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Canine Idopathic Epilepsy

This diary was inspired by Roxy’s Diary. We’re wishing her and her human mum and dad all the best.

“Our Dear Foster is Resting Peacefully Now”


Event Log


Final Update:  May 9, 2012 - We had to put Foster down this morning.

Words are inadequate to express how much a dog can add to one’s life, how they so deeply become members of your family, how much unselfish love they give and how deeply it hurts when you lose them. There’s never enough time even in the best of times — we had the joy of Foster for only a little over five years and it wasn’t nearly enough.

But letting him go was the right thing to do — he was in bad shape and needed the quality of mercy that love holds.  The seizures were turning into cascade events and were extracting a terrible toll on him.  We loved him dearly and will remember him everyday for the rest of our days. 


Overview: Foster was adopted from a rescue organization in January 2007. He’s a Basset Hound/Golden Lab mix and was born on October 23th, 2006 and passed away on May 9th, 2012 — 5 years, 6 months, 17 Days.

He seemed to be a perfectly healthy happy puppy and young dog until he had his first cluster of seizures on May 25th, 2009.

Foster has been diagnosed as having Idiopathic Epilepsy and this is a diary of Foster’s and my journey trying to cope and find solutions to his reoccurring seizures.

Foster - 2.5 MonthsPerhaps someone’s going through a similar situation will find some solace here in knowing they’re not alone.

Background: I had one puppy for a short while growing up but there were issues severe enough that my father ended up putting him down. My father wasn’t a hard hearted or cruel person, but in those days it was a different situation and often dogs with issues were quickly dealt with. I tried adopting a couple of puppies from a pet store when my children were young but they both died from Parvo. It appeared to be an issued with the store but it took me a long time to get over watching those two little guys die.

Foster - 1 Year

So here I am in my second half of life with Foster being my first “real dog.” I’m sure you can understand my huge level of attachment to Foster–he seems to return that sentiment.

That doesn’t mean there’s not hardships or conflicts and we (I) hesitate to leave him along. I’ve (we’ve) already cancelled out of a number of events/vacations this year–adding another level of stress.

I’ll be updating the major events and making individual posts below as new events occur. Hopefully one day soon there will not be any new events to report and we can resume a more “normal life.”

We do have another adopted dog in our family, Maggie. She’s a mix but definitely is a large part of some type of “sight hound.” She was born on March 22nd 2008– 6 years, 10 months, 8 days ago.

I’d love to hear from others who are having or have had similar experiences…feel free to comment!

Major Event Log:


Date Event #Days Since Last Event

20120509 Morning Taken to Vet and in loving mercy peacefully put to rest  

20120508 9:30PM 2 Grand Mal Seizures followed by others throughout the night and next morning 23

20120416 8:15AM Transferred to Normal Vet Office for observation  

20120415 10-11PM Taken to Cabarrus Emergency Vet Clinic – Given 2 doses of Valium – Stays overnight  

20120415 11-12PM 2 Grand Mal Seizures at Emergency Vet Clinic 0

20120415 10-11PM 2 Grand Mal Seizures enroute to Emergency Vet Clinic 0

20120415 6-9:30PM 5 Grand Mal Seizures 0

20120415 12:00PM 1 Grand Mal Seizures 0

20120415 9-10:30AM 3 Grand Mal Seizures – Given 60mg of Additional Pheno one time 34

