Spencer Had a Stroke– a Bad One

My poor little Spencer been having mini neurological episodes for the past few months– like Vestibular Syndrome but without the eye movement, nausea or vomiting. Last night he had a violent stroke or Grand Mal seizure. I held him in a blanket so he wouldn't hurt himself and talked him through it. It was a long, scary one.

He had the same thing five years ago, so I had been there before. The difference is, this time, he still can't walk. This morning, he couldn't even position his feet and would keep his toes curled under. I've worked with him and now he can place all four feet flat on the floor and move them, but he can't balance. He immediately falls to the right. and can't get up. If I steady him with both hands, he can stagger along with my support. He's drinking, with help, but won't eat. We've been having a problem with the eating for months.

Vets say his neurological issues are idiopathic. Films are clear-- no mass-- and he had bloodwork just last week and kidney values were normal, despite his Fanconi. Liver values and WBC were high, but not enough to worry the vet. I know some of you have had experience with strokes or seizures and I was wondering if anybody has had a dog with walking issues after a stroke/seizure and how long it took to go away, if it did. My vet is not hopeful; in fact, you probably know exactly what she recommended. It may come to that, but not until I've given Spencer his best shot. Despite all his ups and downs, this brave little soul still has fight in him, and he's telling me he's not done.

I'm sorry this is so long, but we'd be grateful for any words of wisdom or advice. Thanks from both of us!

First Basenji's

I have no words of wisdom or advice, but I just want to wish you my best, however you proceed. You've really stuck by your little guy.

This is a tough position to be in. I went through something similar with one of my girls when she was 13. She had a bad seizure. A horse vet happened to be visiting just down the road, and he came over and gave her a shot…....I think a steroid, but memory fails me on this. He didn't hold out much hope, but I basically stayed by her side for 24 hours, and after that she was a bit better. I took her to a vet who had some experience with Basenjis.......I knew about Fanconi, but not much......she thought perhaps a brain tumour and put her on Prednisone, which helped a lot. I don't remember the dosage or duration, but over the next three years she had a reasonable quality of life, on and off the Prednisone when her symptoms came back. I finally had to let her go when she had another bad seizure, but she almost made it to 16, and it was definitely her time.

I hope this situation resolves itself for you. There is nothing tougher, IMO, than playing God, even when you know it is the right call. I have been there too many times, with dogs, cats, and horses. It's the price we pay for loving them.

First Basenji's

I too do not have seizure experience with dogs, but do have experience with humans as I have been an RN for many years. One particular experience involves an offender with severe seizures. She would have stroke-like symptoms (paralysis) after her seizures that would last for several hours. One time she had a severe seizure lasting over an hour and had one-sided paralysis/balance problems that lasted for several weeks. Her complete recovery is pretty rare (in my experience). I pray for your babies complete recovery.

FYI: wbc's and enzymes are usually high after a prolonged seizure

I'm so sorry to hear about Spencer. I always watch for posts regarding how he is doing. You've both had a rough road dealing with his health and I applaud you for the lengths you go to for him. I have heard that seizures can affect the neurological which in turn can mess with motor skills. I believe you know spencer the best and when he is ready he will tell you and furthermore, you will know. I will keep ou both in my thoughts and prayers.

Thanks, everyone, for the helpful info, good houghts and well wishes. We've had some tough challenges, and Spencer's "never say die" cat side has always prevailed. I think we're on our ninth life now. We'll see if the pred helps. It was a miracle drug last time.

A huge problem is, Spencer is so stubborn, refusing to give in to the fact that he can't walk without toppling into things. He can stagger to his feet, but then he lurches everywhere– into tables, through the screen door, whatever's in his path. He won't lie still or stay put, and that makes it very dangerous for him. He's just like a toddler-- I can't take my eyes off him for a second. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. Right now, he's definitely telling me he's not ready to go anywhere.

Poor Spencer. This might be an unbelievably simplistic suggestion, but could you get him a nice bed? Butu was such a fidget, but since I bought him an 'indestructible' bed (yeah, right, I thought) and a 'nest' type for travelling, he has been a different dog. I won't mention the company name in case someone thinks I'm advertising them, (I have no connection with the company, I'm just amazed at how quietly and happily he lies…) Unfortunately (I just checked) they don't ship outside the UK, but maybe something similar from a US company (and I'm sure our US contingent can help....) I just thought if he would lie still, he might recover faster...I really hope he gets better, and sorry if this was a dumb suggestion...

@QuizBasenji:

Poor Spencer. This might be an unbelievably simplistic suggestion, but could you get him a nice bed? Butu was such a fidget, but since I bought him an 'indestructible' bed (yeah, right, I thought) and a 'nest' type for travelling, he has been a different dog. I won't mention the company name in case someone thinks I'm advertising them, (I have no connection with the company, I'm just amazed at how quietly and happily he lies…) Unfortunately (I just checked) they don't ship outside the UK, but maybe something similar from a US company (and I'm sure our US contingent can help....) I just thought if he would lie still, he might recover faster...I really hope he gets better, and sorry if this was a dumb suggestion...

Not a dumb suggestion at all– and thank you! Spencer has three geriatric beds in different parts of the house, but none are working right now. A lot of times, I'll put him on the human bed (where he sleeps at night), and open the curtains, and he'll nap in the sun. But not now. He's not lying down anywhere-- he's determined to be on his feet, lurching. But I'd be interested in knowing what kind of bed helped Butu, and I'll check into it here. Sometimes, the simplest things do work best.

