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Frontline (and the like) and tremors/seizures in dogs?

Discussion in 'Veterinary' started by UVABranch, May 7, 2007.

  1. UVABranch

    UVABranch one of 6000 7+ Year Member

    Nov 10, 2004
    Washington, DC
    I hope this is an ok question to ask, but I thought since you all are learning about this or have been practicing I would ask. My dog has seizures, he's 5 now and they started when he was 2. I was using frontline religiously according to the instructions, but once the seizures started I discontinued their use. My Aunt said she used it on her cat and it started shaking, and behaving strangely. And a friend used too much on her dog and found a similar response but in both cases they washed their pet and within a week-month there were not other signs of abnormal behavior. My dog however still has seizures there don't appear to be any triggers and I'm wondering if I should focus on the frontline angle (from a toxicity standpoint) or that it might be genetic, or just random. Has anyone ever experienced canines developing seizures after using the product? I'm always researching possible causes/treatment that will prevent my little one from going through this any more than he needs to. Please excuse me if this is not the forum for this.

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  3. chris03333

    chris03333 Veterinarian 7+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2005
    Since we are not supposed to give medical adivse I will say only HIGHLY UNLIKEY frontline. I also highly doubt that it was Frontline your Aunt used (probably another topical though, some are for use in dogs only). Your dog needs to be seen by a vet for a neuro/cardio work up. There are many things that cause seizures.
  4. sofficat

    sofficat AU CVM c/o 11 2+ Year Member

    Apr 12, 2007
    i agree with the post above.... very unlikely to be FL. i have seen seizures in cats with OTC flea products (well, dogs, too). don't focus on the FL, go to your vet and get a full work up.
  5. UVABranch

    UVABranch one of 6000 7+ Year Member

    Nov 10, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Thanks everyone! :D Sometimes you just want to know if you're spinning your wheels or on the right track. As another aside. Does anyone know of any good canine nurologists in the DC or Philly area or where I can look for a reference?
  6. AuburnPreVet

    AuburnPreVet AU CVM Class of 2011 5+ Year Member

    Nov 10, 2004
  7. chris03333

    chris03333 Veterinarian 7+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2005
    You should go to your regular veterinarian first. He/She may be able to get you an answer, or refer you to a local neurologist or cardiologist. If you get a chance, you show take a video of one of your dogs episodes with you. Or just be ready to describe them really well. Good Luck:luck:
  8. alliecat44

    alliecat44 KSU CVM Class of '11 Moderator Emeritus Veterinarian 5+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2007
    DC metro area
    Hi there,

    Firstly, I assume you're a vet or vet student. If you're a layperson, PLEASE see your general veterinarian about your dog's seizures and for a referral!

    Assuming you're in the profession, these are my thoughts. I've worked as a head neurology technician for three years now (and in the DC area to boot).
    Bottom line is that Frontline does NOT cause seizures/tremors, but certain OTC products definitely do (most often the Hartz products).

    In general, seizures/muscle tremors resulting from a toxicity usually are accompanied by other signs of toxicity (animals tend to ingest toxins, so these signs are usually vomiting/diarrhea +/- renal problems/bleeding problems/etc depending on the specific toxin). VERY rare to see a toxicity that ONLY causes seizures/tremors (except for the aforementioned OTC products) with no other signs.

    Also, tremors/seizures from such products resolve after the initial exposure/event with bathing/muscle relaxant/benzodiazepine therapy/etc...or the death of the animal. Generally speaking. In other words, they never go away and then recur days/months/years later; i.e., there is no permanent damage.

    Hope that helps--your dog might well have epilepsy, an old (healed) brain infection, a metabolic problem, or a structural problem, but it is NOT related to the Frontline. :)

    (Of course, I'm still only a technician, so this is merely my own two cents!) (<--Obvously-needed disclaimer)

    Also, if your dog's seizures occur more than once a month, are increasing in frequency, or last longer than a couple of minutes, then he should definitely be on an anti-convulsant. If he is showing other neurological signs in between the seizures, then referral to a neurologist is an excellent way to go. We've got a ton in this area, so it should be relatively easy!
  9. Nexx

    Nexx 2 weeks and counting 5+ Year Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    Western Australia
    It could be a couple of things. Hopefully you mentioned these seizures to your primary vet 3 years ago when the seizures started!

    Heck, with such a lack of description all around it could even be a cardiac problem (bradyarrhythmia in schnauzers, v-tach in boxers, etc) Exam, general workup first, then referral to specialists to rule out potential causes.

    As a side note if the seizures continued after the discontinuation of frontline, that should be a clue that it probably wasn't that causing it ;)

    bottom line, get your dog seen.
  10. UVABranch

    UVABranch one of 6000 7+ Year Member

    Nov 10, 2004
    Washington, DC
    thanks to all! Great advice. Next stop: My vet and possibly specialists!
  11. Tomte


    Nov 9, 2008
    I would disagree the flea medications like Frontline & Advantage are not connected to seizures.

    Our four year Aussie was given Frontline for several years and started having seizures when he was three. We took him to our local vet and he was given Phenobarbital, at the same time I stopped giving him Frontline and he had no seizures for five months as he took his Phenobarbital twice per day.

    Three weeks ago he came down with a flea problem and I started him on Advantage last week. This morning, another seizure. The only change was that he started a flea medication again.

