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Published November 19, 2010, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Seizures claim 3 puppies

Dear Dr. Fox: About 18 years ago, I found a beautiful little poodle/Bichon mix. No one claimed her, so I kept her. Four years later, she started having seizures.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: About 18 years ago, I found a beautiful little poodle/Bichon mix. No one claimed her, so I kept her. Four years later, she started having seizures. The vet put her on medication, and she did fairly well. While I still had Girlfriend, I bought a Bichon, Jessie, and then Jack Russell, Lily.

Girlfriend’s health failed and we had to put her down. Then, when Jessie was about 13, she developed seizures. She also was put on medication day and night, but after about eight months, she also had to be put to sleep, and I put her down on Feb. 13, 2009.

On April 18, 2009, my Jack Russell had a seizure about 11 at night. On April 20, I saw bile on the floor and knew she’d had another one. I took her to the vet that afternoon and they said they would keep her overnight so they could watch and treat her. The next morning, they called me to say Lilly had seized all night long and no medication would bring her out of it. My heart broke.

They all went to the same reliable vet for the yearly checkups, shots, teeth cleaning, etc., and had good appetites right down to veggies and such. Any input you might have would be greatly appreciated. – C.P., Neptune, N.J.

Dear C.P.: My sympathies go out to you and many dog owners with seizure-prone dogs.

In some veterinary circles, I would be considered an alarmist for suggesting two co-factors that possibly contributed to your three dogs’ seizures:

  • Adverse reactions to vaccinations (dogs don’t need yearly shots), especially for distemper, that vaccine manufacturers have been reticent to address but are now doing so.
  • Adverse reactions to spot-on, anti-flea drugs that the U.S. government (FDA) keeps promising that it will regulate more effectively.

More and stronger regulations will not eliminate adverse reactions. Some dogs have a genetic predisposition to seizures. Dietary factors – like heavy glutens – and chronic liver disease, especially in older dogs, can also play a role in this all too common canine affliction. Animals sharing the same environment could also be exposed to the same house and garden chemicals, and this potential source of poisoning should be considered when several animals in the home develop the same symptoms.

But in your case, I would suspect other co-factors, especially similar medications and routine treatments over the years. A diagnosis of epilepsy or pure neurological seizure must be determined by a professional, since such conditions as diabetes, hypoglycemia, liver and kidney disease, and brain tumors (in old dogs) can trigger convulsions and call for appropriate treatments after making a clear differential diagnosis.

Dear Dr. Fox: We have a domestic tiger-breed cat named Mr. Stubbs. He is 1½ years old with an eye condition that oozes a dark, bloody-like mucus and then dries to a crust. This condition interferes with his sight if his eyes are not wiped multiple times a day. The only remedy we’ve received from our vet are eye drops that are applied to both eyes every day.

Mr. Stubbs acquired this condition when we rescued him. At the same time, we also rescued an old stray and the two cats kept one another company for a few days before we took them to the vet. The older one had a chronic respiratory condition and the same eye condition. In her case, no one could get close enough to clean her eyes daily.

Is there any solution for Mr. Stubbs? He is a joyful kitty and such a pleasure. I’m able to care for him right now, but am going back to work soon and won’t be able to attend to him as often. – T.C., Highlands, N.J.

Dear T.C.: The dark brown, blood-like secretion in your cat’s eyes contains a natural pigment called porphyrin. This becomes more evident when a gland in the eye called the Harderian gland becomes inflamed. It is usually a sign of chronic eye infection, often associated with conjunctivitis that can persist after a herpes virus or upper respiratory tract infection.

Ophthalmic antibiotic ointment from the veterinarian and good nutrition including multivitamin/multimineral and amino acid supplements are called for. Chronic eye infections can lead to corneal ulceration and blindness if not treated.

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. Visit Dr. Fox’s website at