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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since my baby girl Nellie was 2 years old (she's now 5.5), we've been dealing with this extremely scary health issue that affects her when she plays fetch games. It starts just after we stop playing fetch with her....she walks around kind of dazed, and then goes completely numb. It's like she can't see us or hear us. Then, she starts the tell-tale "stagger", where it literally looks like she's drunk. She starts to walk in only in the direction of walls, cupboard doors, dark corners, etc, will run into these walls and/or cupboards....usually falling to the floor a few times, and then she tries to bury her head as far in any corner as she can. While this is happening, my hubby and I are frantically trying to snap her out of it--we've found that spraying her with a cold water bottle from the fridge seems to help, or if my hubby is home, he can carry her upstairs to the bathtub for a cold shower.

It is just really scary, and about gives me a heart attack every time it happens. It's happened maybe 4 times over the past 3 years, b/c we've learned what her limit is with the fetching...usually no more than 20 throws. But this evening, I threw her maybe 15 or so outside, and decided to quit early, b/c our new puppy, Duke was annoying the crap out of Nellie. (She wasn't helping her situation any by dropping the rope right in his face every time she retrieved it! :)) Well, I'll be damed if she didn't start walking in the opposite direction, struggling to keep all four paws on the ground. SO, I'm trying to juggle the puppy, and run after her, as she staggers across the street (luckily, we live in a one-street subdivision with very little traffic) and into my neighbors yard, where she proceeds to crash into his shrubbery. It was truly terrifying. I was finally able to lead her back to my house, but she crashed on the concrete a couple of times on the way. My poor sweetie.

Has anyone else ever dealt with this condition? We've asked several vets about it, and unfortunately it is still a mysterious condition to them. The only way they can really study it is to get dogs who have it and induce the staggering to check vitals as it is happening. She will normally snap out of it in about 5 minutes or so, like nothing ever happened, and will be tail-wagging, and her normal self. And there doesn't seem to be any lingering effects right after she comes out of it, or the next day. She even wants to play fetch again right away.

Sigh.....she loves her fetch. I'm afraid we're going to have to cut it out of her life completely if this keeps getting worse.


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Sorry, I'm of no use as I've never encountered this. One of my breeders dogs did this, after swimming a LOT on a very hot day, but it only happened one time.

Has she had her heart checked? Just curious.
 

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Sorry I can't offer any help but good thoughts for you guys. What does your vet say about continuing to play fetch with Nellie? I hope somehow you can continue to play fetch with her even if it is for abbreviated sessions.

Also curious...is there a common weather condition when she has these spells? Like always hot and sunny? Just trying to see if maybe there is something common going on here...
 

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Wow, I'm sorry to hear that your dog has this strange condition. I have never heard of this before so I am of no help. I too was thinking heart related though. Is it possible she has a heart murmur or something? Did any of your Vets suggest possible lack of certain vitamins or something along those lines?
I sincerely hope you discover the reason soon. My thoughts are with you and your Nellie.
 

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My Jordan used to have this when she was alive. We thought the first episode was heat stroke (my SU had her at the park, I was at work, I got home to find her panting and acting drunk, and began hosing her with cold water) After a trip to the vet, we all thought it was heat stroke. After the second and third episode, we knew it was something different. Then we began to keep a diary of when she'd have them, and we deduced it was EIC. Our vet actually gave us valium in a syringe to give to her rectally to knock her out of them, much like when you have an epiliptic dog. You may want to ask yours about this, I'm not sure.

We began to really monitor Jordan's exercise levels, much like you do, but they are so hard to predict. We were out hiking one day with some friends in the woods, and Jordan began to tug on some grapevine hanging from the trees, and the excitement and exertion triggered one while we were there. Sometimes you just cannot predict how much exertion or excitement or exercise will do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I know--that's the scariest thing...we just can't predict it, or prevent it 100% of the time....we have not had her heart checked yet...we had all kind of deduced that it was EIC from what little we knew of it. To answer the weather question...it does seem to happen more quickly when it is very hot out. But she has still had spells when it was cold...probably b/c we thought she could handle more throws since it was cold. I hate to stop playing fetch with her....she is absolutely INSANE about her dang ratty rope! :)
Thanks for the fast responses so far! We appreciate it!
 

