View Full Version : Could this be epilepsy?

25th December 2007, 10:53 PM
I have never had any experience of epilepsy either in humans or animals. But what happened to Sasha today and my subsequent searches on the internet just now have made me think this is what happened today. I will try to keep the story short, but what does anyone think? Sasha is a fit and healthy 7 month old Cavalier. Never had any problems other than she doesn't really like dog food!! Usual Christmas morning. For breakfast I had a bacon sandwich and gave Sasha a couple of bits of the bacon. We then went to OH mothers for our lunch taking the dog with us. Sasha had a couple of crisps. Then we thought as treat she could have some Christmas dinner and she had a bit of turkey, pork, a sausage wrapped in bacon and some mashed potato. Ate all but the potatoe. About half an hour later mother in law took Sasha for a 20 minute walk. Sasha came in happy and wagging her tail to see us all again. And then started she started crying like she wanted a wee, and then what looked like limping with her front leg, then her back left leg joined in and she seemed to be stumbling. She sat down and started to tremble but still sat up. I grabbed my bag and her blanket to rush to the vet as had never seen anything like it before in my life. We wrapped her in the blanket and picked her up and she was still trembling and she looked so scared (poor little thing). Other family members said just wait a couple of minutes and someone said maybe she had eaten something she shouldn't have. I said that she had eaten a lot of rubbish today (thinking we were treating her as it was Christmas) and looked and she had no water bowl down. We sat down with her and gave her a cup of water and she drank nearly all of it but the more she drank the more she seemed to calm down and stop trembling. We kept hold of her for 5 minutes and then she wanted to get down and was fine after that. I searched on the internet when we got home and looked at maybe dehydration or even a salt overdose. But then went looking at epilepsy. Many of the symptoms seemed to fit her age, the thirst, the worry on her little face. But other symptoms didn't. Some websites say they go ridgid and start to paddle which she didn't. Any thoughts or advice appreciated please........

25th December 2007, 11:12 PM
I only have experience of human epilepsy but I'm sorry for your poor Sasha and what a shock for you. My first thought was too much salt, fat and then the lack of water. What's her usual diet? I'd leave water down all night for Sasha tonight. What did the vet say?

lady and amber
25th December 2007, 11:13 PM
Hi just seen your post, one of my dogs has EF, what you are describing sounds a bit like it, have a look at this web site.http://cavalierepisodicfalling.com/first.html

25th December 2007, 11:27 PM
Pauline. We didn't get to the vets after all. The episode was over as quickly as it had begun. My initial thought was salt overload and from now on no more treats easier said than done with the big cavalier eyes too. Diet wise we try to give her Bakers complete puppy meal. But she doesn't like it. In fact she doesn't like any dog food no matter what we have tried to feed her Burns, Pedigree puppy, Bakers puppy, tinned meat, dry meat etc etc. She will eat it once. We buy it and then she won't eat it. She will eat the cats food though which is Whiskas and Go cat!!!

25th December 2007, 11:31 PM
I've heard Bakers isn't any good, have you tried Royal Canin or James Wellbeloved? Both made by the same people, RC smells and looks better, JWB is grain free.

26th December 2007, 12:48 AM
What is her normal diet? I'm wondering if that's part of her problem, most dogs LOVE cat food, it's mainly because it's much higher in protien and fat then dog food, plus they have to coat cat food with flavors and fat to appeal to the finicky feline. Long term it can cause all sorts of problems, especially in a puppy. It can cause pancreatitis, liver and kidney problems, digestive disorders, malnutrition - and some of these could lead to seizures. If dog food is a complete no-go no matter what you do, I would highly recommend researching a raw or home prepared diet and learn how to properly balance one. With an episode like that, I would also recommend having her checked by a vet tomorrow and make sure nothing else is amiss, bloodwork would probably be a good idea just to be on the safe side. Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

26th December 2007, 11:19 AM
We had Becky, a B/T Cavalier who suffered from Epilepsy,
She developed it at about 2 and a half years of age .
We were told that that that was about the age for it to appear .
She would fall on her side ,and legs would be as if she was paddling ,she had no contol on her toilets ,and her eyes were flickering .


26th December 2007, 12:56 PM
It sounds like Epis. falling to me too...I have a terrier mix who has isolated seizure events, and she loses consciousness. So it doesn't sound like a seizure.

If your Cav likes the cat's food, maybe he likes fishy flavors. There are some premium dog foods that are fish based. I would switch to a premium brand of food and the most important thing to look for is that the first TWO ingredients (at least) are meat. Here is a website that has really good information about different foods and their ratings. Premium foods are more expensive but make an enormous difference in their coats, energy level, etc. Totally worth the extra money! You may also try to buy a vitamin supplement in a powder form and mix just a half a teaspoon full with some water to make a gravy and pour it over the food.


Good luck!

