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Hello again,

My 10 month old Nugget has just started having seizures.  He had two on Sunday, and one Monday.  All the seizures have begun while he is sleeping.   Our vet prescribed medication to stop the seizures when they are occurring and phenobarbital to give orally after.  We gave the medication to break the seizure Monday AM, followed by a dose of phenobarbital.  He has not had any more seizures yet.  I am hoping this is not a recurrent condition.  Nugget does not have an infection and appears normal otherwise.  This seizure condition was a total surprise.  Does anyone have any experience with this?  I am contacting the breeder to see if any other puppies in Nugget's litter of twelve has had seizures.


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oh sue i am so sorry!!!!!!!!!!!! nugget is a beautiful puppy and i really hope this is an isolated episode... life is so cruel, he is such a clever and funny boy!!!!!!

Hi Sue, I am so sorry to hear your news, I can relate to your feeling as Abbie had her first fit at 2. Your vet is right there may be no more episodes, if you read "Abbies story" on the blog this may answer some of your questions. Keep us posted on this and I am here if you want to ask anything. Take care X

Hi Sue, I'm so very sorry to read this about Nugget!! Also that Nugget is only 10 month old and started with more than one seizure per day! The 'classic' age for the beginning of idiopathic epi is between 1-4 years of age. Our girl has epi, but has only had two seizures at the age of 3,5 (a fortnight apart) and is seizure free since two years now with the help of phenobarbital. So she seems to have a milder form of this disease. 

It is good that the vet prescribed medication right away. There was a time, when the vets first recommended to write a diary and only then started with medication but it is now known that the earlier you begin with medication, the better chances you have to get the disease under control. Is the medication to break the seizure Diazepam?

You find a lot of info about epi on Michelles's page - a very precious ES member! 


I would still recommend to write all info in a 'diary': The length of the seizure; when they occur; were they tonic-clonic; was there anything unusual before like a vaccination; how long did it take for your dog to recover; and so on. 

I'd also recommend to do a thorough blood test now to check for any problems concerning metabolism and you will have to test Nugget's blood in a few weeks time to see how much of the phenobarbital is in his blood - the therapeutic level is between 15mg and 50mg. 

This is also a very helpful page:


And this institution is recommendable for any blood tests:


I do hope the medication helps and I wish your Nugget a seizure free and happy future! 

Thank you all.  I will check out the links you put in your message.  Nugget was back to normal yesterday and did not have any seizures.  Today he had another grand mal seizure while he was sleeping.  I have been recording the events, time, etc. The patterns have been the same during the two that I have witnessed in the day time.  He stands up an looks dazed, starts drooling, is non-responsive to me calling his name, and then he has a seizure complete with tonic/clonic movements of all extremities with jaw clenched.  It is so sad to see.  The vet did send us home with midazolam (versed) after the first appt., but we are just about out of it after the past two seizure episodes.  We are going to the vet again tomorrow.  I want to have midazolam on hand to break a seizure.  I also requested labs tests, including thyroid. We are now giving him phenobarb two times a day.  I have lots of questions for the vet tomorrow regarding the use of valerian, melatonin, potassium bromide (think that is only if he is has hypothyroidism?)  Being an RN most definitely helps to understand all that is going on, but it doesn't make it any easier to see this beautiful puppy going through this.  I spoke to the breeder yesterday and it appears Nugget is the only one out of the litter of twelve that has seizures.  I think I was meant to be his mom and make sure he gets the best care possible.  Love goes a long way.

Thank you all for your support.  

Hi Sue, I you test Nugget for thyroid, do it via hemopet - only there you get the full test with free T3, T4 and TgAA - the service is very recommendable: J. Dodds is looking personally into the test result. Your vet can send the blood there - you'll find the form to fill in on their page. I'm so sorry, Nugget had another seizure! 

Thanks Cornelia.  I will look up hemopet's site.  My vet seems pretty open to suggestions so far and I won't hesitate to get a second opinion.  Nugget is sleeping peacefully now.  I am back to my research.

