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Hi all,

I'm after a bit more information on the above topic after Charlie had two seizures recently. He had his second birthday this month.

The first seizure happened in the morning. He had been for his morning walk, and was settled on his bed in the lounge. I'd been rummaging in a drawer looking for something, when I came across an old laser pointer which Charlie used to love chasing when he was a pup (being very careful of his eyes obviously!). Anyway, I shone this through into the lounge, Charlie saw it and went nuts chasing it. After 20 seconds or so, he came to a sudden halt, began pawing his face/ears, rolled onto his side, started mildly shaking, and looked cramped. He seemed aware and conscious of what was going on, and not especially happy. I cradled his head while this went on, and it was all over in less than a minute. He was a bit wobbly getting up, and his hind legs were the last thing to regain normality, but he seemed none the worse for this ordeal, just a bit clingy and not at all disorientated or clumsy.

The second time it happened, Charlie was sleeping when Mari, my partner, arrived home from working late (~2100 hrs). Charlie went from sleeping, to awakening very suddenly with a bark, and shooting off to meet Mari in the kitchen. Seconds after greeting her, he experienced the same symptoms as described earlier, with the same recovery pattern.

I went to the vet after the first attack, who kindly relieved me of £20 for 10 minutes or so of her time, during which she told me most what I'd already gleaned from reading up on the net and this forum. She also predictably suggested castration (the vets universal panacea).

Anyway, the common circumstance for setting off this seizure seems to be going from a state of mental and physical relaxation, to the complete opposite in a short space of time.

I'm trying to get as much info as I can on the symptoms of Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS) versus those of epilepsy, and want to carry on observing Charlie to see if he has any more seizures before I go back to the vet. Your opinions on whether this is the correct approach would be most welcome. We would hate to be doing the wrong thing by Charlie and wouldn't intentionally put his health at risk.

Many thanks,

Leigh, Mari and Charlie.
 

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Hi Leigh. The numbers of Labradors suffering from CECS in the UK is very low. How much of that is due to non recognition on the part of the vets I'm not sure. Suffice to say that even the vet college is not convinced!! From research done in America for the Border Terrier club, I'm convinced of it!

Remembering what I said above, I still firmly believe that there are only a few cases and the vast majority are epilepsy.

Can you give as much detail as possible of all events around the fit? What you had been doing in the days immediately before. (Anything unusual, going out and leaving him, away on holiday, attacked by a dog in the park, anything at all different to usual.)
What was happening in the minutes leading up to the fit? Sleeping? Active? (Yes, I know you've already answered this but anything else you can remember.
Then the fit it's self. What form did it take. How did it start? How did it progress? How did it end? How long did each phase take.
What was he like after the fit? Abnormal in any way such as particularly quiet? Hyperactive? disorientated?
Did he get right back to normal? If so, how long did it take?

Lots of questions I know, but if you can answer with as much detail as possible it would be useful. The little details are so important.

Regards, John
 

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Hi John,

Thanks for the reply. I'll try and keep my answers as succint as possible and to answer them in the order you asked.

I don't think there were any unusual circumstances leading up to the first seizure. With the second seizure, Mari was late home from work (she isn't late very often). Otherwise he was just going about his usual routine - walks, playing, eating, misbehaving, eating, sleeping, eating, etc... in the usual order of events.

Immediately prior to both attacks, he was sleeping quite deeply before waking suddenly and running after the laser spot in the first incident (accompanied by squeaky noises he does when he's over-excited), and towards the front door and barking when Mari arrived home in the second. He is a big dog (40 odd kilos of muscle and bone) and it occurred to me he normally likes a good old stretch when he wakes - front half, then rear half.

On both occasions, the fit started within 10 seconds or so of waking up. It started off with Charlie lying down on his front and seemingly trying to rub both his ears simultaneously with both front paws, as if he were trying to get a lead from around his head or some irritation from his ears. He then rolled onto his side. Body posture was as if it would be if he was sleeping on his side, but both front and rear legs were drawn up and rigid and visibly shaking, not overtly, but noticeably so. The legs furthest from the floor were clearly held off the floor and it appeared if you were to pick him up, he would hold his posture as would an animal with rigor mortis. His jaws were shut and appears a little tense as was his neck, and he was blowing from his jowls. His eyes seemed aware and if his name was called he would respond by looking at the caller. I was comforting him by holding his head and neck region the first time, and Mari the second. This lasted for about a minute.

