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EXCLUSIVE! Pet Q&A With Dr. Patrick Mahaney

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Pet Q&A With Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Teddy's celeb vet Dr. Patrick Mahaney has some advice Teddy reader, Olivia, who asks:

My 1 year old pure bred black lab, Stella, has developed seizures just before her first birthday. She has had 4 in total and is now on phenobarb. I am wondering if the long term medicating for the seizures will shorten her life span? Is there any changes to her diet I should do? She is 75 lbs (but not overweight, she is a very big structured dog), and I feed her 2 cups of dog food a day, and rarely treats or human food.

Patrick's Answer:

Thank you for your interesting question. In having seizures, Stella suffers from an ailment affecting many dogs both young and old. Due to Stella's young age, her seizures are more likely to be caused by iodiopathic epilepsy, as compared to other more severe or life threatening reasons affecting older dogs.

Provided you are following your veterinarian's advice and achieving a blood Phenobarbital level appropriate controls seizures, she should well tolerate this medication for long term. There are some side effects to Phenobarbital, such as sedation, weight gain, increased appetite, and liver inflammation or damage. Use the lowest dose and frequency that controls her seizures and have baseline blood testing performed at least every 6 months to monitor vital organ function. Other medications may be needed to control seizures pending her response. If her seizures fail to be well controlled despite anti-convulsant treatment (including food changes, as below), pursue a consultation with a veterinary neurologist.

As I treat my patients form both a western and eastern (Chinese medicine) perspective, I consider the effects food energy and format (dry vs moist, whole food vs processed, etc). In Chinese medicine, one of the causes of seizures is excessive heat accumulation in the body, which can have origins in food. Go for reduced or grain free diets that are moist instead of dry. Cooling protein sources, such as turkey, duck, goose, rabbit, and fish are less likely to build heat as compared to heating proteins like beef, venison, lamb, and chicken.

A great food to consider is Lucky Dog Cuisine, which is cooked, frozen, preservative, all natural, human grade food. It is tasty, healthy stuff that most dogs absolutely love. Consider the "Turkey 'N Taters" option, which is grain free.

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