is a 3-year-old Yorkshire terrier who lives with Fran
and her husband, Bill, in Modesto. Molly spends most of
her time indoors never far from Fran or Bill and has had
no health problems until about four months ago.
and Bill were on the couch watching television with
Molly sitting next to them. Rather suddenly, Molly began
to tremble and rolled to her side. After a few seconds
she was shaking violently and urinated and defecated on
the couch. Bill and Fran recognized the episode as a
seizure and kept Molly from falling off the couch until
the episode ended. Fran remarked that it seemed to last
forever but in reality it was probably, in all, about a
two- to three-minute event.
brought Molly to her veterinarian the day the seizure
occurred. A blood sample was drawn to check for any
abnormalities that might lead to a seizure and Molly was
sent home. The results of her blood test were
unremarkable and Fran was instructed to wait to see if
Molly had another seizure.
two weeks later, Molly had two more seizures and again
she was taken to her veterinarian. A diagnosis of
epilepsy was given and Molly was placed on a medication
called Phenobarbital. This medication is used to control
seizures in several species of animals, as well as
humans. Molly initially was very sleepy on her new
medication but, after about five or six days, became
used to the drug in her system.
Molly was still having seizures and her dosage of
Phenobarbital had to be increased. In the past three
weeks, Molly has had five more seizures and Fran was
again instructed to increase Mollyís dosage. Fran has
done so but is worried about the possible problems that
Molly might have because of taking the Phenobarbital.
is likely that Molly does have epilepsy. This disease
results in what is called a seizure focus in the brain
that allows an uncontrolled discharge of electrical
impulses through the brain resulting in a seizure.
is very important to understand that epilepsy is a
diagnosis we arrive at after ruling out other causes of
seizures. That was a likely reason why Mollyís
veterinarian performed a blood test. There are many
other potential causes for seizures and some can be
quite difficult to diagnose.
usually starts manifesting itself in younger dogs but
can show up later in life as well. There are cases of a
dog having a single seizure at some point in its life
and never again. This is a good reason to wait after one
seizure to see if the dog does indeed seizure again. If
other causes of seizures have been ruled out, treatment
for epilepsy, specifically seizure prevention should be
started. It is important to realize that once a seizure
happens, it becomes easier for another to occur and so
on. Itís as if a neurological pathway becomes more and
more burned into the brain with each seizure. This is
why with multiple seizure occurrences it becomes
imperative that the seizures be prevented.
are not inherently painful but if left unchecked, they
can be damaging to the brain. Also during a seizure, the
animal could fall or otherwise cause trauma to their
her letter, Fran did not share the dose of Phenobarbital
thatís being given to Molly so I cannot comment on
whether or not it might be excessive. Patients taking
this drug, a drug that works quite well in preventing
seizures, should have their blood levels of the drug
monitored on a regular basis. This will allow the dose
to be properly tailored to the individual patient to
achieve the ultimate goal of seizure prevention with
are cases of epilepsy where seizures are not able to be
prevented with Phenobarbital alone, even at the highest
allowable dose. These cases likely need the addition of
or replacement with another anticonvulsant medication.
Usually with combination drug therapy, seizures that
have not been controlled by Phenobarbital alone are
indeed suppressed bringing about control of the