Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Several years ago, when Jacey was suffering from separation anxiety, her vet prescribed Valium. I started calling Jacey "Spacey Jacey."

These days, that nickname is being resurrected.


Over many months--since last winter, I think--Jacey has demonstrated some odd behavior. The first incidents were funny. I'd be in the bathroom, changing clothes after work, and Jacey would come in and stand in the bathtub. Now some dogs that are thunderphobic will take shelter in the tub during storms, but Jacey's not thunderphobic, and the weather was fine. And she wasn't happy in the tub: she stood there with her head down and her tail tucked. One time, when she started to get in the tub, I put my hand out to block her and she made a serious effort to push past me. When I left the bathroom, she scrambled out of the tub and followed me. After maybe three or four incidents, this behavior stopped.

But sometimes I'd come back in the house with the dogs after a walk, and Jacey would immediately turn around and stand with her nose against the door as if she needed to go back out. Thinking that I might have rushed her, I'd take her back out and she'd just stand and do nothing--stand with her head down, her tail tucked, and looking miserable. This happened a few times.

Then an episode occurred at mealtime. Nothing--nothing ever comes between Jacey and her food, but on this instance... Both dogs came into the kitchen, I put food in Jacey's dish and put it down for her, put food in Sam's dish and took it into the dining room for him, came back into the kitchen and found her standing there, staring at her dish as if she had no idea what to do with it. I offered her a piece of kibble, and she didn't take it, didn't sniff it--just stood there. It was at least a couple of minutes before she figured out what to do. Even then, she picked up a mouthful of food, picked up her head, started to chew, and all the food fell out of her mouth. But she figured it out, and by the time I was getting the cheese out of the refrigerator to give her her thyroid pill, she was back to herself enough that she snapped her head up the moment she heard rustle of the cheese wrapper.

And the latest episode was a couple of weeks later. We were out in the carport. I was working at my laptop, the dogs were sleeping off the efforts of having happily chowed down on a couple of bully sticks. Jacey got up, moved toward the edge of the carport, and just stood there in the typical tail-tucked pose. When these episodes occur, she doesn't respond to her name. Happy voice, which normally gets her tail wagging furiously, has no effect. She won't look at you, and looks away like a nervous dog who has no idea where she is or what she should do next. After a few minutes, she's more-or-less "back," and a minute or so after that, she's fully returned to normal.

So we went to the vet today. The vet took blood for a lab series like the one she had in January (before her dental). He'll compare the new numbers to the old to see if anything odd shows up.

If the lab work is fine, we'll assume she might have a tick-borne disease such as Babesia or Erlichia. She raced in panhandle-Florida--aka tick heaven--and it wouldn't be at all surprising if she picked up something that's laid dormant all these years. Tick panels are fairly expensive and not always reliable, but the recommended treatment for any of the TBDs is two weeks on doxycycline. If we're sure no other problem is lurking in the lab work, we'll skip the tick panel and go straight to the doxycyline.

And if that doesn't fix the problem, we may be left with the possibility that she has epilepsy and is having petit mal seizures. The normal treatment for seizures in dogs is phenobarbitol, but in Jacey's case that would be going overboard. I'm probably not seeing all the incidents that may be occurring--law of averages says they can't all take place while I'm home and watching her--but the episodes she's having aren't that severe or that frequent. The vet would prescribe some Valium for me to keep on hand in case she started having cluster-seizures.

These episodes aren't severe, aren't frequent (as far as I know), and they don't have any of the usual seizure aftermath--she's not exhausted and doesn't seem to feel bad. It's just that during the episode she looks so miserable, and I don't want to ignore the events and blow them off if there's something we can do to help. Happily, Sam isn't reacting to the episodes; it's not uncommon for dogs to attack other dogs that are having seizures, but Sam hasn't seemed to pay the slightest attention--and both dogs are muzzled when I'm not home.

So I'll hear something from the vet on Wednesday, and we'll see where we go from there.


houndstooth said...

My first Greyhound had serious grand mal seizures due to epilepsy. The problem with epileptic seizures is that they can get worse over time if they keep occurring. I certainly hope that Jacey will be okay!

KF-in-Georgia said...

One scary thing is that seizures cropping up when a dog is older than 5 often are being caused by something like a tumor.

And Jacey is 7 and a half.

But we'll hope that this is tick-related, and that the trouble goes away with some doxycycline.

...just heard from the vet about yesterday's lab work. Nothing showing up. I'm going to pick up the doxycycline later today.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I was thinking seizures too. My first greyhound was the same as Houndstooth. Hope you get to the bottom of it.

Thanks for your comment on Katie's passing. "It's the end of a whole era in your life, and I know how painful this will be for all of you."

So very true.