Miriam has been a freelance writer since 2013. Born in Whittier, CA, she now lives in Ontario (California) with her husband and family.
Late August 2014
It’s been six months since my husband witnessed our Chiweenie, “Shadow,” have an episode of syncope—a fainting disorder some dogs acquire.
As it is, Shadow became blind in the summer of 2014. Nobody saw how it happened but it looks like he ran into one of the bougainvilleas (thorny bushes) in the backyard-- with his left eye. His eye had a large chunk of the pupil scraped out, but as of this writing his eye has filled out and looks fairly normal now.
So, Shadow is blind and now he's having seizures...We are all very worried about him, and I pray for him every night in hopes he will get better.
I saw a You Tube video of a little poodle that has syncope right after seeing his owner who just got back from vacation. The little dog barely sees his owner - and then he immediately falls to the ground, passed out. A second later, the dog gets up and resumes as if nothing happened.
My daughter told me she saw a video about goats that faint and then go back to playing-- this is syncope. The quick recovery and short loss of consciousness is typical of syncope, however, some syncopes last between 15 to 30 seconds.
If your dog has syncope, which means "fainting", there is an underlying medical problem causing it. Please take your Chiweenie to the vet!
Although the vet diagnosed Shadow with syncope caused by his heart murmur, I have my doubts that syncope is what Shadow is having. For one thing, Shadow never loses consciousness; this is important. Shadow is awake during every episode so how is this syncope?
What I Have Observed
As I said, Shadow has always been alert during these episodes: His eyes are wide open and he looks scared. When the seizure starts, his legs seize up on him and become stiff, then he falls on the ground on one of his sides, and then his little body gets tossed from side to side (like a fish flopping).
During a recent episode (which I believe is a seizure) Shadow exhibited “paddling” with his back feet, and crying out or yelping; these are two symptoms of a seizure.
After the Seizure
Shadow always looks pretty shook-up after each episode. He seems afraid to move, and he walks very gingerly; possibly afraid it will happen again if he moves. Shadow becomes disoriented, off-balance, and dazed following a seizure. It takes him a little while before he starts acting normal again. (If this was syncope Shadow would have snapped right out of it after the "episode" ended.)
Does Shadow Have Syncope & Seizures?
I recently read somewhere online that syncope can sometimes lead to (or trigger) a seizure.I only saw this once, but it was on a veteranarian's website, so this is food for thought.
Yet, since Shadow is not losing consciousness, he is not fainting. Therefore, Shadow has not been having syncope – he has been having seizures. Just the same, we are not stopping his heart medications because he does have a heart murmur, and the meds help keep his activity down.
Herbal Seizure Medication
Today I ordered an herbal anti-seizure medication that you add to your dog's food -- and they like it. That's different; my husband has to give Shadow his pills, and sometimes Shadow can be extremely stubborn.
Before I ordered this medicine, I read the reviews to see how effective it is. Most people gave it 5 stars and said it kept their dog from having seizures, so I will be writing to let you know if it works or not. It should get here in 5 days.
Write Down Details of Episodes
Very Important: Keep Track of Episodes
Each time Shadow has a seizure (also called epilepsy) I write down important details. These details are very important to the vet, and may indicate a pattern developing. Bring notes about your dog's seizure to the vet (Click to Tweet) so she can get a better idea of the incident.
What to Track
Write down the date, the time the episode started, the time it ended, and what you feel was the trigger -- many times it starts with coughing. Syncope episodes are very short, lasting less than 30 seconds; seizures can last anywhere from 10 seconds to several minutes.
Bring Your Notes to the Vet
Keep records of every episode, so the vet can make an accurate assessment. If possible, record a video of the episode. (I know it sounds weird, I thought "Who thinks to record when your dog's having a seizure/syncope?" But sometimes seizures and syncope are difficult for the vet to differentiate. A video allows the vet to watch your dog's episode, and then make a more accurate diagnosis.)
IMPORTANT: If your Chiweenie (or any dog) has a seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes, it is an emergency! Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible!
Chihuahua Having a Seizure?
2 Tips to Stop a Seizure
How Can I Stop a Seizure?
I searched all over the Web for information on how to stop Shadow from having a seizure. Some websites condone the use of herbal supplements and alternative medicine to manage your dog’s “epilepsy/seizure", but I need an over the counter medicine or supplement that keeps our dog from getting too excited.
Once Shadow gets excited, he starts coughing; and then it escalates from there. Coughing is Shadow's main trigger for a seizure. Other things that can set him off are tugging on his leash because it makes Shadow choke and start coughing. A harness would be much better than pulling him by his collar, but my old man will not listen to reason.
An Ice Pack?
Somebody told me you can apply an ice pack to the middle of your dog's back at the start of the seizure and it will stop the seizure. It sounds too simple but they said it works, so we will have to try it.
Shadow started coughing, so I went over to pet him and calm him down, then I remembered the ice pack trick. I got Mera (daughter) to grab an ice pack from the freezer, and I applied to Shadow's spine. Shadow stopped coughing. I tried it again another time, and it stopped him from coughing and going into a seizure.
This method worked very well, so I will definitely use the ice pack again the next time he starts his coughing attack.
Make Your Chiweenie Stand Up
My husband, Jerry, said Shadow started coughing when he took him for a walk so he got Shadow to stand up. He picked Shadow up-- facing forward-- and stood him up on his back legs. It made him stop coughing, so it prevented a seizure (that's the important thing). This is something you can try if you are outside or away from home, where there are no ice packs.