26th December 2007, 12:57 PM
I'm so sorry you had this worrying situation over the holidays. It's a scary time to have things go wrong as vets are closed, etc. There are definitely a few serious things you'd want to watch out for here. First is, in such a situation, to definitely get your dog to a vet if you can and ignore the people who say to wait -- if dogs have something happen that is this strange, best advice is to get them vet care *immediately* regardless of whether the condition seems to pass. You have described something that sounds quite serious and could be due to a number of things -- but you definitely need to have these things professionally checked. :thmbsup:

One reason why this remains urgent, is that you may be right, and this was due to food. To be very blunt (because this was such a very serious risk), she should really never have eaten a mix of items like this (and it also sounds like it was a very large amount food) -- this mix is fatty and also filled with sodium, MSG, and nitrates, any of which could have caused serious reactions. Overeating in a short period can also cause a fatal condition called bloat, and this could have been brought on by drinking lots of water all at once -- hence you never want a dog to be given so much salty food that they then bolt water and cause the food to expand quickly in the gut. Regardless of the seizure-like symptoms which may be related or may be a separate issue, I think there's a possibility some of this could have been pancreatitis (which may be permanent, and can be life threatening and may involve strict diatary controls for your dog). It often emerges at this time of year due to people overfeeding the dog or kids slipping the dog extra food -- especially turkey which for some dogs is a life-risking trigger for this condition, and fatty food like sausages. I would get Sasha to the vet this week, describe what was fed and the symptoms, and ask about testing for pancreatitis. See:


The other possibilities are some form of neurological problem, ranging from episodic falling (your dog would be around typical age at which this shows and the symptoms you describe would be pretty close), maybe a mild epileptic seizure, or syringomyelia, which can have sudden onset and cause limb weakness and severe pain and in humans, can be exacerbated by eating lots of salt. Keep in mind symptom lists on websites are only general lists and the actual presentation can be quite different and involve some or many of the described possible symptoms -- usually just some. It does sound most like EFS. Some dogs with EFS have one or two brief episodes when young, then never have a problem again, but again, sometimes it can be very serious, so it needs watching. Most vets are not familiar with EFS in the breed and many won't know about SM either -- there's information on both these conditions in the 'Health' section of the Library portion of the website, under the main health conditions pissed at the top of the section. I'd definitely read thru the EFS site and maybe join the board over there and see what people there think.

Generally though: I'd definitely get your dog into the vet and describe exactly what happened. The vet may feel all this was due to excessive salt or whatever but she definitely needs to be checked for pancreatitis and EFS needs to be considered (though with the latter, there isn't much you can initially do -- it's a bit of a wait and see condition and then if it looks like EFS, try some of the anti-seizure medications).


On the feeding -- two things: Bakers, as you realise, is a pretty mediocre quality food (as is anything from the supermarket) and has a lot of colourants and additives. In some dogs these additives alone might cause problems so I'd return to using something like Burns or James Wellbelovd or Royal Canin. Second, the feeding problems you describe are behavioural problems not eating problems, and a lot of us have had the same issue with this breed. Basically you need to do this :):

Choose a good quality food and stick with it. Do NOT switch around if the dog refuses food. Instead, you need to regain control of the feeding sessions by not offering choices. Basically, your dog has learned that refusing food gets lots of attention from you, probably a bit of fussing and cajoling to eat, and then -- what fun! -- a new type of food. All this is a great game and very rewarding for the dog. So you want to break ALL associations between food and social interactions with you. So do this exactly every single day and I will bet you will have a dog eating normally within 3 days to a week.

1) Prepare the dog's bowl without ANY interaction with the dog -- do not talk to her, look at her, nothing. You pick up the bowl, place the food in the bowl, and without any comment, set it on the ground. The dog now has exactly *10 minutes* to eat. Totally ignore the dog during this time regardless of whether she eats or not.

2) At 10 minutes, you go and pick the bowl up and put it away. Do NOT interact with her, talk to her, fuss over here, speak to her, make eye contact. Then go back about your business for at least 10 minutes before you again can interact with her. But only interact normally -- NOTHING to do with food, praising, scolding, nothing.

3) Until the next scheduled meal do not feed her a single thing. Not a treat, nothing. In particular do NOT try to see if she will finish the bowl of food she didn't eat earlier.

4) At the next *scheduled* feeding, repeat the above.

A dog can easily go several days without eating with no problem (indeed their guts are actually designed to eat in this way) so if she won't eat she needs to learn the consequences are NO FOOD. Not new, more interesting food, or attention from you, or treats instead. Zilch.

It sometimes helps to consider what you'd do if this was a child refusing to eat. No parent would rush about making completely new dinners each meal because a child is refusing to eat, and we'd also recognise the child was being seriously manipulative in order to get attention, and that the problem was not the food. Indeed most people find that if they have a problem eater dog that goes to stay with a relative or at a kennel while they go away, lo and behold the dog eats everything it is given and anything it is given. Why? Because the new person feeding the dog isn't seen by the dog as part of the game. :thmbsup:

Another tip is to start feeding just a single daily meal. At 7 months Sasha should only be on two meals anyway and can easily be moved to one as an alternative. I stopped a similar food issue with my first cavalier (when he was the only dog) by feeding just once a day and boy did he get food religion fast when he realised it was eat or get nothing for 24 hours. I feed all my dogs only once daily, in the morning.

PS If because of the food issues you have resorted to mostly feeding scraps, cat food (Never feed cat food!) and stuff of the sort Sasha had before that seizure, I would really even more strongly advise talking to the vet about something like pancreatitis. If she has mostly been eating this type of food it is urgent that she be moved to a normal diet and that a vet consult as to what she may eat -- with a condition like pancreatitis, even a single meal of a fatty trigger food can be fatal so it is essential this be checked and her diet controlled.