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Dachshund with seizures.

Species: Dog
Breed: datschund mix
Age: 8-11 years
Gina had an episode that looked like a seizure about 1.5 years ago for a first time. Her eyes became wandering around, she was a little shaking, than she tried to walk, but her back legs didn't work...the whole episode lasted maybe 40 seconds, but she regained the ability to walk in about 5-10 minutes. After this episode, she started to have mild versions for the next several months, maybe one or two per month. Gina went to the vet, and the vet had a blood work, which came back clear. The vet said that maybe Gina's back was injured, which didn't sound very convincing. We thought it might be brain tumor, except from March to today's date, Gina didn't have any episodes. Today she had a mild seizure again. If blood work is clean, therefore, suspecing brain tumor, weren't all these seizures supposed to become more violent and more often? What else could this be?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your question. Seizures are so difficult to deal with because often we don't know what the cause is.

It certainly is possible to confuse seizures and back problems. As you are likely aware, dachshunds are very susceptible to back problems. What you described with wobbly back legs, and shaking really could be a back problem. But it would be unusual for the problem to only last for 40 seconds. I do have some patients who have occasional back spasms that do this. But I think you are right that these are most likely seizures.

For most causes of seizures there is no test that we can do to determine what is happening. Sometimes an animal with kidney or liver disease can have seizures because of the disease but if this were the case then we would be seeing changes in her blood work.

When an animal is having seizures and has normal blood work then two of the most common causes are epilepsy and yes, brain tumor. The only way to tell the difference between the two would be to have an MRI done but the cost of these is very expensive and there is no guarantee of getting a diagnosis. If I am seeing seizures in an older animal, then tumor is more likely. However the treatment would be the same in either case. You have listed Gina as being between eight and 11 years of age. That is not terribly old for her breed which means that either possibility could be true.

I think, given the fact that the seizures started so long ago, epilepsy is much more likely. In epilepsy seizures may get more and more violent and more and more often, but they don't always follow that pattern. Sometimes they can be very random.

If this were my case I likely wouldn't do anything at this point. We don't tend to treat seizures unless they are happening very frequently, or if the seizures are very severe. Seizures are not painful for a dog. But they are hard for us as owners to watch. If these episodes are becoming more frequent, then one thing I might try is putting Gina on an anti-inflammatory medication just to see if things improve. If they do, it could mean that these were actually back spasms after all.

If things don't improve, that would likely be prescribing her and antiseizure medication such as phenobarbital. This medication is very commonly prescribed and is safe to use.

I know that seizures are very frustrating to deal with. You feel so helpless when there is nothing you can do to help your dog who seems to be so uncomfortable. It does sound like your vet is doing the same things that I would do.

Please let me know if you have more questions, and I hope things don't get any worse.

Dr. Marie

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Yes, Gina is actually around 8.5 yrs of age, so her episodes started around age of 7. We actually gave her pills from Vet in Europe, similar to Pheno, with a very weird name. Than the episodes for sure stopped for a year. We stopped the pill in June (she took it for about 3 months total), and no episodes had been ocurring till now (over 7 months). Is there a chance for heart problem? Like syncope? The seizures are not very violent at I wonder if the heart could be an issue too

thank you for your great response!!!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah yes. I meant to mention that a heart problem could cause these symptoms too. But a few things don't fit. The vast majority of the time when an animal has her condition that would cause syncopal episodes the vet should very easily be able to hear a heart murmur or other issues with the heart.

I really do think that mild epilepsy is the cause here. But as mentioned before, unfortunately there is no test for that.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.