20120311 Initial 120mg of Phenobarbital, w/60mg daily  

20120311 At least 5 Grand Mal Seizures 1

20120310 At least 3 Grand Mal Seizures 1

20120309-Early AM At least 1 seizure – Unobserved 8

20120301-Early AM Seizure – Unobserved 14

20120216-5:15PM Grand Mal Seizure 0

20120216-1:30PM Seizure – Unobserved 0

20120216-Early AM Seizure – Unobserved 9

20120207-Late AM Seizure – Unobserved 9

20120129-Early AM Seizure – Unobserved 10

20120119-Early AM Seizure – Unobserved 6

20120113-Morning Seizure – Unobserved 9

20120104-Aftnoon Seizure – Unobserved 9

20111121-Early Seizure – Unobserved 9

20111121-Early Grand Mal Seizure 17

20111130-5:10pm Grand Mal Seizure 0

20111130-2:15pm Grand Mal Seizure 0

20111130-Early Grand Mal Seizure 17

20111114-15 Blood work and X-rays for rear knees 1

20111113 3 – Grand Mal Seizure 1

20111012-8:30pm Grand Mal Seizure 9

20111013-8:30pm Grand Mal Seizure 1

20111012-early am Seizure – Unobserved 9

20110823-afternoon Seizure – Unobserved 8
  20110815-09:00 Seizure – Unobserved 9  
  20110806-Early Seizure(s) – Unobserved 28  
  20110625-09:30> 4 Grand Mal Seizures 14  
  20110625-21/23:30 3 Grand Mal Seizures 4  
  20110621-12:38 Grand Mal Seizure – Unobserved 0  
  20110621-early Seizure – Unobserved 14  
  20110607-20:10 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20110607-18:15 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20110607-PM Seizure – Unobserved 1  
  20110606-Late PM Seizure – Unobserved 0  
  20110606-Early AM Seizure – Unobserved 13  
  20110524-AM Possible Seizure – Unobserved 2  
  20110522-AM (early) Seizure – Unobserved 11  
  20110511-PM Seizure – Unobserved 8  
  20110503-5-6AM Seizure, 1 perhaps 2 18  
  20110415-early AM Seizure 21  
  20110325-22:35 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20110325-22:25 Grand Mal Seizure 11  
  20110314-Afternoon Grand Mal Seizure 13  
  20110301-06:xx Grand Mal Seizure 13  
  20110216-21:30 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20110216-21:15 Grand Mal Seizure 2  
  20110214-23:30 est. Probable Seizure 41  
  20110103-21:30 Probable Seizure 0  
  20110103<04:00 Probable Grand Mal Seizure 21  
  20101218 Reduced Pheno. to 0mg/day, Kbr still at 1440mg/day.    
  20101213-17:35 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20101213-8:45 Grand Mal Seizure (Medium Severity) 0  
  20101213-8:10 Grand Mal Seizure 1  
  20101212-12:30 Grand Mal Seizure 29  
  20101204 Reduced Pheno. to 30mg/day, Kbr still at 1440mg/day.    
  20101120 Reduced Pheno. to 60mg/day, Kbr still at 1440mg/day.    
  20101113-19:25 Grand Mal Seizure (medium severity) 1  
  20101112-21:35 Grand Mal Seizure (medium severity) 0  
  20101112-20:30 Grand Mal Seizure 53  
  20101101 Reduced Pheno. to 90mg/day, Kbr still at 1440mg/day.    
  20100918-12:35 Grand Mal Seizure (medium severity) 1  
  20100918-22:55 Grand Mal Seizure (medium severity) 0  
  20100918-16:05 Grand Mal Seizure (medium severity) 102  
  20100817 Reduced Pheno. to 120mg/day, Kbr still at 1440mg/day.    
  20100719 Vet-Blood Test-Liver Lvl & Pheno/KBr Lvls all OK    
  20100606-21:20 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20100606-21:12 Grand Mal Seizure (medium severity) 12  
  20100525-21:12 Grand Mal Seizure (medium severity) 1  
  20100524-20:06 Grand Mal Seizure (medium severity) 62  
  20100421 Reduced Pheno. in last 6-8wks to 150mg/day, Kbr still at 1440mg/day. Foster much more alert and active.    
  20100323-08:35 Grand Mal Seizure 51  
  20100131-20:15 Single Grand Mal Seizure (Medium severity) 59  
  20090106 Vet-Blood Test-Liver Lvl & Pheno/KBr Lvls all OK    
  20091203-15:30 Seizure (unknown severity, did not observe) 18  
  20091115-20:21 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20091115-20:10 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20091115-20:04 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20091115-19:36 Grand Mal Seizure 28  
  20091018-17:30 Grand Mal Seizure 38  
  20091012-08:00 Reduced Pheno. to 180mg/day, KBr still at 1440mg/day    
  20091005-08:00 Reduced Pheno. to 210mg/day, KBr still at 1440mg/day    
  20090924-11:00 Vet-Stable Lvls—Phen. 240mg/day & KBr 1440Mg/Day    
  20090923-09:00 Vet-Blood Test-Liver Lvl & KBr Lvl    
  20090916-08:00 Potassium Bromide (KBr) Loading – 1440MGx3/day -5 days    
  20090911-18:00 Begin Natural no-grain dog food.    
  20090910-11:00 Call Vet.    
  20090909-20:15 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20090909-20:00 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20090909-17:30 Grand Mal Seizure 7  
  20090901-08:43 Grand Mal Seizure 9  
  20090825-10:00 Vet-Phenobarbital to 240mg/day    
  20090824-09:20 Vet. Visit and Blood Test    
  20090822-18:45 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20090822-18:30 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20090822-18:20 Grand Mal Seizure 9  
  20090812-06:30 Two partial seizures 2  
  20090809-18:00 Vet-Phenobarbital to 180mg/day    
  20090809-11:55 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20090809-11:30 Grand Mal Seizure & Partial Seizures 0  
  20090809-11:15 Grand Mal Seizure 18  
  20090721-2340 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20090721-2315 Partial Seizures 0  
  20090721-2300 Grand Mal Seizure 37  
  20090629-0900 Vet. Visit and Blood Test    
  20090613-1300 Started on Phenobarbital – 120mg/day    
  20090613-1040 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20090613-0930 Grand Mal Seizure 18  
  20090526-0920 Vet. Visit and Blood Test    
  20090525-1900 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20090525-1400 Grand Mal Seizure 0  
  20090525-0930 First Grand Mal Seizure    