Overrall, recovery lasted about 30 seconds, and you're talking just a few seconds, maybe 5 before each faculty recovered. His front half seemed to recover more quickly than his rear half. The tension in the limbs eased off. He didn't have much control of his limbs for a few seconds (~5), before he would try to get on his feet and maybe air-paddle for a couple of strokes before managing to get into a sitting position within two attempts. Rear leg control was regained very shortly afterwards although they continued to shake slightly as if he were scared for just a minute or so. When he could stand, he would push himself into my legs as he would when greeting me for the first time in the day.

Immediately afterwards, he was be a bit clingy (he is when he hurts himself, is scared by something or when he greets you after a period of separation) but had full control over himself, didn't appear clumsy or disorientated and if you had just walked into the room, would never had known he'd just had a fit. He wasn't noticeably quiet or hyperactive. We were clearly concerned and were giving him more attention than we would otherwise, but he went back to pre-fit behaviour within a few minutes. He didn't seem overly upset by what had happened, and soon settled back down on his bed.

The vet asked me if he seemed to want food after the first attack, as this is a common response after an attack of epilepsy - he's always hungry! But seriously, no he wasn't bothering us for food.

I hope this helps John. We really appreciate any thoughts and advice.

Regards,

Leigh.
 

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Just to let you know I'm still around. I'm just going out, but will get back to you later.

One more question,

He then rolled onto his side. Body posture was as if it would be if he was sleeping on his side, but both front and rear legs were drawn up and rigid and visibly shaking, not overtly, but noticeably so.
How long would you say between going down and the shaking starting? Immediatly or some seconds later? (obviously it may be that you hever actually saw the precise moment of going down so might not be able to answer this.)

Regards, John
 

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Hi John,

I can't be positive on this, but I believe he started shaking a few seconds after going onto his side. I'll have a chat with Mari and see if she noticed anything I missed before getting back to you later.

Regards,

Leigh.

Update - just spoken to Mari, the shaking started a few seconds after going onto his side and was confined to his front and rear limbs. No shaking in the body, but can't be sure there was none in the neck/head area, although this region appeared stiff.

Hi John - It's Mari here, back from work. Thank you, and all you other lab lovers for all your kind words.

Just to add a little to what I saw last night when Charlie had his episode - He came running into the kitchen to greet me like he usually does and I had hands full of shopping so after patting him on the head I turned my back on him to put the shopping on the worktop - I thought to myself - Charlie's not hounding me for attention as he normally does and I thought he'd gone back into the lounge. I turned round and found him on his side on the floor and then seconds latter his front paws where around his head as Leigh explained - as if he was rubbing his head.

His back legs were shaking and it was like he was trying to tuck them in - a bit like a baby does when they have colic ( a good friend of ours has a 2 mth baby that has bad colic).

His front legs were not shaking as bad as his back legs. He did try and sort of get up in the middle of it but couldn't because his back legs weren't working and lay back on his side, when it was over he got up again with a little bit of a struggle and his back legs were dragging a little but he soon got back to normal.

Thanks
Mari
 

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Leigh, John is the best person to help you with this and I'm glad to see is already 'on the case'.

Our BJ suffers from fitting and we spent a couple of years trying to get an exact diagnosis. We were also looking very closely at CECS. We took BJ to a canine neurologist for various tests and though she did not dismiss CECS - mainly because BJ's behaviour - like your dog's did not seem to be classic epilepsy, she would only make a diagnosis in the end of idiopathic epilepsy.

We were able to take a couple of films of BJ's fits, whilst one of us comforted him, the other took the film, it is useful for the vets if you can get a film.

I think you are right to think and watch before starting your dog on any drugs. Our vets rushed us into medication which we regretted and have since changed on the basis it made no difference at all.

I won't go through all we've done now, but I shall be very interested to hear how things go on with Charlie.