Shadow's Most Recent Seizure
Latest Seizure: 1/29/2015
Shadow was in our living room. All of a sudden I noticed he was coughing, so I ran to him to try to calm him down (this is very difficult because I am not a very calm person). I tried petting him along his spine and talking as calmly as I could. But it was no use; Shadow’s coughing reached the point-of-no-return and he went into seizure mode. His body was tossing him around, and he looked so helpless and scared…. Not that I blame him. It is very disturbing to watch your dog being hurled around in an epileptic seizure! Mera, my daughter, tried to hold Shadow, but she couldn’t – his body was convulsing strongly. We had to let the seizure run its course; it lasted less than 2 minutes.
If this ever happens to your Chiweenie:
- Never pick up or hold your dog when it is having a seizure! This can be very dangerous.
- Get an ice pack and apply it to the middle of your Chiweenie's back. Keep the ice pack on this area for about a minute or until you notice the seizure stopped (for example, he/she stops coughing or twitching).
- Clear the area around your dog, so he/she does not hurt him/herself during the seizure.
- Call the vet and let him/her know about the seizure. The vet will probably ask you to bring your dog in for diagnosis, physical exam, and prescriptions.
- Always write down the date, time, and duration of your dog’s seizure. Also, note what triggered the episode. The vet will need this information to determine the correct diagnosis and prescriptions to give your dog.
- Video tape the episode so the vet can see exactly what is happening.
Medicine Trial: OTC Anti-Seizure Meds
Today I am supposed to get the over-the-counter (OTC) anti-seizure medication in the mail.
The one I am getting is called "Doc Ackerman's Epilepsy & Seizure Formula." There is also "EaseSure" available and it reportedly works well, too. I wanted to try "Doc Ackerman's" first because it costs less.
"Doc Ackerman's" formula comes in a powder that can be sprinkled onto your dog's food or water, so it is easy to administer. I will write more about it to let you know how well it works for Shadow as soon as I find out more in the next couple of weeks.
UPDATE! Doc Ackerman's "Epilepsy & Seizure Formula"
Doc Ackerman’s “Epilepsy & Seizure Formula”
We started “Doc Ackerman’s Epilepsy & Seizure Formula” on February 9, 2015. Jerry (husband) was giving Shadow only one dose with his dinner at this time.
On Thursday, February 11th at 8:30 p.m. Shadow started coughing, so we applied a small ice pack to the small of his back. It did not stop the seizure; I think the coughing had reached a “point of no return” because Shadow went right into a seizure. My daughter, Caméra, tried calming him down and holding him but quickly had to set him down because his movements were too strong to contain him.
When I found out that Jerry was giving him about one teaspoon once a day, I told him he can have a tablespoon per day, according to the directions. I asked him to give him one heaping teaspoon in the morning, and one at night. So we had to find a food or drink we could add the powder to – one that Shadow would consistently drink.
[You see, Shadow is not a normal Chiweenie. He is a very picky eater, and about every three days Shadow “fasts” -- he refuses food. If we give him chicken flavored Mighty Dog one day, the next day he will not want to eat it. Sometimes he will wait many hours later, and then he will eat it, but he is not an easy dog to feed; he wants OUR food.]
Anyway, I asked him to try milk without lactose, because all dogs and cats love milk- but Shadow is lactose intolerant. So we started giving him Lactate and it works like a charm! No problems giving him his seizure meds twice a day (1 tablespoon maximum).
Seizure on Valentine’s Day
On Valentine’s Day (February 14th, 2015) Shadow had another seizure at 8:30 p.m. that started with coughing again. We applied the ice pack to his lower back, but he started twitching, convulsing, and paddling his feet. He also urinated, spraying a little bit on the carpet.
Three days prior to this seizure we thwarted several attempted seizures. He would start coughing, and one of us would hurry to him, and then make him stand up on his back legs. Either this distracted him enough to thwart the seizure, or standing him up is very effective.
Today is February 28, 2015
As of today, Shadow has not had a seizure since Valentine’s Day! So, it looks like this formula is working, and we will keep using it for the rest of Shadow’s life. Shadow still coughs sometimes but he is not going into a seizure, so we are happy for now.
Foods that Cause Seizures in Dogs
There are many foods that are good for people, but toxic to dogs. Giving your dog any of these in even small portions could cause a seizure in your Chiweenie:
- Bread dough
- Raisins & grapes
- Any kind of alcohol in any dose can result in seizures or death.
- Macadamia nuts
- Moldy foods
- Xylitol: This is an ingredient in some sugar-free gums.
Please Take This Poll About Chiweenie Seizures
Shadow's Seizure Details
January 16, 2015
Under 30 seconds
January 16, 2015
Under 30 seconds
Rolling in the grass, coughing
January 17, 2015
January 29, 2015
© 2015 Miriam Parker
Please Post Your Comments Below
Bill on January 19, 2020:
Lilly started having seizures last November, watched My brother die from them. Not much we can do but love them
Miriam Parker (author) from Ontario, CA. 91761 on July 23, 2016:
I am sorry, I wrote the wrong date for Shadow's death. Shadow died the morning of March 31, 2015, not 2013. Thank you.
email@example.com on June 11, 2016:
I just wanted to know if Shadow was still on Doc Ackermans Epilepsy & Seizure Formula today, and if so did it make any difference in his seizures?