The Struggles of Being a Senior Dog: Emma’s Story

It has been nearly two weeks since my 13 year-old dog, Emma, had her first Grand Mal Seizure.

What we think is a lab and Schnauzer mix, Emma has been healthy her entire life. Randomly, after Easter Sunday, she got extremely ill. She wanted to spend most of the time laying under the shade of our hedges, refusing water, food, and… she was vomiting. Of course, my sister and I coaxed her into the car and to the emergency vet.  securedownload

$400 dollars later we were told she could have a number of things wrong, but nothing could be said until she had a full-body scan. This would cost us, on the spot, over $1500 dollars. She was severely dehydrated, so vets ran fluids through her and administered a general antibiotic. We had to discuss the money aspect of getting tests, so we took Emma home until a decision was made. The vet gave us a list of suggested dietary changes and a pamphlet on what to look for in a dog with certain diseases.

That next evening she had a Grand Mal Seizure. This was by far one of the most frightening things I had ever witnessed. Once the seizure ended, I panicked. Emma’s legs were not working and was too heavy  for any of us to pick up. I was able to find a mobile veterinarian who came to our home at 1 a.m.  I was feeling insane guilt about not leaving her at the previous veterinarian.

Money was no longer an issue. We ran more tests and had Emma stay overnight at with the hollisitc animal home. The veterinarian was a wonderfully caring woman, she comforted us all as much as she comforted Emma. I cannot thank the existence of mobile vets enough.

Pancreatitis, or a severe inflammation of the pancreas, was the culprit for Emma’s heavy panting, discomfort, and vomiting. Diets too rich can cause nausea and painful stomach bloating. We were told to put her on a bland diet of chicken and rice for four days, then ween her off to dry, natural food only.


For the two days Emma was away, I was an absolute wreck. The vet did tell us there was a possibility that my dog had a brain tumor, which made me lose it even more. The ultimate cause of the seizures is still unknown. It could have been triggered by her Pancreatitis getting worse, or not. I didn’t want Emma to suffer. Euthanasia was impossible for me to fathom, but it was something I had to consider.

Turns out the Phenobarbital (anti-seizures meds) she has been taking are working. If she has two seizures a month, it’s not something to worry about entirely. Any more than that is a sign that she is at her end. Sometimes she gets a bit lethargic, but she still oftentimes exudes the spunk and happiness she’s had all of her life.

Emma is my first dog. There is truly nothing in this world I cherish more than having an amazingly loyal animal friend by my side all the time. After 13 years I still find myself loving her more every day.



4 thoughts on “The Struggles of Being a Senior Dog: Emma’s Story

  1. Gosh I totally understand what you are going through. I had a Chihuahua that was 9 years old and she started to pant heavily has well. I took her to the vet and they told me she had congestive heart failure and put her on meds. The next month she had a hard time walking and would fall over. She even had a hard time putting her head up. I took her to the emergency vet and they told me it would be $1500 to do a full body scan. I didn’t have this money :(. She kept crying and unfortunately I had to put her down because I didn’t want her to be in pain anymore. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. This was last July 7th. I miss her incredibly. I hope your dog gets better. They are family.

  2. I feel for you. My Missy Bronte (a loving Bedlington Terrier) started having seizures in her 4th year. She would be extremely disoriented – once I learned to not freak out – I would sit on the lowest stair and hold her around the middle and slightly off the floor – that way she could could flail without harm and when the seizure was over I could hold her until her own panic subsided. I wish you all care and warmth. Our animals hold us in unique ways.

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