Posts, descending order:


May 9, 2012 – We had to put Foster down this morning.

Words are inadequate to express how much a dog can add to one’s life, how they so deeply become members of your family, how much unselfish love they give and how deeply it hurts when you lose them. There’s never enough time even in the best of times — we had the joy of Foster for only a little over five years and it wasn’t nearly enough.

But letting him go was the right thing to do — he was in bad shape and needed the quality of mercy that love holds.  The seizures were turning into cascade events that were extracting a terrible toll on him.  We loved him dearly. 

April 15, 2012 – Thirty-four days was a wonderful run but the seizures return with a vengeance having 3 Grand Mal Seizures in about an hour and a half.  I gave Foster an extra 60mg of Pheno during the last seizure to try and break the “chain.”

By Sunday night the count reached 9 Grand Mal Seizures with no signs of stopping. We loaded his limp body into the back of the SUV to transport him to an emergency vet clinic. Upon arrival they put him on valium to knock him out and give his brain a chance to reset. There were two seizures in the car on the way to the clinic and two more after he arrived — a total of around 13 major ones and perhaps a few more minor ones we failed to notice.

Foster stayed in the clinic over night and the next morning was temporarily blind and totally disoriented. He walked liked he was trying to get away from something all day and night Monday — scared, whimpering and bumping into things. It’s only now, Tuesday, he’s starting to seem like himself and is calm enough to lay down and rest.

This is the second major cluster seizure event of 9 or more seizures in the last 2 months, he almost didn’t pull out of this one. Bonnie and I spoke to the vets at the clinic as well as our regular vet and they agree if he continues to experience this level of seizures having him put to sleep might be a greater act of love then to keep trying to save him.

March 11, 2012 – We’ve just had the worst weekend/series of seizures ever.  Between Friday and Sunday Foster experienced at least nine Grand Mal Seizures we know of and there may have been more during the nights.  On Sunday, today, Foster spent the whole day walking. It was like he was on speed and couldn’t stop. I had no idea he was even capable of walking for that long with his weight, short legs and ligament problems.  Finally I made him lay down and as soon as he went to sleep he had a series of four strong seizures and still seemed to be in that cycle.  The only way we could break it was giving him Phenobarbital again.  We gave him 120mg initially and now have him taking 60mg per day.  I guess the walking was an attempt on his part to keep the seizures at bay.  We’re going to try and keep the Phenobarbital dose as low as possible.

January 13, 2012 – We seem to be back on the 9 day, single seizure schedule again.  I’m giving Foster Pet Alive’s Ease Sure supplement which seems to make the recovery period much shorter after a seizure — no proof, but just our experience with it for about 6 months and many seizures.  On this Foster’s mental state seems a bit better…tail wagging brighter.

