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Hello to all!

We just adopted our beautiful border collie, Bailey in June. She was a owner surrender at our local shelter and we tried fostering her for a while but that didn't last, LOL. Since then she has had 2 seizures. Are border collies for prone to getting them then other breeds because my other dogs have never had one. She is around 5 years old, do you think that plays a part in it? Or the flea and heart worm meds we give her, which is trifexis. Does anyone have any clues on what is promoting this because it is so not a fun experience.

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Yes, Border Collies are prone to epilepsy, and it can be hard to treat in them. I would call your vet and seriously consider a consult with a neurologist.

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Definitely get her in to the vet. Border collies can have epilepsy and you want to ascertain to what degree, with her. Sometimes its manageable with medication, and 2 seizures in 3-4 months is not as bad as it could be. We had an Aussie/BC cross who had increasing seizures from about age 4, (4-5 is about the age of onset, many times) but with medication they subsided to almost never and she lived to be 13 years old.

Take heart, but do get her in for an exam and consult. Good luck!

~ Gloria

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There is a warning in the Trifexis packaging. Dogs that are prone to seizures should not be given Trifexis.

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^^Interesting. Phoebe has been on Interceptor and my vet suggested switching to Trifexis now that we can't get interceptor.

 

J.

Sentinel is suppose to be a lot safer than trifexis and is made by Novartis who made interceptor.

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I'm so sorry your border collie is having seizures. Yes, unfortunately, epilepsy is a known problem in border collies. I HIGHLY recommend a consult with a vet neurologist if there is one nearby. No offense intended to general vets but some (not all...some have broader experience) don't see enough cases and tend to go to tried and true approaches. Some cases are light...and don't need the "hammer" (ie. phenobarbitol), but can be controlled with a lighter approach (ie. lighter pheno dose, potassium bromide, or maybe even nothing). It is worth the extra consult fee to get an experienced opinion about the severity of the seizures (frequency, duration, and depth) and an appropriate plan of treatment.

 

My perspective comes from having a young border collie (now my very old 15 1/2 yr Megan), start having seizures at 2 yrs......very typical onset, light momentary seizures (less than a minutes....staggering, fall down, twitching, then get up, tired, thirsty). She would cluster (several light ones over a period of an hour) and episodes would occur once every several (3-4 weeks) but only when she was in an excited state (she would "short out"). I am told that typical seizure onset is in a rested or relaxed state....so her excitement/anxiety induced seizures were atypical (tho' if you ask groomers....they cause seizures all the time (stress)). I was VERY upset and imagining her gruesome death (very very worried), so my general vet prescribed phenobarbitol.....but as I read about pheno, I freaked out even more! A hard drug, hard on liver, maybe even put dog in stupor. I was very fortunate to have a world class neuro vet nearby so I spent $75 for a second opinion. He listen to her story (clinical history), reviewed her vet record, and then examined her. Then he told me that her seizures were not very severe, I didn't need to get so excited about them, and that the pheno was harder on her than the actual seizures (her case (a very mild one)....not everyone is so lucky). He immediately took her off pheno and told me to keep a journal of the seizures to determine frequency, clustering, duration and severity with followup consults. Then he told me something that I don't hear very often......"she might grow out of them" and "you will never know if you medicate now". And, if they did continue and increase in severity there were lighter drugs that might control the epi before having to go to pheno....or worse a cocktail of anticonvulsants. In her case, her seizures were light not hurting her.....other dogs have much much more severe seizures and are indeed hurt by their seizures. However, in Meg's case, he was 100% correct. We never did medicate, she continued to lightly seizure for a couple of years and then stopped at 4-5 years. She is now 15 1/2 yrs and hasn't had a seizure since. For all I know, I'd still have her on pheno if I hadn't consulted the neuro vet. AND, I am very very thankful that he calmed ME down by assessing the true severity of her case, laying out plan to monitor her and for giving her options.

 

Megan was very lucky.....her case was not severe. I later discovered that I had consulted one of the most respected neuro vets in Northern California. He had devoted patients with much more severe epilepsy who traveled many many hours to see him from all over the SF Bay area and Sacramento.

 

So I am convinced of the value to consulting a specialist if you can.....if not now, then sometime. It especially helped me come to terms with my own anxiety about it.

