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Foods That Can Cause Your Dog to Have Seizures

July 1st, 2010 5 comments

As anyone who follows this blog already knows, I believe that commercial dog food is a culprit for many illnesses in a dog, and that it contributed to or may even have caused Cory’s seizures.  The reason I came to that conclusion is that Cory’s seizures gradually were reduced once we stopped feeding him kibble and canned dog food, until they stopped completely over 5 years ago, without ever putting him on anti-epileptic drugs.  But, did you know that there are other foods that can harm your dog’s health, even causing seizures?   Some of these caught me by surprise!

  • Chocolate.  Almost everyone knows that chocolate can cause seizures and even death in a dog.  One day Cory got into Jayson’s stash of Halloween chocolate.  He had consumed quite a bit of it when Jayson discovered him, with Cory’s head deep inside the bowl of chocolate bars and his tail wagging with exuberant glee.  Jayson called poison control and was advised to pour Hydrogen Peroxide liquid down Cory’s throat, which made Cory vomit.  Happily I had Hydrogen Peroxide in the cupboard where I keep first aid supplies. Jayson took Cory outside for this messy task.  We were very lucky that Jayson found out about it soon enough so that no harm was done.  If you suspect your dog has consumed chocolate and you are not sure when it happened, call your veterinarian immediately.  If you catch your dog in the act, then try the Hydrogen Peroxide treatment.  Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate.
  • Onions or Products Containing Onion Powder.  These contain sulfoxides and disulfides which can cause damage to the red blood cells, resulting in the dog becoming anemic.
  • Raw Fish.  Especially here in the Pacific Northwest, salmon and other fish often carry a fluke which in turn carries a bacteria which can cause seizures and death if consumed raw. The danger is completely eliminated if you cook the fish first, although you have to be careful to get all the bones out of the cooked fish before allowing your dog to eat it.  I’ve been told that freezing the fish at a certain temperature will also kill the fluke & eliminate the problem, but I’m not enough of a scientist to know what that temperature is or how long the fish would need to be frozen in order to be comfortable feeding raw fish to my dog.
  • Nutmeg.  Not that it ever occurred to me to sprinkle nutmeg on Cory’s chow, but apparently it can cause tremors, seizures and death.  Just don’t share any of your cookies containing nutmeg with your pooch and you should be OK with this one.
  • Mushrooms.  Some mushrooms contain toxins that can cause problems for a dog, especially wild ones.  I knew this and was alert to keeping Cory away from mushrooms on our walks.  “Leave it” is a great command to teach your dog early.
  • Cat food.  Cory is not going to like it that I found out about this one, as he loves to lick the kitty’s plate after she finishes her canned food.  It turns out that cat food is too high in protein and fats for dogs to eat.  OK, maybe he can still lick the kitty’s plate, but don’t substitute cat food as meal for your pup.
  • Apple seeds.  Apple seeds and other pits from fruit contain the poison cyanide, which can cause seizures.
  • Grapes and Raisins.  When I first learned that grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs it was at the same time I was reading a training book for dogs that actually advocated giving raisins as treats!  I contacted the author with my concerns and she was very defensive, saying that she had always used raisins as training treats for her dogs.  All I can say is be aware of the risks and do more research before giving grapes or raisins to your dog.
  • Egg whites.  It is OK to feed your dog a whole egg, but there is a danger in splitting the egg whites off and feeding them without the yoke, because they contain a protein known as avidin, which can actually deplete your dog of one of the essential B vitamins. Apparently the yoke contains the antidote to this protein, so if the egg is served whole, there is nothing to be concerned about.

Treatment for Canine Epilepsy

June 29th, 2010 1 comment

If your dog starts having seizures it is important to get him in for an evaluation by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If the reason for the seizures is a diagnosis of epilepsy, the following are some of the ways that the seizures can be treated. It is important to understand that epilepsy is not the cause of all dog seizures, however. For example, certain kinds of brain tumors or an injury to the dog’s brain can cause seizures, as can certain toxins in the environment. In such cases, treatment for epilepsy will be completely ineffective.

The purpose of this article is to explore treatment options so that you will have a better understanding of them once your veterinarian has determined that the cause of your dog’s seizures is epilepsy. Generally no treatment is recommended unless the seizures are occurring at least once a month. You should keep in mind that the purpose of treatment is to reduce the frequency and intensity of the seizures, and that in many cases the seizures will continue in spite of the treatment, so don’t give up and don’t get discouraged.