November 26, 2011 – The x-rays of Fosters rear legs/knees confirmed that there was some type of degenerative ligament disease in perhaps both knees – surgery was recommended. However, we’ve decided not to pursue that at this time for a several reasons. First, it’s a procedure requiring up to 12 weeks for a full recovery per leg and would be very hard for a dog of Fosters build and temperament to cope with especially with frequent seizures. Second, the cost may be between 3-4 thousand dollars per knee — we love Foster dearly but we just can’t afford that. Third, Foster’s not an overly active dog even at his best and we’ve read reports of dogs recovering and living good lives just by letting the injuries heal naturally…no, they are never 100 percent but they can have full and mobile lives.  If things don’t go well…then we will have to know when it’s time to make a much more difficult decision.

November 14-15, 2011 - I took Foster to the Vet for blood work and to see about his left rear leg which he’s be favoring for over a week now. Foster was put to sleep so x-rays could be made and while it’s not clear what is going on there’s some type of problem with possible both his rear knees. The Vet originally suspected a torn or partially torn ACL ligament which would require surgery and an extended recovery period.

November 13, 2011 - It’s been a rough weekend with one Grand Mal Seizure last night followed by three more today.

October 12, 2011 – I’ve dropped the ball on listing Fosters seizures. He’s had about four between my last entry and now — on average about every 9-14 days. Almost all of them have been single seizures and he’s recovered quickly afterwards. They’ve also mostly occurred at night so we only find the wet bed the next morning.

July 09, 2011 – Foster had 4 Grand Mal Seizures within a space of about an 1 1/2 hrs beginning a little after 9pm. This really took a lot out of him. Each time he has seizures the question comes up about should he be back on Phenobarbital, but Bonnie and I agree that the way he was when he was on it, drugged/sleeping all the time and not able to hardly get around because of the associated weakness in his hindquarters, is worse overall then the seizures. The honest truth is he may not last as long off of Phenobarbital with these more frequent seizures but at least it will be a real life in between them for as long as he does. If it was me that’s the way I’d want it and I think he would too. There’s not perfect answer here.

June 06-07, 2011 – An unwitnessed seizure occurred sometime in the early morning. I only knew because of wet bedding and that Foster seeming a little tired. After this long of being with Foster and his seizures you start to get a sixth sense about when they happen. Another unwitnessed seizure probably occurred late on June 6th…more wet bedding. Three more seizures in the PM on the 7th, two of them observed to be Grand Mal severity. This is the worst series for some time. Very tired and discouraged at the moment.

May 22, 2011 – An unwitnessed seizure occurred sometime in the early morning.

May 11, 2011 – An unwitnessed seizure occurred sometime probably in the afternoon. It must have been a fairly mild one as physically he seemed fine but his bedding was soaked.

May 03, 2011 – An unwitnessed seizure, or possibly 2, occurred early AM — the last one possibly between 5:00 and 6:00am. Again, physically he seemed fine, perhaps just a bit unstable, but his bed was very wet. A totally different pattern now that he’s off Phenobarbital. The seizures are:

- coming closer together but they are not the huge cluster-seizures they once were; and

- Foster recovers much quicker from the seizures with less side effects and his quality of life between the seizures is much better — he’s more alert and much more himself and is physically more stable.

I still hold that for Foster removing him from Phenobarbital was the right call.

April 15, 2011 – An unwitnessed seizure occurred sometime in the early AM. It must have been a fairly mild one as physically he seemed fine, perhaps just a bit unstable, but his bed was wet.

March 14, 2011 – An unwitnessed seizure occurred sometime in the afternoon.

March 01, 2011 – An unwitnessed seizure occurred sometime in the 6am hour. I don’t know if that was the only one, but no more have been seen to follow as of yet.

February 16, 2011 – Two Grand Mal seizures at 9:15pm and 9:30pm. These plus the one seizure two days ago (Feb 14th) make the three Foster usually has. These were medium duration but fairly intense.

