Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Canyon's Atypical Seizures

Canyon's story is shared with us by Brook of Ruled by Paws. Thank you, Brook, for sharing your story!

Our dogs had their annual check-ups with Dr. B.

Canyon was first. He had two years of good titers, so Bianca said we could skip them this year. She then asked us if we have any concerns and we told her about the episodes Canyon has been having.

After 3 years we finally figured out, it is not a leg cramp like we had originally thought. 

It took us (Bianca included) 3 years to figure out what was happening because it is not a typical kind of seizure.

The episodes started in October of 2011. 

We had recently come in from a long game of fetch and while Canyon was chilling on the kitchen floor, he started to flip out, as if he was in pain. After struggling to restrain him, it seemed that something was up with his left hind leg. He was able to move everything else, and he was totally aware of what was going on, but he couldn’t extend his left hip. It lasted only minutes and didn’t occur again until the following October, when they happened twice, about three weeks apart.

Bianca couldn’t make a definitive diagnosis because the symptoms, the frequency and after effects were odd. 

Other than some increased clinginess beforehand, a slight increase in drooling, some muscle twitching and a release of his anal glands, Canyon is completely normal during and after the seizure.

It lasts about 5 minutes from start to when he gets up and grabs his toy to parade around again. he doesn’t loose consciousness, he isn’t incontinent and the muscle twitches only seem to impact his back end, so it took a while for us to figure it out.

Last fall Canyon had another episode, and then at the end of February, end of march and then about a week ago, he had them.

Since they seem to be happening more often, we’ve finally figured out what they are. 

We did some research on seizures and it looks as though Canyon is having partial seizures.

Bianca feels as though we are doing everything we can at the moment. She is going to retest his thyroid levels in November because she said the results were on the low side of normal and that hypothyroidism can cause seizures, but that for now we’ll just monitor things.

Since we did note that he had had fish within 24 hours before having at least two of the seizures, Bianca has instructed us to eliminate all fish, except his Omega 3 supplement, from his diet. The only other thing we can pinpoint as a possible trigger is anxiety and/or stress, so we’re going to try to limit that, but of course it will be impossible to totally avoid.

We are a bit worried about this diagnosis because from our research, it looks as though it is common for partial seizures to worsen and become grand mal seizures

Bianca doesn’t want to start Canyon on medication yet, and we agree, because the medications cause liver damage, he’s not quite 5 and the seizures aren’t too severe, we all feel it’s better to wait.


Brooke is the human behind the blog Ruled by Paws. She lives in northern Ontario with her husband, four dogs and two cats. She has two university degrees, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Social Work from McMaster University, but has been unsuccessful in her job search. 

She spends her days training for agility with her current dog guide, Cessna, a 7 year old female black lab and canyon, a 22 month old male golden retriever and hopes to enter competitions next summer. She received Phoenix and Cessna from the Liones Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. 

Phoenix has been retired since may 13th, 2005 and Cessna entered their lives just over a week later, on the 27th. In the future, she hopes to begin her own breeding program and small rescue, but for now she tries to learn as much as possible about dog nutrition, health and training, while supporting Golden Rescue through monetary donations when possible.

Related articles:
Phoenix's Chronic Ear Infections
Idiopathic Vestibular Disease: Phoenix's Story

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What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

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