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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16888
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My son's Westie died a few days ago in the middle of the night.

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My son's Westie died a few days ago in the middle of the night. He had suffered 3 epileptic - type fits in the past couple of months. The medication that he was on seemed to be working & he seemed okay on his last day alive. Something happened during the night and he was found dead lying on a bed in the morning. We think that he may have suffered a fourth & fatal fit during the night or possibly the fit brought on a heart attack. We had only had him for seven and a half years. We all loved him and find it difficult to understand why he began suffering epileptic-type fits only a couple of months ago. It seems terribly unfair.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry that you have been waiting for a response, but your requested expert isn't online which delayed your question coming up on the list for all to answer. I would like to help if you are still interested in an opinion.My deepest condolences on your loss, I am sure that you are heartbroken because Laddie seemed to be so normal before his death and his seizures seemed to be under control.Seizures are rhythmic, repetitive, muscle movements which the dog is unable to control and often loses consciousness during. Many dogs will repeatedly have chewing motions and/or leg motions and can lose urine and stool control. There can be several reasons for seizures.The most common is idiopathic epilepsy. That means that we don't know why but a circuit of sensitive neurons in the brain gets stuck repeatedly firing. Epilepsy occurs most frequently for the first time in dogs 6 months to 6 years of age so he was a bit old for this to have been the cause of his seizures. We do believe that there is a genetic basis for dogs to have epilepsy as certain breeds are more commonly afflicted and siblings will often have them as well. Other causes for seizures are viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections, metabolic diseases leading to waste products building up and affecting brain chemistry, low blood sugar, or even granulomas or masses in the brain.Most of the other disease processes that cause seizures cause other symptoms, those dogs are sick or abnormal other than during the seizure. Was any blood work checked when he started having seizures a few months ago?In a patient with seizures I recommend an exam, checking a biochemistry profile to look at organ health and a complete blood count. We do want to make sure there are no underlying problems. Sometimes with primary brain disease these tests will look completely normal.If his seizures became more frequent than once a month or more than one happened in a day, even if it was several months between seizure episodes then medication is best to prevent them. The reason for that is the likelihood of status epilepticus (one seizure after another) and possible brain damage is higher with those scenarios and we wish to avoid that. That sounds like it was done for Laddie.Unfortunately in Laddie's case I suspect that he may have ended up with an episode of status epilepticus, which lead to his brain being damaged and subsequent death. I would be suspicious that your fellow may have had a brain mass given that his seizures only started recently, and were difficult to control, and that led to his fatal seizure episode. Short of an MRI or CT there would be no way of knowing about his brain mass, and short of brain surgery you were doing all that could be done for your fellow. If it helps he was likely completely unaware of anything once his final seizure episode began, and he Probably died without feeling any pain because he likely died without waking.I know that this is horribly upsetting, please know that your fellow was very lucky to have the time he did with a loving family and that you did your best for him.Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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