February 14, 2011 – Foster probably had a seizure last night while sleeping in his bed sometime between 11pm and 12am. We only can estimate this because his bed was wet this morning and we thought we heard Maggie barking around that time. However, she sometimes does bark at other things at night so we didn’t get up to check. I guess that shows you how accustomed we’ve become to the seizures. Foster seemed fine this morning and we did our usually walk. Except for the wet bed we’d never have known.

January 03, 2011 We believe Foster had a seizure today while we were at work. He was acting a little strange this evening, although he ate well, and when it was time for them to go to bed I discovered his bedding was damp like he’d had a seizure and lost bladder control. Luckily we had spare bedding to put him on while we washed and dried the other. This whole log is only those we observe…I’m sure there were others not seen. Another seizure about 9:30pm…he had went to bed and again didn’t see the seizure but clear after effects…walking, panting, etc.

December 13, 2010 Two more seizures at 8:10am and 8:45am. The first was a full Grand Mal Seizure and the second was a much minor one. He again lost control of his bladder during the first seizure so washing time for his bed once more. He recovered fairly quickly with little loss of senses. This makes three which has been his pattern of late, except in reverse order of this cluster…previously two on the first day and one on the second. Another major Grand Mal Seizure at 5:35pm. This time Foster lost some of his senses and took a long time to recover. So this is four counting yesterdays.

December 12, 2010 A Grand Mal Seizure at 12:30pm this afternoon while Foster was sleeping in his bed in the sunroom. He again lost control of his bladder so it was washing time for his bed. He recovered fairly quickly with no loss of senses.

November 12, 2010 A Grand Mal Seizure at 8:30pm this evening while Foster was sleeping beside my chair in the living room. He lost control of his bladder so it was time to bring out the carpet cleaner. At 9:35pm another slightly milder seizure occurred. Foster recovered quickly from both seizures, a good sign. I don’t believe there’s any collation between these seizures and the recent reduction of Pheno. to 90mg/day. As per his recent pattern of seizures, a single seizure occurred the next evening, 13th November, marking the end of this cluster event.

September 19, 2010 Another Grand Mal Seizure shortly after noon today of moderate severity. Foster was again laying on the back deck when the seizure started. I don’t know if he was asleep or awake but I suspect asleep. Hopefully this will be all of this cluster.

September 18, 2010 – Foster had a Grand Mal Seizure this afternoon at 4:05pm. He walked it off for a while but had all his senses. There were possible signs he may have had some level of seizure activity earlier in the day but I didn’t observe anything specific. Another seizure struck at 10:55pm while Foster was asleep on the back deck. This one too seemed medium to mild in severity.

Wow, 102 days since the last seizure…I hope it’s that long until the next one(s)!

August 20, 2010 – Another episode of Foster not eating for a 48 hours. Yesterday on Aug, 19th, Foster refused to eat. However, this evening he began eating again. Gave him suspension and coating medicine.

August 8, 2010 – Foster wouldn’t eat last night and I found indications in the yard that one of the dogs had tossed-up their food perhaps the night before. I’m logging this to keep track of any possible stomach problems related to what was mentioned in the previous entry, July 30, 2010. I gave Foster some suspension and coating medicines the boarding Vet had provided when we picked Foster up.

July 30, 2010 – During a short visit to the beach last weekend, Foster and Maggie were boarded. While there, Foster had problems with a little vomiting possibly containing a small amount of blood. The boarding Vet thought it may be related to irritation from taking KBr in tablet form. Since returning there has been no further issues so I talked to our Vet and decided to keep things the same — using KBr tablets.

June 6, 2010 – We noticed that Foster had seemed a little out of it during the evening and the first Grand Mal Seizure struck at 9:14pm while he was asleep in the living room. While walking off the first seizure he was taken by a second and more severe Grand Mal Seizure which left him with some senses loss and required a long recovery period of pacing.

May 25, 2010 – Another single Grand Mal Seizure tonight at 9:12pm. Again it began while Foster was asleep in the living room laying just beside where I was sitting. It was about the same severity as yesterdays. Certainly not the worst I’ve seen him have. Initially he seemed to physically recover fairly quickly afterwards but he did remain under a cloud of slight confusion for a while. That may be from having had another seizure the previous day. This is the first time Foster’s had seizures two days in a row so it appears we’re off on another adventure.

