Penny and Seizures

pennyFor those of you that don’t know, this is Penny, my Boston Terrier. I’ve had Penny in my life for 7 years now. She is a sweet dog that gives nothing but love to anyone she meets. She has been the best dog that I could have asked for.

A couple of months ago Penny had a seizure. I was home at the time and was sitting on the couch. She was making a nest on a blanket on the floor. All of the sudden she started to spasm. Her back legs went stiff and she was trembling across the carpet. At first, I thought she did something to her leg while trying to make a nest. When I got down to the floor, I knew that wasn’t it. Her legs were going flailing uncontrollably and her eyes were glassy. I picked her up and started rubbing her belly to calm her (still not completely sure what was happening) and could feel her getting hot in my arms. Then she started panting. After a total of about 30 seconds, it was over. She came out of it right away. After a few more seconds of holding her, I put her down, and she went off running around the house like nothing happened. I called my sister to get some advice. Coincidently, just a few days before I overheard her talk about her dog having a seizure. She said that taking her to the vet probably wouldn’t do much good since by then all signs of the seizure would have passed. Who knows, she might not have one again. So, I decided on a wait and see approach. If she started having them regularly, I’d take her to the vet.

A month went by without a seizure (at least, I didn’t see any. Penny is home all day by herself). Then, she had another. This time, she was close to me so I got to her right as it started and held her to make sure she didn’t hurt herself. I started to get worried at this point, but still didn’t make a vet appointment. Then the very next night she had another one. Now I was really worried and decided it was time for a vet visit. The vet took some blood and ran some tests, but everything came back normal. The vet warned that seizures are very hard to diagnose and usually show no patterns. She decided to put Penny on anti-seizure meds (that she will need to take for the rest of her life) but wanted me to wait until the blood tests came back. I waited. While I waited, she had another seizure. This was on a Friday night. After the seizure had passed, I decided to go get the prescription filled. Of course the dosage on the prescription wasn’t a dosage that was actually available to sell. I would have to wait until the vet opened the next day to call in the altered dosage.

I picked up the medicine on Saturday and didn’t give it to her right away. She needs to take the medicine every 12 hours. So if I gave it to her at 11 am, then I would have to give it to her at 11 pm. This would not work. I couldn’t be home every morning to give her the medicine. So I waited until Saturday evening to give it to her. Of course, she had another seizure before I could give her the medicine. The seizures were coming entirely way too often for my liking.

So I started Penny on the medicine (Phenobarbital to be exact) and Penny was not reacting well to it. It contained 15% alcohol so my 10 lb dog was walking around dizzy and drunk for over a week (the vet said give it time for her body to adjust). She couldn’t jump off the couch or my bed because she was too dizzy. She whined a lot because she had no idea what was going on, and she wasn’t her normal peppy self. After a couple of weeks the vet said I could cut the dosage in half to see if that improved things at all. So, I did. Penny started reacting a lot better to this dosage. She wasn’t “drunk” and lethargic anymore. After a few days she started to get back to her crazy self, constantly running around the house.

Now, the medicine doesn’t come without some side effects. She drinks a lot more water than she used to, which also means a lot more trips outside. It also seems to upset her stomach a bit. She has a lot of gas and had a couple of cases of diarrhea. The longer she is on it, the more the side effects seem to fade. I think she’s finally getting close to 100% her old self. And best news of all, she hasn’t had a seizure since. That’s not to say she won’t. I don’t know if the medicine is doing anything. There was a month between her first and second seizure. She could still have them, it’s back to wait and see. I’m just happy that she is back to being the dog I knew. I don’t know what I’d do without her.