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It's been a week and there hasn't been another seizure. Since then he has been alert and active, eating and drinking normally. You described your dog's back end issue and that sounds much like Pork. When he was 6 yrs old, a vet told me it was due to spinal bone spurs in the middle of his back and right at the junction with his tail (I don't know the medical terms for those vertebrae). He's not been x-rayed since. What started as a slight lop-sided gait then turned to the left rear leg dragging, the right leg doing most of the work over another 4 years. Then the right rear leg started dragging, not as badly as the left about 6 months ago. It was then that he would no longer go down the few stairs to the yard. My current vet, with lots of BD experience, said he was in no pain but loss of feeling. I'm considering showing your experience to my vet and seeing if Pork may have the same problem, not just bone spurs as the cause. He used to do a lot of jumping around, spinning helicopters and such, a very very bouncy boy. My question to you is what kind of physical therapy did your dog go through that improved his mobility? Thank you for sharing your experience. It gives me some hope.I do not think it is time, personally.
It sounds to me like the triggering event that led to this discussion of putting Porkchop down was the seizure. I have too much experience dealing with neurological issues in bulldogs. Lucky for me, I happened to live close to a double board-certified veterinary neurologist and neurosurgeon.
What you described sounds absolutely like a seizure. The first time my last boy had a seizure it was utterly terrifying. It started out with his face twitching and then shaking about wildly. He would then get rigid, tip over, and continue seizing. Never longer than 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, well, that’s just not good. He lost control of his bladder, not his bowels though. He urinated all over himself and the floor. He would slowly calm down, paddling his legs while on his side, as if he was swimming. Then he would snap out of it, but still be quite dazed and confused.
He had another seizure three hours later. Same thing, after about 1-2 minutes of seizing, he stopped. I knew it was time to call my vet first thing in the morning. NOPE! Seized again three hours later. By this time I had already Googled that seizures lasting more than 5 minutes, or “cluster seizures” (multiple in a short period of time) should seek emergency treatment. Off to the ER we went!
They did all the testing they could, short of an MRI of the brain. He was ultimately diagnosed as having an idiopathic seizure disorder, as there was never a known cause for his. He didn’t have another seizure for another 6 months or so. He went a few years like this before he started experiencing them frequently. Once he started experiencing them frequently, we put him on medication and he never had a seizure again. It’s possible he had a brain tumor, as that would be the only other likely cause, but nothing suggested he did other than seizures. For example, my mom’s Boston Terrier had a brain tumor. It started with the seizures. It then developed into him literally only being able to walk in counter-clockwise circles. His time to go was obvious.
It's important to know that seizures ARE NOT painful for your dog. They’re horrifying to the owner. They seem so violent, then losing control of their bodily functions looks awful. The dog doesn’t know it’s happening though. All you need to do if it ever happens again is ensure Porkchop is somewhere he can’t fall off of while he’s seizing. Keep your hands away from his mouth. Basically just be there to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself more while seizing. Once he comes out of that postictal phase, he’s going to be confused, disoriented, etc. You’ll want to be there to calm him and help him “wake up” calmly. He won’t be in pain, not from the seizure itself anyway.
His seizures were only half of his neurological problems, and by far the lesser of the two evils, despite their violent appearance. My boy had a congenital hemivertebrae that eventually caused compression of his spinal cord at the thoracolumbar junction. He was diagnosed with myelopathy due to the compression. This is not to be confused with degenerative myelopathy. His back legs became extremely weak and wobbly. I had to carry him up and down our stairs. He could only walk on our carpeted areas because he’d slip and slide everywhere on the wooden floor. He also started losing control of his bodily functions. I cried the first time I saw him “walk” across the room with feces dropping out of his butt and him not noticing it was happening. I thought this was it. He’s going soon.
Nope. THREE more years I had with him after his diagnosis. As I mentioned, he started treating with the neurosurgeon because of both of his conditions. He confirmed that neither of his neurological conditions were painful. The myelopathy caused the loss of feeling and sensation of the hind legs, but no pain. The seizures are scary, but not painful. There was a surgical option for his spine, sort of. He said there was about a 1/3 chance he’d get better, 1/3 chance it wouldn’t change, and a 1/3 chance he’d die on the table. I didn’t feel like spending $11,000 to possibly kill my dog. He said the prognosis in terms of timeframe is impossible to tell, but he didn’t expect more than another year.
He recommended physical therapy. My wife and I had a newborn at this time. Literally, I took my dog to the neurosurgeon hours after my baby was born. That’s how much my dogs mean to me. Finding time for physical therapy with a newborn wasn’t realistic. What we realized though was he had a burning desire to be wherever my new baby was. What came about from that was essentially him doing his own therapy. My dog willed himself back into being able to climb stairs. Slowly, but god damn it, he could do it again! He started having far fewer accidents as well. We still had to keep rugs everywhere because he would slide on slick surfaces. He still drug his back legs to the point where his feet would be raw if we let him run around on anything other than our grass.
He lived with this condition, actually improving for the next 2.5 years. He started going downhill about 6 months before the end. Even in his final days he was still his happy self. His brain was totally there. His body couldn’t take it anymore though. The severe atrophy finally started causing active muscle cell death. This was, or certainly would be, painful. It likely wasn’t painful at that time since he had such a loss of sensation in his hind legs anyway. Nevertheless, it would only get worse.
It was finally time. I had a veterinarian come to my home and euthanize my boy while I held him. He’s in a beautiful urn right next to me now and always will be.
The only other thing I can say is, don’t make a decision too quickly that you can’t undo.