Sheena has a 10 yr old chocolate lab that has seizures. She was wondering if our LABfans had any advice as to help him. The meds the vet gave him are not working anymore. When I told the vet this he wanted to up his meds but I didnt want to do that as the meds were making him lathargic.

Any ideas or suggestions would be awesome. Thank you so much.

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42 Responses

    • Ed

      Hi I have a 6 year old black lab she usually has at least one seizure at the end of her heat cycle, vet told me the seizures rarely have a long term effect on her, in order to be on meds for it she said it would have to be a couple of hour thing daily,the first time it happened I cried felt so helpless for her! The vet told me the best thing to do is just talk to her let her know it will be over soon and she will be ok! and she said that’s mostly for you! Then she went on to say she probably don’t hear you but it may soothe her and she more then likely won’t remember the incident, and the next couple hours, and she is normal old Chloe. So just make sure you let him or her there and they are not alone.

  1. Nancy Bowman Piltzecker on Facebook

    Are they actual seizures? I’m having a problem with my dog collapsing but even that isn’t frequent enough to medicate. I think he has a problem in his ears but the doc wants to check his heart first. Has Reeses had an extensive ear exam? Has he been tested for Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain? Does he chew alot of sticks and eat alot of goodness knows what? (my dog can chew sticks and throw up mulch days later). Has his kidney, liver, etc function been tested? Could his food be too rich for him now that he’s getting older? Good Luck – I hope you find the right answer !

    • mary zenker

      your dog may have exercise induced collapse (EIC) — it’s genetic and they now can test for it so many people who breed their dogs know — we have a 10 year old male purebred black labrador retriever, he had some episodes as a puppy where his hind legs would collaspse, vet told us to hydrate him — he hasn’t had episodes for years but this summer he has had 2 bad episodes, after running too much all 4 of his legs collapse, we give him as much water as he can drink plus try to cool him down and i give him a treat that has some sugar content, it takes a little while but eventually he can stand up

  2. Susan Boiros

    I also had a lab with seizures. We started him on pheonobarbital but had to add in potassium bromide. Yes, lethargy was a side effect but it did diminish as he adjusted to the medication.

  3. nicola

    Hiya Sheena,

    My lab hasn’t got seizures but I had a border collie for 16 years who did have epilepsy. It’s awful to see as you know but our vet put ‘cheeky’ our dog on a course of phenobarbitone tablets and we just had to get the dose right to keep the condition under control.

    Although later in life towards the very end things seemed to more frequent and stronger and the vet came to the conclusion that there was something more sinister going on. Thats by no means to say that your lab has anything more sinister than epilepsy …. I really don’t think that a tumour was her problem at anywhere but the end of her life, so don’t worry about it too much please.

    I think the advice is to just be calm with your dog when it goes into a fit and talk to her … I’d advise you don’t stroke her though during the fit as my dog was very disoriented during and for a while after the fit and though she only did it once she actually snapped at my hand – which of course she would normally never have done otherwise.

    Move anything that may be a danger away and just wait for it to pass … there really isn’t anything else you can do and she”ll most likely be tired afterwards too.

    I hope that helps a little – the drugs do make them more lethargic than usual but it’s better than the fits I feel.

    Hope you manage to get it under control x

  4. Diane Z.

    I am sorry to hear he is not improving.
    Very hard to watch the pets we love suffer..or their quality of life weaken.
    How severe have these episodes been? What medication is he on?..and how long of a period has he been taking them? The common approach w/ most Vet’s is medication. When a seizure occurs there are changes to the cellular structure of the brain that make future seizures increasingly common. Unfortunately there is little known about I doubt another Vet would pursue a different route. The drugs..and the condition together take quite a bit out of an older dog.
    You may look into homeopathic remedies. Acupuncture sometimes works.
    We had a Golden Retriever ( same age as your Lab) that had a few seizures and has since passed away. 🙁
    … I pray you find some help for your furry friend.
    Diane Z.

  5. Amy Shanahan on Facebook

    I pray you find something to help Reeses. It’s so hard to see that happening. My lab never experienced seizures and then one day had a big one that she didn’t recover from 🙁 On the other hand I have friends that have labs that have seizures and they are medicated which does make them sleepier than normal. Good luck, keeping you in my prayers. Reeses is a beauty.

  6. Erin Horner, DVM

    Hi Sheena,
    I think the first question to ask is why is she having the seizures? Has she had bloodwork to rule out metabolic disease? An MRI to rule out (God forbid) a tumor? A spinal tap to rule out meningitis/ inflammation? Diagnostics are probably going to be the key to figure out this problem. If these tests were negative and it is idiopathic epilepsy (pretty rare to start in a 10 year old dog), then you will need to check the seizure drug levels to see if they are in the theraputic range prior to increasing dose/ changing the medicaitons. When in doubt, do not hesitate to ask for a referral to a veterinary neurologist. Hope this helps!