Anti-Epileptic Drugs, or “AED’s” are usually the first choice of treatment options, with Phenobarbitol and Potassium bromide being the two most commonly prescribed drugs, sometimes independently and sometimes together, if administering just one of them does not produce sufficient seizure control. Diazepam (a/k/a Valium) is used for treatment if the seizures go into what is called “status epilepticus” or “cluster seizures” which is where the seizure goes on for more than about 5 minutes, or one seizure quickly follows another. In my research for this article I was surprised to find that Primidone is still on the list of potential treatment options; however, because of the high concentration of liver enzymes that have been reported and other side effects such as lethargy and excessive hunger and thirst, I was always told that this drug should never be considered, and I knew it by the nickname of “Primadon’t” among my fellow owners of epileptic dogs. There have been studies done in the past 5 to 10 years that have shown that Neurontin (a/k/a gabapentin) can also be useful, and anyone considering using AED’s should do further research about these studies. The caution about using AED’s is that they can cause liver enzymes to become elevated, and dogs on these drugs need to have regular chemistry panels done to be sure that their livers are not being damaged.

Acupuncture or Gold Bead Implants, involve the placement of needles throughout the dog’s body, or placement of gold bead into the acupuncture points. I would try acupuncture before AED’s, but gold bead implants would be a last resort for me, to be considered only if everything else failed.

Diet, Homeopathy and Vitamin Therapy. I believe that diet plays a critical role in the treatment of canine epilepsy, because many commercial dog foods are full of chemical dyes and preservatives. Preservatives have been known to cause seizures in dogs that have a lower seizure threshold, and should be eliminated completely from their diets. I believe that the benefits of feeding fresh, raw food and fresh pulped green leafy veggies actually stopped my dog’s seizures without us ever having to use AED’s. I recommend that you work with a holistic veterinarian to ensure that you are providing the right balance of food, vitamin and if recommended, homeopathic treatments. Serving filtered water may also be helpful, especially in states where the water has fluoride added.

Rescue Remedy and Ice Cream. I found the Bachs Flower Essence called Rescue Remedy, which is sold in most health food stores, to be very useful in lessening the severity of a seizure if you can get 4 or 5 drops of it into the dog’s mouth as soon as the seizure starts, and after a seizure, a spoonful of Breyers All Natural vanilla ice cream (preservative free!) can help to quickly restore blood sugar levels which are compromised by the tremendous amount of energy it takes a little body to experience a seizure. My dog got to where he would go to the refrigerator after his seizures and look happily up at the freezer, wagging his tail expectantly.

Causes of Dog Seizures

June 29th, 2010 2 comments

In England they often call them “fits” – what happens when the brain loses control of the body. In America, they are more commonly called seizures. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief summary as to some of the many causes of dog seizures.

EPILEPSY. The primary cause of dog seizures is epilepsy, but it is important to make the distinction that not all seizures are attributable to epilepsy. The most common form of epilepsy was made known to the world by a group of idiots walking through the woods one day and they all found themselves on the same path, and collectively observed a wolf in a clearing doing the hokey-pokey. They reported this unusual sighting to the forest rangers and the term “idiopathic epilepsy” was coined. Well, that’s not exactly true, but the scientific reason is a bit more boring and doesn’t make any more sense. In short, the term “idiopathic epilepsy” is a catch-all for when the experts just don’t know what is causing a dog to have seizures.

TOXINS. Unfortunately for dogs, there are all kinds of toxins in their environment, many of which can cause seizures. These toxins range from poisons to get rid of rodents or slugs to flea powders or chemicals that are actually meant for dogs to wear as collars. Antifreeze, insecticides and paint products are also known toxins which can not only induce seizures, but can kill the unwitting animal that ingests them. With early treatment and intervention, most animals have a good to fair prognosis of making a full recovery if they have a seizure as a result of an environmental poisoning.

BRAIN TUMORS. Obviously, one of the easiest things to rule out, as a cause of dog seizures, is whether there is an abnormal growth in the dog’s brain. Growths cause pressure on the brain tissue, which in turn can cause seizures and other neurological abnormalities. Fortunately, there are diagnostic tests (MRI or CAT scans) that can determine if that is the problem; however, only a very small percentage of dog seizures are caused by tumors or head injuries. In either case, anti-epileptic drugs would not be effective for dogs suffering from seizures caused by either of them.

TICK INDUCED DISEASES. The bite of the bloodsucking arachnid known as a tick can cause Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, both of which can cause dog seizures. If the tick is discovered within the first 24 hours after it has attached itself to the dog, the chance of infection is greatly reduced. There are antibiotics that can kill Lyme Disease, and most dogs respond quite well in general to antibiotics.

DISTEMPER. Distemper, in which a fever develops, then diarrhea and dehydration, can cause seizures in dogs, especially puppies, when they lose their maternal antibodies at about the age of 3 months. Only through the use of vaccinations can this debilitating disease be prevented, and once a dog has acquired it, they have a fight ahead for their very lives.

Causes of Dog Seizures (Part 3)

June 16th, 2010 No comments

Yesterday I covered the 2nd cause of dog seizures: Toxins. Today is the 3rd cause:

BRAIN TUMORS. Obviously, one of the easiest things to rule out, as a cause of dog seizures, is whether there is an abnormal growth in the dog’s brain. Growths cause pressure on the brain tissue, which in turn can cause seizures and other neurological abnormalities. Fortunately, there are diagnostic tests (MRI or CAT scans) that can determine if that is the problem; however, only a very small percentage of dog seizures are caused by tumors or head injuries. In either case, anti-epileptic drugs would not be effective for dogs suffering from seizures caused by either of them.

