A Working Canine Rejuvenated: Chimette's Tale

*Watching your canine have a seizure 
is a heartbreaking experience 
but many epileptic canines 
successfully rise above that diagnosis*

Chimette is a remarkable Border Collie cross Assistance Dog born in December 1996. When I first witnessed him having an intense seizure in October of '98, I felt that his service days were over. I could not have been further from the truth. Through sheer grit, determination, research and much support both from the veterinary community and individuals who had walked the path I was on, Met and I have been triumphant. It has not always been an easy journey- far from that at times. Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and admit it has conquered us. Sometimes I would be at the end of my rope- no energy or ability to cope with even one more moment of the issues that have unfolded along the journey... and then the next day, my perspective would be more rational, and a changed protocol allowed the sun to shine upon us once more. We would start our day anew and head out the door once more as the remarkable team we have become.
Epilepsy- a neurological disorder, affects our animal friends just like it does humans. Epilepsy is characterized by convulsions which occur due to an excess of electrical activity in the brain. The seizures may vary in intensity from an animal simply appearing distracted to a complete loss of consciousness coupled with tonic-clonic paddling characteristics. Canine Epilepsy like its human counterpart can arise due to a number of issues including genetics, other medical conditions, trauma, etc. It is divided into two types: Acquired-  which arises from another underlying medical reason (head injury, brain tumor, distemper, vaccinosis, etc) or Idiopathic where the cause of the seizures can not be certain just yet.
There are many treatment options available to control Canine Epilepsy including the use of anti-convulsant drugs. The more common ones prescribed by veterinarians are Phenobarbitol, Potassium Bromide, and Sodium Bromide. However many neurologists are now having success with such drugs as Gabapentin, Felbamate, Keppra, Chlorazepate, and Zonisamide among others. Feeding a premium food without preservatives and by-products, or a homemade or raw diet, along with appropriate daily vitamin and nutritional supplements can bring about improved control of the seizures. Herbs, Homeopathy, Massage, Acupressure or Acupuncture, and Gold Bead Implants may also help in gaining control of your canines epilepsy. Studies continue to be done to find answers to the many questions that currently remain unanswered and to find more treatment options.
Chimette was initially classified as having Idiopathic Epilepsy. By mid '99 that diagnosis was changed to Acquired Epilepsy as it was thought that a  large contributing factor to his epilepsy was due to vaccinosis- a negative reaction to one or more vaccinations which he received (DHLPP-C, Rabies, and Bordetella). How little did we realize the extent of the role vaccinosis and drug reactivity (which often goes hand in hand with vaccinosis) played in the root cause of his epilepsy. As I am writing this (May 2007), Met has been seizure free for 3 1/2 years after having had his last vaccination in January 2001, which nearly cost him his life. Many thanks go out to both my vet and Dr Dodds for helping me prove to our county that Chimette had a legitimate need to be permanently waived from all vaccinations.
With the addition of Goldbead implants in March '00 to Met's regimen of Phenobarbitol, nutritional supplements and flower essences, he appeared to be under very good control until December 2000. I had always been very careful about Met's Pb prescription, but I let my guard slip after how well he had been doing. I let myself be convinced that an RX that had not been filled exactly as prescribed could be used. What resulted was a cluster of 30+ seizures in a period of under eight hours. It was just about the scariest day of my life. This began a downhill spiral for Met- which included another cluster just ten days later that required rectal valium to stop. This was followed by a rabies vaccine because I was inaccurately told that service dogs could not be waived for medical reasons from this. This action culminated in an intense reaction from what appeared to be a weak blood/brain barrier. At this point it was clear that Met needed some *Real* help that allopathics could not offer him. Traveling to Indiana for more extensive goldbead implants was out of the question, but homeopathy was not. So in May of 2001 we began our journey down this road. It took a long time to get Met as sick as he was when we connected up with his homeopath. Throughout the process of getting Met back on his feet after his tough spell, there have been exhilarating times, scary times, depressing times, and above all some really triumphant times. Met improved so much that he was receiving a sub-therapeutic  Pb dose. He had not received his homeopathic remedy since the beginning of September 2002 and continued to do very well until February 2003 when he began having seizures again. At this point (in which I was complacent and did not even think to try his homeopathic remedy again) we decided that the best thing for Met was to add KBr to his regimen of Pb which we also raised to help him gain control of the seizures again. Had I chosen at this point to have a full thyroid panel run first, we may have found that decreased thyroid function was to blame. 

This testing was not performed until late summer 2003. We discovered at that time that Met was *severely* hypothyroid. Though KBr initially helped us gain some control of his seizure activity, it literally ruined Met's remarkable skin (something that we still have not regained control over to this day). It also sent Met into a whirlwind that led into *True* Bromism. Met experienced horrendously toxic effects from barely midline ranges on his bloodwork. It got to a point where he could not even get up on his feet and if I let go of him once he was up, he would collapse again to the floor. His MegaEsophagus was basically full blown at that point as well. It was at this point that the decision was made to significantly reduce his KBr. I was pretty much left on my own to figure out how to deal with all of this. In hindsite, I now know that with the severity of the  Bromism, he should have come off it then rather than taking nearly a year to do so by slowly decreasing it over the months.  Met has been off of KBr since April 2006 and has had no seizure activity as a result of that decision.  It's important to note here, that often the term Bromism is inappropriately applied to severe symptoms of ataxia (while levels are high). Back on Pb alone with just a 15mg increase in his dosage and use of his homeopathic remedy as needed has enabled him to remain seizure free. I always knew that the right connection was out there for Met, it just took a while for me to find what path would lead us there. Just as with people, every canine is different- so the regimen that appears to be working for Chimette may not necessarily be the correct approach for your canine. In fact over the years even the regimen that was right at one time for us, has required tweeking to keep us on the right path- that towards better health for my special man.

This data is for information purposes only. It is not to be misconstrued as medical advice.

© 1997 - 2013
by Karyn LaGrange