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Contagious seizures.

Species: Dog
Breed: German Shepherd
Age: 2-5 years
Blake is a 2yr old German shepherd that started having epileptic fits in june 2010. We suspected Toxoplasma because he had lived with a cat since puppyhood (cat died a year ago of old age). Toxoplasma test was negative. He was first put on phenobarbital, raising dosage upto 180mg daily but no change. He was changed o carbamazepine 3 weeks ago at 200mg twice daily (which has gradually been increased to 400mg) but he still has attacks every 10 - 12 days. However the puzzle here is the other pets that have lived in the household as Blake, about 3(even before Blake came) have at one time had epileptic fits including the cat, which lived longest; 17years. I have a strong feeling this might not be just mere coincidence, though indicators point at primary epilepsy
Any Ideas?? Help
Alex, Uganda


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for an interesting question.

There are not many contagious things that can cause seizures in several animals in a household.

There are some toxins that can cause seizures. These include:

  • Some pesticides such as organophosphates

  • The Japanese Yew Plant

  • Methomyl fly bait

  • strychnine

  • 5 flurouracil anticancer medication



However, a toxin does not sound likely if your dog is having seizures every 10-12 days.

Has any blood work been done on Blake? If there is evidence of kidney or liver damage then this could be a cause of seizures.

If not, then the next test that would be helpful is a CSF tap (spinal fluid tap). However, this is a test that usually has to be done by a specialist. Examination of the spinal fluid can tell us about certain types of infections and some parasites that can affect the brain and spinal cord.

If your vet is suspicious of a parasite affecting the spinal cord it may be worthwhile putting him on a combination of doxycycline and clindamycin just to be sure.

It does sound like it could be epilepsy though.

I really hope he improves soon!
Dr. Marie

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---


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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. AskAVetQuestion.com 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.

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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.