Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Puppy Is Having Seizures

Sirius is my new German Shepherd puppy. Sirius will be 14 weeks old on Friday, May 15

I decided to document the current events surrounding the seizures that began shortly after my pup received the 2ND distemper combo and 1st Lyme vaccines.

A little background: we got Sirius from a breeder when he was 9 weeks old. He seemed like a healthy puppy. He has been coming along, growing nicely and putting on weight. As far as we can tell, there was nothing to indicate our puppy would respond negatively to vaccines. And, we need to vaccinate our pup to protect him from canine diseases. However, it is my opinion, Sirius adversely reacted to the vaccines due to a genetic weakness. I think as I believe many dog owners would, the seizures were "triggered".

On Monday, 5/11/09, I took Sirius to his scheduled vet visit at 9:00 am. I didn't pay close attention to the clock but I would say he got the vaccines around 9:30 am. Sirius was restless on the ride home but it is not that unusual for my pup. I thought he was excited and stressed from the vet visit and maybe a bit sensitive due to the vaccines. My thoughts were that he would settle down once we got home to where everything is familiar.

I live about 35 minutes away from the vet. We got back home around 11:00 am. I brought Sirius to the yard for some potty and play time. He was very agitated, whining, circling my legs, getting in between my legs. He didn't settle down right away which was disconcerting to me. I gave Sirius his midday meal a litte bit before noon which he ate. It was probably close to 12:30 when I heard a loud noise coming from Sirius's crate. I rush in and see him thrashing about in his crate. I never witnessed a dog having a seizure so my first thought he was having a very active dream. When I get near his crate, I see his teeth caught between the wires on the crate so I'm thinking "Oh, my God!" "He's stuck!" I release his mouth but his body continues to shake. His neck is hyper extended back, his eyes are fixed toward the back of his head. He was foaming at his mouth and his body released urine. It was horrific! I felt terrified. I snatched him out of the crate and his body was limp in my arms. I thought my puppy was dying, I was struggling to see if he was still breathing.

After I placed Sirius in the car crate, he momentarily looked up at me. I felt shock, hope and wondering if I was imagining him looking at me. I raced to the vet's office; a 35 minute drive from my home felt like an eternity. There was a funky odor coming from the back of my van so I thought, my dog passed on. When we got to the vet, I open the back and saw (thankfully) my puppy alive, looking at me. He vomited up his meal in his crate hence the horrible odor.

The vet took a blood sample which only showed the proteins were a bit low but nothing alarming. The vet didn't concur with me about my suspicions of the distemper/Lyme combo vaccines causing a seizure in my puppy. Previously, upon the vet's recommendation, I applied Frontline. I live in NY where the tick population is very high. In fact, I've had Lyme disease and it's no picnic. Now I'm wondering if it's a cocktail of all of these elements that caused the seizure. Or, is it the vaccines alone.

Later that night, I contacted the breeder. The breeder blames the seizure on the Frontline. In fact, she's completely convinced it's the Frontline. The breeder blames the vet for prescribing the Frontline and combining vaccines. Further, the breeder tells me she'll take the puppy back and will wait 30 days before any possible compensation. The breeder will first want to "test" her theory that the Frontline, in fact, caused the seizure by directly administering Frontline to Sirius with a wait/see if the dog goes into a seizure. My response is that it's inhumane to perform a theory test. If Sirius is having seizures it's a health problem not a lab experiment. In my opinion, it's unethical to attempt to trigger a seizure but I'm not a breeder.

Yesterday, Sirius had another seizure. It occurred at 12:05 pm. I was there to see the seizure begin and hold my puppy until it ended. It lasted a few minutes. I returned to the vet and this time, they gave my pup a bath. The vet said she didn't see much of the Frontline oils in the bath. I told her, I didn't saturate my dog with the Frontline spray - only small squirts on the underside and back of his body.

I contacted the breeder again today. She is still convinced the Frontline caused the seizures and perhaps it's the combining elements. However, her position is the seizures were created and not because there's anything genetically wrong with my puppy.

I wait now, holding my breath that the bath did the trick and my dog will no longer have seizures. So far, no one is advising me, vet or breeder, what I can do to help my dog when he's having a seizure. The only exception is the breeder's position to not use Frontline ever again. The breeder further states, the German Shepherd breed has a low immunity tolerance to Frontline or any flea/tick pesticide applications for dogs. There is still nothing conclusive about what caused the seizures, however.

It's important for me to keep this diary. At best, this information might be beneficial for the German Shepherd fancier and all dog lovers for that matter. I have three dogs. My other two dogs are Labs and can't say we've ever had any short or long term negative effects from Frontline type products. Further, I'm not defending these products. In fact, I think they're dreadful. It's a game of roulett. I only use the products as necessary to protect both my family and dogs from ticks and fleas. Because of the seizures in my young puppy, I withdraw using it all together. I do not wish to gamble on the health and well being of my beloved pets.


  1. i'm sorry about your puppy, i hope he'll be alright. seizures and a variety of other conditions are common in German shepherds. he might be epileptic. there's a good thought in the Frontline being the cause, one of its ingredients has been proven to be neurotoxic to dogs and rats. Though generally well tolerated by most dogs, Frontline has caused violent reactions in animals allergic to it. That might be the problem, but epilepsy is quite common in German Shepherd dogs. A trigger test can help with a diagnosis. Usually people sufferring from seizures have to have them as do our fluffy friends. It might seem inhumane, but in the long run it could be very helpful. You should ask your vet about that though. Below are a couple of informative sites on Frontline and German Shepherds...

    1. My 6 week gs puppy had 2 seizures...he's getting many test done... & he had not gained much weight... After being put on an IV @ vet he gained 2lbs... Ive been so scared to lose him...

  2. i don't know if my previous comment got through...the computer bipped in and out...if it didn't...

    your puppy might be epileptic; epilepsy is very common in German Shepherds. another possibility is that he's allergic to the Frontline, which contains a neurotoxin that has been shown to cause problems for some dogs. a trigger test may be necessary to rule out the Frontline as well as a host of other possible causes. your vet can advise you on those things. but it does seem like it might be epilepsy from what you're describing. if it is, it's not a huge problem, it can be controlled with meds. bright lights, loud noises, even certain smells can set off an epileptic seizure in some dogs (and epileptic people too). so if your dog gets another seizure, investigate to see if perhaps he encountered a bright flash, loud sound, a stressful situation, etc.
    the following site gives info on health conditions common in German Shepherds...

  3. Hi, I rescued a border collie that had some type of problems with her motor skills. She was fine for the first 5 years of her life and then I started using frontline. It took me a year and half to figure out the cause of her seizers and I am convinced that it is frontline. I haven't used it in 4 months and no seizers. It almost killed her and I have had to give her phenobarbatrol in big doses all this time because we did not know what it was/ No more frontline


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