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My 3 year old IS girl is healthy and happy but over the last few months whenever she is asleep she suddenly lifts her head and starts snapping at the air around her front legs (like she is trying to catch a fly).  She doesn;t appear to be awake as she doesn't respond to us.  It isn't just dreaming and there is no jerking of her limbs or stiffness.  They last from a few seconds to up to a minute and then she either wakes up or just goes back to sleep.  If she wakes up she is completely normal.  They do seem to be increasing in frequency as she now has 6 or 7 during the evening.  I have never seen a dog have a fit but these episodes don't seem to sound like fits I have heard about.  Has anyone experienced this?

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I agree,take her to a vet.It doesn't sound like seizures to me but could be another problem.She really needs to be examined.

Interesting that you start this discussion ...
My girl is also trying at times (every few months) to "catch imaginary flies" when she is sleeping  ...

The short answer to this  is yes.  It happens to my red girl as she is sleeping. Also I have had episodes during sleep. They are part of what is known as Petit Mal seizures.  They are not full blown fits.  I thoroughly recommend thyroid testing.  My setter who had grand mal was hypothyroid and never suffered another seizure once his thyroid was stabilized.  Tallulah who has the snapping episodes when she is sleeping is hypothyroid,  and I am hypothyroid too along with Addison's.

With regards to the thyroid results, if they say its "normal" ask how low down the 'normal' range your dog is.  If it is very low,  then 1) I would want to know why it is low. Is there another condition bringing the thyroid down, such as metabolic syndrome (which is invariably DIET related, ie feeding species inappropriate food). Is there Addison's or Cushings going on which is not revealing any other symptoms? of malabsorption issues (very common in Setters!!!!).  If there is malabsorbption then address the diet - species appropriate + digestive enzymes (otherwise over the years you are going to see some very nasty symptoms increasing !!!!) Also treating the low thyroid will be essential, and this is were you can seriously come up against pure ignorance in the veterinary profession at G.P level.   Many vets forget that they are G.P's and do not known their own boundaries and limitations.  Seek specialist help.  The temptation for the vet is to be lazy. Treat the symptoms and don't get to the cause of the problem.  Lazy medicine is far too common.  You might have to fight your dogs corner. So make yourself as knowledgeable as you possibly can.  Thank goodness I did with respect to my girl, because she would have been dead over a year ago now, because the symptoms did increase and increase over the years and brewed up into something extremely life threatening.

Thank you Cornelia for those links - strangely enough they have put my mind at rest.  So long as they stay at this level then it. doesn't appear to be too much to worry about. I will discuss it with my vet but would be reluctant to start medication at this point as these episodes do not appear to affect her.  I also wonder if these seizures are part of Lexi's big picture with her strange habits and charging at men.  For several months I have been wondering if she had some sort of doggy autisim.  We still go to a trainer and he says he has never in his 20 years of owning and training dogs come across some of Lexi's strange behaviour - he even calls her his "special princess".  With regards to the muzzle - we did get one and slowly start to get her used to it but it upset me to see her in it even though she wasn't particulary bothered.  What I do now if take her over the fields at 5.30 am for an off lead run and then keep her on the lead for the lunchtime and evening walk.  She seems contented with this as she doesn't seem to need as much exercise as my other setter.  She doesn't seem to have malabsortion issues in fact she could do with less weight and she has a glorious thick glossy coat so I'm not so sure about the thyroid issues mentioned.

Thanks for posting the  Jean Dodds links Cornelia.  Yes, a thyroid issue could cause fear related issues, and general bristling behaviour in certain circumstances.  My one criticism of Jean Dodds though, which I know is one I share with some of the more knowledgeable GP vets, and that's the she is perhaps a bit to channel visioned on the thyroid issue, rather than looking at euthyroid (sick dog) syndrome. I am actually euthyroid myself, and that means there are other conditions rumbling along which are pulling the thyroid levels down. These really must be checked out before any thyroid meds are prescribed. So a more general blood testing. If the results come back thyroid only (and they quite often do) that's when the dose needs to be worked out, and then the monitoring to bring the levels back up to a more functional level.   The other thing about thyroid issues, they can remain sub-clinical for a few years, and then suddenly blow up to the surface, sometimes in spectacular style. When it comes to my setters now. They have a routine thyroid check every two years from the age of 3 onwards, regardless of any symptoms.  I would rather catch the problem now before things start happening. Tallulah was the very last one I will accept any veterinary crap with.

Strangely enough, I met a lady out a few days ago, who has a red who seems to be development a problem with his lymph glands.   I suggested she got his thyroid checked. I bet she wont. She trusts the vets too much. More fool her. Poor dog !

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