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Arthritis & Seizures

Arthritis & Seizures

Plus, Dr. Tom has another new pup.

Well, I've done it again. I have another new dog. This one is an eight-week-old Lab, black and full of more energy than the EPA allows. She came from a client who is into training as a hobby and field trialing as a means of keeping his discretionary income account at a minimum.

Since this pup arrived here just five days ago she has learned the routine of "dog day" around my office and met and developed a good relationship with my young German shorthair, Tip. Thankfully, she retained the "potty" training that Rick and Sandy had done with her before I picked her up.


I was amazed at the amount of time that they had spent with the puppies and the seriousness with which they take their hobby of producing good quality field dogs. The litter had necessary health care issues taken care of but also had been tested for exercise induced collapse on day one, and at 7-plus weeks they had their eyes checked.


I often wish that we had been at the beginning of the genetic testing age 45 years ago. I would love to see it developed to its full potential.

Another interesting thing that happened with the acquisition of this pup was the process of selecting the best prospect for me. Normally this process involves the purchaser selecting his/her pick based on any restrictions the breeder might have, i.e., pups already spoken for, pups the owner wants to keep, etc.


In this case I felt like I knew the breeders well enough and had had a client relationship with them long enough that other than choosing the sex of dog I wanted, I let Rick pick the pup he thought best for me. And now I have Belle.


Here is a brief comment on another recent event. Last weekend I attended and presented a program at the annual NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association) meeting in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. How great it was to reconnect with old friends and share stories about dogs!

It is amazing how many friendships are held together by an interest in dogs. NAVHDA continues to maintain high standards of testing as the tool for breeding decisions and improvement of the quality of versatile dogs. As I went through my old slides and took some pictures of my new dog Tip, I was amazed at how similar in appearance this GSP is to my favorite pointer of many years ago, Ting.

I realize there are people who are opposed to tail docking, but how else would we tell some of these breeds apart?

Question
I have a 10-year-old golden retriever. He is very special to me and I am worried about some recent issues.

Wesley has been having trouble getting up and struggles with walking at times. I had x-rays, blood work and other tests done and everything came back normal. My vet is currently doctoring him for arthritis in his spine and hips.

He was on prednisone and seemed to respond to the strong dose two times per day. My vet did not want to keep him on that strong of a dose so he dropped it to once a day for 10 days, then dropped it to a pill every other day.

As the dosage decreased, Wesley's symptoms seemed to come back. He is currently on Previcoxx 227 mg (once/day) and Rejuvenate (two capsules per day).

Other symptoms that I should mention include lying with his back legs pointing straight ahead alongside his body, and he sometimes seems like he is having mini-seizures when he tries to stand up. Is there anything else you would recommend?
--AD

Answer
I suspect the dog is really not having a seizure episode but is just reacting to the pain and functional instability of his rear end when trying to rise up. Dogs with arthritis of the spine and rear quarters have a great deal of difficulty getting up and around and often have a marked shifting of weight bearing to the front legs.

I do have some suggestions for your treatment plan. First, keep Wesley's weight down. Then, develop an exercise program for the dog that allows him to keep those joints active and maintain a range of motion that gives the dog an acceptable quality of life.

For pain relief, Previcoxx, Rimadyl and Deramaxx are good anti-inflammatory drugs.

These should be used with periodic monitoring of the dog's blood chemistries. I would not use Prenisilone as an adjunct to these products, as serious damage to the gut and other organs can occur.

I do sometimes enhance pain relief by adding tramadol HCl, a human drug, to the anti-inflammatory.

Question
I'm contacting you regarding Bonnie, our German shorthair, and the problems we've had of late with her having two seizures.

Our vet opted to not run a blood test, saying Bonnie is too healthy looking for a liver problem and she exhibited no state of confusion or misbehavior typical of brain tumors or head injuries. The vet also ruled out the possibility of it being epilepsy, saying that most certainly the seizures would happen at home and more often while the dog is sleeping, not just out in the field.

The fact that Bonnie responded to the karo syrup I gave her, and that the seizures have only happened two times, both while out in the field, the vet said was very typical of low blood sugar. She said the clenched teeth were also typical of a low blood sugar reaction.

The vet also felt that drawing blood at the current time rather than out in the field when an episode was taking place would yield no useful information. She did refer us to two specialists, one in Madison, WI and the other in Buffalo Grove, IL (admitting her unfamiliarity with the situation) and said if we decided to make an appointment, they would definitely rerun any blood work she had done anyway.

We've also considered taking Bonnie to a different vet, one near the area of the clubs where we hunt, thinking that vet might be more familiar with this type of situation and more familiar with bird dogs in general.

We've been in contact with Bonnie's breeders and they have never had any similar experience. Bonnie exercises regularly for an hour or more and has no problems then.

For some reason it has happened only out in the field, at two different clubs.

Thank you for any input you can offer.
--MK

Answer
The first thing I would do is get a different veterinarian. Treatment plans for seizure problems begin with a good diagnostic workup. This includes a complete physical exam and blood and urine analysis., followed by a visit to a veterinary neurologist.

This certainly could be

a low blood sugar issue but the only real way to know that is by ruling out all other possible causes. The only time you are likely to get a low blood sugar reading on seizuring dogs is if you can get a blood sample as the dog is having a seizure in the field. By the time the dog is back on its feet the blood glucose has risen to a level that restores muscle function and values will be in the normal range.

My last pointer suffered from hypoglycemia and I had a hard time managing her. I finally just resorted to stopping and giving her glucose (honey) orally when she started to show any signs of lack of coordination.

Questions may be sent to me at htholcombdvm@qwestoffice.net

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