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I'm told that there is an Epi Online group that would be worth joining. The online community can inform (and definitely mis-inform) and give good references. Maybe someone here has a suggestion for a good Epi group.

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Epilepsy is a very difficult disease to deal with. I adopted an Australian Shepherd who started seizing after I had him for about a month or so. He did have a severe form of epilepsy - he had cluster seizures (sometimes 2, other times up to 5 in less than a 4 hour period), always grand mal, approximately every 2 weeks. He ended up on Zonisamide and Keppra, but I never got his epilepsy under full control. After I had him for about 9 months, he had a "stroke" like event that resulted loss of deep pain and paralysis in 3 out of 4 quadrants of his body where upon I elected humane euthanasia. The only test I did not have performed on him was an MRI. During those very tough months trying to manage his epilepsy, I found the Canine Epilepsy Network's discussion forum to be invaluable - both for information and for support from others dealing with canine epilepsy. Here is the link.

 

http://forums.cvm.missouri.edu/cenbb/

 

There are many new medications with fewer side effects that can effectively control epilepsy. I also strongly recommend a consult with a veterinary neurologist - although, speak with your vet first because sometimes you can have some of the tests a neurologist will want to do performed at your regular vet for less cost.

 

As to Trifexis - if you talk to the reps of Elanco (the company that makes Comfortis and Trifexis), there was an epileptic dog in the study that had a seizure during the use of Comfortis, thus the label. I know some dogs with epilepsy that the owner chose to use Trifexis or Comfortis with no problem, others had the problem. I would talk to your vet and discuss the use of Trifexis with the neurologist - as they may have you use a different product or, depending on seizure severity and frequency, feel that Trifexis does not affect your particular dog.

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I am sorry to say this but the original owners may have surrendered your dog because she has epilepsy. Perhaps the shelter could find out what veterinarian they used and you could get in touch with him or her and find out if your collie had seizures before and if so, what medications were used. Because if she had been treated and certain meds did not help, you wouldn't have to put her and yourselves through using them again. And, yes, a veterinary neurologist would be your best bet. Wishing you and Bailey all the best.

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First off, I agree that consulting a vet is your best bet. And Carol Lea's suggestion to see if you can track down a previous vet is brilliant.

 

I also wanted to mention that I ran across a couple web sites that mentioned using melatonin for dogs who have seizures. It's pretty benign stuff; I use it for thunderstorms and fireworks and it helps to calm the dogs with no negative side effects. I use it myself to help me sleep better, too.

 

Good luck.

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Sounds like Bailey has found the perfect home. I would certainly take Bailey into the vet as soon as possible. Trifexis should not be used in dogs with a history of seizures (per their label) and my vet does not recommend using Trifexis in collie breeds due to the side effects of the spinosad ingredient. She said that she sees some border collies and aussies seizing after being started on Trifexis. Sentinel is on the market now and does not contain the spinosad.

I hope Bailey feels better soon and I hope to see more photos in the future. :)

 

Bethany, Rose, and Loki

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wow thanks guys for all the advise. I have taken bailey in for some blood work, and sadly she they found out her plat lets were low and she had limes. She just took her last pill for that and hopefully everything is back to working order. I will be asking my vet for a better flea med just to be sure that trifexis isnt what is causing this or contributing. my vet also said the to write down when she has them, how long, how many per month and we can go from there, basically what all you guys were stating. They are not grand by any means and I think i worry more then she does. The vet said pheno is to harsh for what she has right now so in case it happens again we have valium on hand to inject her with to help release.

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I'm so sorry your border collie is having seizures. Yes, unfortunately, epilepsy is a known problem in border collies. I HIGHLY recommend a consult with a vet neurologist if there is one nearby. No offense intended to general vets but some (not all...some have broader experience) don't see enough cases and tend to go to tried and true approaches. Some cases are light...and don't need the "hammer" (ie. phenobarbitol), but can be controlled with a lighter approach (ie. lighter pheno dose, potassium bromide, or maybe even nothing). It is worth the extra consult fee to get an experienced opinion about the severity of the seizures (frequency, duration, and depth) and an appropriate plan of treatment.

