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5 Ways to Deal with Canine Epilepsy

We’ve learned a ton of things about dealing with canine epilepsy through the years with Cory. Here are some important ones that work:

1. Carry Rescue Remedy with you at all times. It’s an herbal concoction that’s supposed to provide immediate calm and relaxation when placed on one’s tongue. We bought 3-4 bottles of the stuff and always made sure it was available in case Cory had a seizure. Sandy carried some in her purse, and we kept some ready in the kitchen cabinet, as well as bottles in the RV and the car for when we were traveling with Cory. You can get a bottle for about $7.

The moment your dog begins to have a seizure, apply a few drops inside his mouth. This seems to lesson the severity and duration of the seizure.

2. Turn out the lights and be quiet! It’s difficult and often impossible to predict what caused your epileptic dog’s seizure, but one of the main causes is too much of an outside stimulus such as noise or light. Have you ever seen those epilepsy warnings on movies that have strobe effects? Strobe lights are known to cause seizures in epileptic humans for this very reason. It’s brain circuit overload! When you dog begins to have a seizure, some people may become frightened (especially if it happens in a public area like an off-leash dog park). You need to tell bystanders and onlookers to be quiet, leash their dogs and keep their dogs FAR AWAY from your seizing dog.

Dogs have an instinct to eliminate weak members of a pack since they pose a threat to the survival of the pack. So when a dog has a seizure, other dogs (even the nicest ones) may attack the seizing dog by instinct. Sandy and I were horrified when this happened to us during one of Cory’s seizures at an off-leash dog park.

If you are indoors, turn out all the lights, be completely silent and instruct anyone else around you to be quiet as well.

3. Shield your dog from injury. During a seizure, your dog will lose consciousness and his body may convulse uncontrollably. During the convulsions, it’s up to you to ensure your dog doesn’t injure himself. If you are near stairs, put yourself between the dog and the stairs. Cradle your dog’s head in your arms so he can’t smack his head on the floor. Keep your dog on his side and let his saliva flow out of his mouth so he doesn’t choke. Check your dog’s tongue to make sure he doesn’t bite it and that it doesn’t block his airway.

4. Apply ocular compression. Here’s an excellent write-up on ocular compression. Here’s the description of why ocular compression works (from http://www.canine-epilepsy.com):

“OC is simply an application of pressure on one or both eyes. This pressure stimulates the Vagus Nerve which in turn releases GABA and glycine into the brain. GABA is an inhibitor that serves to shut down ‘messages gone out of control’, i.e. seizures, and restores balance in the brain.”

5. Comfort your dog after the seizure. When the seizure is over, your dog will regain consciousness and will be extremely disoriented and frightened. After a seizure, Cory’s tail would go straight between his legs and he would need to be held and comforted, just like a human would. Be there for your furry friend and give him the love, attention and compassion that he needs. Remember, dogs live in a world in which they can’t communicate with humans about things such as seizures, so your dog has no idea what has just happened, and this is very frightening.

I’d love to hear more tips for dealing with canine epilepsy! Did I forget anything? Do you have any more to add? Please leave a note in the comments!

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  • CJ

    My dog often vomited during his seizure, so I kept a turkey baster nearby to suction his mouth to keep his airway patent. Could work w/ large amount of saliva as well.

    • Interesting, I haven't considered that before. Thanks for sharing… I'm
      sure others will read your comment and hopefully find it valuable when they
      are looking for ways to combat canine epilepsy!

  • Lorie

    Rescue Remedy didn't work for us, vanilla ice cream is something that some say work, all natural only of course, this also didn't work for Blaze.

  • Kirsy

    Jasper will often stand in front of my bed, before he has a seizure. As they always happen between 4 am and 7 am, I thought one of the triggers for him could be low blood sugar? I now keep a little dry dog treat in my bedside table. Every time he suddenly stands there and gives me this “seizure look”, I quickly give him the treat. Not sure, but I feel we stopped a few seizures from happening this way.

  • Leegleze

    Another tip may be to recognize that your dog may be blind for a while.  I think this is what really scared my Standard Poodle, Simba, when he came out of his first seizure.

  • Mrs Bradswifey

    With Daisy my shepherd. She will come find me when she’s starting to have a seizure. Her tail is tucked between her legs and her back is arched like a cat and her legs are stiff. I put her on her side and spoon behind her with my arm under her head. I lay ther holding her and humm softly and talk to her gently. It seems to lessen the intensity if the seizure.