Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Is My Chihuahua Having Seizures?

Takun is our daughter's Chihuahua. She's a 4 year old spayed female. JD grew up with her. It was a blessing too, as he was a very busy body and I was thankful to have Takun around to keep him occupied and tucker him out.

It's hard to believe that when JD came to us him and Takun were the same size!

Takun started having episodes of what either looks like seizures or episodes of pain.

Veterinary exam didn't reveal much and they can't afford the suggested MRI. Here is a video of one of the recent episodes.



We are hoping for some input of what you might be seeing in the video.

The episodes don't last long, about 5 minutes on average and everything seems normal before and after. There also weren't any changes in Takun's demeanor, drinking or eating habits, and elimination.

Everything seems perfectly normal, other than during the episodes.

***

Takun’s episode started approximately 2 years ago. She was having them less frequently (once every 1 or 2 months) until recently. The winter of 2010/2011 she only had a couple rare episodes but it had gone for so long without an episode that we’d assumed they stopped.

They started again with an episode on May 24th and then in June she had 2 in the same week, the 25th and 30th.


Each episode only lasts 5 minutes at the maximum and they are always the same, she just seems very imbalanced and, of course, a little scared.

There has never been any kind of indicator when an episode begins, it just comes on all of a sudden without warning. 

The seizure she had on June 30th she was literally outside for 10 minutes tops. She had just woken so no food for at least 8 hours, but other times it will happen through the day. We free feed them so it's hard to pinpoint how long after she's eaten that she has episodes, but I'm pretty certain it varies a lot.

My first thought was overheating, but on the 30th I know for sure she couldn't have been too hot, it was early morning and not a very hot day, and only being out there 10 minutes she was not at all hot. There are often times when she'll sit outside for an hour and you can feel she's a bit toasty but she hasn't had a seizure.

I don't recall how many times it's happened where she was just chilling in the house, at least 3. 

After every episode she goes completely back to normal, she never appears to be exhausted or shaken, she literally shakes it off and then back to the same old Takun.

There doesn’t appear to be any pattern behind what causes the episodes, the majority have occurred when she’s been running around outside but this is not exclusive, she’s also had them when just sitting on the couch or sitting outside in the sun.

The only thing I recall that changed 2 years ago (and it’s a bit fuzzy so I may be wrong about timeline) is that we did change her food at one point from Orijen dog food to PC Extra Meaty Lamb & Rice Dog Food.

We’d described the episodes to the vet a while ago, she’d suggested keeping our eye on her and trying to get a video if she continued to have these episodes.  

I finally was able to get footage on June 30th and went to the vet that same day. She did a regular examination as well as some kind of neurological exam which included reflexes, what seemed to be checking if Takun knew where all her feet were, and checking to see if there was any back pain. She indicated that everything was perfectly normal.

Other than the episodes themselves Takun is just as she has always been, she never has any issues with her pee or poo, she eats and drinks normally, and her temperament and activity levels haven’t changed a bit. She’s extremely affectionate with little snippets of the classic Chihuahua sass.

We are looking for any input you might have as to what your think might be going on with her.

52 comments:

  1. My Paco has done this same thing twice in the last year, I do have one Chi that does have seizures and it is totally different it seems, but with Paco it almost like with your Takun seems neurological, I wish I was more help, but maybe knowing your baby isnt the only one can help some, or who knows maybe someone else will know more and we both can learn :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Heather, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience!

    The current best thought on the episodes is focal seizures, which do look different from full blown ones. So sorry both your babies are having problems!

    How old is Paco? You don't have a solid diagnosis either?

    ReplyDelete
  3. That looks exactly like a seizure- partial /focal seizure. I have had 2 epileptic dogs. First thing you should do is to get simple blood tests to rule out known causes like hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), diabetes, thyroid, kidney and liver diseases. These blood tests are very easy and the liver test is a bile acid test where your dog will eat a fatty meal and have his liver tested 2 hours later. Thyroid is the tricky one, because 7 out of 10 times it can be misdiagnosed as normal. Dr. Jean Dodds at hemopet.com has a good reputation for accurately reading blood tests and diagnosing the thryoid, and having your vet send the blood tests to her lab might be something you want to consider. If the blood tests come back normal, it might be called idiopathic epilepsy, which means a cause can't be found like genetics or vaccine damage. Your next step is to keep a journal, so you can log the time and duration of each seizure and any activities and behavior before and after. Maybe you will find a food, smell, or event triggering the seizure that you can prevent in the future. It's very important to find the triggers. Seizures can re-wire the brain to have more. So that means with very seizure, the brain is prone to have more. Seizures aren't a death sentence though! Some times dogs have a period of seizures then don't have another again for years or ever. I hope I helped a little.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Candace, thank you so much for sharing your experience!