 

My perspective comes from having a young border collie (now my very old 15 1/2 yr Megan), start having seizures at 2 yrs......very typical onset, light momentary seizures (less than a minutes....staggering, fall down, twitching, then get up, tired, thirsty). She would cluster (several light ones over a period of an hour) and episodes would occur once every several (3-4 weeks) but only when she was in an excited state (she would "short out"). I am told that typical seizure onset is in a rested or relaxed state....so her excitement/anxiety induced seizures were atypical (tho' if you ask groomers....they cause seizures all the time (stress)). I was VERY upset and imagining her gruesome death (very very worried), so my general vet prescribed phenobarbitol.....but as I read about pheno, I freaked out even more! A hard drug, hard on liver, maybe even put dog in stupor. I was very fortunate to have a world class neuro vet nearby so I spent $75 for a second opinion. He listen to her story (clinical history), reviewed her vet record, and then examined her. Then he told me that her seizures were not very severe, I didn't need to get so excited about them, and that the pheno was harder on her than the actual seizures (her case (a very mild one)....not everyone is so lucky). He immediately took her off pheno and told me to keep a journal of the seizures to determine frequency, clustering, duration and severity with followup consults. Then he told me something that I don't hear very often......"she might grow out of them" and "you will never know if you medicate now". And, if they did continue and increase in severity there were lighter drugs that might control the epi before having to go to pheno....or worse a cocktail of anticonvulsants. In her case, her seizures were light not hurting her.....other dogs have much much more severe seizures and are indeed hurt by their seizures. However, in Meg's case, he was 100% correct. We never did medicate, she continued to lightly seizure for a couple of years and then stopped at 4-5 years. She is now 15 1/2 yrs and hasn't had a seizure since. For all I know, I'd still have her on pheno if I hadn't consulted the neuro vet. AND, I am very very thankful that he calmed ME down by assessing the true severity of her case, laying out plan to monitor her and for giving her options.

 

Megan was very lucky.....her case was not severe. I later discovered that I had consulted one of the most respected neuro vets in Northern California. He had devoted patients with much more severe epilepsy who traveled many many hours to see him from all over the SF Bay area and Sacramento.

 

So I am convinced of the value to consulting a specialist if you can.....if not now, then sometime. It especially helped me come to terms with my own anxiety about it.

Your story was very helpful, and I feel i am the bigger worry wart over this whole matter. I just keep picturing her dieing there in my arms and its super hard to deal with. But like you said I have to keep a record of how frequent she has them and for all i know she might never have them again.

Im also taking her all trifexis because that might be aggrivating it too.

thanks so much

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You've already gotten plenty of great advice--and it sounds like you know what to do next (log the seizures, etc.). One suggestion I haven't seen yet is one that I received from Mildred's neuro vet: record an actual seizure so that she could review specifically what was happening instead of relying upon my description of the event. I know it is hard to remember to grab a camera or phone or tablet when a seizure occurs, but if you are able to do so, it will help any vet you consult have a more definite idea about what Bailey is experiencing.

 

Best wishes to you as you figure out how best to help Bailey.

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Something I haven't seen mentioned is to keep some ice cream in your freezer. Give to your dog right after the seizure. Helps get her blood sugar back to normal.

 

I've not had an epileptic dog, but have read about giving a tbs or 2 of ice cream just after one. Maybe someone else will chime in?

 

Best of luck with Bailey.

 

Ruth and Agent Gibbs

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If I remember correctly from discussions on the Tick-L, some dogs with Lyme have been reported to have seizures. Be sure that your vet treats the Lyme aggressively just to be sure that there isn't a chance of it becoming chronic. If you go to a neurologist, certainly mention the Lyme.

 

One thing I've learned as the owner of a dog with epilepsy is that many things are quite individual (that is, what triggers an individual dog's seizures can be quite variable, what works to treat depends on the dog, changing the diet helps some but not all, and so on. I didn't treat my dog's seizures for quite some time because they happened once a month and appeared to be exercise/excitement induced. At some point, and for no apparent reason, her seizure pattern changed and became more frequent and more typical. At that point I started treating. Since starting her on phenobarbital she has not had a seizure. I use Comfortis for flea control and was using Interceptor for HW control. So at least for my individual dog, spinosad has not caused any breakthrough seizures.

