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I have an 8 year old Pomeranian (Robin). Robin was diagnosed with epilepsy about 2 years ago. Her seizures at first were infrequent, so our vet put us on a wait on watch regime. However about a year ago, her seizures became more frequent (several times a month). At that time our vet started her on Phenobarbitol and then added potassium bromide. Since starting these mediations she started to experience trouble walking, and it has gradually become worse. Her front legs now splay out in front of her; her shoulder joints almost turn backwards (so it looks like her leg is facing the wrong way). Our vet said that the medications cause muscle weakness and that the muscles that hold her shoulder joint in place are weak and therefore her joint slips out of place. She is also now experiencing a lot of hind leg weakness and most times cannot get into a standing position from lying down without a lot of effort on her part or with help from myself or my husband. We have to stand her up and try to get her stabilized with all 4 legs pointing in the right direction, and even then, she'll sometimes just flop back down as soon as you let her go. One hind leg seems weaker than the other and she does have luxating patella which just makes her mobility worse. She also seems to turn, it's hard to explain, but if we put her down on the floor to stand her, she naturally seems to want to turn as we put her down, so she's kind of like a U shape, this of course gives her no stability and she immediately collapses.
Our laminate flooring also aggravates the whole thing as she doesn't have good traction. We are trying to remedy that by finding something for her paws, so far we have tried little pet socks that have grips on then, they don't work, in fact seem to make it harder for her to walk. We bought the little balloon booties and they do seem to help a bit, but are incredibly difficult to put on her and I worry that they are too tight around the leg to have on for any extended time. We also tried little stick on paw pads made for dogs with slippage problems, again they help, but fall off after an hour or so. We are now going to order another brand of paw grips and are hoping they will give her some relief.
She does walk better on surfaces that offer more friction like carpet, side-walk etc. Grass is terrible for her as it's too uneven and she will walk drunkenly for a minute and then end up falling down. It is heartbreaking to watch her struggle, today she had to do her No. 2 business sort of half lying on her side and she wasn't able to stay up. Simple tasks like getting out her dog bed (because it's soft and squishy) is hard for her...even walking along our couch cushions is hard as the surface is not firm).
Lately her seizures have become frequent again, 6 in 4 weeks and our vet said that she already at her maximum medication dose and he is now suggesting we see a specialist in canine seizures. I think our vet is now not entirely sure if the weakness if from the medications or if it's more neurological. We want to do everything we can to help her, and would love to hear any advise, suggestions from anyone who has experience in this.
For example, we'd gladly invest in a doggie cart for her...but she seems to have issues in the both the front and rear legs, so not sure if that would help.
I'm thinking the problems are neuro too. While I'm NOT an epilepsy expert, I've never heard of such severe problems from KBr and phenobarb, especially not after a year of using it. She sounds A LOT like my megasevere CHer; CH (cerebellar hypoplasia) is critter cerebral palsy. You could get some free thoughts from VetPet about the seizures-- http://www.vetpetpartners.org/ . As for a cart, she'd need a quad (4-wheeled) one, but I'd be concerned about what's caused all this. She might prefer to lean on something when pooping and peeing, like my baby sometimes does. She could lean against the wall of the house, shed, doghouse, etc.
I have a dear friend whose precious LW seizes so often, and yet she has retained her mobility. I will ask her to weigh in on this. The post-ictal is when I noticed the mobility issues. But not after. But she does have to be kept separate from the pack (and me) because she has severe canine aggression, and all others but one are seriously handicapped.
Karen, Andy's ^i^ mom
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Thanks so much for the replies. I am also now thinking that it can't be the meds, as everything that I've read up on medication induced ataxia seems to say that it tapers off once the dog has been on the medications for some time. Also the videos that I have seen of dogs with ataxia don't seem to apply to Robin, she doesn't goosestep, she does not suffer from any kind of rapid eye movement...it's like literally her joints don't want to support her. and Robin only seems to be getting worse not better the longer she is on the medications. (she had two back to back seizures this morning as I was giving her her medication
I will check out the vet weblink you provided, thank you! And calling our vet again today to let him know of the back to back siezures this mornings, she's never done that before. we've ordered her some pad traction stick on's and are hoping that will help her cope with the flooring in the house.
Thank you, it's helpful to talk to someone else who is going through seizures their loved ones.
I don't have a clue, I've never heard of anything like this. If you can get a referral to a specialist as you mentioned, that sounds like a very good idea, probably the sooner the better. I do not know if you need a neurologist or an internist, I'm not sure if the inability to stand is caused by the epilepsy, or if some other medical condition is causing both the epilepsy and the muscle weakness.
It is a safe guess she is having some pain from the shoulder luxations, etc. I do not know if you can give an anti-inflammatory pain reliever while she is on epilepsy medication, but I imagine it would make her feel better, she has to have stretched her ligaments in her shoulders when her legs were rotating, and they will be sore.
Carpet runners do not have to cost a lot and they would help her walk. I bought throw rugs (the kind that don't move around) for the floor when my older dog was having trouble keeping his footing.
