My life with dog epilepsy. How it all started
I started looking for a dog just a few months after I moved out of my parent’s house. I spent a lot of time in dog shelters searching for a life companion. I was looking for brains, beauty, and “kind eyes,” and I started to get impatient and maybe a little desperate.
And then I heard about Dino, a street dog in Greece. He is something between a poodle, a schnauzer, and a hound. I rescued him for a pretty traumatising puppyhood but remained sweet, super-smart and full of love.
As soon as I brought Dino home, he started bouncing around the kitchen, crashing into walls, nuzzling me with his pointy nose and snuggling next to me every night on the couch. He has won me over, and it was love at first sight.
First health problems
Dino wasn’t only my home-buddy, I took him everywhere: to the dog park, restaurants with outdoor areas, friends’ houses, the beach. And I haven’t had any issues with his food; he loved everything! However, with all the happiness and joy Dino brings, I still had to deal with a rollercoaster ride of health problems. Other than a bruised hind knee that recovered without medical intervention, Dino had Leishmania. But, thankfully, right after chemotherapy, Dino had completely recovered, and it hasn’t recurred till this day.
Other than his separation anxiety, I haven’t had any behaviour issues with Dino at home. But, it was quite tricky towards other dogs from the street. He became very dominant, stressed, and hormones waved a lot with him. He learned to search for bones, cats and God knows what! I’ve had him since 2014, and a year after, I decided to castrate him.
Dino’s first seizure
Two years after I adopted Dino, I woke up to a strange shaking of the bed. Dino, who always slept beside me, was thrashing around, his eyes wide open with a stretched mouth. He was unable to get up, he looked at me in fear, I tried to hold him with one hand so he wouldn’t hurt himself, and with the other, I tried to get my phone and call the vet. At first, I thought he was poisoned, but he reassured me that it wasn’t, otherwise, there will be foam coming out of Dino’s mouth. The attack lasted about 2 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. I felt absolutely helpless because all I could do was wait for it to end. I couldn’t help bursting into tears. I comforted and snuggled him afterwards as he paced around, panting and exhausted.
And this was the very first seizure of many, but it’s something I’ll never forget.
Although all the blood tests and his blood count was fine, Dino was diagnosed with epilepsy. The same drugs used for epileptic humans are usually prescribed, but the vet said that he could only prescribe them if the seizures regularly recur. Dino’s condition was a lifelong one that could be controlled, but not cured.
After Dino’s diagnosis, I did plenty of research on epilepsy in dogs. Honestly, it was pretty scary stuff. I found out that it’s common, especially in certain breeds like beagles, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and Shetland sheepdogs. Although there might be some causes and triggers for dog seizures like ingesting something poisonous or physical trauma; epilepsy is a specific, severe abnormality in the brain. It can be managed, but not cured.
Life with dog epilepsy
As Dino got older, the reoccurrence and severity of the seizures gradually increased. He had a 2 minutes long seizure a couple of months later, and in 2018, Dino had three seizures of 5 minutes long.
But 2018 was quite different. From the beginning of the year to October, he had 8 seizures, almost every month for 10 minutes. The frequency and duration of seizures significantly worsened from 5 to 15-20 minutes. Dino also developed a very atypical attack of eye paralysis, which none of the doctors could explain. It persisted for almost a month, and there was nothing we could do about it. The longest eye attack lasted 4 hours!
I consulted three veterinarians, one of whom was an eye expert, but found nothing in his eyes after a thorough examination. So, I concluded that a nerve disorder caused the deformity of the eyes.
As Dino’s situation worsened and the seizures increased, we tried to change the medication. Finding the perfect balance was frustrating, and as soon as we solve one problem, another would pop up!
Having an epileptic dog was a huge challenge in many ways. Other than the medication money, the stress of anticipating the next seizure and the fear of leaving Dino alone, made him a more complicated dog. But you know what wasn’t complicated in this whole journey? How much I loved him.
I started looking for natural remedies; I’m not a person who believes in miracles or magic cures. But, there was this specific herbal medicine (CBD paste) from cannabis; a lot of people were raving about online. I was very desperate, and I decided to give it a try and started looking for how I can get to a quality producer.
I gave Dino the CBD paste for 4 months. From December 2018 to March 2019. Shortly after starting the drug, Dino had another seizure, so we adjusted the dosage, and I have not experienced a seizure since then. I ran out of the paste in April, so Dino didn’t take anything until October 2019. In August 2018, he suffered one attack for 10 minutes.
In November 2019, I put Dino on the medicine again. His mood change was the first thing I noticed in the very early days. I was literally over the moon! If there’s one thing I want to tell you is that there are so many dogs, more than you could ever imagine, who need and deserve to be loved. We can all have the “perfect dog” idea but don’t let this prevent you from loving one that’s a little more complex.