We just had our 10 year old lab put down after an 11 hour battle with seizures at home. It is a long sad story but if we had only had more training on how to care for him in such an emergency, he might still be with us. Hospitals for people offer classes in advance of surgery to educate the surgery candidate and family on what to expect and long term care toward recovery. Can the same be available for our pets?
For 5 years we worked closely with our vet on controlling and preventing the seizures. Treatment was successful until he also developed a tumor on his liver. Since the tumor could burst at any time and a risky surgery would give him a few more months at most we decided to take him home to give him a few more days with us. Although the vet had previously told us not to stop the anti-seizure medications we thought it would be OK for the short time he had left. He did well for 10-days and we were thrilled. And then he started seizing at 11pm one night followed by many more through the night. We were frantic and so was he, it was awful. A mobile veterinarian came to the house and put him to sleep for us late the next morning.
If we had only had the training, knowledge to know that it was critical that he stay on the seizure medications, that without it, his brain was misfiring exponentially with every minute that went by. We felt so helpless. Pet owners need training on what to do to care for pets with serious medical conditions, appropriate emergency care locations and what medical records to always have on hand.
It is heartbreaking to read this account of what happened to you and your dog. In time, we hope that the memories of this terrible day can be replaced with memories of the 10 wonderful years you had with your beloved dog. Sometimes seminars are given at veterinary specialty practices to assist pet owners with various topics. These types of topics are also sometimes covered at a primary care veterinary practice. There is a new app (VitusVet) for pet owners, primary care and emergency/specialty veterinarians, which allows 24/7 access to a pet’s individual medical information.
If you have a pet with a serious medical condition in the future, consulting a veterinary specialist would be a good option to learn advanced home care and what to look for and do when there is an after-hours emergency. You may need to have a separate consult to have this type of discussion, but it would be well worth the time and expense. It is always a good idea to contact or go to an emergency practice whenever your pet has a significant medical problem. This would have been difficult with a large and actively-seizing dog. Many cities have 24/7 private ambulance services for pets that can transport animals to emergency or specialty facilities.
Thank you for asking this question – it may help someone in a similar situation, possibly preventing them from going through what you have been through and losing another beloved pet.