Best wishes
 

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Hi Fay,

I had been reading some of John's replies to other members soon after Charlie's first attack and it seemed he was the unexplained seizures guru. I'm glad he's taken time to help and we're both very grateful.

I took Charlie to the vet first time around for safety's sake so she could give him the once over. However, I was determined not to be rushed into anything but to sit back and watch for any reoccurrence and see if any patterns emerged and to try and describe his symptoms more accurately.

She mentioned idiopathic epilepsy and I guess many dogs are signed off with this, as things are a bit sausage factory with many vets. I don't want to seem like I don't have much confidence in our vet, it's just I like to arm myself with as much info as possible before going to see them - they can't possibly be expected to make a correct diagnosis on something unusual like this without first seeing the seizure and knowing the dog intimately (but not that intimately!).

I'm also aware that a little knowledge can potentially be a dangerous thing, but I don't want Charlie on medication that in the long-term, may be damaging for him, especially because of a misdiagnosis.

Thanks for showing your interest and concern and I'll be sure to keep the camera close to hand - good advice.

Regards, Leigh.
 

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Hi Leigh,

You are so right to remain cautious about going down the route of introducing anti-epiletic drugs at this point in time... Waiting and observing is i would say the right approach...

Sherpa has siezures... in the begining these were at 6 monthly intervals... and his vet assured me that medication wouldn't be considered unless the seizures became far more frequent... I believe the rule of thumb is 1 or more monthly?.......

Sherpa is now on medication BUT only because he had a spate of frequent fits last year happening weekly...and the vet said we needed to treat them with meds....... Looking back now and with Johns help ( albiet i joined LF after Sherps had started his meds..) I do believe that the spate of seizures he had at that time coincided with me working as a Practice Nurse and i had agreed to cover some extra clinics for a colleague ...Although i will never know definatly i do still wonder if this created stress in Sherpa and he fitted more frequently because of it ??

Had i known now thanks to John's help back then i may have said no i want to wait and observe a while longer..etc... Saying that Sherpa has improved dramatically with his meds... ( and i gave up nursing in April completley so as i could be with him and enjoy living life with him :D )

John will help you get through this Leigh , sending Charlie big huge hugs ..

Trizia and Sherpa x
 

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Hi Trizia,

Thanks for your reply and I'm glad to hear Sherpa's on the mend.

Do you know if Sherpa definitely epileptic? I'm just wondering how his seizures compare with Charlie's. I know every case is different, but it would be interesting to compare any commonality.

I should add that Charlie's first seizure was on 17th November, and his second and last was yesterday (28th). I don't think I mentioned this in earlier posts.

I'll give Charles some hugs once he's stopped chewing my hand. He's jealous of the PC - doesn't like to see it get more attention than him!

Best regards,

Leigh.
 

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Hi Leigh.

As far as all the tests that Sherpa went through both with his vet and at the Royal Veterinary Hospital The diagnosis was that of Idiopathic Epilepsy in the absence of any other organic /metabolic cause bieng found... CECS was never mentioned to us...

From what i understand ( and John will be able to correct or confirm this ) I think i'm right in saying that because Sherpa has responded so well to his meds..I.E Fits are now less frequent and less severe that it is more likley that Sherpa has Idiopathic Epilepsy as he has responded to treatment.... It's such a difficult condition to confirm or eliminate it would seem..... All i can say is that follow your instincts , question or take time to think about options put to you by your vet... And always know that despite his "seizures" Charlie is a happy lovley Lab who can enjoy life to the full.. :)

John will be your shoulder to lean on Leigh, I don't know where we would have been without him :D

Another big hug coming Charlies way right now!!! can never give a lovley labby enough hugs..me thinks!!!

And to you too,

Trizia x
 

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Hi Trizia,

I would agree that if Sherpa is responding well to treatment, his diagnosis was likely to have been a correct one.

Charlie has just been out for his secong walk of the day, had his dinner, and is at this moment, having a kip. I'll be sure to make sure he's awake when Mari walks in, as we don't want a repeat of yesterday.

I'm hoping there is a solution to this problem that doesn't involve medication - i.e. just something simple like not letting him get over excited whenever possible (he's a bit of a bum tucker - two today!), but we'll just have to wait and see. It's not the end of the world if not...

