyesight that's compromised but other senses as well, hopefully the medication will help ease things and you can get into a routine with her.
 

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I belong to a group on FB regarding alternative treatment for pets. There are qualified herbalists and experts on there and several members have had great success in managing all sorts of issues, including epilepsy. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to mention it, I’m sure admin here will edit/remove if it’s not permitted. The group is Herbal Health Pets UK/EU. Maybe pop along, have a search for posts about epilepsy or ask a question and the folk there will point you in the right direction to find information and suggest what might help. Sometimes it’s a case of using something alongside regular meds to keep the dose of regular meds down. Never just give up prescribed medications though without the support of your vet.

i’m a convert both for my dogs and for myself.
 
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