These seizures are manic repetitive motions, not the fall over in rigidness that one often thinks of when you hear “seizure.” Our boy paces, sometimes for a couple of hours. He gets hyperactive (like a puppy on a sugar overload) for short periods. He will just turn in circles over and over again. But we have learned that “Epilepsy” is a blanket term that covers a host of seizure activities. We have also learned that seizures are mainly focal (involving localized areas of the brain) in the Spitz family; American Eskimo Dogs are members of that group.
The problem that Quinn, or actually those of us trying to build a full picture of his health, has that our boy is a rescue picked up off the streets. So prior to 2-1/2years ago, when he joined the Army, we know nothing. Are the seizures a new onset? Or did some heartless previous owner not want to deal with his illness and simply abandoned him? Moral judgment aside, the answer to this question (and lots of others) could help shape our view of Quinn’s development and health history. Simply being certain of his age would be a gift.
Epilepsy is not a death sentence, we have learned, and medicated dogs can live full, long, and active lives. Quinn’s seizures are mild. But Dr. Julia was concerned that the frequency of the episodes, even though most last less than 3 minutes, seemed to be increasing. So she has prescribed Gabapenten, less powerful than Phenobarbital or potassium bromide but also with fewer side effects or potential liver damage.
Use of this drug for dogs, we were happy to discover, is the result of its success in controlling human epileptic seizures. This news reinforced once again, that comparative studies yield amazing benefits for both dogs and humans. It is too soon to tell if the dosage will need adjusting, Quinn has only been on it for about two weeks. Our vet tells us there is an effectiveness ramp up of about one month. We think we are noticing fewer nights of hyperness right before bedtime, but it might merely be the hope of loving parents.
In the meantime and beyond, we have discovered in our own pack, that the WDA is amazingly understanding. We were warned that in multi-dog families when one becomes sick that sometimes the others shun or pick on the affected. Not so within the Army.
In the throes of a seizure, Quinn sometimes gets confused and paces just outside the dog door unable to find the entrance; WD woofs to help him find the spot and to let us know that he is waiting for Steve to lift the flap. Nuka has always been TOWD’s protector when he gets distressed; it is she who goes out to find him in the yard or nuzzles his face when he stands staring, lost in the misfiring neurons. Puff snuggles against him when he finally sinks to the floor, exhausted, after a pacing session; her quiet demeanor instills calmness, I think. And YoYoMa, who most concerned us with his potential reaction, has learned to yield space to Quinn’s seizure needs by moving to the farthest corner of the room, lying down so as not to intimidate and very consciously not making eye contact with him. We are proud of the WDA’s reactions.
We are still very much on a learning curve and there are several of our blogging friends who have much more experience with Epilepsy than we do. We ask that on this Purple Day that you find out one fact about this disease; together let’s spread awareness and hope.