Could bone plates of the skull be causing my dog’s seizures?

Original Question: Firstly I love your show on 1010. I have a four-year-old Lab/German Shepherd rescue that had his skull broken when he was a pup. The plates have not grown with his age and he suffers from grand mal seizures that are controlled with Phenobarbital. He also struggles with turrets style barking seizures that last about 30 seconds. He can also wake up during the night having them. During the day these are usually triggered by stress or excitement. They have gotten worse and are longer in duration. After he comes in from the dog walker he will have 2 or 3 of these since he is so stimulated. I have spoken to my vet who I love and respect but she says he cannot go on anti-anxiety because of the Pheno. Next month we are doing blood work to see if the Pheno levels are high enough and if not, then adjust them. I would be very interested in your opinion about anti-stress treatments for both natural and synthetic. - Susan

Could bone plates of the skull be causing my dog’s seizures? Mar 5, 2018

Hi Susan,

Thanks for your question and I am sorry that you’re dealing with this.

I’m going to get right to the point here. I always like helping people as much as possible, but there are some cases that I think are best to be referred to a specialist and this would be one of those cases. We have an article about seizures and I recommend you look at it, it is titled “Epilepsy and Seizure In Pets: What You Should Know”. It will give you a good basis of understanding for treating this disease overtime. However, the fact that there are bone plates on the skull leads me to think that there could be a more complicated reason for the seizures. I can’t be certain whether they are playing a role or not, but I really think you should be seeking advice from both a veterinary neurologist and a veterinary surgeon to deal with this problem. A quick search of the literature does not reveal support for the theory that bone plates can cause seizures in dogs. I would recommend that you find a referral center that offers both of those specialties. There are many emergency clinics that run referral services out of them and I’m sure that there would be one not far from you.

As veterinarians, we have to self-regulate ourselves and know when it’s time to seek advice beyond our skill set. I could tell you to just keep using the Phenobarbital to control the seizures, but there are so many different types of anti-epileptic medications on the market, that a neurologist may be able to guide you to one that will work better. A veterinary surgeon would be able to discuss the impact of bone plates on the skull.

Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. I wish you the best.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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