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Puppy Seizures Are The Scariest Things I’ve Ever Witnessed… Living With An Epileptic Dog

I have a feeling that this is only part one of what’s sure to be a weekly blog.

My little 8-pound Morkie is the sweetest thing on the planet, but his recent diagnosis of epilepsy has completely broken my heart.

A photo posted by Effie Orfanides (@effieo) on

It all started in September around 4:00 a.m. My husband and I heard Beau choking and flew out of bed. We found him on the floor, outside of his bed, somewhere he’d never normally lay. His body was tense, he was making a choking sound, and he wouldn’t respond to my voice. I screamed, “he’s having a seizure.” After what seemed like an eternity, Beau came to. He got up and walked away from me with his back legs straight out behind him. I quickly scooped him up and did the only thing I could think of… I brought him outside.

After a few minutes, he started licking my face; he was okay. I brought him back inside, but was hesitant to put him on the bed. All I could think was, “what if he can’t stand up?” As soon as I put him down, however, he started diggin’ away and wanted to play. Phew. Maybe that was just a bad dream.

A few hours later, I was sitting with him in the vet’s office. I was informed that our vet — whom we simply adored — had left the practice. I broke down. I carried Beau into the exam room and met with a vet whom I’d never seen before. And I continued crying. After his physical exam and blood work, the new vet (whom I liked very much) said that it very well could have been an intense dream. She said that it could have been a seizure, but it wasn’t completely characteristic of one (he didn’t lose his bowels, nor did he paddle his feet). In order to allow myself to sleep at night, she said, “chalk it up as a dream and keep a close eye on him.”

So that’s what we did.

And Beau was perfect.

Until Monday afternoon. My husband came home from work for lunch as I was in Florida and we never leave Beau home alone for long periods of time. Within 10 minutes of sitting on the couch and watching the news, Beau turned his head and began to seize. Mark placed him safely on the floor and watched as his body convulsed. After what seemed like an eternity, Mark decided to head to the vet — the dog still seizing.

When he got to the vet, Beau was still out of it. They walked in the front door and Beau was whisked away to the back room and given Valium. Twice. Beau stayed at the vet until 7 p.m. With no further episodes, the vet felt confident that Beau was okay to come home. He was put on Phenobarbital, which is a very common anti-convulsion drug.

That night, Beau began seizing three separate times, almost once an hour (called cluster seizures). They only lasted a couple of seconds and he came to right away. Since then, he hasn’t had any more seizures, but he isn’t the same pup that we knew before.

Beau, 4, has a different bark… more of a cry — and that’s when he barks at all. He’s constantly hungry and thirsty (a side effect of the Phenobarbital). And he whines for food. Nonstop. He doesn’t want to play. He won’t chew his favorite bone. His feet fall out from underneath him when he walks. He falls over when he shakes his body. He doesn’t hold his leg up to pee. He fell sideways off the couch today, just standing there… and then plop (he didn’t get hurt). He just can’t find his footing.

A photo posted by Effie Orfanides (@effieo) on

Watching my dog not being able to get his bearings. Not be able to walk straight. Not be interested in playing… or really anything besides eating. Hearing him whine because he thinks he’s hungry.

I’m a complete goddamn mess. Are these side effects of the drugs? Maybe. Does he have permanent brain damage from the seizure? Maybe. And I just look at him and cry… because somewhere in there is my little guy; my best little boy. And I miss him. Even though he’s here with me. I miss him so much.

I simply feel like I can’t do this. But I have to do it. I have to do it for him. And so I sit here with him by my side, just waiting for the next seizure… or waiting for him to come back to me. Whichever comes first.