Xena had a seizure early this morning. I woke up at 4 a.m. to the noise of her nails on the bare floor. Now that isn't unusual, because she paces sometimes and she's also one of these dogs that chases rabbits in her dreams and will twitch. But this was something else. It was like a herd of elephants was chasing her in her dream.
I ran out to the living room - she always sleeps there like the good guard dog that she is - and Xena was lying on her side, running in place. Her eyes were wide open, her jaws contracted and she was foaming at the mouth. She had also peed on the carpet. The worse part was her breathing, which was almost like a roaring instead of panting, because she was panting so hard, so quickly, and so loudly. And it would not stop. Her breathing was spasmodic and it went on for at least a couple of minutes, completely out of control. She continued to run in place. The whole time I was calling her name, trying to get her to even just look at me, to no avail. I thought she was going to die.
And then it slowed down and eventually stopped. Suddenly, she sat up and stared at me, her face so close to mine that we could almost touch. But it was if she didn't see me. With me trying to talk to her and calm her down, she eventually stood up and started walking around the house, as if she had never seen it before.
Very scary stuff.
For the rest of the morning Xena was very subdued, and it looked as if this episode had taken a lot out of her, as if she had aged a couple of years overnight. But now, 12 hours later, she has improved to the point where she has eaten some of her dinner - not all of it, but then she never was a big eater. These pictures of her were taken this morning, about 4 hours after the seizure.
As soon as I had calmed down somewhat, I looked her symptoms up on the internet and the running in place, contracted jaw, foaming at the mouth, and the loss of bladder control are all classic signs of a seizure. Apparently many dogs experience blindness after the seizure is over, which would explain the strange way she was looking at me afterwards. I also spoke to my sister who, with her husband have owned at least four Labrador Retrievers over the past 20 years and has had to deal with two of them experiencing seizures. One of her dogs ended up on medication for recurring seizures.
Apparently there are several things that could be the cause. The most obvious is that she has epilepsy, but she's nine years old now. Would an older dog contract that so late in life? Another is distemper. But she is vaccinated against that, as all dogs should be. Another reason, according to one website, is that she could be reacting to "environmental causes." But it's not like we live next to a toxic waste dump. Another reason is a brain tumor. I choose to not think about that one right now.
I'm wondering if stress and big changes could be a cause. We just moved to a new house two weeks ago. My day job has been busy lately, and I think my animals pick up that vibe (I work at home). In addition, last night my best friend brought her puppy over, a lovely and very energetic puppy who ran circles around my girls for about three hours.
As for treatment, from what I read and from talking to people like my sister, it seems to be a "wait and see" kind of thing. One vet on YouTube said that he will always do blood work, but unless something shows up in the results, most of the time it's a waiting game to see if it happens again.
Have any of you had this experience with your pets? I'm just wondering if this is a common occurrence in dogs, especially as they start to age.
It certainly has shaken me up.
On the bright side, I was able to get all three animals in one picture, which I think is a first.
Xena and the cat are finally getting along. In fact, after the episode this morning, kitty went over to her at one point to sniff her. THAT was a first.
Annie was also very quiet this morning - she knew something was going on, and also went over to Xena afterwards to sniff her and lick her ear.
It's as if both of them were saying "it's ok, your sisters are here for you."