  7. Ole Gundog Lovell on Facebook

    Is there a trigger or pattern. Did they think epilepsy ? And rule out arrhythmia or tumors. We only had problem during a illness with slug pellet ( methaldahyde) poisoning. Good luck and best wishes. Love Ole. Xxx

  8. Linda

    I would definitely go Homeopathic. If he has been getting immunizations yearly that could be a problem. We do titre testing and never expose our labs to yearly shots. The results of the shots stay in their body for years and years and can build unnecessarily and unbeneficially.

    There is a lot to think of. Hope you can get an answer that will make your best friends life better.

    We love our labs beyond words and would do anything to give them quality of life. Good luck.


  9. Daneen

    I have an 11-year-old lab that has had seizures for several years now. He only has them a few times a year and it is almost always around 4:00 am. I have a syringe of Valium to be administered rectally if the seizure lasts too long (more than 10-minutes). I carefully time each seizure and I keep towels handy as he vomits, urinates and defecates. We have chosen not to medicate him since the seizures are few and far between. My previous lab also started having seizures as a senior and the medication was horrible – she was disoriented and urinated inside the house, and they didn’t stop the seizures. She suffered from cluster seizures and eventually, we had no choice other than to let her go. Be extra careful after the seizures – it is as if they are drunk – stumbling everywhere and trying to jump through windows. It is best to get them to a safe place to recover afterward. Good luck.

  10. Nancy Bowman Piltzecker on Facebook

    My breeder’s mom passed this along to me – my vet has never heard of it but maybe yours has (vaguely?)
    Particularly the last paragraph…DIFFERENTIATING EIC FROM EPILEPSY
    Some Labrador Retrievers that we have evaluated because of collapse episodes do not have EIC but instead have an unusual form of epilepsy. The “collapse” episodes that these dogs experience typically have a very sudden onset and very sudden resolution and are sometimes very brief (less than 2 minutes) – unlike EIC where there seems to be a more gradual progression of weakness, incoordination or collapse and a gradual recovery taking from 5 to 30 minutes. In this unusual form of epilepsy (almost exclusively seen in Labrador Retrievers) the dog maintains consciousness but exhibits a problem with gait, balance, or muscle tone. Excitement and exercise are common triggers for these seizures in affected dogs (perhaps because of hyperventilation), leading to confusion between this seizure disorder and EIC. In some dogs with this form of epilepsy the episodes do not progress further, but other dogs will develop more typical generalized seizures later in life with loss of consciousness, muscle twitches, paddling of the limbs, etc

    • Cathy

      I have never heard of this, but it is very interesting. Where can I get more information regarding this?

      • Alison Ward

        Information as well as testing for EIC is available through the University of Minnesota. A $65 test can set your mind at ease. All of our dogs have been tested. If it is EIC, no meds, only behavior modification can control it to a degree. Episodes can appear as minor as wobbly back legs, temporary paralysis of back legs, but can progress to total paralysis and the internal temperature increasing to dangerous levels even to the point of death. If it is not DNA tested, if an autopsy is done, it will appear as heat stroke as the internal temperature will go dangerously high.

        I can tell you our experiences with EIC affected dogs (those that have two copies of the gene, carriers have only one copy of the gene and are normal dogs)
        -10 year old dog, tested affected at 9 years old, never had an episode

        -5 year old male, not tested, but is son of full sister of above male, sire is confirmed carrier via other affected offspring. He was fine inside and on leash. Off leash walks on the property, his back end would go wobbly, the two times he got loose unattended (he was a houdini), 1st time was my first ever witness of an EIC episode (~8 years ago, before it was “known”) scared the mess out of me, was on the phone with the vet because I thought he broke his back, went in to take a shower, came back out and he was walking again. the second “full” episode (got out of pen and yard) and came back, went into complete paralysis and died.

        – approx 6 year old male, where my husband worked, was used light duty as a “trainer” dog, wasn’t really doing anything beyond what he “normally” did, had another episode a few weeks earlier and was fine, this he wasn’t as lucky.

        -5 year old female belonging to a friend (who’s wife is our vet), the only times she has had episodes, despite heavy training, testing, and hunting, has been when in a kennel situation after feeding and she’s one of the last ones let out to air (use the bathroom). If she’s one of the first let out, she’s been fine.

