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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22451
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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I have had dogs years. I have a west highland terrier

Customer Question

I have had dogs for 55 years. I have a west highland terrier who started having small fits last night and a few this morning. What can be done for her please?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Does Mabel convulse, paddle, drool, and/or loose control of her bowels?
Or does she appear to faint?

Is this the first time you have seen these with her?
Any known health issues (ie diabetes, heart issues, lung disease, epilepsy, etc)?

How is she just now? Any head tilting, depression, behavior change, circling?

Any exposure to toxins, chemicals protein rich foods, or plants?

Do you think she was overheated yesterday?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
When having slight fits she does paddle and did lose control of her bowels when she had a larger fit.
She has had mamory tumours removed. Her organs showed clear six months ago.
It has shaken her up, she is calm as long as she is with me.
She was at home yesterday and not exposed to anything different.
It was extremely hot yesterday but she was exposed to plenty of fresh air, water and shade.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you Jenny,

Now as I am sure you can appreciate, we can see these kinds of episodes arise in our elderly dogs for a range of reasons. This can include toxin exposure, overheating (heat stroke), diseases relating to the heart, brain, and also secondary to organ dysfunction (ie liver or kidney failure). So, we do need to tread with care with Mabel.

Based on your further information, we can start ruling out some issues. From what you have said, toxins and heat stroke are less likely (and usually these would be causing her to be off instead of recovering in between). As well, if she is having a fit as opposed to a faint, we can put heart concerns to the bottom of our list. Therefore, we would have to question is Mabel does have an underlying organ issue but also have to be worried about what is going on in her brain. And at her age, we would be worried about brain based infection (bacterial, viral, protozoal), but also swellings, bleeds, and tumours (which could be spread from her mammary tumor and not something they could have checked for before unless she had an MRI). Epilepsy would be possible, but usually it comes on much younger and doesn't cause so many fits in a short space of time.

With all this in mind and since she has had so many fits in a short space of time (which will be exhausting her muscles/cells and raising her temperature which isn't ideal when it is already warm), I must say that this is a situation where I feel it is best that she is seen at this stage. At the very least, her vet can dispense Valium for you to control these seizures. But ideally we'd want her to be fully examined, to have a neurological examination +/- bloods checked. These will help us pinpoint the likely cause of her signs and address them for her. And if there is something suspect in her brain, her vet can potentially treat for those potential infections or use steroids to reduce any inflammation associated with those other concerns.

Overall, these would be our concerns for Mabel's signs. The fits do sound mild but seeing so many in such a short space of time does raise worries that something really is negatively impacting her brain (potentially even putting pressure on it). Therefore, this isn't something we want to leave to linger. So, it is best to be checked at this point. Of course, while you are ringing her vet to organize this, do plan to keep her somewhere cool, dimly lit, and quiet. That way we can reduce stimulation and hopefully keep her from another fit.

Finally, just to note in case you were keen to have her seen today, some veterinary practices in our country have office hours today (my own is open til 3pm today). As well, I wanted to mention that most veterinary practices here do have contingency plans for emergency care for their patients even when they are not open. Therefore, it is worth ringing the practice. If they are open, you can get her seen today. If they aren't, then they will likely have a message to direct you on how to contact their out of hours service. And if you don't have a vet you can find one local to you, you can check the RCVS Register (HERE) to find your local vets or Vets Now (LINK) who are open all nights/weekends. In any case, if you wanted to get her checked out sooner then there are options to have her seen today too.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need as this is how I am credited for assisting you today. Thank you! : )
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** are what I expected. I have a very good vet and knowing my dog I would rather keep her peacefully with me today as it would stress her out taking her to a strange vet and get an appointment in the morning with her usual vet.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

You are very welcome, Jenny.

That is fair enough if your vet doesn't personally cover his weekend out of hours. In that case, do keep her calm, quiet, and try to keep stimuli to a minimum for her. As well, if possible, do consider giving her access to a fan to just help keep her cool and make sure that isn't precipitating or worsening her signs.

Please take care & all the best for wee Mabel,
Dr. B.