    No more Frontline or Advantage for our Aussie
  12. InfiniVet

    InfiniVet 5+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2006
    College Station, Texas
    Same exact thing happened to a classmate's 15yo toy poodle as well, with the Advantage. No more topicals for her.
    I'll bet its an exception to the rule...but its not nice when it happens to your pet!
  13. Bill59

    Bill59 Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    Last month we saw a 9-year-old dog that started having seizures soon after using a topical flea product. The client was convinced the product caused the seizures (the manufacturer even agreed to pay for the evaluation)

    Until the MRI showed a brain tumor.

    cum hoc ergo propter hoc
    Correlation does not equal causation.
  14. sofficat

    sofficat AU CVM c/o 11 2+ Year Member

    Apr 12, 2007
    Advantage was given and *one week later* he had a seizure?? I still would not suspect advantage. If it was related to the advantage the seizure should have happened immediately.
  15. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013 7+ Year Member

    Aug 20, 2007
    The guys sole post was to say Advantage gave his dog seizures.

    If you do a google search for "Advantage causes seizures" this is the 5th result. Clearly he was in a complaining mood and thats what he did.

    And he is the reason there should be like a 1 week waiting period between being able to sign up and make a (trolling) post.
  16. starlene45

    starlene45 UC Davis SVM c/o 2013 2+ Year Member

    May 27, 2008
    Hah the story of the brain tumor reminded me of a weak, pale, neurologic Chihuahua who came in a few weeks ago, proceeded to get a lot better and then crash and die all within the course of 24 hours in hospital. There were some small seizure-like episodes which was why she brought it in, and it did have one while in-house (focal facials? i can't quite remember...) anyway the woman became convinced (rabidly so) that BioSpot flea drops killed her Chihuahua, and now the cadaver is somewhere at U of IL having a necropsy on Farnam's dollar. I am SO curious to see what (if anything) that necropsy turns up (what would you even look for in a possible flea med death?) but will probably never know. It's kind of amazing how obsessed people get about this particular topic.
  17. bern

    bern Member 5+ Year Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Frontline and Advantage are some of the safest products we have, and its usage is so widespread that just about every dog and cat out there is on it at some time or another. That means that any time one of them has a seizure it's an easy target to blame, even if it isn't the actual cause. Even if they do cause the occasional adverse reaction, it would still end up being at an exceedingly low rate.

    They might not be 100.00% absolutely safe, but nothing is and the drugs that were around before them were much less effective and far more dangerous.
  18. Scruffy


    Jul 21, 2011
    My dog had a seizure with 8 hours then another one after 12 hours, within 20 hours my dog had two seizures. She has had advantage for years but now she's older but in good health. My vet and myself truly believe that the advantage gave her seizures. Try following this link, it might be helpful.
  19. WhtsThFrequency

    WhtsThFrequency Veterinarian 10+ Year Member

    Jan 18, 2006
    And what are the medical qualifications of this author, besides being a "writer and a photographer?" :laugh: Her only real source is a holistic veterinarian (who is likely inherently biased, as many holistic vets already don't like such products) who herself makes pretty baseless causation/correlation arguements for the products and disease she saw While I think Biospot is crap, she pursued NO toxologic testing to prove it was the drug that did it. None. So her arguement is invalid..

    Please. Go refer yourself to the myriad of publications of actual scientists with regards to these chemicals, not some writer trying to create a hullabaloo.

    In addition, most of the laboratory animal studies are done at doses much, MUCH higher than what you give to your dog, and over a much more concentrated timeframe. They represent extremes and are done in order to determine safe dosages. I mean heck if we gave mice a crapload of Advil, they'd die. But Advil is perfectly safe for humans given our appropriate dose and usage.

    This thread is also years old. I think the issue is likely resolved with the OP by now.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  20. bunnity

    bunnity Penn 2014 5+ Year Member

    Jan 26, 2009
    So you're saying:

    Dog takes Advantage for years ---> dog has two seizures one day ---> Advantage caused the seizure.

    That's about as credible as saying:

    Dog eats kibble for years ---> dog has two seizures one day ---> eating kibble caused the seizure.

    And the story earlier, I know it's old, but doncha think the phenobarb might have had something to do with stopping the seizures?
  21. StartingoverVet

    StartingoverVet Flight Instructor for hire Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Neither here nor there.
    I completely agree with you Bunnity about the phenobarb.

    I would just say, as someone who has owned 2 dogs with idiopathic seizures, it is very difficult to accept (as a layperson) that the seizures occur for no know reason. I think it is human nature to look for a "reason" for things that occur in our lives, so we search for "environmental" explanations even when none is evident. I had lots of speculations about the cause of one of my dogs seizures (long before vet school), none of which are really relevant.

    So, when I see posts like these, I just accept the folly of human nature, and hope we can educate people as best we can. And maybe one day instead of "idiopathic", we can actually know the cause of these.
  22. TXvet

    TXvet 5+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2011
    In my experience I use the diagnosis "idiopathic epilepsy/seizures" many times not because the potential cause cannot be found but b/c the client has allowed only limited testing. I am rarely allowed to do all the testing required to truly rule in/out "idiopathic eplilepsy". Most people will go for bloodwork-9 times out of 10 it is normal, next step would be advanced imaging/CSF tap but that will cost about 1000-1200$-most people stop before this step due to costs. So the patient is put on anticonvulsants if it is warranted and dx with idiopathic epilepsy.

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