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Dear Weedon Vets,
I have a five year old red setter that has been on a diet to control urine crystals for over two years. This year he suffered his first epileptic episode and the fits have now have gradually increased to multiple fits over a couple of days even though he is on two medications for the condition.
As well as coping with the distressing fits themselves, what is really causing us the most stress is his behaviour. He is barking nonstop after the fits and is very agitated. We are at our wits end!
A support group has suggested a radical change of diet to help control his fits. Could this help and what can we do to improve his condition?
I’m sure this has been a difficult year since your dog was diagnosed. Epilepsy can be a hard condition to manage and cope with, especially when behaviour is affected after the seizure. I am sure your vet has made you aware that there are different stages of a seizure. The behaviour you are describing after your dog’s seizure sounds very much like the post-ictal phase where drowsiness and confusion are common. The post-ictal state is the period in which the brain recovers from the insult it has experienced.
Many dogs with epilepsy will be stabilised on one drug alone but some do need several anti-epileptic drugs in combination. Different dogs respond to all these drugs and their combinations in different ways and the regime needs to be tailored to each individual. There are some anti-epileptic drugs available that potentially could be added in for your dog, but every case is different and your vet would need to discuss further options with you.
Many dogs with epilepsy will never be completely seizure free but the aim of therapy in these cases is to increase the interval between seizures, reduce the severity of the seizures and improve the quality of the post-ictal period- basically finding a level of seizure activity that both dog and owner can cope with.
I would be cautious about changing him from the therapeutic diet he is on as some, but not all dogs require lifelong dietary management of crystals in the urine. Your vet should be able to guide you through a change in diet, if it is necessary. If the diet is changed, regular urine samples, to check crystals are not reforming, may be necessary.
I hope this helps, we are always here for further advice if you need it.
Sarah Elliott BVSc MRCVS