    Yes, starting with blood testing was my suggestion also. I am familiar with Hemopet and I agree it's a good idea for the thyroid testing. They also have a food sensitivity test now.

    Awesome insight about looking for triggers!

    Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Jana.

    I'm sorry to see that little Takun is having these difficulties.

    It's very difficult to tell from the video but some of the things that came to my mind are, as you mentioned, a focal seizure or some other type of neurological event. Brief episodes of hypoglycemia might be a possibility also.

    To me, this looks less like a pain episode than it does a neurological episode but I'm not sure we can be absolutely certain of that based on a 2 minute video either. That's not to say that the video was not helpful...it was definitely a good idea to get that footage!

    Has Takun had any blood testing done?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Lorie,

    thank you so much for taking the time to look at this! No, no blood testing as of yet, but that was my recommendation to do so. I feel it is important to rule out any other potential causes, before jumping to and treating for idiopathic epilepsy sort of thing.

    Which blood tests (or other tests) would you recommend?

    Wow, hypoglycemia could be so brief and resolve on its own?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lots of good advice Jana. I agree - bloods are the next step, a thorough neurological exam. I would consider epilepsy meds short term, it would be helpful to see if they help settle things down.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jana,

    Candace and Dr. Lorie have you on the right track - you need blood work. The problem if it is a hypoglycemic event you need to know her blood sugar levels at the time of the incident. It still would be a great idea to have a baseline Chem panel, Thyroid and a CBC to have a baseline and to rule out some of the suggestions that Candace had.

    One question I have - does she have an open fontanel? It is common defect for Chihuahua's to have.

    ReplyDelete
  9. From a PT point of view, it looks to me more neuro than pain/ortho. It could be brain/seizure related or possibly something occuring in the spinal cord. The rounding of the spine is "roaching" (usually seen with pain or spasm) and the wide placement of the hindlimbs is typically from neuro origin. I would ask the Vet about taking a look at the spinal cord too. Very cute dog!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dear Dr. Dan,

    No, she doesn't, her house mate does, but not Takun.
    Thank you for taking the time to review! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have 2 chihuhua's and my female has started having the same seizures as you posted above. Except her eyes get big and it goes from one leg to another during each single seizure. I'm relieved to know we arent the only one going thru this but am very scared for our little Coco. I will be taking her to he vet asap. Have you found out any more since your post? Thank you, Kimberly

      Delete
    2. Taking her to the vet is the right next step, in order to find out what exactly is going on. Only then you're equipped to look for ways of addressing it.

      In Takun's case it is fortunately a benign syndrome. But it is best to know for sure. If you can, also provide your vet with a video of the episode(s).

      Delete
  11. Dear Dr. Chris,

    thank you for reviewing and commenting!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Sue,

    vary valuable point of view, thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Jana you're welcome. I have a special soft spot for epileptic dogs and empathy for their owners, I'm in full support of all epilepsy research (there is research being done to find a gene for epilepsy in Aussies by the way-the future seems to hold promising things to help eliminate this disease)
    Anyway, with every seizure, even if it's not from hyperglycemia or diabetes, the blood sugar level drops. So until bloodwork is all done, if your daughter gives some raw honey or plain vanilla ice cream right before or after a seizure, it will help some.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Definitely looks neurological and pain related to me. Almost looks like "bunny hoping". May be worth a read.

    http://www.chihuahuaclubofamerica.com/images/stories/pdfs/Health/purina_chihuahua5-11.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi MB, thank you so much for the comment and the resource!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I would certainly look at food as a means of reducing heat and wind which contribute to seizure activity. In Chinese medicine, seizures are caused by invasion of external wind/heat or internal build up.
    Infections (oral cavity, urinary tract, other), inflammation (skin, GI, post-vaccination, allergies, etc), and other conditions can cause the seizure threshold to be crossed.
    Look a the food source that Takun is eating. Dry Lamb and Rice food, which also contains corn. Dry food is very Yin (cooling) deficient and can cause build up of heat.
    Consider home prepared or commercially available (like www.luckydogcuisine.com) food that is moist and made of cooling food energy.
    Protein (turkey, rabbit, duck/goose, fish)
    Carbs (brown rice, quinoa, etc)
    Veggies (spinach, broccoli, mushroom, cauliflower, etc....even carrots, which are neutral).
    Go as low gluten or gluten free as possible (which may mean leaving out the grains, at least for short term).
    I have seen many dogs having diseases of excess heat (cancer, Cushing's Dz, Immune Mediated Diseases---like Cardiff's IMHA) improve when having their diet modified as such.
    Good luck!
    Dr PM
    www.patrickmahaney.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear Dr. Patrick,

    thank you so much for finding the time to review Takun's case!