Thanks for your kind words and advice.

Regards,

Leigh.
 

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Hi Leigh and Mari.

Sorry this has been a time coming. I've had rather a lot on my mind this evening.

As so often with these things, there are classic signs, and bits which don’t add up!

My “Bible” on Epilepsy is Phyllis Croft’s book, “The Management of Epilepsy in Dogs”. To let you know her qualifications on the subject, in 1959 she received a Fellowship for her thesis on Epilepsy in dogs and in 1975 was invited to speak on the subject at the World Veterinary Congress in Greece. Although now retired (I’m not sure if she is still alive) when it comes to epilepsy, it was due to her work that we today know what we do.

The trouble with Epilepsy is that although there are rules, it does not always obey them! It also can have many causes. (Although most can easily be eliminated)

There are three main breeds affected by Primary (or idiopathic) Epilepsy. GSD’s, Golden’s and Labradors and in these three breeds, a hereditary link has been established. So if fits occur in these breeds then this would always be the starting point. Also it generally first shows it’s self in the 1 to 3 year old area so Charlie falls right in the middle of that range.

These were the reasons I asked the questions which I did. Remember, I am talking specifically about my old Beth, plus some other dogs which belonged to friends.

I found stress could be involved, in that although Beth never fitted during times of stress, she invariably would fit a few days after. I’m talking about how in those days we would go off caravanning, and during the holiday she would be perfect, but would always fit a few days after. Hence my question on the days before the fit.

My question about immediately before, Primary Epilepsy fits normally occur when a dog is relaxed, even often whilst the dog is asleep. A friend’s GSD was only found to be epileptic because they lived in a bungalow and one night the convulsions were causing her to bang on their bedroom door! Excitement and activity can sometimes actually prevent the fit!! If I noticed Beth early enough and could get her out in the garden I could sometimes walk it out of her. (Sometimes that failed to prevent it, and somehow that usually happened when it was pouring with rain!!! I’ve got soaking wet several times!! :wink: ) If it was too far along the line then nothing could prevent it. My thoughts are that this is what happened in your case. The fit would have happened with or without the laser pointer.

The rigor mortis simile is a good description. The muscles contract and the limbs appears as ridged as a board. Beth used to lift a front paw and almost in slow motion, collapse onto her side. Unconsciousness follows, but often only seconds so people often miss this phase and maintain that the dog never lost consciousness.

The next phase is where the shaking starts. At this point the dog is actually conscious and often tries to stand. All dog’s reaction to fits are different and in Beth’s case, she liked to feel me with her and as long as I gently held her and talked to her she was much more relaxed and I could keep her down for longer so that she was further recovered before trying to stand.

In the latter stages of a fit, the last “Bits” to recover are balance and eyesight. (Scent often covers for eyesight so it is not always immediately obvious.) As Beth was always a little hyper anyway, I suppose it was only natural that she would go very hyper after a fit, so that behaviour was maybe not typical. It was probably around an hour for her to revert to “Normal”

This is pretty much Primary Epilepsy. As I said at the start, it is not an exact science and things can and do vary. But as I said, there can be other things.

Poisoning. Metadehyde used in slug bait, Strychnine or Warfarin have been known to bring it on. But you would almost certainly know something was wrong right back at the time of the original poisoning. Strychnine affects the spinal cord. Warfarin the blood supply through internal bleeding.

Hydrocephalus. No forget it, it aint that!

Distemper or vaccine reaction. When was he last vaccinated?

Encephalitis. Question, does he ever have anal gland problems? (Sounds silly, but it’s not as daft as it sounds!)

Cerebro-Vascular Disease. Bit too young I would have thought.

Meningitis. You would have known because the dog would have been ill!

Tumours. The usual is a brain tumour, but in my experience there are character changes. (Sadly I once misread a dog who was suffering from a brain tumour. All the signs were there but as the dog was a rescue with no known history before the tumour occurred I did not realise that what I was seeing was not the natural dog.) Without character changes I would rule that one out.

