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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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