 

Keeping a log of when seizures happen and what they are like is always a good idea. You might be able to see a pattern that will enable you to mitigate the problem. I would certainly pursue the Lyme connection further as well. Many dogs that have one tick-borne disease also have co-infections with other TBDs, so it may be worth looking into the possibility of other infections as well.

 

J.

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Can come of you guys help me out and let me know what flea and heartworm meds you guys use on your border collies. Meeting with my vet this wednesday to see what we should start bailey on. I know there is sentinel out there, but incase they dont carry that what are other good ones?

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For seizure dogs, Heartgard or it's generic equivalent seem to be safest. For a dog with really bad seizures, I would consider not using any heartworm prevention at all, not the case with your dog though.

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I've probably said this before, but in case not, here it is: epilepsy and how it manifests in individual dogs is very individual. I don't think one can make any sort of general statements about what is safe for an epileptic dog and what isn't safe, what treatments work best, and what foods are best (or worst). In my own experience, my dog's seizures were originally correlated with my administration of ivermectin (active ingredient in Heartgard). I can't say that ivermectin caused Phoebe's seizures, but I do know that initially her seizures occurred at regular intervals after receiving her HW preventive and flea/tick meds--not on the same day but within a couple days of one another.

 

I didn't make that connection right away, because I initially felt that the time between medicating and the actual seizure activity was too great to say they were related. It wasn't until I was 5 days late giving the HW preventive and Phoebe was then 5 days late with her seizure that month, that I decided there was likely a correlation (but a correlation isn't proof).

 

To be safe, and after discussing it with my vet (who explained when asked that even though all HW preventives are the same class of chemical, ivermectin can cross the blood-brain barrier more easily than some of the others, for example, milbemycin oxime), I switched Phoebe to Interceptor.

 

Even so, when I moved this last time, Phoebe's seizure activity changed. People kept telling me that the stress of the move might have been a cause, but essentially location was the only thing that changed in her life and yet she went from a period of one seizure a month, through a nearly 6-month seizure-free period, to having seizures every 8-10 days. Her seizures also became more typical (in other words, instead of falling into a seizure while racing to the creek with the rest of the pack, which was how she originally presented, she started having them while sleeping at night).

 

In this thread people have mentioned that spinosad is contraindicated for dogs with seizures, and yet I have used Comfortis without incident in my own epileptic dog. When I ran out of Interceptor recently, I switched to Trifexis (essentially interceptor with spinosad for fleas) without any problems.

 

Changing Phoebe's diet never made a difference, though she had a littermate whose seizure activity improved on a raw diet. I have tried various supplements that others swear by but haven't seen them make a difference in my own dog. I do feed her twice a day, though I normally feed just once a day, because of the idea that maintaining a more constant blood sugar level can help epileptic dogs.

 

I am on the K9-epilepsy list and if I've learned anything from the folks there it's that there are lots of things one can try to control, mitigate, and avoid/prevent seizures, but those things really very much depend on the individual dog.

 

J.

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My dog that had grand mal cluster seizures was completely controlled on meds even taking Interceptor and Comfortis(on different days), but started seizuring again and could not get controlled again on Trifexis. His seizures happened 15 days later, so I didn't connect the dots for 6 months. This was the time frame when you couldn't get Interceptor, so I had to switch him to Heartgard, which worked for him for quite some time. But I eventually had to remove him from all heartworm prevention and flea chemicals.

 

It is very true that every dog will have different triggers and it may take quite a bit of detective work to figure out what your dogs triggers are. My experience was that the higher the chemical exposure was for him the more likely he was to have seizures.

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I think it's wise to avoid as many chemicals as possible for any dog with serious health issues, including seizures. For me, it comes down to risk vs. benefit, as I imagine it should for most people. At one point I seriously considered not using HW preventives, except when temps made it foolish not to. But here in the south that's taking a big risk. Likewise with flea/tick meds. With people and dogs repeatedly coming up positive on tick disease tests, one has to decide if controlling ticks is a greater benefit than the risk of seizure.

 

Anyway, that was my central point: people need to look at their own dog and own situation and make the choices that make sense for them. It's possible that now Phoebe is well controlled on meds I could use ivermectin, as I do for all my other dogs, without incident. But as the person who has dealt with my dog and her seizures, that's something I would have to decide I'm comfortable with, no matter what other people's experiences have been.

 

J.

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