Check back again tomorrow for the 4th cause of dog seizures! And don’t forget to sign up for our fan club on the right sidebar =) You’ll get a sneak-peek at Chapter of Cory’s Story as our thank-you!

Cory 9 Weeks after Cauda Equina Syndrome

May 28th, 2010 2 comments

Just a quick update to show you a picture of Cory’s back, taken on May 27th, 2010 (about 9 weeks after surgery for cauda equina syndrome). His scar is showing tremendous improvement, and the DERMagic Skin Rescue Lotion appears to be starting to work some of its magic as well. It’s hard to see in the photo, but hairs are sprouting up all over the bare area. We’re staying hopeful he’ll get his shiny coat back soon!

Cory 9 weeks after cauda equina syndrome surgery

Cory 9 weeks after cauda equina syndrome surgery

Cory 7 Weeks After Cauda Equina Surgery, Getting Skin Treatment

May 19th, 2010 2 comments

It’s been 7 weeks since cauda equina surgery, and Cory’s hair still isn’t growing back very well, so we applied Dermagic Skin Rescue Lotion to help heal the wound and promote hair growth. Here’s the video!


Quick update: Cory’s Story is in the hands of the publisher now and we’re so excited! We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

P.S. – If you’re interested in the Dermagic Skin Rescue Lotion, visit Dermagic’s website at

Update: I visited Cory on Wednesday

May 7th, 2010 No comments

Hey everyone!

There was family in town on Wednesday so I got to go home and visit Cory. I’m very happy to say that I am seeing tremendous improvement! Sandy beamed as she told me that she had just taken Cory for the best walk he’s had since the surgery. She described how he’s figured out a way to walk “like a panther” in which he just seems to get into a zone and walk very methodically, seemingly without any pain. When he walks around the house he still limps on his front shoulders, but there doesn’t seem to be any pain in his hind legs anymore.

He definitely also has much more feeling back in his hind legs. Before the surgery, it seemed that he would just lose control of them. He’d be standing and then his hind end would collapse underneathe him. I haven’t seen that happen once since the surgery, though he is still a little wobbly in the hind end. This is more likely due to atrophied muscles though, since he hasn’t been able to get much exercise since the surgery.

He had his first hydrotherapy session a couple weeks ago and his next one is coming up in a couple days. We have talked with several people who absolutely swear by the effectiveness of it, so we are staying positive about the potential results. Of course, the goal is to get Cory physically healthy enough to be able to swim and take care of himself this summer during our usual camping trips.

Oh, and one last thing – Sandy has submitted the book “Cory’s Story” to a publisher, so it’s just a matter of time before the book is released! Hang in there!

Categories: Cauda Equina, Updates on Cory Tags:

Four Types of Dog Seizures

April 21st, 2010 No comments

Periods of abnormal electrical activity in your dog’s brain will trigger a seizure. There are different types of dog seizures. They include petit mal, grand mal, staus epilepticus, and cluster. Let’s take a look at these types of dog seizures.

Petit Mal

The first type of seizure is the petit mal. They cause little uncontrolled movement. Your dog will simply have a blank look on his face. Some dogs blink will suffering a petit mal seizure.

Grand Mal

Grand mal dog seizures are a bit more serious. Most dogs stiffen their muscles and lie down on their sides with their legs out. This usually progresses into jerking movements with the limbs and chomping their jaws. These dog seizures can also cause uncontrolled urination, salivation, and bowel movements. After the episode is over, he will likely be disoriented for a short time.


Cluster seizures are even more serious as they can be life-threatening. Cluster refers to the fact that multiple seizures occur within hours of each other. You dog will suffer another one before he has had adequate time to recover from the previous one.

Status Epilepticus

Like the cluster variety, status epilepticus refers to multiple seizures within a short time frame. The difference is that they never stop, but occur as one continuous episode. This condition is an extreme emergency and requires veterinarian assistance quickly.

These are some of the different types of dog seizures. The petit variety only cause blank stares, while their grand mal cousins cause uncontrolled movements and loss of bodily functions. Cluster dog seizures are life-threatening as multiple episodes occur within a short period of time.

It can be a difficult experience to watch your dog have a seizure. Make sure you stop by to learn about other dog illnesses that can affect your pet. So stop by today to read all about conditions such as canine kidney disease.

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Categories: Dog seizures Tags:

Video of Cory 3 weeks after Cauda Equina Surgery

April 20th, 2010 2 comments

Here’s the video I promised. It shows Cory moving around and doing some tricks 3 weeks after surgery on his spine for cauda equina syndrome.


Pictures of Cory 3 weeks after Cauda Equina surgery

April 19th, 2010 4 comments

These pictures are of Cory 3 weeks after Cauda Equina surgery. His back was shaved for the surgery and his hair is slowly growing back. But it seems to be growing back very slowly.

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