Q: We rescued a 6-year-old Labrador we found in a parking lot at Walmart. He's a wonderful dog. Our only worry is Wallie's seizures. He's had two seizures in the past 10 months. He was on a heartworm and flea preventative, which we thought might be the cause, so we switched to another product. A second seizure followed. We wonder if our pesky cat, who irritates Wallie, could be the cause. What do you think?
-- M.H., Cyberspace
A: "Dogs can be sensitized to certain triggers," says Chicago-based veterinary neurologist Dr. Michael Podell. Therefore, anything from too much exercise to the stress associated with being boarded in a kennel might prompt a seizure in some dogs. If you can determine what the triggers are for Wallie, avoiding those triggers (if possible) may help avoid the seizures.
Podell notes that it is possible -- though very rare -- for a heartworm or flea product to cause a problem. He notes that usually when there's a seizure following use of a product, it's only a coincidence. After all, you also suggest that your cat's irritating ways might be causing Wallie to seize -- and we know that even the most annoying cats don't cause seizures in dogs.
Certainly, if you believe there is a link to seizures, try another heartworm or flea product. Talk to your veterinarian about making a choice that makes sense for Wallie.
Podell adds, "We learned many years ago that seizures beget more seizures, which then can create even more seizures." At some point, before the situation snowballs, he does suggest medication. The magic number for Podell is three seizures over 12 months. Once you hit that number, talk to your veterinarian about possible medical intervention.