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Help! My dog is on medication but continues to have seizures. What should I do?
The goal of anti-convulsants in seizure control isn’t to make pets never have a seizure again. Although this would be nice, it’s not realistic. However, the number, duration and severity of seizures should lessen with medication. If your pet continues to have breakthrough seizures in an amount that concerns you, request a simple blood test to ensure the level of medication is therapeutic in your pet.
If the level is therapeutic and your pet continues to seize, ask your veterinarian about adding another medication like bromide or phenobarbitol, depending on which one your pet currently takes – or possibly consulting with a specialist. – Dr. Fiona Caldwell, DVM
I can’t tell if my dog is having a seizure or trembling for another reason.
Shaking and trembling may be caused by reasons unrelated to epilepsy in dogs. Learn how to tell the difference in 6 Reasons Your Dog May Shiver by Dr. Marc.
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Video Transcript: Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page today.
This question comes from Janet, who writes, “My dog had a seizure. I took her to my veterinarian and the veterinarian wants to wait to put her on seizure medication. Is this okay?”
I’m sorry your dog had a seizure. This can be a really frightening and scary thing to watch. Seizures that are caused by epilepsy happen in less than 1% of dogs. Typically, what you’ll see is the pet losing consciousness and paddling their legs or jerking or convulsing. It can last for a number of minutes.
Definitely make an appointment with your veterinarian if you ever suspect that your dog has had a seizure. You were right to go to your veterinarian. Typically, the vet is going to want to run some type of lab work or some other diagnostic testing to make sure there isn’t a different underlying problem causing the seizure.
As a rule of thumb, dogs less than a year of age that have a seizure are typically suffering from some kind of infectious problem, either viral or bacterial. In dogs from about one to six or seven years of age, typically the most common cause is epilepsy. Dogs older than seven that come up with seizures, unfortunately this is often related to something outside of epilepsy, scary things like a brain tumor, liver disease or some other problem.
Depending on how old your dog is and what the seizure was like, it actually might be okay for you to wait to put this dog on seizure medication. There is a decent percentage of the canine population that will have one seizure and then never have another one. Your veterinarian probably doesn’t want to put your dog on seizure medication if he or she is one of those dogs who never has another seizure.
A reason that I would put a dog on medication would be if they have seizures that last more than three to five minutes. Try to take a look at your watch or at the time on your phone so that you can know exactly how long it was. This is going to help your veterinarian to better treat your dog. If a seizure lasts more than three to five minutes, this is an emergency and you should bring your dog to a veterinarian. Their body temperature can rise quickly and can be a problem. Especially as pets age, seizures that last that long can cause problems with their brain and cause brain damage.
If it’s a quick seizure, 20 or 30 seconds to a minute, and your dog pops out of it, it isn’t necessarily an emergency but you should probably schedule an appointment with a veterinarian if they’ve never had a seizure before. If your dog continues to have seizures and they’re getting to the point where they’re once a month or two to three times a month, at some point the frequency is going to warrant medication. Talk with your veterinarian. There are seizure medications that typically work pretty well for dogs and can help control their seizures.
If you guys have questions for me, feel free to post them at Pets Best Facebook page.
Hello, I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. I’ll be answering some questions today from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.
I had several people write in about asthma in cats so we’ll tackle that one first. Cindy wrote in and she says, “My cat has been diagnosed with asthma. He is on theophylline and prednisolone but still is hacking and I can hear his breathing. It sounds raspy. I have an inhaler and I’m going to try it but if that doesn’t work what else can I do to make him more comfortable?”
Asthma in cats is pretty similar to asthma in people. There’s inflammation in the airways in the lung and that makes the cats cough. Cindy’s cat is on prednisolone which is a steroid. It works against the inflammation. Theophylline is what we call a bronchodilator. It opens up the airways and helps the breathing become more easy.
For most kitties that’s really all it takes to keep the asthma in check, but in Cindy’s case, that’s not enough for her kitty. She does have some options besides that regiment that the kitty is on right now. There are a couple of other more potent, stronger steroids that can be used in place of the prednisolone, and sometimes that’s all that needs to be done.
Another option is to use a steroid inhaler. This is very similar to the inhalers that people use for their asthma. We know that cats do not have opposable thumbs and they can’t hold the inhaler up to their mouths, so there’s a specially designed inhaler made for the kitty cats. It’s more like a little mask that is held over the cat’s face and there’s a small tube and the medication, the actual inhaler, is attached to the end. The inhaler is puffed into the tube there and that medication sits in that little tube. It’s called a spacer. The owner puts the mask over the kitty’s face, gives a couple of puffs, and then that mask is just held into place while the kitty takes about eight to ten breaths.
This is a perfect solution for Cindy’s cat because the steroid is getting right down into the lungs where it needs to be. That can be very effective versus the oral steroids that he’s on right now. Hopefully, after she tries that it will work really well for her cat.
Overall, kitties handle steroids very well. There are very few side effects, but sometimes you can see some such as diabetes. To reduce the risk of those side effects, if we can use the inhaler that will be better off for the cat in the long run.
We don’t know exactly what causes asthma in cats, but sometimes there does seem to be an underlying allergic component so an air purifier may be helpful. A good website that I’ve referred my clients to in the past is FritzTheBrave.com. It is a very nice website that give owners who have kitties with asthma a good education about exactly what asthma in cats is, how to treat it, and what to expect along the way. It’s written by the family who owned a cat named Fritz who had asthma, and despite his disease he lived a nice, long, fairly healthy life. Take a look at that so you can get an idea as to what to expect for your kitty cat.