I hope you will post back again when you learn what this is. I will be interested to know. I will send your link to someone who might know more.
I'm sorry for the problems you're having. I'll come back later with more, but it would be important to know whether they did any thyroid testing on her. Hypothyroidism is a major cause of canine epilepsy and can also cause various neuropathies, in fact it can cause many different symptoms.
The following website was my bible when Bombon was having seizures. They have an expert on canine hypothyroidism there and you can get blood sent to her for testing, it really is worth checking out because it is packed full of information for carers of dogs with epilepsy:
http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-ang ... te_map.htm
Here is the interview with Dr. Jean Dodds about thyroid testing, I would underline that it's important to do a full thyroid panel and not just a TSH test:
http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-ang ... Carson.htm
I would definitely rule out hypothyroidism first of all if it hasn't already been done.
Will write back later,
Kat's Club for Disabled Pets in Spain
Thanks everyone for the very helpful information. We just had Robin at the vet 2 weeks ago and our vet said in his opinion she wasn't in any pain, however knowing how well dogs can hide pain, it is possible. I did ask our vet to a thyroid test on Robin as our groomer mentioned that her nose was peeling and she had seen that in a lot dogs that had thyroid issues. Our vet did a test (not sure which one) and I believe it said it was borderline on one reading, but that the reading is also affected by the medication, but that he didn't think that it was thryoid. I should mention Robin also has some bald patches, which we've put down to reverse grooming appelachia (we keep her coat short...before we knew that it would mess up her coat.)
I will check out all websites to find out any info that may help Robin. We should be receiving her traction paw pads in a couple of days, so we'll try those, our next option is the carpet runner.
The shoulder issue is definitely like the ligament is not holding the shoulder joint in place, it's hard to explain, but when she falls, she looks like Bambi in the front, her legs are splayed out on either side, and her hind legs are crossed, or close together, so she almost ends up looking like a fish at the back end...I hope that makes some sort of sense. We for sure will take her to the specialist once our vet sets up an appointment, our vet said basically that this has gone beyound his expertise, and he'd feel more comfortable with her seeing someone whose focus on seizure disorders.
I will definitely post again with any updates.
Thank you again everyone!
Hmm, one of the most common signs of hypothyroidism (apart from epilepsy) is patchy hair loss. Bombón had it mainly on her stomach but at times on her back and tail base. Also, the skin pigmentation on her belly got much darker, with kind of dark freckles around the edges. There are many, many possible symptoms. I just read in a couple of places that poms seem to be predisposed to hypothyroidism (highest incidence among spayed females) so it would really make sense to thoroughly check this to rule it out. This is what Merck says about skin and hair in hypothyroidism:
Alterations in the skin and coat are common. Dryness, excessive shedding, and retarded regrowth of hair are usually the earliest dermatologic changes. Nonpruritic hair thinning or alopecia (usually bilaterally symmetric) that may involve the ventral and lateral trunk, the caudal surfaces of the thighs, dorsum of the tail, ventral neck, and the dorsum of the nose occurs in about two-thirds of dogs with hypothyroidism. Alopecia, sometimes associated with hyperpigmentation, often starts over points of wear.
These skin problems can also be seen in Cushing's, for example (and Addisons), so they might want to rule that out too. Ataxia can be one of the signs of bromide toxicity, so a seizure specialist might look at the doses of KBr and PB (ataxia can be a side effect of PB also, but usually wears off after a time on the medication).
I would be quite confident a seizure specialist should be able to check these things and hopefully pinpoint Robin's problem; please do let us know how she gets on!
Kat's Club for Disabled Pets in Spain
Thanks so much Debbie! that is all really great information. This week all of her seizures have occured when I was giving her the Kbr...three times out of 4! We were already concerned as the seizures didn't start again until we picked up a new batch of Kbr. Our vet did call the pharmacy and check, they said the compound was the same, but a different supplier. We've just picked up a brand new bottle, and will try her in the morning and see how she does. In the meantime, I'll check out those websites.
We talked to the our vets office tonight (he is away for the week) but will move forward in setting up an appt with the specialist.
Thanks again everyone
We gave Robin a dose of the new Kbr this morning and no seizures...fingers crossed.
Day 2 on the new Kbr and no siezures (fingers crossed). Plus when we got the other Kbr prescription, I called my vet because the colour was different, it was almost clear, where in the past it was a brown colour. Again our vet did call the pharmacy and they said it was the exact same compound, strength etc. This new batch though is once again the brown colour, so we really wonder if we didn't have a bad batch of Kbr and that was why Robin's seizures started up again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
I'd make sure they don't use that compounder again. If they do, I'd go with a different compounder myself. We've used Wedgewood Pharmacy in NJ, and we really liked them.
well so far no seizures on the new Kbr prescription...and her moibility is slightly better too! Will wait until she has been siezure free for 2 weeks then will call the vet with an update. Just happy that she hasn't had any new seizures since Tuesday night.
Well the new Kbr is not helping...Robin has had 5 seizures this morning all within an hour Am waiting for our vet to open so I can call him.
I hope she's OK.
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