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Epilepsy in Golden Retriever


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Does anybody have experience of a dog who has fits?

We have a ten year old golden retriever who had his first fit two years ago, a second a year later, and since then the time scale between fits has gone from six weeks apart down to three weeks.

The fit only lasts three or four minutes and is awful to see, but we now know what to expect and once finished he is fairly quickly back to normal and it seems to have no lasting ill-effect.

Our vet originally told us that if fits are less than four weeks apart he could go on to medication, but from what I have read on the internet there seems to be more problems associated with the medication than the actual fit.

I would be grateful for any advice or experiences anyone may have.

Many thanks


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It's pretty unlikely that your dog actually has primary epilepsy as it usually occurs in younger dogs.  Late onset fitting like this is more likely to be a side effect/symptom of some other  disease.  Has your vet run any tests/scans?  I had a dog who had similar symptoms but her first fit was a status (sp) - one where the fitting continues without stopping or is a series of fits ocurring very closely together.  She had to be sedated in order to stop the fits but they were very sucessfully controlled from then on by phenobarbitone.  The medication is widely used, inexpensive and if used under close veterinary supervision, highly effective.  Personally, I would rather have the fits under control by medication than risk my dog injuring himself fitting (brain damage, organ damage etc).  I'm sure you have found lots of useful information on the net but here's one I found http://www.canineepilepsy.co.uk/default.htm and http://www.homevet.com/petcare/epilepsy.html#types .  If your vet has not done any tests do try to encourage him to do so.  Sadly, my Sophie's fits were a side effect of a brain tumour so she had to be PTS a year, almost to the day, after her first fit.  Good luck.
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  • 2 weeks later...

My father-in-law, in Scotland, has a Labrador who has fits. It's a field trials champion and although it fits regularly it still works. It has medication everyday. If you want to speak to him about it I can let you have his email address and telephone number.


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This cannot be easy for you - but as Mrs MdW says at 10 years old it is very unlikely that your dog has primary epilepsy, so a lot will depend on the underlying cause of the fits.  Kidney problems spring to mind, or even a viral infection  so ask vet to run tests to see if he can find reason for it - if in doubt ask if they can recommend you to a specialist at one of the vet schools.  I personally had a dog which started to fit as the result of an anaesthetic accident at 7 years old.  It took a couple of months to get the medication doses right but she lived to almost 15 and died of something unrelated to the fitting and with no real ill effects from the medication.  That was some years ago and drugs have improved since then.

Although horrid for the bystander fits are not painful for the dog - the important thing is that when you leave him alone he is in a place where he can't hurt himself (no stairs etc, and if you have other dogs keep him separate if you are not there)   

Do hope the vet is able to help - but don't dismiss medication without giving it a try.

Good luck


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