There is one other form of Epilepsy, Tonic Epilepsy. This is another “Labrador form” where the dog just stops and fails to respond to voice. It very soon passes, probably less than a minute. But the big thing is that it tends to happen when the dog is active.

So, does anything here ring bells? Read it through but don’t expect an exact match. The temperament and nature of the dog has a bearing on it, also the severity of the fits. One thing I did was to keep a diary of events. List dates of fits and all the bits I’ve talked about here plus anything you can think of. It’s surprising how you can see a pattern building up.

I’ll post a bit more tomorrow on medication, and how I handled things with Beth. But one thing I must say. I know exactly how you feel. I was devastated when Beth developed Epilepsy. But it is something you come to terms with. As I said, Beth developed it at 18 months old. Her working career was over before it began. It felt like the end of the world. But she was my friend and companion for another 12 years. She was never too much trouble. She gave me so much and if I could have her back tomorrow I would welcome her with open arms. She was a very special dog and I was honoured to have her stay with me. Epilepsy might seem like the end of the world, but believe me, it’s not.

I now have a date with a 12 year old malt :wink:

Regards, John
 

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Hi John,

Some very interesting facts you've posted out - thanks a lot for your time, we really appreciate this. Hope you enjoyed your malt last night.

The slow motion paw rings a bell. Your description of primary epilepsy seems to cover a lot of Charlie's symptoms, and you're right about missing a fleeting loss of consciousness. It would be hard to say without really looking for it.

He had his booster jab in Feb, and also has jabs for rabies (booster last March), as we will be taking him to France. He's also had a jab for kennel cough earlier this year (a requirement of our local trainer).

I've a confession - we moved house earlier this year. Can't believe I didn't pick up on this! I must have unconsciously blocked the trauma of house-sharing with the in-laws. We moved from our old house in August 2005, moved in with Mari's parents for about 8 months (yikes!), before finally moving into here. We've been renovating the house for about two years.

Charlie always had a cage with his bed where we put him in at night or when we weren't in the house. He had this up until us moving into the new house (which I'll refer to as Pencarreg from now on, as that's what it's called). He seemed to settle ok, but there were/are certain issues. We were awoken one night soon after moving in by Charlie yowling. When we went downstairs, he was sat on his bed, shaking (mostly rear legs). This has only happened the once as far as we are aware, and have thought nothing more of it.

He doesn't like it when Mari and I go to bed in the evening, and growls a lot (every evening). We've been lax with him, but have started to try to stop it. He does the same when Mari goes to work in the morning (only growls at Mari and I'm at home all day). I must emphasise, it's just growling. His tail is usually wagging and he can be approached and given a hug no problem (hence why he has got away with it for so long).

He has growled once in a pub - bloke came up to him and patted him on the head, Charlie rolled over and began having his belly rubbed, then let out a growl (and you have to hear these to believe them). Bloke retracted hand v. quickly and most of pub peered cautiously over their pints to see what sort of beast we'd brought into their local. Again, all noise, and once we'd explained the issue to the guy, Charlie was quite happy to have his belly rubbed whilst continuing his growling. Hasn't growled in a pub since thank goodness. This undesirable behaviour has only developed since moving into Pencarreg without his cage and we're addressing it.

It's got me thinking about Charlie when he's sleeping. He does dream a lot (anyone elses input on this would be great) or what Mari and I think is dreaming! I have no reference so don't know what others peoples dogs are like - there's probably huge variation.

I'll expand on this - his paws regularly twitch (front and rear) as though he's dreaming about walking, he also runs in his sleep if you can imagine that, and is very vocal (squeaking, woofing), and sometimes looks like he's playing or chasing his toys with his front paws.

He has done this sort of thing for a long as I can remember, and I'd be hard pushed to say whether he did it more or less since we moved into Pencarreg.

One last thing - I found a dead peregrine on our regular walk earlier this year (April/May). A pigeon had been baited with alphachloralose - a rodenticide, and this is what had killed the peregrine. Charlie had been sniffing around the area I found the falcon before I realised the potential of a poisoning, but I'm as sure as I can be he didn't come into contact with it. If he did, here's what I may have expected to see:

"Ingestion of the product may lead to nausea and vomiting. Ingestion of large quantities of bait may give rise to initial stimulation (hyperactivity) followed by incoordination, including loss of muscular co-ordination (ataxia), sedation and hypothermia."

