Seizures in Dogs: All From a Tooth Abscess? “Help, Roxy Fell”

Even though canine epilepsy is what people think about when they hear about seizures, seizures in dogs can have numerous causes.

The potential causes of canine seizures include

  • toxins
  • infections
  • liver or kidney failure
  • too low or too high blood glucose
  • electrolyte abnormalities
  • high blood pressure
  • tumors

It is important not to jump to the epilepsy conclusion without ruling all those things out first.

Seizures in Dogs: All From a Tooth Abscess? "Help, Roxy Fell"

I haven’t shared Roxy’s story yet. Mostly because of the unfortunate way things played out; ending without answers or resolution. But sometimes things do turn out that way.

Roxy was our first Rottweiler. 

Hubby rescued her at a gas station. She spent her first years traveling across the continent in his truck. She was the one who gave a seal of approval to our relationship when Jerry and I met.

Every year Roxy got a veterinary check-up and vaccinations. 

This was long before anybody raised any issue with annual vaccinations.

We fed her the food we could afford. I was new in the country and hubby was after a nasty divorce. We were struggling financially.

In spite of that, she was healthy other than her frequent deadly gas. She had diarrhea about three times in all those years, each just one-time event. She was about nine years old when things went wrong. It was a Sunday afternoon.

The first scary event

I was working when hubby called out of the living room, “Help, Roxy fell!”

I came rushing over but Roxy was already on her feet again. She looked normal. We encouraged her to walk back and forth and nothing seemed to be wrong.

“Perhaps she tripped?” 

It wasn’t a satisfying explanation but given that everything seemed fine, it was the only one we had. The rest of the day went on as if nothing happened. Perhaps she tripped after all?

In the middle of the night, I woke up to her whimpering. Hubby checked her all over but couldn’t find a source of pain. But something was bothering her.

Veterinary visit

First thing in the morning, hubby took Roxy to a vet.

They examined her and told us she had an abscessed tooth. “Perhaps she fell from the pain,” was their explanation for the strange event from the day before.

Roxy got antibiotics and a follow-up appointment.

By now she really looked unwell.

She’d eat only when hand-fed and looked miserable. She also fell a couple more times. It was now clear that she didn’t trip but stumbled because her leg gave out on her. She would get herself in awkward spaces and fall and get herself stuck in there. We kept trying to keep her resting where it was safe. The falls happened more and more often and her legs seemed weak.

We called the vet telling them what was going on. They concluded that it was from the abscess and perhaps also from the meds. Once the antibiotics kick in, things should improve.

We babied her as well as we could.

Roxy slept ok through the night. In the morning hubby left for work; he was commuting at that time. It was just me and son who was at home.

She looked really unwell and I’d prefer him staying at home but he couldn’t.

A couple of hours later Roxy had a seizure.

She laid there, her whole body convulsing, mouth foaming. Her regular vet was all the way across town and we didn’t have a safe vehicle to get there. We found a hospital just down the road from us and called asking them to see Roxy as an emergency, explaining what was going on.

The hospital refused to see Roxy.

They told us that they didn’t accept emergencies unless it was their own patients.

It was Tuesday, the hospital was open, there were doctors there but they refused to see Roxy because she wasn’t their patient…?

We didn’t have a choice then. We called Roxy’s regular vet, telling them what’s happening and that we were on our way. We took the van that was available, however unsafe, hoping it wasn’t going to break down before we got there.

Roxy was so weak she couldn’t walk more than a couple of feet before collapsing.

The trip across the town

We carried her into the van. She was also peeing involuntarily, which seemed to make her unhappy but there was no helping it.

We did make it across town and I ran to the vet’s office asking whether they could help us carry her in. “She cannot walk?” they asked. No, not really.

They helped us get her in and a vet came to tend to her right away.

She peed again on the exam table as she was laying there, then got what looked like another seizure. The vet examined her, took her blood, left a couple of times and came back again. Her expression wasn’t conveying much hope.

The veterinary consultation

She said that it would take at least $500 to maybe figure out what is going on. Maybe figure it out but no guarantee it can be fixed.

We were broke. We didn’t have $500. 

Neither of us had any credit either. If we knew that the expense would make Roxy well again, maybe we could figure something out. But there was no guarantee.

However Roxy loved me, she was hubby’s dog. He was the one who needed to make the decision about what we’ll do.

The vet was on the phone with him for a long time.

The decision was made to let Roxy go. They sedated her so we could say our goodbyes. And then it was over.

We never found out what truly happened. Was it the infections from the abscess making its way to the brain? Was it something else altogether? Was there something that could have been done?

Roxy had a good life.

She was happy and lived about the average life span for her breed. We had barely enough money to put food on the table (and into the bowl), we couldn’t afford to spend money just to maybe find out what’s happening. We did the best we could then.

I hope Roxy and Jasmine have met OTRB and have a great time together.

It was a very long time ago but it still bothers me. But sometimes you can only do what you can do. Roxy was well loved and she knew it. She loved being with us. And then the time came we had to let her go free.

Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Seizures/Convulsions

Further reading:
Seizures in Dogs & Cats – What You Need to Know!

Categories: AtaxiaConditionsGrand mal seizuresSeizuresSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

  1. Omg this sounds so similar to what just happened to my female dachshund. We knew she had some bad teeth that needed to come out but didn’t have the money just yet to do it but we’re planning on it shortly. She woke me up in the middle of the night panting heavily and I just picked her up and held her to try and comfort her but she wouldn’t stop. The next morning I took her to the vet and they did blood work, a chest x-ray, and a pancreatitis test and they all came back normal. She didn’t have a fever either. I just figured it was her teeth bothering her because she would snap at me if I went near her mouth and she gave the vet a hard time when they tried looking at her teeth. They sent her home with antibiotics and pain meds. I brought her home and she ate dinner and took her meds and went to sleep for a good 3 hours and then woke up panting heavily again. I gave her heart meds to her since she didn’t have them yet at all that day (she takes them twice a day because she has a heart murmur) and after that she kind of got disoriented and was just pacing around and hiding in different corner of the house and all of a sudden she started having a seizure which at first I wasn’t sure if that’s what it really was but she had two more after that and at that point we had just decided that we didn’t want to put her thru anymore pain and that it was probably best to just put her down which was so heart breaking because we had her since she was 6 months old to now 12 almost 13 but we didn’t have the money or credit to do anymore testing.

  2. Jessica Agee

    I recently dealt with this with my german shepherd beagle mix who is 14+yrs old. There is a vague diagnosis to what it is exactly. Basically it is a dog stroke and sounds like urs had heart failure along with it. The stroke caused ur pup to fall and become confused and weak legs and will be unable to control their bodily functions. The abcess tooth could have caused the seizures if it had been bumped but most likely the infection and her age caused chf. I’m sorry u had to go thru this without answers. Hopefully my information helps and u did the right thing letting her go.

    • Sorry about your baby. It could well be that. Having the answer without the possibility of a solution doesn’t really change things much–most likely we’d let her go anyway.

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