Amber also writes in asking about asthma. She’s wondering if her cat has asthma. She says, “I wonder if that’s what’s wrong with my cat. He does the hacking sometimes and I was thinking it was maybe hairballs or allergies. How do I know if it’s asthma?”
Like Amber says, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between the cough from hairballs versus coughing from asthma. They look pretty similar and can be confusing. At the risk of making myself look very silly I’m going to try to demonstrate to you what a coughing cat looks like, because it’s a very specific activity that you’ll see. Usually the cat will be hunched down; the elbows will be kind of out to the side here, what I call little chicken wings; the head will be really extended very far and the little face will be really close to the ground and you’ll hear your cat do something like this: [makes sound]. That’s what it sounds like.
I’m not that good at impressions. FritzTheBrave.com actually has a really nice video of poor little Fritz having a coughing or an asthma attack. Check that out, because a lot of people have never heard a cat cough so they don’t realize what it is.
Of course, the only way to tell whether your kitty has asthma is by taking your cat to your veterinarian. The veterinarian will definitely want to do chest x-rays. The veterinarian will be looking for certain patterns in the lungs that indicate asthma. Sometimes there’s some blood work done to rule out other diseases that could cause some coughing. Sometimes you have to go so far as to get a sample of the cells from the lungs by doing what’s called a tracheal wash when the kitty is under anesthesia. The good news is that if your cat is diagnosed with asthma, with some fairly simple treatments the kitty can go on to live a long and healthy life.
Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Hotel and Veterinary Hospital in Boise, Idaho. I’m going to answer some questions today from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.
First, we have Steena. She says, “My cat eats too fast and then throws up. How can I get him to slow down? Even buying a special slow-feed bowl didn’t work because he just eats around the protrusions.”
Some cats really do like their food. When I see this type of behavior, where the kitty is eating so fast and so much that they almost immediately vomit, oftentimes it seems to be those cats that as kittens or young cats were strays and outside. They don’t seem to get past this mentality of not knowing when their next meal is. They were out on the streets starving, probably didn’t eat for a number of days a time. Now, even though they’re in a nice home and the food is plentiful, they still have that mindset that they’re going to starve if they don’t eat as much as they can right now. There are other cats, however, who just really love to eat. It doesn’t help that we’ve made our pet food very nutritious and very tasty.
Steena has the right idea as far as, we do obviously want to slow down the eating so the cats can’t fill themselves and get so full that they vomit right away. What I like to have owners try is to feed the kitty from a cookie sheet or other flat tray. That spreads the dry little kibble pieces out so they have to pick up one or two at a time. They can’t shove their face in a bowl and try to take a big gulp.
Another thing that works really well is to try feeding the cat from an ice cube tray that you fasten down. Again, physically they just can’t eat so quickly because they’ve got to put their tongue down into each individual cube and get only a couple pieces at a time.
Typically, something like that is going to solve the problem for you. The other thing you want to think about is multiple small meals throughout the day, and when I say small, I’m talking about maybe an eighth of a cup or so of food. If you’re schedule doesn’t allow for that, you can purchase automatic self-feeders where you can program them to open up at certain times of the day. Then you can measure the amount that you put in each compartment at that time.
Finally, the last thing you can try is perhaps using what we call a food ball or a treat ball. You can get these from most of the pet stores. It’s just a little plastic ball with some small holes in it that will only allow a few pieces of food to fall out. You open it up, put the dry food inside, and close it back up. Again, he can only eat a few kibbles at a time. Usually the kitty has to either roll the ball or tip it so that he has to work to get his food released so not only are we hopefully solving the problem of him eating too much too quickly, you’re also going to give him the mental and physical stimulation that’s really important for our cats, especially if they’re indoor cats only.
Hi. I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell, and I’m at home today answering questions from Pet’s Best Facebook page. The first question comes from William. William writes, “My German shepherd likes to bite shoes and the feet of the wearer of the shoes. What can I do about this?”
I can see how this would be an annoying habit. Obviously, a German shepherd’s a big dog, and it’s probably a behavior that should be broken, especially if he’s doing it to children or your friends. I would definitely discipline him. Make sure everyone in the family’s on the same page, that this isn’t a behavior that he’s allowed to do. So when he does it, you tell him “No,” distract him, give him a toy or something that’s appropriate for him to bite and chew on, and then praise him when he directs his attention towards that new toy.
The next question comes from Amy who says, “What is your take on the over- vaccination issue with pets?” This is a really good question, and I think that veterinarians recently have trended towards trying to not over- vaccinate pets as much. We are limited by the manufacturer’s recommendation on the vaccines though. So if the manufacturer only guarantees that that vaccine is going to work for a year, we can only guarantee for you that your pet is not going to become sick from whatever it is that you’re vaccinating within that year. So that’s usually where the numbers come from, one year, two years, three years.
I do think that especially in cats this can be a problem. Cats tend to be a little more sensitive to vaccinations.
Talk with your veterinarian about your concerns, and they can explain to you why they pick however many years it is between vaccines.
If you guys have questions for me, you can post them at Facebook.com/PetsBestInsurance.
Insurance plans offered and administered by Pets Best are underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware Insurance company. Independence American Insurance Company is a member of The IHC Group, an insurance organization composed of Independence Holding Company (NYSE:IHC) and its operating subsidiaries. The IHC Group has been providing life, health and stop loss insurance solutions for nearly 30 years. For information on The IHC Group, visit, www.ihcgroup.com. In states in which Independence American Insurance Company’s new policy form has not yet received regulatory approval, policies will be underwritten by Aetna Insurance Company of Connecticut. To determine the underwriter in your state, please call Pets Best at 1-877-738-7237.
Please note: This blog is designed to be a community where pet owners can learn and share. The views expressed in each post are the opinion of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Pets Best Insurance. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.