A labrador retriever with Idiopathic Epilepsy.
Zoe is an athletic Labrador Retriever, well known in the Dock Diving World. As soon as she was old enough to compete at the end of 2013, Zoe quickly became a dock diving star. She soared up the rankings in Big Air (long jump) with a personal best of 27’0”. She wowed crowd after crowd when she began Extreme Vertical (high jump), taking 6th place at the World Championship with an amazing jump of 7’6”. Combined with her speed in the water, her jumps have put her near the top of the Iron Dog (triathlon) rankings every year she has been competing. Zoe was the cover girl and feature of an article on dock diving for NOVADog Magazine in Summer 2015, was interviewed and performed live for Little Rock news, and she has been covered countless times in local news wherever she travels for the sport.
Zoe suffers from idiopathic epilepsy, beginning when she was only two years old. In July 2015, she had her first fainting spell, and then again in August. By December 2015, she had her first identifiable seizure. At 5:30 am, she began “paddling”, her entire body convulsing, excessive drooling and unable to focus. Within a few weeks she experienced an identical seizure and was diagnosed with Idiopathic Epilepsy and immediately put on Zonisamide (125 mg X 2 daily). Zoe remained on the Zonisamide for 13 months. She still had “focal” seizures known as air licking, zoomies, etc., but the Zonisamide seemed to help her avoid having the larger seizures. However, the medication did make her lethargic and reach exhaustion quicker in the beginning but she seemed to adjust to the medication.
Shortly after her health began to deteriorate, in September of 2015, Zoe was switched to a raw diet using Answers Pet Food. Her diet rotated between Detailed Pork, Chicken, Beef and Turkey, with occasional use of fermented raw goat’s milk and/or fish stock. Her owners noticed an almost immediate change with her sensitive stomach issues, and said that her energy increased and she appeared to be a much happier puppy. But she was consuming twice the recommended feeding amount and was still at a low weight.
By February 2017, her owners decided that there had to be a better way to address the epilepsy without medications. Working with Answers Pet Food and Dr. Pema at Holistic Veterinary Healing in Germantown, MD, on 2/23/17, they began a “raw milk fast” with Zoe using Answers Raw Fermented Goat’s Milk, Kefir and Fermented Fish Stock. She was weaned off of Zonisamide during February and early March and received Di Tan Tan Tang Chinese herbs. She continued to experience “focal seizures” the first couple of weeks as the medication decreased, but she stopped having them after a few weeks. She began to gain weight back and her stools became more consistent. While the milk fast was intended to address her epilepsy, it was also fixing her stomach and her ability to process the nutrients from the food.
In April 2017, Zoe began a slow transition back to a raw diet. It was discovered that she was sensitive to pork (severe digestive issues) so that was eliminated from her transition diet and Straight Turkey was used beginning 4/28/17. She was still consuming a larger amount of calories than she should have been, and it was agreed to leave her existing diet with 75% of the calories coming from fermented goat’s milk, kefir and fish stock for 90 more days. This would allow her “leaky gut” to continue to heal.
On 5/10/17, Zoe had a vet visit at VOSM due to being “off” in regards to dock diving competition. She was diagnosed with right iliopsoas strain and some sensitivity at the lumbosacral junction. Treated with physical and laser therapy, NSAIDs were prescribed but not given. Instead Zoe was given Chinese herbs to help manage the pain and inflammation.
On 5/11/17, Zoe suffered another seizure that lasted 5-7 minutes. During previous epileptic seizures, Zoe would "swim" or "paddle" but this time it was like all of her muscles tensed (even toes splayed out) and her entire body was rapidly shaking. After the seizure passed, she recovered fairly quickly but she was antsy. Upon reviewing surveillance videos, Zoe was seen playing with and eating a small amount of plant/flower fertilizer which may have been the trigger. At that point, she was immediately put back on an all liquid diet (goat’s milk, kefir, fish stock) for 30 days. On 6/10/17, Zoe began another slow transition back to solid food.
On 7/8/17, Zoe had another seizure. She was non-responsive for 10 minutes. After she seemed okay, she was taken to her bed to lay and rest where she proceeded to tremble while not moving and defecated on herself. The trigger is unknown but it is noted that her feeding protocol (milk, kefir, fish stock, straight turkey) was broken the night before with a few McDonald’s French fries. She also had a physical therapy treatment on 7/7. Her diet was modified back to all-liquid at this point (removed Straight Turkey).
On 7/31/17, Zoe suffered another seizure. This episode lasted for nearly 10 minutes with waves of intensity. She had a hard time recovering after this episode. The trigger is unknown, but her owners watched surveillance videos from earlier in the day and she was seen bringing something from outside and eating it (possibly a bird). She had also undergone physical therapy treatment on 7/29. Her diet was modified to increase the amount Fermented Fish Stock she was consuming, but remained all liquid.
On 9/12/17, Zoe was cleared to return to competition and ended the season 6th overall in Iron Dog Titan. Her diet remained all liquid during the remainder of the season and through 12/24/17.
In December 2017, Zoe had lab work and allergy testing done. All of her labs came back normal and the allergy testing was used as a guide to transition Zoe back to a raw food diet using Answers Pet Food products. She tested positive for a poultry mix (chicken, turkey) so she was transitioned to Straight Beef. Her transition began on 12/25/17 and her diet now consists of Answers Fermented Raw Goat’s Milk, Kefir, Fermented Fish Stock and Straight Beef as well as Answers Goat Cheese Rewards for treats.
Update 1/10/18 (from Zoe’s owner, Gary): “Zoe is doing wonderful. She has tons of energy and looks great.”
Zoe leads All In Dock Diving (www.facebook.com/allindockdiving) and was treated at Holistic Veterinary Healing in Germantown, MD by Dr. Pema. http://www.holisticveterinaryhealing.com/