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What an excellent article. Real informative. I hope Nellie has had her last episode of EIC. Maybe as she gets a tad older, the symptoms will just never occur again. In the meantime, I guess you just have to keep her fetching even a little more short each time? I wish you the best of luck!
 

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Interesting that our dogs have the same name and same problem. Several years ago I spent about $5,000 with an ortho vet and a neuro vet. They never conclusively said exercise induced collapse or partial seizures but when they wanted to put dye in her spine and do an MRI I called a stop to the testing.

Since then I have controlled how much she runs and fetches and we have had no more problems. She also lives to run and fetch but that's too bad. I don't want her collapsing again.
 

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I was going to give you the link that Raian posted.

You can Google "Exercise Induced Collapse" and find some others such as this:

http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/...character_ben&page=sd_col_Character_EIC_part2

At our weekly LabFests, one of our members (a vet) comes with his Lab. He's employed by Science Diet (a local firm) and he was given his Lab as a pup on the condition it would not be fed anything other than an experimental food SD provides.

"Duncan" (the black Lab) is a bench line, apparently from a breeder near St. Louis. As far as his owner knows, none of the other sibs have the condition. Duncan is obsessed with fetching and, when he got "too much", he'd stagger and sometimes need to be carried to the car. His owner/vet thought at first it was a matter of low blood sugar but it was not.

Now his owner restricts the number of retrieves Duncan gets and that helps a lot. He keeps the total number to less than the number that produces the symptoms.

He says he's enrolled Duncan in the EIC study.

--------------------------------------------------

PS -- It's worked best with Duncan to restrict fetching to just the last 5-10 minutes of our Labfest, just before going home. Otherwise, he pesters his owner incessantly to sling the training dummy again and again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Otherwise, he pesters his owner incessantly to sling the training dummy again and again.
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I can relate to that--sheesh. It's unnatural if Nellie doesn't drop some sort of fetching toy in your lap at least every 10 minutes or so. And if you just ignore the behavior, she picks it up and repositions it near your feet, as if to say, "OK--you don't want it in your lap, OK--how about by your feet--OK, not as close? How bout this....or this....." :p She is absolutely obsessed.
I have googled EIC several times, too...I just haven't seen any new developments lately. Poor girl. The walks will just have to get longer, and the fetching sessions shorter! Thanks for all the responses!
 

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megsmarch88 said:
It's unnatural if Nellie doesn't drop some sort of fetching toy in your lap at least every 10 minutes or so..... She is absolutely obsessed.
My first Lab (Bess) was also obsessed and too much retrieving (or food, or being petted) was never enough for her.

Thankfully, Bess never had the frightening staggers of the EIC but she could become so exhausted from retrieving she could hardly stand but still beg for more. Fortunately, when we came home from daily retrieving, that obsession left her. On the number of retrieves, on the amount of food she ate, or the amount of affection she requested, Bess knew no reasonable limit -- that always, perpetually, had to be imposed by her owners.

I don't know if this would work for you and Nellie. I notice that when Duncan sees a Training Dummy or something similar to be thrown (a ball, a rope toy), it much triggers his obsession. We've all learned to keep all toys out of sight until his owner decides it's time for Duncan to have his fun (5 to 10 minutes before the end of the hour). When there's a dog present (like Dolly, a Golden on which we've bestowed an honorary "hippie Lab" status because of her long hair) that also likes to retrieve and possess the TD, that helps a lot because Dolly always runs out, tries (sometimes successfully) to steal the TD while Duncan whirls around trying to keep her from getting it. They do some square dance sort of steps ("now allemande right....") and it takes several minutes to get the TD back to be thrown again. That helps really dilute the intensity of the exercise that leads to Duncan's EIC.