    Besides blood testing it actually was my recommendation for her to see our TCVM, as I feel that it is a better answer than drugs. I also know a bunch of people who had great results using TCVM to treat seizures, many of them who reached to TCVM after trying drugs.

    Very interesting about the inflammation and seizure threshold!

    I did find it interesting that the seizures appeared at the time of the food switch (thought it could have been a coincidence), and yes, I am not very impressed by that one she's on now.

    Thank you so much for your input!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Jana,

    I think you have received some great advice here. I agree that it does *look* more like neurologic. Bloodwork is needed to rule out certain things, like you already know. Don't miss the obvious before you go hunting down zebras. I found Dr. Mahalaney's info fascinating.

    With as frequently as the episodes are happening, I hope she can schedule so bloodwork soon. Keep us posted. Sorry I am late to the party!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Dr. Laci,

    thank you so much for reviewing and commenting!

    Yes, "do bloodwork" was the first thing that came to my mind. (Interestingly their vet had already made up her mind that bloodwork won't show anything ...?) But because I know only very little about seizures, I feel more comfortable having others confirming the strategy that would have made sense to me.

    Yes, Dr. Patrick's info is fascinating. Having some exposure to the TCVM myself it does make sense to me. In fact, my judgement, if it is confirmed that they're dealing with epilepsy of sorts, would be to try the TCVM route first before popping in drugs.

    I THINK they are getting the blood drawn this Saturday, so waiting to see what that might tell.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Not sure of the signalment for this dog. (Age, Gender, ect) Can't comment on the TCM as I am not familiar. Definitely agree that this falls into the category of an episodic neurologic event, but would not classify it as a classic grand mal seizure (usually characterized by a pre ictal phase with loss of consiousness followed by a post ictal phase and then return to normal). If blood work is all normal (mainstream thought is that there is no reliable food allergy test), and imaging is not an option (probably not useful anyway for anything other than prognosis), then it might be worth treating for a seizure disorder, either with conventional anti seizure meds, or with alternative treatments.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My Rico has seizures every few months. His body stiffens and sometimes they are severe enough that he has a bowel movement. The vet has run a barrage of tests and can't figure it out. But he was pretty sure it isn't epilepsy and gave us signs to watch for. Rico doesn't show any of those signs.

    We are pretty sure it's due to low blood sugar which is very common with wawa's. We keep tubes of NutriCal on hand in almost every room of the house. At the onset of the seizure he will not lick the NutriCal off my finger so I touch it to his lips. Once he realizes it tastes good he will lick it from my finger. I try to give him about a tablespoon of the stuff. The seizures usually seem to not escalate in severity and he recovers quickly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry about Rico's seizures. Are you by any chance keeping a journal of them? This would show you when exactly they happen (before meal, after exercise or other ...) which might help you to narrow down what's going on.

      Delete
  22. I just watched your video. Next time pick your baby up and just hold and pet her. They need to be soothed because they are scared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy, good suggestion. It's not my dog, and I think they let her do her thing for the purpose of the video.

      Delete
  23. My friend is having the same issues with her chihuahua but she has had 14 seizures in a day! We have been calling around to ever vet but no one knows what is wrong with her and only recommend doing an MRI which is very expensive. We are at ends wit. We don't want to give up on her but she is suffering. The type of seizures shes having are a lot worth then the video posted above. She foams at the mouth a gets very stiff and then when its over she doesn't open her eyes but howls and cries. Only time her eyes open is when shes about to have a seizure. She use to only get them once a month but today they have come on very often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those really sound like serious seizures. Takun's were actually determined to be not real seizures but a "seizure-like" syndrome. Hers settled down and it's been a long time since her last one.

      When seizures come back-to-back you definitely want a vet to see her right away. As for a long term solution, you might have good luck seeking an integrative or Traditional Chinese Medicine vet.

