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Help with seizures and dementia in an older dog

  1. #1

    Help with seizures and dementia in an older dog

    I'm new here and am hoping that I can get some help on what to do with my elderly dog. He's a black, male, pug named Milo. He's 14. I rescued him when he was just 3 months old. He had been abandoned and was roaming the streets. About a year ago, he started to have random seizures. In the last 6 months, they have gotten worse. The vet put him on Phenobarbital, but he is not doing well on it at all. He has become increasingly senile on it. He drinks a ton of water and when he's awake, he just circles or he's obsessed with food (more so than a normal pug). He has lost all ability to hold himself and frequently pees and poops in the house.



    I work long hours and I've had to isolate him in the bathroom during the day. He has a nice bed with pillows and toys and lots of pee pads. I leave him with a full bowl of water, but by the time I come home, he's finished it and typically has peed and pooped. Lately, he has developed breakthrough seizures. The vet has him on the minimum dosage. I am very reluctant to increase the dosage only because of the side effects. I've spoken to the vet about alternatives, Potassium Bromide, Keppra, but those have lesser half-lives than PB and my hours at work prevent me from giving him the medication every 6 hours.

    He is not in any pain except for when he has a seizure, however, I really worry about his quality of life. As I said, he's still eating and doesn't appear to be in any pain, but to see him so out of it and senile is a daily struggle. I previously had another pug, who developed epilepsy at the age of 8. He was on Phenobarbital until he passed away at the ripe old age of 16. He never had any of these problems Milo is having, so my previous experience is clouding my judgement here. Any advice is welcome. I just don't know what to do at this point.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    when you see him start to have a seizure put an ice pack in the middle of his back, this will kind of short circuit the seizure and stop it from becoming a full blow episode. Also you can ask your vet for valium, if he's having a seizure give him a dose of valium rectally. This also will stop the seizure or make it not as severe. If there is a vet teaching hospital or school near you this is the place to take him. They see all kinds of animal issues and are more up to date on the latest remedies. But if you are not there when he starts then there's not much you can do.
    he is your friend and protector, he will love you unconditionally, you owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion

  3. #3
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    I had a dog who developed Idopathic Epilepsy, she had cluster seizures and had them frequently, daily and many multiple times in some days. Sometimes we could tell she was about to have one because she would hallucinate and often look high on the wall or toward the ceiling.

    After having one, she might have a couple others, either minutes or hours apart. She was on strong medications like phenobarbital, potassium bromide and valium for the clusters. She was always hungry and thirsty and with the increase in meds she became very spacey. She was very nervous and scared right after a seizure, and would lose her vision. She was afraid of us and very stressed.

    She often lost bladder control during a seizure and sometimes bowel control. We took her out in the yard often, so there weren't really accidents in the house if she wasn't having a seizure, she had to be watched constantly for her safety.

    Aside from that, she also was afflicted with hip dysplasia, and was on pain medication for her hips. The muscles atrophied steadily, and she relied on her frontal strength to stand. Toward the end, she could no longer stand on her own, and was in pain, often yelping when we tried to help her stand. Her mental clarity was lost from all the strong medications needed. I did try some natural supplements with her, but her conditions were too severe.

    I really feel for you, it is so heartbreaking to watch them convulsing on the floor or bed and all that goes with it. Some epileptic dogs are not that severe, the ones who are do lose their quality of life, the times of feeling and acting normal lessen, they fade away but still love and depend on your to be there to comfort them.

    As far as the incontinence, I can only suggest belly bands or diapers if needed. What do you mean by 'breakthrough' seizures, I never heard of that term?

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Welcome to the forum Phanaba. Thank you for posting.

    I never had this experience with any of my cats, but do have epilepsy myself. Phenobarbitol is an old drug, so many veterinarians prescribe it for cats and dogs. People take it every 12 hours, so I wonder if Milo can take bigger doses for a longer period between them. Ask your vet what the maximum dose for a dog Milo's size is.

    Keppra is horrible. Its most common side effect is irritibility. In fact my doctor told me that is the most common reason people quit taking Keppra. I know because I took it years ago. Milo will be an uncontrollably bad dog if he takes it. I would ask the vet what else is approved for dogs. The type of seizures Milo gets (grand mal, petit mal, focal, etc.) partially determines which drug will work best for him. It is also an individual thing, with one dog doing great on a drug a different dog gets worse on even if both dogs get the same type of seizure. Now keep in mind I do not know how many anti-seizure drugs are approved for dogs, but if Lamictal XR (lamotrogine) is, I recommend trying it.

  5. #5
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    Do you live near a veterinary college? They have neurologists and more advanced equipment. A key in determining what medication works for Milo is getting some tests done that are only available at teaching hospitals. Neurologists are specially trained to diagnose and treat epilepsy in cats and dogs.

  6. #6
    I don’t, but thank you for the suggestion.

  7. #7
    Thank you for the tips. I am taking him into the vet tomorrow and will ask for a prescription for Valium.

  8. #8
    My vet described “breakthrough” seizures are when he’s on medication, but he still is having seizures. Thank you for sharing your story. It is really hard and very difficult to watch on a daily basis.

  9. #9
    Thank you so much for the tip on Keppra! I am taking him into the vet tomorrow. I will definitely ask about the Lamictral XR. I’m willing to try anything at this point!

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by pranaba View Post
    Thank you for the tips. I am taking him into the vet tomorrow and will ask for a prescription for Valium.
    The Valium they gave me was liquid and to be administered rectally during the seizure but that was not possible, and sometimes the seizure would cause an unexpected bowel movement. But as soon as she was back to normal after the seizure, I gave it to her in a little bit of yogurt, it seemed to calm her.

    Quote Originally Posted by pranaba View Post
    My vet described “breakthrough” seizures are when he’s on medication, but he still is having seizures. Thank you for sharing your story. It is really hard and very difficult to watch on a daily basis.
    Oh, then most of mine were breakthroughs, it is so hard to watch, your heart just aches.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    1,862
    Sorry that Milo and you are going through this. You are taking good care of him.

    I had not heard about the following until seeing this video. Has Milo had an easy-peasy deworming lately for good measure?


  12. #12
    You can rest your conscience in knowing that you've done everything you can. Just imagine your baby's life without you. Do you have a friend that can babysit in your home? I've only ever had a cat with this problem so I can't give you any more advice than any of the nice people here. Remember that all we can do is our best and you're doing pretty good. Patience & love. 🙏

  13. #13
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    "Our best" is not the same for everey dog and dog parent. Only you know what your best is.

  14. #14
    Thank you. I asked the vet today about a Valium prescription, but he told me it actually doesn’t last as long and I would need to give every 6 hours! Aaargh! So, he ended up adding Potassium Bromide to his existing Phenobarbital prescription. It has made him really sleepy which is good because at least he’s not going in circles; but I think that is only a result of the initial increased dosage.

  15. #15
    Thank you. I’m trying to do everything I can.

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