Seizures (the manifestation of epilepsy) in both canines and humans is for me, one of the most scary situations I have ever witnessed … and let’s face it, I was 20 years old so long ago, I cannot even remember… well even if I could, I’d keep my mouth shut.
As a rule, no matter how scary and sad an event is, at least attempting to step out of the horrible picture, just one little step, breathing in and out slowly (do NOT hyperventilate, meaning NO dizziness) would give anyone a little time to assess the situation, slow down the panic attack which will run towards you and take over your entire being quicker than I could attempt to describe…
How do I know all these mixed emotions, none of which is positive? Simply because they happened to me not that long ago…
In fact, the symptoms, the seizures, happened to my beloved Lola. Lola, for those of you who don’t know (and why would you?) is a two-year old Labrador mix which I rescued from the BEST rescue facility I know: Molly’s Rescue Place in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
It was January of 2012 and the rescue had just received a transport of puppies from the South of the country. Most of them black and adorable, saved from what I understand is still one of the methods to euthanize unwanted dogs in that part of the country: gas chambers!!! Just the thought that a human would press a button or whatever and release death in a room filled with helpless, innocent animals makes me sick. Sick as in vomit!
There were so many dogs available for adoption, and I wanted to save them all, but that part of my brain which at times controls my impulsive, irrational behavior shouted: NO!!! Are you THAT crazy?? Remember? You are on fix income!!!
So… I maxed just one credit card and adopted Lola (all her vaccines up to date and a clean bill of health.)
Why I named her Lola? Obviously because “Lola gets what Lola wants.” In addition, she met all my “other” criteria: she was ALL black, and female. Why were these two features so essential? Not long before I adopted Lola, it came to my attention that in the 21 st Century (yes, this is the century we ALL live in, one might think,) there existed something which probably didn’t exist in the Stone Age: “BLACK DOG (CAT) Syndrome!!!” Simply explained, discrimination against black animals. Speechless, angry, disgusted, I was all these and more.
Why female? Well it seems this is confession time, so I am going to tell you, good people, lovers of animals, that while I am not a hoarder (yet) I already had two other rescued dogs at home. One of them, Duke, a handsome 2 year old boxer whose territorial tendencies prohibited the adoption of another male. Female YES!!! Male… NO!!!
Once at home, I remembered all the good advice of various dog trainers and introduced them one at a time. Everything went well and within a few days… may be weeks, since I already promised to be honest as I tell this story, everyone was happy and friendly. Minus feeding time, when I had to keep them as far as possible from one another.
I promised in the title of this post to write about canine seizures, a very serious and sad topic, and as I just checked the word count provided by Word Press, I am 572 words into the story and made NO mention of seizures! Hmm not a great writer I guess. I should have already “grab” your attention
Why is that, one might wonder. My answer is, on purpose. I could spend another 572 words to explain the details of my decision, but I choose to just say, the topic is so unpleasant and hard to accept, that I tred to place it in perspective and prepare you emotionally.
Perhaps, if we look at epilepsy (seizures) in the larger context of our life with our beloved companion dog, we see this unfortunate problem as ONLY a controllable part of our otherwise happy and rewarding life with our pet. Our dog is NOT the illness! Perhaps, by looking at it as just a symptom, a small part of our otherwise normal life, it would make everything more manageable and less scary.
To mind comes the saying, “what we focus on grows,” or may be the wording is slightly different, but we all “get” the meaning of it, I hope.
Back, in 2012 everyone in this family of one human, three dogs and an African Grey Parrot, whose job is to discipline the dogs (and me at times) was healthy.
Vets please don’t hate me, but I keep the vaccinations to a minimum. Of course my companions are vaccinated against rabies and heart worm tested and I try to prevent a tick and fleas infestation by using as much as possible natural remedies.
If anyone wishes to read more on any of these dog related topics, please visit Lola’s personal blog, http://lifewithbblola.wordpress.com and you shall be rewarded.
