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Hello, I want to ask a question about my dog.

When he gets a fright, like during a roll of thunder and loud noises, or if he is chewing something on his back teeth, he suddenly stops and has an erruption of facial tremors. The muscle contractions happen very, very rapidly at first and ripple all over his head. They gradually slow over a minute or so. This is something strange that does not happen all the time. His body (except the wagging tail) stays still when it happens and he has this perplexed look that sort of says, "I'm not sure what's happening to me so I'll just wait and see". The rest of the body does not shake at all; it's just the head.

The dog, a 2 year old white desexed male staffy is quite healthy according to the vet but was rescued 18 months ago after having been starved. He has always had these weird head muscle contractions.

I have read about shock to the cranial nerves in the head and mouth being a possible cause of this. Also canine stress syndrome, but it doesn't fit because the spasms have direct causes (noises and biting on things) and don't happen on their own.

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
 

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It sounds like they could be focal seizures. Are you able to get a video to show your vet? If they're triggered by storms or loud noises a Thundershirt may be helpful. I know some dogs that those work really well on.
 

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It sounds like they could be focal seizures. Are you able to get a video to show your vet? If they're triggered by storms or loud noises a Thundershirt may be helpful. I know some dogs that those work really well on.
Yes I have tried a thundershirt and a lot of other things, including tranquilizers. When he bites on something I thought perhaps his teeth nerves were jangling, but this doesn't explain why it happens other times.

I do have a video of it but again, the dog has been found to be very healthy.
 

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To me it looks like a focal seizure. You can search YouTube videos and see if it looks like what your dog is going through. What has your vet said? Shiloh has had grand mal seizures for 5 1/2 years and was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy which means there is no known medical cause to explain why he has them. Blood work looks good, MRI showed no brain tumor, spinal tap, etc. If what he's having are focal seizures and he's had more than a few the vet will more than likely get him on anti seizure meds. The more seizures a dog has, the more likelihood they can increase in frequency because the brain will see the seizure as a normal behavior, it's called mirroring, so getting control in really important. Let me know how it goes, these can be really scary, but a dog can live a long happy life with seizures.
 

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ShilosMom, I just read your post about your dog having seizures. My dog is having seizures and I am wondering what kind of meds you have your dog on? And how well are they working? Are there side effects? My dog is 11 years old, and his seizures include the paddling, the drooling, peeing, then the confusion and weakness. They are getting closer together too, (about every 2 weeks) so we're going to have to do something, and pray he doesn't have a brain tumor. Looking forward to hearing back from you.
 

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Seizures are sometimes really hard to find what is causing them. Remmy started having seizures when he was four years old. He had them every month or so so the Vet did not put him on any medication. They started to get a little closer over the next couple of years, then they all of a sudden stopped. He went over a year, then had one, but again has gone months since he had the last one. The Vet says they seldom just stop like that but could find no reason for him having them in the first place. He was 8 years old last October, still does Agility and checks out healthy in every way.
 

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Wow - they stopped? I had read if it's about once a month that the vet might wait to put them on meds - Jacks seizures have gone from about every 3 weeks to 2 weeks and a few days. We are constantly watching him, and this morning my husband leaned over and petted him, then here he went. Last one was December 5, today is December 22. So that's 2 per month. I don't see this stopping though, although I pray it does.
 

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There are generally 8 reason why pups shake:

  1. Happy,Excited Shakes
  2. Anxious, Fearful Shakes
  3. Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)
  4. Distemper
  5. Poison
  6. Kidney Disease
  7. Addison’s Disease
  8. Age
Tremors, different than shaking, can be:

  • Idiopathic
  • Genetic
  • Trauma/Injury
  • Congenital
  • Drug side-effect
  • Severe weakness or pain
  • Kidney failure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Toxicity
  • Inflammation
  • Nervous system disease
 

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ShilosMom, I just read your post about your dog having seizures. My dog is having seizures and I am wondering what kind of meds you have your dog on? And how well are they working? Are there side effects? My dog is 11 years old, and his seizures include the paddling, the drooling, peeing, then the confusion and weakness. They are getting closer together too, (about every 2 weeks) so we're going to have to do something, and pray he doesn't have a brain tumor. Looking forward to hearing back from you.
Has your dog just started having seizures? Have you taken him to a neurologist or gotten an MRI done? I was told that typically if a dog starts having seizures after the age of around 5 there is usually something causing it, such as brain tumor. Don't want to scare you, and it doesn't mean that is what's going on with your dog, there can be a lot of things that cause seizures, but what the vet would suggest for you would be different than Shiloh cause his seizures started at 4 1/2.