May 25, 2010 – It’s been one year since Foster had his first seizure. I’m thankful for the amount of control we’ve managed, reducing them these last 6 months to a single seizure once about ever two months.

Maggie and Foster

Maggie and Foster

May 24, 2010- Foster had a single Grand Mal Seizure at 8:06pm this evening. It only lasted about 30-40secs and he recovered fairly quickly afterwards. He didn’t lose any of his senses and only needed to walked it off for a short period of time. He was sleeping, out of my sight, in the living room when it began and Maggie alerted me to the situation. While I comforted Foster she laid nearby quietly watching. Those two have a close bond. And so the counter resets once again.

April 21, 2010 – Over the last 6-8 weeks I’ve again been slowly lowering Fosters Pheno. prescription level from 180mg/day down to 150mg/day. It’s made an amazing difference in his alertness level, he doesn’t sleep all the time now and I can see the old Foster in his eyes again. I’ve also been taking Foster and Maggie for walks in the neighborhood regularly and they’ve shifted their eating habits from twice a day to once per day which seems to have resulted in some weight lost for Foster — a very good thing as he’d gotten up to 88lbs which was too heavy for such a short dog.

We’re leaving soon for a week long vacation in Florida. This will be our first real/longest vacation since January 2009, before Foster began having seizures. We’re boarding him and Maggie, with all the doggie luxuries, and I have my fingers crossed all will be OK.

Foster seems to have some some rear hip problems now which we may have to investigate a little later. I begun him on a PhyCox suppliment. It’s said to be a natural source of phycocyanin that has proven health benefits. It is recommended to support joint mobility and healthy bone structure, as well as to help reduce inflammation and discomfort due to normal daily activity. Many people have reported good results…we’ll see. That’s all Foster needs is another medical problem. :-)

March 23, 2010 – Foster had a Grand Mal Seizure this morning at 8:35am. While he was walking it off in the house I found the capsule of KBr I’d given him last night laying on the floor — I guess he’d “cheeked it” and the spit it out when I wasn’t looking. Missing that dosage may have triggered the seizure but then it’s also been 51 days since the last seizure so it could of also just been time for another one.

March 22, 2010 – Happy Birthday Maggie! Maggie, our other dog (see photo below) is two years old today. That means she’d be considered fully grown. Her and Foster are best friends.

January 31, 2010 – We had a record going and I thought we’d break 60 days but it didn’t work out that way. Foster had a single Grand Mal Seizure of medium severity while sleeping beside my chair in the family room. At 59 days it’s by far the longest he’s went between seizures since he began having them last May — I’ll take it!

January 08, 2010 — Foster’s Vet. did the full workup on Foster blood. KBr levels were good and Pheno. levels were at the lower effective limits. Liver readings look good so we’ll stay with the current 180mg pheno., 1440mg Kbr dosages for now. It was discussed possibly reducing the pheno. lower down the road — it’d be great if we could get him off the pheno. eventually. All the other blood test looked normal/healthy as well. Foster also had all his annual shots and all.

December 03, 2009 — Foster had some type of seizure event this afternoon. I did not observe the seizure but did witness the after effects of constant pacing and disorientation.

November 09, 2009 — We boarded Foster and Maggie at a local Vets and got away for a short weekend. Foster was fine and didn’t have any seizures while we were gone. This is the first time the wife and I have gotten away together overnight since the seizures began this past May.

October 23, 2009HAPPY BIRTHDAY FOSTER…3 years old today!

October 18, 2009, 17:30 — It was a nice run of 38 days but Foster had a seizure this evening. He was laying beside my chair and I looked down and he started doing the strange muscle curl to one side he does and then quickly went into a full Grand Mal Seizure. The seizure lasted a minute or a little less and it took him another 30-45 seconds of laying still before he raised up. He did the walking/pacing thing for close to an hour before he finally laid down and rest. However, he seemed to have full awareness for this hour, which is a good sign. As far as I know he didn’t have any further seizures during the night. I’m not going to raise the Pheno. dosage at this time. It’s about balance and quality of life as well as Foster not having seizures.[/learn_more]