      Delete
  24. My chihuahua has had 14 seizures today. They are a lot worse then the video posted. She foams at the mouth & stiffens up & howls & cries when they are over. Only time she opens her eyes is when she's about to have a seizure. Other than that she keeps her eyes closed. Vet has her on 3 meds but they aren't working. Only other option I have been given is to get an MRI done which costs a lot. She's suffering badly but I don't want to let her go. But I don't want her to suffer either. I'm starting to think I have no choice but to put her down. She turns 1 soon & she's 3 1/2lbs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debra, please see the above comment regrading the suggestion to seek holistic or TCVM vet for this. I have a number of friends who's dogs did really well with TCVM.

      Delete
  25. Hi!

    I have two chihuahua's, one is called George. He has rare seizures like the one shown in your video. He used to drink my coffee (milk, two sugars) when I wasn't looking and sure enough, some time later he would "lock up" just like your dog. He hasn't done this for at least 8 months, and it was my other chihuahua Colin, who spotted it earlier today and began making a fuss. As in all previous events, I would pick him up and calm him down. Then, within five minutes or so, he would carry on as if nothing happened. I remember now that earlier on today, I gave them both a snack of a dozen or so raisins each. I believe that's what triggered George's seizure (which is how come I discovered your video, searching for similarities). He is totally fine now, as if nothing happened. It's possible that sugar is what triggered George's latest attack.

    All the best to you, Takun, and everybody on this thread :-)

    Peter King
    Hong Kong 30th June

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Peter, coffee and dogs certainly don't mix - please read up on that. Dogs cannot metabolize caffeine in the way humans can and it can kill them.

    Raisins also are not a safe snack for dogs. Please check out articles on what human foods and toxic to dogs. You've been quite lucky so far.

    ReplyDelete
  27. My 9 year old "deer" Chihuahua has just started having episodes exactly like in the video in the last couple of days. One in the morning, one in the evening, and after being held (swaddled) then laying flat and resting, all is normal within 20 minutes or less. He is eating with a great appetite, and peeing, pooping is normal. Our holistic vet is out of town and we have an appointment but not until the 28th - - today is the 17th. Any word about what happened with this little dog since the video? My Chi needs to see the vet and will (probably tomorrow for tests with a conventional vet) but I do not want him on unwanted meds. This is scary and any insight into this condition would be very helpful to avoid unwanted, and not needed tests or meds. Thanks for any answers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Takun's case it was concluded that this is not a seizure but rather a form of dyskinetic syndrome.

      Her vet had patients with this syndrome before; treatments don't to seem make any difference.

      There is no associated pain or premanent damage with this syndrome. Good news - Takun had only one episode since.

      However, you do want your dog evaluated to have a conclusive diagnosis (or as conclusive as it gets). Videotaping the episode so the vet can see is very helpful plus some tests need to be done.

      Regardless of what condition this ends up being, I know people who had great results using TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) for their dogs with seizures. So there are always holistic and alternative options.

      Evaluating your dog's diet and toxic exposure is also one of important steps.

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer, I do appreciate it. I am glad to hear Takun was well afterwards. I will have my little one evaluated.

      Delete
  28. it looks exactly like when my chihuahua has a seizure. the vet told us the age onset is after 2 years of age, our baby had a seizure, swaying, off balance, dilated pupils, pale gums, salivating extremely. we were told to administer 1 tsp or 5ml of honey or maple syrup right away to increase the blood sugars in the brain to help him recover and avoid damage. did you receive a final diagnosis?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please see my comment earlier; yes, Takun was diagnosed with dyskinetic syndrome. There is no salivation, pale gums etc in her case.

      In your case it sounds that he is getting hypoglycemic, which can happen in small dogs. This would typically happen after exercise or just before a meal. Has the syrup helped?

      Delete
    2. PS: did you vet recommend more frequent feeding or changes in diet?

      Delete
  29. I have 3 chihuahuas 2 are brother and sister and the other is from a totally different breeder. He has seizures and the brother of the 2 has them as well. They usually last between 5-15 minutes sometimes up to 30 minutes and they do the exact same thing as in the video. My vet has not figured out what is causing it. They are fine a couple hours after and it happens once every couple months.. The best thing I think is to hold them close when they are having the episodes because u don't want them stumbling around and falling down stairs. They probably feel safe as well. Any other advice on what I should do please it would be great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Takun's (the Chi in the video) was diagnosed with dyskinetic syndrome. That is a rather benign condition. You might want to discuss this possibility with your vet, to see whether that is what is going on.