Back to our horror story, the seizures!
Last summer, Lola transitioned to a young adult female. Happy, smart, beautiful. Her fur so soft, if I closed my eyes and pet her, I could be fooled in thinking I touched silk.
Lola, as everyone else in this health conscious family, showed no signs of any hidden or upcoming problems, until one afternoon, when suddenly she came so close to me, it seemed she wanted to become one with me… a touching feeling, that Lola loved me so much. No human that I have ever known, ever, made me feel so loved (unless the human wanted sex) which clearly, was not Lola’s motivation!
After a few minutes of this peculiar behavior, Lola fell on one side and started shaking uncontrollably. Her muscles were rigid, white foam around her mouth, and although I had never before seen an episode of epilepsy ( a seizure) I recognized what others described over the years and I wished I’d be spared to ever experience or see it in real life.
I also remembered (and this is when it comes in hand to BREATHE slowly before you act) that during an episode of epilepsy the victim might swollow their tongue and the human witnessing such an episode must somehow hold the tongue steady, so this horrible accident doesn’t occur. The instructions that I recalled were to use a wooden spoon and press the tongue down. Well… in all honesty, do you, or anyone you know walks around holding a wooden spoon just in case an episode of epilepsy takes place? Not me, so as the devoted Dog Mama that I am, I stuck my finger in poor Lola’s mouth as she had the seizure…. NOT a good idea, and without getting into gore details, even if it’s Halloween, it took my finger weeks to heal.
It would have been ALL worth it, but imagine how much worse my finger and brain felt, when upon reading reliable research on seizures, I discovered that it was NOT TRUE!!! IT DOESN’T HELP THE VICTIM IF BY ANY MEANS THE TONGUE IS HELD DOWN, OR PULLED, OR TOUCHED!!!
WHAT TO DO DURING AN EPISODE OF EPILEPSY (SEIZURE)
DO NOTHING!!! Make sure the dog is not going to fall off any surface and is in a safe position. Now, because unfortunately Lola had a few seizures in my presence, we consider ourselves experienced and thus able to handle these undesirable and misunderstood episodes.
I am not a vet, so the information in this post is the result of the extensive research I did on the topic (the sources will be provided in this post) as well as a consultation with one of the best veterinarians I had the honor to know and discussions with responsible dog owners whose dogs suffer from epilepsy (the symptom of which is seizures) all with a twist of my own feelings and observations before, during and after such episodes. Clearly, my feelings are a matter of PERCEPTION and subjective. Yours could be completely different.
To sum it up for my friends and readers, this is my understanding of epilepsy as of today, October 31, 2014
What are seizures? Seizures are a symptom of an underlying neurological disfunction.
The cause could be anything that disrupts the normal brain circuitry.
Epilepsy may be inherited (Primary) or caused by other factors (Secondary)
(Source of this information: Canine Epilepsy Resources)
Causes that may trigger secondary epilepsy could be preservatives in food, environmental, such as sprays for lawns, some allergies such as pine scented cleaners, some tick and flea medications and more.
If your pet starts experiencing seizures well into their young adult life, my common sense and brilliant brain (joke) tells me the pet has secondary epilepsy and it was caused by some element that was introduced in the life of the pet unknowingly.
A responsible owner’s reaction would be to take the sick best friend to the vet. The vet will run a few tests, or an endless number of tests, the cost of which may or may not ruin you financially.
It is my understanding that as of right now, the cause of epilepsy is unknown but the symptoms (seizures as the worst) could be effectively controlled by medications.
While endless tests could be run, it is (again) my personal feeling that heartworm as the cause should be ruled out as well as allergies to certain chemicals regularly used in the care of our dogs (such as the tick and fleas meds)
Personally, I do not like to use tick and flea commercial medications and instead I boil and steep fresh mint leaves, (which once planted in your back yard or indoor pot, it will take over and need NOT be re-planted every year (perennials))
To the concentrated minty water, I add a few drops of essential oil of eucalyptus.