No problems with his bum glands.

It makes not a jot of difference to us if Charlie has epilepsy. We wouldn't change him for the world.

Sorry for lumping this on you as well, I'm hoping you'll have a eureka moment, but can make anything out of that lot?

Many thanks John,

Leigh and Mari.
 

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The slow motion paw rings a bell. Your description of primary epilepsy seems to cover a lot of Charlie's symptoms, and you're right about missing a fleeting loss of consciousness. It would be hard to say without really looking for it.
Yes, it is hard to spot. People often think that either the dog was never unconscious, or that it was unconscious for the whole of the time it was shaking, when in fact the shaking actually marks the end of the unconscious stage.

He had his booster jab in Feb, and also has jabs for rabies (booster last March), as we will be taking him to France. He's also had a jab for kennel cough earlier this year (a requirement of our local trainer).
Too long ago. Vaccinosis would be apparent long before this so I think we can rule that out.

I've a confession - we moved house earlier this year. Can't believe I didn't pick up on this! I must have unconsciously blocked the trauma of house-sharing with the in-laws. We moved from our old house in August 2005, moved in with Mari's parents for about 8 months (yikes!), before finally moving into here. We've been renovating the house for about two years.
Same really applies to this. I don’t believe that stress has more than a temporary effect, in that it can bring on a fit in an epileptic dog, but it cannot bring on epilepsy. So please don’t blame yourselves, you have absolutely no reason to. I will come back to this later though.

Charlie always had a cage with his bed where we put him in at night or when we weren't in the house. He had this up until us moving into the new house (which I'll refer to as Pencarreg from now on, as that's what it's called). He seemed to settle ok, but there were/are certain issues. We were awoken one night soon after moving in by Charlie yowling. When we went downstairs, he was sat on his bed, shaking (mostly rear legs). This has only happened the once as far as we are aware, and have thought nothing more of it.
I can imagine a dog moving to new surrounding, dreaming about the old house then waking up in a different place and feeling lost. Could be, but is there a different answer? If he was already on the threshold of Epilepsy, did the stress of moving bring a fit on?? Was that his first fit and did it worry him?? We will of course never know but. . . . . . .?

He doesn't like it when Mari and I go to bed in the evening, and growls a lot (every evening). We've been lax with him, but have started to try to stop it. He does the same when Mari goes to work in the morning (only growls at Mari and I'm at home all day). I must emphasise, it's just growling. His tail is usually wagging and he can be approached and given a hug no problem (hence why he has got away with it for so long).

He has growled once in a pub - bloke came up to him and patted him on the head, Charlie rolled over and began having his belly rubbed, then let out a growl (and you have to hear these to believe them). Bloke retracted hand v. quickly and most of pub peered cautiously over their pints to see what sort of beast we'd brought into their local. Again, all noise, and once we'd explained the issue to the guy, Charlie was quite happy to have his belly rubbed whilst continuing his growling. Hasn't growled in a pub since thank goodness. This undesirable behaviour has only developed since moving into Pencarreg without his cage and we're addressing it.
Is he growling, or is he talking? Some dogs are great conversationalist!! My Amy for one. Remember dogs cannot use words so are very limited in the sounds they can make so it is not always easy to work these things out. Body language is the real clue but can take a bit of reading.

It's got me thinking about Charlie when he's sleeping. He does dream a lot (anyone elses input on this would be great) or what Mari and I think is dreaming! I have no reference so don't know what others peoples dogs are like - there's probably huge variation.
This is perfectly normal. We say ours are “Playing with the Wabbits in the field.”

One last thing - I found a dead peregrine on our regular walk earlier this year (April/May). A pigeon had been baited with alphachloralose - a rodenticide, and this is what had killed the peregrine. Charlie had been sniffing around the area I found the falcon before I realised the potential of a poisoning, but I'm as sure as I can be he didn't come into contact with it. If he did, here's what I may have expected to see:
Did he appear in anyway ill at the time? If not, although the symptoms sound right, I think we can disregard it.