      I think IS kind of strange that the two unrelated dogs are having the same problem (not impossible, of course).

      Did you determine when exactly these happen, what precedes and potentially triggers these? (e.g. after exercise, before/after meal, before being at particular location ...)

      Delete
  30. I am having the same problem with my 8 year old chihuahua, Nissa. I noticed it happen once in a while over the last few years, but the episodes were short and things would go back to normal right after. I have done the same things as you to try to figure out if there was something causing this to happen. Over the last week, she is having them 2 times a day. Once in the morning and then in the evening. The episodes last around 45 minutes. The only thing that I can do to calm her is to swaddle her in my arms. It is very scary and hard to see her like this. I took her to the vet on Saturday and they did blood work. All of her blood work came back normal. The started her on Phenobarbital....but I am not happy about that, because they still haven't really diagnosed her. I just don't know why it is occurring so often all of the sudden. She is normal the rest of the time. I called the vet and left a message for him to call me back today. I am not happy about giving her a medication that will eventually do harm to her liver when I don't have a diagnosis. Her episodes look exactly like the video, but she does yelp and cry at times throughout the episode. Thank you for putting this on here. I am going to ask the vet about dyskinetic syndrome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since the nature of the episodes has changed, I think it's important that their cause might have changed somehow too. Either a different cause or perhaps old cause gotten worse.

      I think I would go back to drawing board with the diagnostics. Perhaps an MRI or consultation with a neurologist?

      Delete
    2. Just to add to this, Takun's episodes were only ever 15 minutes long maximum, but there were a few days that she had multiple episodes per day. This year she has only had 1 episode in total. I'm not sure if/what causes the changes in frequency.

      Delete
  31. I have 3 chihuahuas and 1 has seizures. 1 had the same symptoms and it turned out she had a massive tumour in her liver and it had spread to her brain. She sadly had to be put down. I dont want to scare you but i think its best you get the MRI for your dog. Your dogs beautiful. Breaks me heart watching her like that. I want to pick up your lil dog and cuddle her.

    pokeythedevil@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, so sorry about your pup! Daughter is not willing to do MRI. However, the Chi is doing better, so that's the important part.

      Delete
  32. Our 4 year old chihuahua has these exact same episodes :( i have no clue what to do for him....

    ReplyDelete
  33. My 4 year old chihuahua does the exact same thing! :( I have no clue what to do for him....he had two this summer about a two week span in between and then just had one... :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What diagnostics have been done? Did you make a movie of one of these for your vet to see?

      Delete
  34. I am really glad to know other chis have this problem. I got my beautiful Chi from ppl who couldnt care for her, due to abuse. When we first got her she wouldnt come out for nothing. Now we have had her almst a year and shes everyones favorite doggie. She is 6 yrs old around named pixie. Shes a long haired apple head chi. Shes very sweet. a few months ago we moved into our new house which is all hard wood floors and thats when she started to have these seizure type episodes. Sometimes she'll have them a few times a week or sometimes once or twice a month. she is very babied and is an inside dog. But sometimes she gets excited trying to find me or hop on the bed or even get caught somewhere like under the bed, or even being startled by my kids walking by. And she will arch her back and her back legs go straight and she cant walk or move if she does she falls over. Sometimes when she starts having the episode she gets more scared and tries to run and then she ends up slip n sliding through out the hardwood floors. I usually pick her up and swaddle her to comfort her. sometimes it lasts a few mins, sometimes as long as a half hour. some are mild and some are pretty bad where she ends up peeing all over my floors. With the economy the way it is, 4 children, and only one of us working its hard to take her to get all these treatments done that she's probably going to need but we just can not afford to right now and it pains me so much, she is like a child to me. If you have taken the dog to the vet and they told you what is wrong with your dog please let me know, i would like to know as well and see what we are up against. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deena, in Takun's case it was diagnosed as dyskinetic syndrome. It is important, though, to have your dog diagnosed as well. It concerns me that her are brought on by stress/excitement.

      Delete
  35. I have a 6 yr old Chihuahua who has seizures 4 a day not a pleasant thing to watch .his name is Sampson,i wonder if they ever go away and never have another one?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frequent seizures like that do require a vet visit. You need to try to figure out their cause and treat either the cause or at least use a treatment to lower the seizure activity.

      Whether or not they might go away depends on their cause. So please do investigate.

      In older dogs, a brain tumor is often a suspect. If idiopathic epilepsy, then I've heard about a number of cases where TCVM treatment was very successful.

      Either way, you do need to do something.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...