To this liquid minty mixture I add water and pour everything in a spray bottle. I refrigerate it and every time my dogs companions come inside the house from a walk or from the back yard, I thoroughly spray them with this easy to make, heavenly smelling spray.
Secret: In summer time I spray the mixture on my face as well (close your eyes)
In most situations, your vet will prescribe one of the following medications to control the seizures.
IMPORTANT: Once you start giving your companion pet the medications, it is y understanding, they should be given for the rest of the pet’s life. If the medications are cut off, the seizures might get worse. Also, if the medications are changed, this should be done under the supervision of your pet’s veterinarian.
LIST OF MEDICATIONS:
Gabapentin (it is ONLY partially metabolized by the liver) this is a medication used for humans, and only recently proved efficient for dogs
Because these medications are mostly metabolized by the liver, periodically the dog’s liver enzymes must be checked.
Less expensive, on going care for your beloved pet (in addition to using medications to control seizures)
Diet and Nutrition (article by Susan Wynn, DVM)
In this comprehensive article, doctor Wyne mentions certain signs which might indicate allergies in the pet: chewing feet, scratching ears, vomiting bile.
Suggested diet for a dog who is experiencing seizures :
Chicken or turkey meat, boiled for around 30 seconds
Cook well rice and barley and add the meat. Use mixed vegis (carrots and green beans.
My suggestion: place the home cooked food (free of preservatives!!!) in plastic bags and freeze. Use according to your pet’s eating schedule.
Another valuable article:
“The Role of Natural Healthy Diet in the Management of Canine Epilepsy” by C. Aldersen, K. Herman, M. Mitchell -revised by M. Mitchell on 12/16/03
This article explains the importance of Proteins and Amio Acids. It also stresses the importance of the TYPE of proteins. A study at the University of California, Davis, shows a significant increase in epileptic seizures in rats, if diet lacks in amino acids.
To NOTE: The importance of the amino acid TAURINE – which plays an important role in the function of the nervous system.
Taurine is a non-essential amino-acid, and research shows a connection between Taurine defficiency to zinc defficiency
Carnitine is another non-essential amino acid whose defficiency is associated with epilepsy.
The Role of Enzyme — both metabolic and digestive plays a role in this condition.
To sum up my understanding:
There is the so called “enzyme robbing” process.
What does this mean?
The enzymes are taken (robbed) from essential organs and used in the digestive system, to help digest the food.
Other vitamins which seem important in controlling seizures:
Vit. Bs and C _BOTH are water soluble, therefore one may NOT overdose on them.
It seems that Vit. B6 is particularly important in the control of seizures.
Minerals important in the control of seizures
A defficiency of Magnesium, Manganese, Selenium, Zinc and Calcium, show an increase in the incidence of seizures.
Other possible negative factors
There might be a connection between GRAINS and Seizures
The most common food allergens, are: WHEAT, CORN, SOY
LESS common: CORN and RICE
As of right now, I purchased turkey meat, long grain rice, barley, carrots and green beans (in a can—sorry…) and am going to prepare home made food for my beloved Lola.
To end this post on a doggie gourmet note, here is a DOG TREAT suggested for dogs who suffer from seizures on http://www.canine-epilepsy.com
Chicken Meatloaf ==Home dog treats (yumm!!!)
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 egg (beaten)
2 Tbs chopped garlic (IMPORTANT – some sites cite garlic as a possible allergen for dogs, so to fault on the safe side, I’d stay away from garlic or do further research)
1/2 Cup chopped carrots or 1/4 green beans
Combine ALL shape as a meatloaf, bake at 350 degrees for one hour, slice
SIT DOWN, EAT, while your dog watches you patiently.
After all, YOU worked hard! (joke)
NO MATTER WHAT, at all times KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR AND TELL YOUR PETS
I LOVE YOU REGARDLESS THEIR HEALTH CONDITION
I guarantee unconditional love could only make anyone feel better!