White Dog ran for the triage kit and the rest of the White Dog Army cleared the way and stood at the ready as Steve rushed in carrying Puff. "She's having a seizure!" he said and placed the spasming girl into my lap.
Her heart rate was normal; she was not panting; she did not seem to be in the throes of a neurological firestorm. Her temperature was normal. But she was shaking and paddling her legs. Her right eye was rapidly moving. She made no noise. I wrapped her in a towel and then tightly in my arms as I spoke soothingly. "Let's cool her down," I suggested and Steve ran for the freezer bag of peas we keep for just such an emergency.
"We were outside and I was walking with Taiko. Puff had just finished running around a bit with Zsofia and squatted to urinate. Then she just fell over on her side and went into this attack." Puff was beginning to come out of it now. Her gums were pink and her breath smelled normal. She looked around as though she did not understand how she had gone from fun outside to everyone standing anxiously around her.
I worried she had experienced a heart attack but she displayed none of the symptoms. By now she was fully back to herself and struggled to be put on the floor. She took a drink of water and walked as though nothing had happened. And at dinner she insisted on eating and cleaned her bowl.
White Dog and I called on the experts we could contact and then hopped online to better understand what had happened. Puff, who just turned 17 years old on March 19, has a history of heart and pulmonary issues, she is in amazingly good health considering, but the fact is that she IS nearing 90 in human years which means she is old. And, as in humans, old age brings with it systems that are more delicate and more prone to problems.
Turns out that Puff had an episode of syncope, fainting caused by a temporary interruption of oxygen to the brain. Situational syncope often results from over-exertion, stress, urination, straining defecation, low blood sugars or sodium or calcium. It is characterized by falling over on one side, the limbs may become stiff or the dog may exhibit paddling type movement. Recovery is spontaneous. The fainting incident in itself is not life threatening as long as the pet (or person) is kept safe from falls or injury.
Emphasis on the condition is to find the underlying cause. This condition is common in elderly dogs, especially breeds under 20lbs. Puff meets these criteria. Plus we already know that she has oxygen issues; that is why we have an O2 Kennel at home. She receives oxygen therapy every morning.
Having a pretty good idea of the problem now, we relaxed somewhat (as much as one can relax after such a scare, which still means no sleep and LOTS of watching over). We decided to add a second session in oxygen in the evening after dinner just for safe measure. Monday we will call Dr. Julia's office and confirm that we are on the right track.