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Sick as a dog

It’s a typical morning in Bigmouth Towers. Baby Bigmouth has woken up an hour earlier than is fair or decent, and she’s dragging her dummy along the bars of her cot like a lifer in a maximum security prison. We get up, bleary eyed, and we hear the thundering of paws as Megan, Destroyer of Shoes, charges up the stairs to the baby gate, waiting for her chance to give Baby Bigmouth a good morning lick. As ever, I go to say hello to Megan, put on the coffee machine and have the first cigarette of the day.

But Megan isn’t at the baby gate. She’s on the sofa, flat on her back, jerking. Her mouth is foaming. I go over to her and she clearly doesn’t know who I am or what’s happening to her, and she bares her teeth and does the kind of barking you see on TV programmes with titles such as “when good dogs eat kids”. Something weird is happening, she thinks, and that baldy bloke is responsible. If he gets any closer I’ll eat his face.

I shout up to Mrs Bigmouth, “don’t come downstairs”. I grab the mobile, go outside and call the emergency vet number. They tell me that Megan’s having a seizure. She’ll be okay in a bit.

Sure enough, by the time the call is over Megan’s at the back door, sad eyed. I let her out and she immediately nuzzles into me, desperate for affection. I reassure her that everything’s OK and try not to blub.

I Google. It could be poison – Megan loves diving into gardens and chewing things she shouldn’t, and this is weedkiller, pesticide season. We make sure anything we use is kid- and pet-safe, but other people might not. Megan’s been sick, it might be that. It could be a reaction to a bite, or some rubbish she’s chewed when we weren’t looking, or something in the water when she was trying to drink an entire stream.

We go to the vet. Heart, temperature, other things, all okay. It’s epilepsy, the vet tells us. No cure. If it happens again, which it probably will, we’ll need to put Megan on phenobarbitol. Unfortunately that’s really bad news for her liver, so we’ll have to give her more meds to deal with that. It’ll probably take a few years off her life, too.

The thing is… if she’s got epilepsy it’s idiopathic epilepsy, which can’t be detected: it’s a process of elimination, the diagnosis when everything else has been ruled out. Yes, the vet did temperature, listened to her heart, but they didn’t do blood tests or anything else. The appointment was 3 hours after the seizure, so any symptoms from things such as poisoning may have been and gone by then. I don’t know. Those of you who have dogs – have you ever encountered a seizure that happened but didn’t recur? Or is the vet right in diagnosing epilepsy without checking in detail for anything else?

13 replies on “Sick as a dog”

Wow, that’s alarming. Your pesticide call seems on the money to me but I guess all you can do is wait and see if it recurs. Poor mutt.

Last week, in a dumb, misguided act of kindness, I gave Bailey, my 9-month golder retriever, a roast lamb bone to chew. She was in heaven. Next morning, she’d puked up a fair bit of lamb in the night – but seemed otherwise fine. Off I went to London for a couple of days, leaving Mrs M in charge. But the dog had the squits all day and then shat and puked her way through a second night. Fragments of bone were evident in her output, hence an emergency visit by Mrs M to the vet. Antibotics, a stool-firming medicine and a light diet for 3 days sorted her out… but the lesson was clear: it’s not just chicken bones that can fragment and cause a dog all sorts of problems.

Which is no comfort whasoever to you or Megan, but merely reaffirms what you already know – owning a dog can be awfy stressful. Let’s hope it’s a one-off. Excellent chance of that if it was chemically induced.

Which reminds me of the time I fed Mrs M my home-baked space cakes… she had a similar reaction, if I remember correctly, expecially the wild, staring eyes and wanting to eat my face!

Yeah, we’ve had to take bones from Megan because they splintered. Can’t be too careful.

Space cakes? Wow.

I’d advise against giving dogs any cooked bones.

They attributed my former dog’s epilepsy to the fact that she was dressed chemically as opposed to intrusive surgery. That was pushing 20 years ago, though.

My dog, Sam, is a bit daft, when she was a pup, she managed to get into the bin, and feed herself on the contents, a few hours later her face & ears had swollen and she was finding it hard to breath, Called into the vets, and the said she must have an allergy, anyway, after a £60 shot in the neck, one dog as happy as Larry.

To get to the point, my neighbour’s dog has epilepsy, and it has a fit on a regular occurrences, it took months of tests and blood samples to diagnose, He (the neighbour) has Pet insurance that covers the lot, if not it would have cost him hundreds.

Apparently this can be common in certain pedigree breeds,
x-breeds it is rare.

Hope Megan is OK, and its a one off.

There hasn’t been a recurrence so far, so hopefully it was poisoning. That sounds weird, but you know what I mean.

Richie, didn’t think there was any point in a vet appointment – we know what it is (although I still think the vet was too quick to diagnose the last time). So now it’s just a matter of starting her on the drugs, which sucks because they’ll shorten her life. But better that than the alternative – her fit started on the stairs today, and she managed to get to the bottom before it properly kicked in. Had she been at the top of the stairs she could have seriously hurt herself. Still a horrible decision to have to make (although of course it’s nothing compared to the decisions some parents have to make, I know that). And it’s a fucking hellish thing to have to watch – you basically have to be sure that she can’t hurt herself and let her go through it until she knows who you are again and can be comforted.

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