I feel bad for him and wonder if he's getting ready to have another seizure. He's so restless, though I suppose I would be, too, if I had been through that and couldn't walk normally. He's eating a little, though, so there's improvement. Baby steps. (Literally.)

Sometimes it's hard to know what our old guys want. My beloved Digital thebrindlewonderkid (16 in Dec) tends to be a bit restless and has to pace a bit before he will settle down. He's also very "schedule" oriented, so if someone is sitting in "his" chair when it is time for him to sit in that chair, he gets agitated and will pace. And no, another chair (exact same kind, just different place) or sofa will NOT do. (And then he'll pee in the house, but that's another story)

Can you put a support (towel/fabic) under his belly and help him walk around a bit? That may make him feel better. A bit of exercise may help tire him out a little. Do dogs get restless leg syndrome?

Have you tried a holistic vet? Mine has been so helpful.

I'm really hoping for the best for Spence.

Oh! there is a postictal state (after a siezure) and i have heard of dogs being very active during this stage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postictal_state

maybe it's just that?

Perhaps ( and I know you may feel hesitant bc of the danger) what he needs is to walk around and get his muscle memory back. Maybe walking is how he will jump start his body again. And I've heard loud noises and lights can agitate seizures so keep that mind too

Do you have a good harness for him? Keep it on and use it as a handle to help hold him up to steady him, and use the towel around his belly to help support his rear end to help him walk. You may need to help him/let him walk till he is tired! Prednisone sometimes makes dogs and people restless, so on top of his probably rather frantic need to stand and walk, even a great bed may not help too much.

You and Spencer surely have been through a lot together, you are a stellar "dog-mom" and I applaud all you have done for Spencer.

Thanks, everyone, for the support! Yes, I have a harness and have been walking him around. I used the "towel walk" yesterday, and we're using the harness today. I'm only doing it for a little bit at a time, so I don't tire him out. Maybe I'll up that a bit. I have to be careful, though, because I need to keep his food down him, and if he gets too stimulated, up it comes. Everything's such a tightrope with him!

I have found a holistic vet and will give her a call. I know he's nearing the end– but I've thought that since last year, and here he is, saying "not so fast!" So who knows with these tough, tenacious little guys? They love life.

Everybody hug your Bs today!

Pamela and Spencer

My girl (after her seizure and while on and off prednisone) used to be quite restless, especially before bed. I would sit on the steps and watch her wander around the kitchen…....she and her adopted daughter were sharing a custom made bed there, one low enough that she could easily get in and out (I felt our people bed was too high to be safe)......and Lady would circle and circle, and finally get into the bed and settle down, to the relief of both myself and Tamu, who would then settle in with her, after which I would cover them with a blanket. (which was often still in place the next morning!) I don't think it is unusual for dogs to be restless when they feel there is something wrong with them. I believe they are uneasy when their feet aren't working right, perhaps some instinct that tells them this is not a safe condition.

I'll be thinking about you. I know this is a very difficult time.

Pamela, I've definitely been giving Oakley extra hugs and kisses, events like Spencer's makes you appreciate them more..
I too think a holistic vet would be helpful making him more comfortable overall. Thoughts are still with you

I'm pleased you've found a holistic vet - mine is excellent with the oldies and their problems. Sometimes it is better not to subject them to conventional medicines at this stage of their lives. Hugs to you and healing Wooowoos to Spencer from my pack.

From today's Daily Mail talking about humans, but might be worth discussing with your vet. Up to 30% of humans suffer muscle stiffness, known as post-stroke spasticity. Not understood why. Can be treated with Botox(!) but only lasts for 3-6 months. Now being treated with a combination of Botox and regular, targeted physiotherapy. This is a link to the article, but I'm not sure if non-UK readers will be able to see it…
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2208076/Botox-jab-Mel-hardly-use-hand-stroke-just-15-Botox-jabs-unlocking-muscles.html

I hope the holistic vet can help. My elderly girl had seizures that were about a month apart. She would usually get up immediately and want to walk around. She had a seizure once while eating and I caught her before she fell over and laid her down and then after the seizure she immediately got up and finished eating.

Jennifer

Thanks, everyone, for your concern and suggestions! It helps. It's been another rollercoaster day. Ever since the big stroke/seizure Saturday night, Spencer has been getting me up every two hours all night long to go out to the bathroom. Last night/this morning at 2 AM, he woke me up, I carried him out and set him down to take care of business, and he trotted off to another spot! So I let him walk around, and while he was a bit unsteady, he was getting around on his own. So no walking at midnight; then walking at 2 AM and thereafter.

Around 9 AM, he had another episode. He was on his bed and had been a bit restless. Then suddenly, he couldn't stand– his legs were all askew. I put him on his side and he started having spasms. He was weak afterward, but an hour later, he was walking. I tried a new appetite stimulant from GNC, and he has been eating well today. He's tired now, but alert and pacing. I just take it day by day. I have no idea what tomorrow will hold or whether it will be good or bad. I was afraid he had a brain tumor, but the vets think he's just old and wearing out. I'll be glad to see the holistic vet on Friday!

Pamela, I really do hope I can be like you when Oakley reaches his golden years. You really inspire me.

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