Shiloh started out on Phenobarbital for the first few years until his liver started to fail and he was removed. He's been on Keppra, Potassium Bromide and Zonisamide. The Keppra was removed because it really had no affect on him. We haven't been able to get control of his seizures and he still clusters about once a month, anywhere from 2-12 in a three day period. Most of the side effects of the drugs would be wobbliness, increased hunger or being a bit lithargic but usually goes away after they've been on meds a few weeks. Some of them like Phenobarbital can affect liver. Blood work is usually done every 6-12 months to make sure drug levels are where they're supposed to be and organs are functioning properly.

I'm really sorry you and your dog are going through this. It's really hard to watch them and feel so helpless. Keep a journal if your not already with the date and time. The length of the seizure, anything out of the ordinary, etc. that will be really helpful for your vet. In Shiloh's journal I write the seizures info in red and use black to keep track of appointments, med changes, etc. It makes it easier to distinguish seizure activity from other stuff. You might also look to see if anything around your house has changed such as new smelly stuff (detergents, air freshners, cleaning supplies), did you change or add anything new to his diet, is he stressed/anxious, etc. Sometimes, especially when dogs get older they can become anxious and with the holidays coming up people tend to be busier with more activity.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like to chat or need some support off the boards. I know how hard this is. Please let me know how things go or you have any other questions.
 

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He had his first seizure in 2013 - that was so strange the way he acted. He has not had one since that we know of, then about 4 months ago he had one while sound asleep on the couch. The paddling, peeing, drooling. Then it was about every 3 weeks, now it's 2 weeks and 3 days. So his first one was at 9 years old. No, I don't use a lot of cleaning stuff like on the floors or carpets. I don't spray much and if I do, I close off the room I sprayed. But still I seldom do that even. And this is why! We are taking him as soon as we can to the vet. I read that if they are no more than once a month that the vet doesn't like to put them on meds, but now they are twice a month. And I honestly don't know how much more I can take. He'll have a seizure before we get up in the morning and we don't know it until he comes in our room barking. Then we get up and find the evidence. That is really hard knowing he comes out of it and we're not there sitting with him. It's getting harder and harder to deal with. I just want to cry all the time because our home would not be the same without him. And I was counting on a few more years with him, but God may have a different plan. Your dogs seizures are not controlled? And it sounds like he is on a lot of medication. You must feel even worse than I do. I can't stand the thought of Jack's becoming cluster seizures - I sure hope that doesn't happen. Thank you so much for being my sounding board.
 

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He had his first seizure in 2013 - that was so strange the way he acted. He has not had one since that we know of, then about 4 months ago he had one while sound asleep on the couch. The paddling, peeing, drooling. Then it was about every 3 weeks, now it's 2 weeks and 3 days. So his first one was at 9 years old. No, I don't use a lot of cleaning stuff like on the floors or carpets. I don't spray much and if I do, I close off the room I sprayed. But still I seldom do that even. And this is why! We are taking him as soon as we can to the vet. I read that if they are no more than once a month that the vet doesn't like to put them on meds, but now they are twice a month. And I honestly don't know how much more I can take. He'll have a seizure before we get up in the morning and we don't know it until he comes in our room barking. Then we get up and find the evidence. That is really hard knowing he comes out of it and we're not there sitting with him. It's getting harder and harder to deal with. I just want to cry all the time because our home would not be the same without him. And I was counting on a few more years with him, but God may have a different plan. Your dogs seizures are not controlled? And it sounds like he is on a lot of medication. You must feel even worse than I do. I can't stand the thought of Jack's becoming cluster seizures - I sure hope that doesn't happen. Thank you so much for being my sounding board.
It can be hard, but for me I focus on how many good days he has and that he doesn't know what's going on and the seizures aren't painful to him. Shiloh also has back issues (IVDD in lower back and Wobblers in neck) so sometimes it can be challenging. I have taken Shiloh to three different vets (one holistic) and none of them have been able to help get control of the seizures so for me, this is our normal. I do have two friends who have dogs and they have been managed really well on Phenobarbital, so there are success stories. All dogs are different and respond differently so try not to get discouraged. There's a variety of websites/Facebook groups for people with epileptic dogs so that can provide extra support as well. I'm on the Canine Epilepsy Network forum. The sites a little messed up right now, if you post something and hit submit you'll get an error, but it really does post it. It's a small group, but everyone is really supportive. There's also a closed group I'm on that has some really knowledgeable people on FB https://www.facebook.com/groups/Dogswithepilepsy1/