No problems with his bum glands.
I said this one sounded odd, but left untreated can cause a toxic poisoning! Never heard of it happening mind but it is listed in the book!

Regards to you both, John
 

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Cheers John,

He wasn't ill at the time of the peregrine poisoning, so I guess that can be discounted. I never thought it was anything to do with it but thought I'd mention it.

We won't take up any more of your time, but we'll be keeping an eye on Charlie with notepad and camera close to hand. We have a better idea of what small details we're looking out for if it happens again.

Once again, many thanks for your time and input - it has been invaluable.

Best regards,

Leigh, Mari and Charlie.
 

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As always John, I have learnt something new from your replies to Leigh.

Many thanks from BJ and me as well, I should think another shot or two of best malt should be heading your way this evening .......... you most certainly earn it.

xx
 

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Hi John
Mari here again - thanks for all your help. Thought we'd just let you know that we have posted some pictures of Charlie in the Chocolate Lab gallery - just incase you would like to put a face to the name !!!!
Thanks once again - we'll keep you posted on any further developments.
Mari, Leigh and Charlie
 

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Hi

I've just caught up with this and it has been very interesting. In my ignorance I did not realise that Labs had a tendency to epilepsy - coming from GSDs I thought it was a GSD thing.

John W - you mention that it is thought to be hereditary - are we able to trace at all which lines are most at risk? (without risking lawsuits for slander!)
 

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Some lovely photos Mari. It’s such a shame that our lovely breed should have these problems. Keep up the diary, it really can help understand things.

Before I leave the subject, a quick word about medication and a warning of possible trouble.

Back in the days when Beth went epileptic, (the early 1980’s) there were a few medications available. The drug of choice was Phenobarbitone. There were others but I have to say they were not that effective. Then, I would guess it was about 1990 the law changed and vets were not allowed to prescribe anything which had not been passed for animal use. This law took a whole raft of regularly used drugs out of circulation. The reasons for these laws, passed by the EEC was to prevent possibly harmful drugs getting into the food chain. An admirable aim, if a little misguided!!! Since then, common sense has taken over and Phenobarb is back on the menu. What did happen though was that during this time, Mk.2 versions of some of the other drugs were released so that now there is rather more choice.

There are three main types of drugs used, although one is not normally used as a regular preventative medication. (I’ll come to that one later.)

The two drugs are either Phenobarb or Bromide based. Epiphen is a regularly used Phenobarb based drug and Epilese is Bromide based. Not all dogs respond to one so the other is a good alternative. Often a vet will prescribe a combination of both. The dosage is quite critical and regular blood tests will, ideally be needed to keep a handle on things. Rather better than in the days of my Beth when a vet just hazarded a guess and crossed his fingers!

Now the third drug, and also something you need to know. Very occasionally, a dog can get into a condition where one fit follows the other with no break between. I don’t mean just a couple of fits, most of Beth’s were in twos, I mean a situation where the dog is fitting continuously for several hours. This condition is called “Status Epilepticus. This is an emergency situation and the dog could die from exhaustion. The usual action is for a vet to give an injection of Valium. Remember this, but don’t overly worry about it. It is not common and in all Beth’s years it was never necessary with her.

So, to medicate or not to medicate?

When Beth first went epileptic I was given Phenobarb for her. My thoughts at the time was that I was going to be giving a powerful drug to an 18 month old puppy for the rest of her life. I decided that I would hold fire and see how things developed before going down that route. In fact she never materially changed in frequency or severity so she never was on medication except for the very first few days. Other friends on the other hand did medicate. This did certainly help their dogs at that time. But one thing I must say is, if you choose to medicate, you may well find that later in life the dog becomes fit free. You think he has grown out of it. HE HAS NOT! Please do not stop the medication. Once started continue it for the rest of his life! Time and again people who stop find their dog starts fitting again often going into Status Epilepticus and they loose the dog. This happened to two friends of mine.

As a final thought, I have to say though, Medication can be the final proof. As an example CECS does not respond to medication.

So that is Epilepsy. Remember I am here to bounce ideas off of or as a shoulder to cry on, either on the forum, via PM’s or by email.

Regards, John
 
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