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Published May 01, 2009, 12:00 AM

Old dog suffering from seizures

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a female border collie who’s about 14 years old. Since July 2008, she has experienced seizures, high anxiety, panting, drooling, chewing, clawing and destroying anything she can get her paws on.

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a female border collie who’s about 14 years old. Since July 2008, she has experienced seizures, high anxiety, panting, drooling, chewing, clawing and destroying anything she can get her paws on. She was tested negative for Cushing’s disease. We’ve tried Selegiline (7.5 milligrams, three times a day) and Prednisone (10 milligrams per day).

These medications have made no difference in preventing the seizures. She has a good appetite and normal body functions. I cannot leave the house because of the destruction during these seizures. Please help. — R.R., Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Dear R.R.: Seizures in old dogs can be triggered by many factors, highly probable ones being a brain tumor or serious liver or kidney disease. The destructive behavior (wanting to compulsively chew things) can take on an almost psychotic aspect, the animal seems to be mentally deranged. Such behavior could be a desperate attempt to alleviate excruciating pain.

Your dog should have been hospitalized, videotaped and given a full blood and urine analysis. My guess is that she has so-called “hepatic encephalopathy” that in some instances can be ameliorated with a special diet (no wheat products), vitamins and other supplements, and milk thistle — an herb that can help restore liver function. I battled chronic liver disease for some years with our beloved dog Xylo whom my wife rescued and kept for a while at her animal refuge in India. But in the end, we opted for euthanasia when uncontrollable seizures developed.

Dear Dr. Fox: My husband and I have a 1½-year-old spayed beagle mix. She suffers from urinary-tract infections (UTI). Her symptoms include frequent urination (particularly at night while sleeping) and licking of her genitals.

Our vet said that tests indicated high pH levels in the alkaline range and her problems stem from an irritation of her bladder and not her kidneys. The standard course of treatment has been several rounds of antibiotics lasting anywhere from 10 to 20 days. She can typically hold her urine when walking, but only for a few hours at a time. We provide her plenty of access to fresh, unfiltered water during the day and let her out several times.

I researched UTIs in dogs on the Internet and concluded that dry dog food could be part of the problem because of its low moisture content. Although our dog was eating the Solid Gold dog-food line (which I considered to be of high quality), I have begun to switch her over to your dog-food recipe (which I’ve seen work miracles) that we already feed our older dog. We have also been supplementing organic cranberry juice (no sugar added) to her diet.

Is there anything else you would recommend? We love our dog dearly, but the daily washing of her bed and towels is starting to wear on us (and her). — J.L., Winston-Salem, N.C.

DEAR J.L.: You are absolutely on the right track. Dogs’ and cats’ urine should be slightly acidic, but cereals in the diet can make the urine too alkaline, which can cause urinary-tract problems.

Organic, sugar-free cranberry juice (or concentrated powder in capsules) is an excellent acidifier and urinary-tract disinfectant. Giving your dog probiotics in her food may also help improve her overall condition and ward off urinary-tract infection. But do not give antibiotics at the same time.

I am glad that you have seen my basic homemade recipe “work miracles.” Uncounted numbers of cat and dog owners are witness to the benefits of good nutrition on the health and vitality of their animal companions. Recipes for dogs and cats, and to make treats, are on my Web site, www.twobitdog.com.


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Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns

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