Over the past six months, I’ve been on a roller coaster ride with my little dog Kirby. The ‘ride’ has been an 8 pound little dog screaming and thrashing through seizures – as many as 5 in a day – and my efforts to give him quality of life.
How do you help your furry best friend recover from seizures? This is my on-going story…
We all have those pets that we are extra close to, Kirby is mine. He’s the little dog I’m holding in my Caped Crusader drawing…he is my partner in pet food safety. He sleeps on my shoulder, has to be touching me. Sits at my feet while I work at my computer. And grieves for me when I’m gone to an AAFCO meeting. Simply put, we are best friends. Six months ago my little friend began having seizures.
They started in the middle of the night. It was 2 AM and he woke me screaming…SCREAMING. I quickly realized he was having a seizure – they are unmistakable. The screaming and thrashing lasted for 5 or 6 seconds (which felt like a lifetime) and within a minute he was over it. A little dazed, but wagged his tail when he realized I was there with him.
He was fine for 6 weeks, and then the same event happened again around the same time of the night. Screaming, thrashing, he urinated, dazed, wagged his tail.
About 2 months after that, a very similar seizure happened during the day. A week later, at 11 PM one Saturday night – he had a massive seizure. My daughter’s bedroom is at the opposite end of the house. She was in her room, head phones on, listening to music. To give you an idea of how loud he screams, through music and headphones at the opposite end of the house she heard Kirby scream and came running. We watched him scream and thrash for 30 or 40 seconds – we were helpless to stop it. When it was over, he wagged his fuzzy tail happy we were both there and then crawled into my lap and sort of collapsed.
He couldn’t stand, could barely raise his head. It was like this big seizure took all the life out of him. Around 2 AM he began to vomit and we headed to an emergency veterinary clinic.
The veterinarian was a traditional medicine doctor. He wanted to keep Kirby at the clinic, I refused. He wanted to run blood work, I refused (because I wanted this to be done by my regular vet). He did convince me to give him a injection of Valium (to settle the brain and stop the seizures) – which made Kirby drunk. No kidding, very drunk. Dealing with an 8 pound furry drunk at 4 in the morning with no sleep, full of worry…is not much fun (but he was funny at times).
My regular vet saw Kirby on Monday – but when we walked in the door I had already spoken with friend Dr. Cathy Alinovi. She educated me on what tests should/would be done, and what treatment options are out there for dogs with seizures. Kirby’s blood tests came out perfect; there was no known cause for the seizures. My vet recommended phenobarbital for Kirby to control the seizures. With the help of trusted friends, I’ve chosen another route.
Acting as a friend, Dr. Cathy said if this was my dog I would put him on a liver detox diet; Dr. Jean Dodds diet and use the Chinese herb alternative for phenobarbital (Di Tan Tang). I did exactly that. He had 3 seizures the first two days of the diet and supplement, but they were very mild with quick recovery. Then for four weeks we were seizure free. Kirby was eating, playing, and his usual of trying to hump the cat when I’m not looking (he’s always had a ‘thing’ for this cat). But…then the seizures started again.
The seizures progressed to one with almost any excitement; walking to the mailbox – seizure, going out to potty – seizure, a knock at the door – seizure. We were becoming hopeless again. And then I turned to another option – raw milk. After a ‘what if he were your dog’ discussion with Answers Pet Food (this is not an endorsement of this pet food, I wanted opinion from someone I trust to be very knowledgeable on the health benefits of raw milk) – Kirby went to a full raw milk diet. No food, just raw milk fed to him 5 or 6 times a day (but he continues on the supplement).
The purpose is to fully detox his body. This is a 13 year old little dog that has been eating nothing but human grade pet food for the past 7 years whose blood work showed he is in great health. I don’t use chemical cleaners, I don’t smoke, I don’t use pesticides in the yard…he doesn’t get vaccinations, or heartworm meds or flea prevention. But…since the liver detox worked so well for 4 weeks, perhaps there is more detoxing to go. Something is triggering the seizures and despite all we try to prevent toxic exposure, they still can be exposed to things beyond our control.
Prior to the first day of the raw milk diet, the full week prior – each day he had 2 to 5 seizures – screaming, thrashing, urinating but with a fairly quick recovery. After just 2 servings of raw milk (3 ounces), that evening he had two seizures. He went ‘out’ like previous seizures, but did not scream or thrash or urinate. His recovery was within 10 seconds after waking up from the seizure and instead of being dazed, his eyes seemed much brighter.
Over the next two days, seizure free. But then they started again; screaming, thrashing and urinating but his recovery was again dramatically better. The seizures did not seem to deplete him as prior.
As of today (12/4/16) we have been on the raw milk diet for about a week and the past 36 hours have been seizure free. He’s not a true fan of raw milk, but we are working our way through it. I intend to keep him on this diet, along with the Chinese herb for a full month. He trots around the house his old self, much to my angst he runs out in the yard and…and yes, when I’m not looking he’s back to trying to hump the cat. So for now, we are living life as best we can. Should this treatment plan fail, I have already researched another option, hemp oil. And should that fail we will probably turn to drugs until there is a quality of life concern.
I will keep everyone posted on his progress – Kirby and I both remain hopeful (though the cat isn’t a fan of him feeling good).
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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