        -5 year old male belonging to another friend, littermate to female above (breeder kept as his choice), would have episode during training when doing water work. Was retired to “pet” and ended up having an episode at home in the back yard that led to death.

        There are other stories I’ve heard 2nd hand, but since it didn’t come directly from the owner, I won’t mention.

  11. Cathy

    Having bred Labs for over 30 years, I have had some experience in the beginning with a Lab who seizured. If the seizures started occurring late in life, there could be a neurological problem that is not related to epilepsy. If they have been occurring for quite a while, many vets start to change over from phenobarbital to potassium bromide. It takes a while for the new med to build up in the system, so in the beginning the vets use both drugs and then gradually reduce the phenobarbital. Since you didn’t say which med he was being given, I don’t know if this is helpful.

  12. Sheena

    Thank You all for your suggetions and prayers. He is a really sweet smart dog and has been my best friend for 7 years. The vet had him on phenobarbital. They wanted to up his meds but I really didnt want to do that as it was “changing” him. They have done all kinds of testing and has ruled out tumors, thank goodness, but still are uncertain of the cause. He has seizures that last on and off all day, to having short ones and he’s done. Sometimes they are easy ones and other times they are really bad where he flops and grunts and drools like crazy. He was only getting them once a month but they have progressed to 3 times a month.
    I feel so bad when he gets them because theres nothing I can do for him. So I sit with him and hold him and talk to him to reassure him he’s gonna be ok. It’s really really hard to watch him go through it. It’s scary…I’m afraid that he’s not gonna be able to come out of one and I’m gonna lose him.
    Thank you again for all of your suggestions and I will try them and keep you guys posted as to what works and doesnt.

  13. Mike Jak Balla on Facebook

    Hate to say it, but an upgraded dosage of phenobarbital is probably your best bet. Without it, he will continue to have these. I went through this with a Golden, and while not ideal, it is likely going to be your best bet.

  14. Madalyn Nielsen on Facebook

    My lab has seizures but only when he is overheated or gets up too quickly. The vet told us that he would only need medication if the seizures happen at least once a month.

    • Steve

      Duke My Yellow Lab just had seizure last week after playing hard. Then just now he jumped up quickly from being startled from the cat and had a 4 min seizure. Similar to your story. 2 year old very active Lab. How is your Lab doing. Any meds…

    • Bradford Benjamin

      I have a 5 year old black lab. He Started having mild seizures at about 2 years of age. He has had seizures every 3 months since. He had been on and off prednisone for a so call allergy which I finally discovered was a yeast infection. About 91 days ago he was having a mild seizure ( which were turning into back to back seizures) and I stuck some honey into the side of his gums. With in 15 seconds, he started to come around and then another one came and I did the same. With in seconds he came around. Rather than the usual 3 -5 minutes. I’m not a vet nor DR! So he is off all meds. Me and my vet put him on MSM supplements. 1000 mg a day for 2 weeks and then upped it to 1500 mg a day for a month and now I give him 500 mg a day. I put a little rice into each of his meals per day. I’m able to give him 3 meals a day, rather than one or two a day. He is OFF MILK BONES!! I feed him Life’s abundance dry dog food, Natural balance canned dog food and treats, Every other day he gets a half of a hard boil egg in his meal. A little yogurt or cottage cheese in his dry dog food. I also, changed his drinking water from the chlorinated city water to well water. He is on his 90th day and so far so good. In my heart and mind I believe he has a glucose problem…I REALIZE this wont solve all seizure problems but, just maybe it will help someone from going through the heart break of watching there dog go through needless seizures. There is one draw back, HE’S GOT MORE ENERGY THAN EVER!! :))

      • Brad

        I wrote the article above. Its been 6 months now and NO Seizures. It must have been low sugar levels.. Try a little cooked rice in there dinner……

      • Brad

        I’m still experimenting on my black lab Onyx and his seizures. All blood test were OK but, still would have an episode once in a great while. I now feed him 3 times a day and a handful of dry dog food before I go to bed. (11:00 pm) I also, add a little digestive enzymes with his food. He also, gets a little Nutri-cal mixed in with one of his feedings. I believe he is Hypoglycemic and though his liver is OK, it just doesn’t do it’s job all the time. Nutri-cal, honey, or syrup helps with his sugar level and the Digestive enzymes help his liver… I keep a plastic plunger ( looks like a big plastic needle) loaded with the nutri-cal in case of a seizure. If he has one, I just shoot it in the side of his gums and his seizure stops almost immediately.. On going battle :))

  15. Zack Bell on Facebook

    Go to the website- and contact Pat McKay, she’ll be able to assist you. She has helped two friends of mine with their dogs that were having seizures, the dogs are no longer experiencing the condition.