Not sure if you can keep all likely retrieving objects/toys out of sight but, if you can, that might help a lot.

My Bess had to go out for 60+ minutes of repetitive retrieves on land or 40-50+ minutes when swimming in the pond. We had no toys left out accessible for Bess but when we came home from the hospital -- about 6 PM -- I could never sit down and enjoy a glass of wine. Bess's need for exercise came first. She'd pick up anything she could grasp in her mouth and drop it at my feet: shoes, clothing, towels, magazines, books, my pipes, etc. Since Bess never put anything back in its place, she soon trained me on the proper priority, hierarchy, of which needs should be met first.
 

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No advise, but wanted to add how scary that must have been for you. I can't imagine. I sure hope you find some answers -
 

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That sounds like a pretty scary condition. I hope you are able to control the episodes in the future.
 

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Hi Iam new here, but the first thing I found was this condition that caught my attention! I did not know it had a name to it, as I thought it was some heat stroke. First time it happened my lab was playing hard in the heat,fetching and frisbies, she exerts all she has, and then wham, she started with the staggering hind legs and looked out of it. It was scary,I was standing there visiting with someone when I noticed SOMETHING NOT NORMAL,and instinctively put water on her belly, then she began to cool down. I brought her home and mentioned it to the vet the next time, and no one ever mentioned this condition to me. The next time it happened it was same sort of situation,immediately cooled her with water, and now after those two scary experiences I play hard during colder whether, but now the heat, and I can gauge the timing of her exersice and do not let it get to that level!! It is scary, like a siezure of sorts, and not that I am happy others have had the experience at all, but now I know I have a name for it. Wondering has anyone tried the cooling vest out? She just simply put does not do well with heat, seeking out coolness when it is hot. Does it have anything to do with their double coats and not being able to get the heat out of their body fast enough?
 

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Wow just read your post that is exactly like my dog. I will bring this up with the vet. Did the vallium help pull her out of it quickly, because like you I used cold water to pull her out of it. Was it like your dog "gave everything she had" and then bam it hit? Did it happen only in the heat? Just learning about this and will point this out to the vet!
 

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My Nellie is now about 10. When she was about 2-3 she started collapsing after heavy running (and she liked to run like the wind). After $5,000 of neurological and other tests the speciality vet wanted to inject dye in her spine and do an MRI. I decided it was too dangerous. What has helped her was to cut back on her exercise. She has never had a problem with EIC since.

Good luck. It is very scary when this happens and can leave them paralized.
 

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About 12 years ago, I had a lab who had this problem when he became really excited after a lot of fetching and playtime. At that time, there wasn't a name for it and it was thought to be heat stroke. It wasn't until I read an article in Just Labs that was about EIC that I realized what my dog was affected with. He probably only had about three episodes as I tried to control how much exercise he had. He lived and full and happy life (and I still miss him terribly). I now have a 3 y/o lab whose litter mate has EIC. My dog has never expereinced any symptoms so I'm hoping he isn't 'affected' but just may be a 'carrier'. I also have a 5 month old pup and I made sure that his genetic background would not allow him to be affected. It is becoming more and more prevalent in labs and should be checked by breeders.
 

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I think the EIC test is (or was in the initial studies anyway) free if the dog turns out affected. I have not had to deal with it personally with any of my family dogs, but have had to carry dog's out of the field at a hunt test on 2 occasions who went down, and were later tested positive. Its like the back legs just "lock up." It is very sad.

I think excitement causes it in many dogs as much or more than excercise. It may just be a coincidence, but both (different) times I have personally seen it, it was with a rooster pheasant live flyer, and that is about as exciting as it gets for a hunting dog as they fly so hard with a big explosion out of the winger with so much racket from crowing. And these dogs were upper level hunt test dogs, so they were no strangers to hard work, and in relatively cool weather. My heart goes out to anyone with an affected dog.
 
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