Hi Sue, I said to another ES member once "that special fur friends are sent to special people". Lucky your Irish boy Nugget has you to care for him, the needy ones always seem to be the sweetest ones too :0) Take care,Dianne X

Hi Sue, so sorry to hear about Nugget, poor baby...I am also a nurse and out of the four setters we have had, three of the have had medical problems, including two who have hypothyroidism at the moment and are being treated for it. If you do this test, PLEASE,as other people have suggested, go to the hemopet site and Dr Jean Dodds.....you need to ensure that the vet does a FULL thyroid panel and very often they don't...if you are going to send the results to jean dodds, you need to use one of the two labs suggested, your vet probably uses one anyway, when the results come back you can use a form on the hemopet site (consultation) to attach your results to email them to her, she replies very quickly!! The results from your vet may well come back as within the normal range as it did for one of my boys and that is why you need this Dr and the full panel so that she can analyse them properly...sorry for going on but so many dogs are mis diagnosed..do so hope your little boy improves xxxxx  

Thanks for your input.  I printed out the thyroid panel that was listed on Dr. Jean Dodds site and took it to the vet with me on Friday.  He said he sends his tests to a lab in Sacramento.  He knows I am a nurse and seems willing to work with me, although I think he feels I am questioning his experience and ability.  He did say though that if it was his dog he would be doing just what we are; researching everything we can.  You can bet I will stay on top of things!    Nugget has been seizure free for two days now; on phenobarb since Tuesday night.  Sorry to hear you have had three out of four setters with medical problems!

Hi Sue,am so glad to hear that Nugget has been ok for a couple of days but must be a constant worry for you. Hope you get some answers soon. Good that the vet is listening to you at least!!! They don't know your dog like you do......mine fobbed me off for two years when I queried thyroid in one of my dogs, stupidly I let myself be told as I thought, well she's the vet!! As for having poorly setters, like you, I think they were given to me specially...but it does concern me that our breed seems to have some diseases that are rife now, Good luck Sue,please let us know how you get on xxx 

I keep hearing the term "over bred" when Irish Setters are discussed.  So many people stop me on the street when we are walking Nugget and they say how beautiful he is and that you don't see Irish Setters much anymore.  The vet also mentioned over breeding when talking about seizures.  I read another vet's note after Nugget ate the rock; he noted possible wheat sensitivity.  When I researched that further, there were some references to over-breeding as the cause of gastrointestinal problems in setters.  I specifically looked to a breeder hoping to get a healthy puppy.  I did not want one from a puppy mill. This breeder says she tries very hard to go outside the line to find sires for her dame.  I will most definitely keep you all updated on Nugget's status.  The phenobarb is making Nugget very sleepy when he isn't hyper and constantly looking for food.  I must admit, it can be quite wearing trying to achieve the right balance of food, rest and safe activity.  I have been on "night" duty since his seizures began, and it has been many years since I worked nights!

I do feel for you Sue, Nugget's a young little Irish and it just doesn't seem fair for one so young to suffer. I love when people from back say to me, like you" I remember these dogs years ago but I haven't seen one in years"! Then they tell me there stories of how an Irish Setter left it's pawprint. Here in my country the term finely bred is used, I guess by vets and the occasional breeder. We have always sourced a reputable breeder when wanting a pedigree dog but even then no fault of anyone you can just get an unwell pup ( I guess like a family... one child unwell, all the rest healthy ). We had a little Border Collie" Pebble" the sweetest thing, she suffered renal failure at seven months and we had to say goodbye to her at ten months, broke our hearts. Every other little Border in the litter was fine, just Pebble....our daughter is like Florence Nigtingale and Pebble was meant to be hers. I'm useless at been a nurse myself but in less than twelve months I have nursed the odies (k9's) with two anterior cruciates, GDV, cancer, a Glenhumerol ligament replaced and now I'll help my son with he's sick Newfoundland! Hmm...maybe I've found my calling lol. I pray your little Nugget gets the very best veterinary care, as I know you will. Veterinary medicine has come so far and they can offer our fur friends soooo much. We will keep your little Nugget in our thoughts and prayers. :0)
Take care Dianne & Irish x
Take care we will keep little Nugget in our thoughts and prayers. Dianne and Irish x




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