  16. Anne Bradman on Facebook

    I know a number of people have been suggesting this here (and mean their best), but don’t go with homeopathy, it is nothing more than water. It will do your dog no harm, but it will do your wallet some harm. It must be devastating for you to see your best friend go through this seizures. I am not trying to troll here, I just very sincerely don’t want you to be filled with false hope.

  17. Brenda

    We had a lab with epilepsy. She took phenobarbital and potassium bromide also…that made a difference. Canine epilepsy has a website where I read a lot of great info. One thing that many don’t think of is the quality of food…We couldn’t do the BARF diet (raw food) …so I asked hte members of the website group the closest to the raw diet but in dog food I could purchase. Many said Evo by Innova. (Foods that say “natural” aren’t necessarily natural. She was having a seize a day…until we changed food…NO MORE SEIZURES!!! It was amazing. We still gave her the drugs…smaller dose…but she lived another 6 years. I hope all goes well.

  18. Sheena

    Thanks everyone. I really dont want to up his meds. It seems like its “changing” him and hes such a good boy I dont want him to harm anyone and lose him that way. I will talk to my vet about other options next visit. He is up on his shots and everything. They just cant say exactly what is causing his seizures 🙁 Its really hard to see him have to go through this breaks my heart everytime.

  19. Chris

    Hi we have a loving old blk lab who has been with me for nearly fifteen years she has bad arthritis in her front and back legs she is finding it hard to get up and down dheis on thirty milligrams of metacam but in the last two months she has started fitting the vet suggested she was near the end of her life and keep her happy and well . The fitting has started and getting worse she has had a great life with me and I will miss her when she finally passes away but every day with her is a bonus to us and I will always be their for her

  20. Dcar

    Found this discussion as I’m trying to find out more about my dogs seizures. His name is Reese too! He is an 8 year old Chocolate Lab. He has been having seizures for about 2 years now. Some are full blown violent ones but some are different. He paces, jerks his head and winces as if he is having sharp pains. This last sometimes for 3-4 hours.

    He too is on phenabarbitol twice a day. We give him more during the seizure if we can. He averages two to three a month and most are at night or early morning hours.

    I have heard that food and weight could cause some of the problems. I plan to look for an alternative food. He is not fat just very muscular so I don’t really think weight is his issue.

    It’s so sad and hopefully I can find something to help him. If anyone finds any solutions please let me know.

  21. Nancy

    Food for thought: My lab Milo, started having seizures every 3 months ( like clockwork) at the age of 4. Once I took him off Vectra (flea and tick) 8 months ago, he hasnt had a one. I pray that it was the Vectra that was doing it and that he is seizure free for the rest of his life! Fingers crossed

  22. Suzanne Scott

    My black lab is 19 months old and has had fits most of life – every 6 weeks at first, then monthly and had one yesterday and then two today – the vets are keeping a record of how many he has – should I be worried?

    • Brad

      I’m not a vet but, try putting a little cooked rice in his/ her meal daily. You can read my blog up above.. My black lab has gone 6 months now with out one.. Brad

  23. Dave L.

    We have a 2 1/2 year old Chocolate Lab male… Cocoa “Puff”. He had his first seizure 1/31/13, his second on 6/28/13, and his last one on 9/28/13. I ALWAYS give him Sentinal on the 24th of each month. I am starting to think this medication is the culprit. I witnessed the first and the last seizure from start to finish, only witnessed the aftermath of the middle one. All were the same… dog rolled to one side, paws became stiff and were twitching/trembling, after about 2-3 minutes, the dog righted himself and began to pant and drool. Never lost control of bladder or bowels.

  24. Molly

    I feel bad so many are experiencing seizures with their labs but it also helps to know we are not alone. Haley our 10 yr old yellow lab began having seizures in may. Vet has her on phenobarbital 1 gr twice day. She had been doing well until today when she had probably the worst one to date although the shortest in time. I read that phenobarbital must be given at exact times and that missing just one dose could result in seizures. We were late on last nights dose, now I feel completely horrible. I don’t know if this is a fact, or if it will help anyone else but our plans are 7a-7p no matter what!!

  25. Sarah K

    Our 20 month old yellow lab has had two episodes, first 6m ago, where she is disorientated a little, then lays down and looks to roll on her back, paws in the air. Not shaking or stiff, no panting, loss of bodily functions but just calm almost trance like. It happens then she comes out of it after a few minutes, but then repeats if we were to not try distract and keep her from rolling over. Lasts in all about 30 min. Has anyone seens this before? She is normally a very active dog and episodes didnt follow exercising. Thanks for responses. Sarak K (UK)