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Low thyroid function, known as hypothyroidism, can precipitate or aggravate existing seizure disorders. While the exact mechanism of how this works is unknown, it may relate to the important role thyroid hormones play in cellular metabolism of the central nervous system. In some cases, simply giving a hypothyroid dog the appropriate levels of thyroid medication reduces the severity and frequency of the seizures, and may even stop them altogether.

Gabe the Border Collie: Seizure-Thyroid Connection Case StudySeptember 13, 2016

Gabe is our beautiful six-year-old border collie. We raised him from an eight-week old puppy and, even having raised other border collies, saw that from the start he had an incredible amount of energy, curiosity and intelligence. 

He was neutered at nine months, and continued to be crazy active. At fifteen months of age he started attacking us. There were about a dozen incidents of his lunging at us and biting with no warning. When these attacks happened, his eyes were blank and it was like he "wasn't there" for several minutes. 

He was analyzed by a neurologist who found his blood work and complete physical to be normal. Within a month, we took him to a veterinary behavioral specialist who, among other suggestions, put him on Prozac. 

Over the next several months, his attacks on us stopped. However, his energy levels were still off the charts – even for his breed – and his overall anxiety levels were increasing for no apparent reason. We weaned him off the Prozac which helped some. 

He had his first grand mal seizure in December of 2012. 

Within a month, the seizures were occurring every week or so, and he was seen by another neurologist who put him on Keppra, with no seizure control. Zonisamide was added. At that point, the seizures started to cluster necessitating hospitalization and a phenobarbital drip. Phenobarbital was added daily as a third anticonvulsant. Again, this neurologist had found his EEG, blood work and thyroid levels to be within the normal range. 

After adding phenobarbital and periodically increasing the dosage, the seizures lessened to one about every 21 days and we were grateful for this much control. In June of 2013 some aggressive behaviors and fearfulness returned and we struggled along. 

At this time, a friend of a dear friend was told about what was going on with Gabe. Her dog had been helped tremendously by Dr. Dodds and Hemopet, and she encouraged us to get in touch. 

Blood analysis with Hemopet showed that he was suffering from hypothyroidism. With the addition of Soloxine to his medications, his aggressive and fearful behaviors were reduced dramatically within a couple of months. 

I read The Canine Thyroid Epidemic by Dr. Dodds and Diana Laverdure-Dunetz at this time and incorporated the many suggestions regarding diet into Gabe's daily care. Gabe had always been a very picky eater and this reversed as rosemary and other potential neurotoxins were removed from his foods. With the help of our local wonderful veterinarian, we are titer testing all boosters. 

Though Gabe's behavioral issues were well controlled and he was a happy and sweet companion, he continued to have short but terrible seizures about every 3 weeks until March 2016.

Dr. Dodds had been asking us to replace Zonisamide (a sulfonamide that can reduce thyroid activity) with another anticonvulsant since our first lab results in 2013 and we held off because Gabe's neurologist did not agree. However, Gabe's local vet – who has known him since he was a puppy – agreed that this was worth trying. 

We started weaning him off the Zonisamide last March, replacing it with DMG (Dimethylglycine) at Dr. Dodds suggestion. He has been completely off the Zonisamide since July 8, 2016. 

At the time of this writing, Gabe has not had a seizure since March 30, 2016! That's 160 days! 23 weeks!

Writing these words brings tears to my eyes. 

Even though we live on the East Coast, we feel that Dr. Dodds and Hemopet are our champions. Every time we've had a question or concern, Dr. Dodds has answered personally within a day. Her expertise and kindness, as well as the response of the staff at Hemopet, is consistently remarkable. 

Words simply are not sufficient to express our gratitude, and we hope and pray that Dr. Dodds and Hemopet may continue to do the work that allows them to help others as they have helped us.