The seizures don't have to define your dog, they can have many more years that are happy. How is his post ictal behavior (the behavior after the seizure?) Shiloh typically will go for 3-4 days with constant pacing, nose in my face, whining etc. and have recently found that giving him a little Melatonin after the seizure and before bed has really helped. If it's an issue for you you might speak with the vet and see if that's something they would recommend. I've heard different opinions on giving to a dog with seizures or autoimmune issues but Shiloh hasn't had any issues and my vet said it was OK for him to have in the dosage I was using. Lavender oil can help with calming issues as well. Always good to check with vet first though.

One thing I have on the chair and couch are waterproof pads. Also have a waterproof mattress pad on the bed for when he has a seizure on the furniture. They've really come in handy.

Yeah, I wish I knew God's plan. I lost my labradoodle last year to Leukemia, she had just turned 8 and thought I'd have many more years. It has really taught me to be grateful for today and the blessings it brings.

Hang in there. Prayers are with you.
 

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Ugh I have been on that Facebook group, just for a few days. It was so heartbreaking I couldn't stand it, always crying over what I was reading. I have done so much research that my head spins, so when I saw your post, I thought, here is someone that is actually dealing with it. I guess trying to focus on the good days is something I need to try. I'm always on edge waiting for the next one, so my nerves are shot. Thank you again for answering my questions. I am so ready to get him to the vet and hear what they think we should do. We've had many dogs (we have 5 now) and this is the first time we've had to deal with seizures. I will keep you updated. Still can't figure out how to PM you though!
 

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Ugh I have been on that Facebook group, just for a few days. It was so heartbreaking I couldn't stand it, always crying over what I was reading. I have done so much research that my head spins, so when I saw your post, I thought, here is someone that is actually dealing with it. I guess trying to focus on the good days is something I need to try. I'm always on edge waiting for the next one, so my nerves are shot. Thank you again for answering my questions. I am so ready to get him to the vet and hear what they think we should do. We've had many dogs (we have 5 now) and this is the first time we've had to deal with seizures. I will keep you updated. Still can't figure out how to PM you though!
Yeah, I'm at home today and using IE and don't see the pull down menu like I do when I was using Chrome. I did see where you messaged me but it doesn't show up under Private Message. It's weird. I did send you a message.

It takes a while before that constant on edge feeling isn't so intense. I still find myself listening and going a bit on alert so I don't know if it ever goes away, but it isn't like it was in the beginning.

When is his appointment? I don't want to discourage you in anyway, but please be prepared to NOT get an answer for the seizures. That was one of the hard things for me was walking out of vets offices and there was no explanation for what was caused them. I'm bad about thinking of what the outcome will be before going in and it usually doesn't turn out the way I was thinking and it's hard for me to not get an answer. I have learned to accept that for whatever reason, Shiloh's brain just misfires. H
as helped my sanity.


I hope you're able to have a wonderfully quiet, joyful Christmas.
 

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Okay, I'll try to be prepared for no answers! Wrote down the dates today, with the length and the time of day. He sure doesn't act like he has a tumor, he's totally normal and sweet and loving. I'm having to convince my husband to go ahead and take him in, so hopefully it'll be Monday or Tuesday. Thank you SO much for listening to my fears. He is like the best dog in the world, and when I'm upset at work or around family I get blank stares. I really appreciate you responding and calming my nerves! So how is your dog now? He's been going thru this a long time? I'd like to send you my email address - I'll try to PM you and see if you can get it on Chrome.
 
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