Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blog the Change: Dogs Can Live Full and Happy Lives with Canine Epilepsy

Blog the Change

Today is Blog the Change. I'd like to take this opportunity to once again talk about Canine Epilepsy Awareness. As the parent of a seven-year-old Epi-Husky, Gibson, who was diagnosed shortly after his third birthday, I believe it is so important to spread the word that Canine Epilepsy and seizures do not have to mean a death sentence for dogs. There are many dogs who have, are, and will continue to live life to the fullest even with Canine Epilepsy. We don't know how long our canine companions - both Epis and non-Epis - will bless us with their presence, but we can make their lives as full and happy and love-filled as we can. And, whereas once upon a time euthanasia was the suggested protocol for dogs with seizures or Canine Epilepsy, that is not the recommendation today. Today, there are so many resources and healthcare routes to explore, both medically and/or holistically and there are many treatment options available for the Epi-dog parent that just didn't exist years ago. There are also very important support groups available with other Epi-dog parents who share their stories, recommendations, treatments, and support.

GIBSON: SpokesHusky for K9 Epilepsy Awareness

"Epi-dog can - and do - live full, 
happy lives!"

So you've just learned that your dog has seizures and/or Canine Epilepsy. What should you do? 
First, as any Epi-parent can tell you, bearing witness to a seizing dog is a very scary thing. Remembering Gibson's sends chills of fear down my spine. I will never ever forget how scared I was. The first thing to do when your dog has experienced a seizure is get him to the vet. With your vet, or vet team (that may include a neurogologist) you will discuss different course of treatments for your dog. Or, you may be advised to just watch and wait to see if he/she has another, or if it was a one time thing. I would also suggestion doing all the research you can on Canine Epilepsy, seizures, medications, alternative therapies, treatments, etc. Become your own personal expert on the disease. Then, connect with other Epi-dog parents for support and information exchange.

Tune in to our "The Sibe Vibe" episode on Canine Epilepsy with Marion Mitchell of the Canine Epilepsy Resources:

So many things can cause seizures: toxins, foods, stress, medications, illnesses, and genetics. But, just as many causes there are, there are also treatment options. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Sometimes it takes several attempts at various doses and medications to get them under control or "managed." The thing about the sleeping Epilepsy beast is that even if the seizures are managed, one never knows if the seizure monster will make an appearance. That is the fear all Epi-parents silently have, but pray will never happen. My Gibson is on a combination of both medications and natural supplements. I've changed his diet and try to keep our home and his environment as stress-free as possible. Even if I had a crystal ball and knew when I first saw him as a pup that he was to become an Epi-dog, I would not change one single thing. I would still scoop up that fuzzy fluffball and love him with all my might. 

To help spread the word, this past fall I launched a "Live Gib Strong" Canine Epilepsy Awareness campaign with a kick-off at the Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue's annual Tails on the Trails event in Pennsylvania. Then again during November's National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Through my book, What's Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy, a Live Gib Strong Resource Booklet I've produced, and sale of artisan designed bead charm awareness bracelets, rubber awareness bracelets, and T-shirts, I wanted to get the word out that our hope is for Gibson and all Epi-dogs to live life to the fullest - to live Gib strong - as we continue to let the world know that these wonderful, loving, amazing dogs are worth saving, helping, and loving. And, at the same time, raise some funds for the 
Canine Epilepsy Resources site at www.Canine-Epilepsy.com, which is home to the Epil-K9 list and supports "Emma's Fund," and it is provided by the Epil-K9 Foundation. This site is so chock full of information, I highly recommend all Epi-parents to check it out and sign up for the very supportive and informative EPIL-K9 emailing list.

There are so many resources that are available to Epi-parents as well. To name a few: 

*Canine Epilepsy Resources
*Canine Epilepsy Network
*The Epi Guardian Angels
*Nichols Online Dog Training
*Canine Epilepsy UK Online Resources
*American Kennel Club-Canine Health Foundation
*Siberian Husky Health Foundation
*Pharaoh Hound Epilepsy Foundation
*Canine Epilepsy Awareness Community Facebook Page
*Canine Epilepsy Group on Facebook (request to join)
*Dog Seizures Guide 
*FiveSibes Blog (enter Canine Epilepsy in search box)  

Through blogging, Canine Epilepsy Resources, and our other social networking, I have met so many other wonderful Epi-dog parents. They alone are such a valuable resource and support. The main thing for an Epi-parent to know is that  
you are never alone!

In an excerpt from my Live Gib Strong Resource Booklet, Sue from the White Dog Army blog shares a bit of her Mighty Quinn's story: 

"Mighty Quinn, our 10 years plus rescued American Eskimo, suffers from complex psychomotor seizures, where he paces and walks in circles for long periods. During these times he is very fearful and nervous. His attacks are infrequent and Gabapentin is effective in managing the seizures. Knowing what to watch for helps us be prepared. Quinn leads a  normal life with the White Dog Army...second in command, Mighty Quinn is an active important member of our Army, first to be served at dinner, and always there to add his deep bass "WOOF" during the mailman song. Seizures are not a death sentence or an end to quality of life. With knowledge and observation of your pet, life can continue to be a wonderful sharing adventure."

Epi-parent Jenifer, hu-mom to "Nukka," shares this:  

"Canine Epilepsy doesn't make (Nukka) less of a dog, it makes us realize even more how lucky we are to have her in our lives." 

I am currently working on a book of collective stories and if you are/have been an Epi-dog parent or know of one, I would love to include their story in a book I'm writing scheduled to be published later in 2013 through ArcticHouse Publishing. We do hope you'll join us and share your Epi-dog's story and photos (your Epi-dog may be past or present) with us to show the world our beautiful, wonderful, amazing Epi-dogs! March 1st is the deadline for submissions. See below for details. Stories and photos can be Emailed to ArcticHousePublishing(at)gmail(dot)com.  (Word docs and high resolution jpegs for photos). Please be sure to state your permission for publishing your story and photos in the book. In Email's subject line state EPI-STORY. A percentage of proceeds post-production costs will benefit the Canine Epilepsy Resources "Emma's Fund," which is a memorial fund set up through the Neurology Department of the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, and the funds help the neurology and genetics departments.

Through this work, Gibson and I hope to join others and "Be the Change For Animals" by spreading the word that Epi-dogs can - and do - live full, happy lives and bring so much joy and love into ours!


  1. You provide a phenomenal collection of resources for the epi-dog parent! If there is anyone new to the subject, you are the expert we all refer them to.

    You are so right about the quality of life an epi-dog can experience, in spite of their condition. Less than 100 years ago, humans with epilepsy were confined to asylums for life. We've come a long way on this topic, with impressive research and wondrous modern drugs to assist in providing us the best life possible for our epi-dogs.

    Kudos to you for all you do in providing information and assistance to those whose dogs have experienced a seizure.

    Live Gib Strong! <3

    Thank you for blogging the change for animals!
    Kim Thomas

  2. Thanks so much for including us in your wonderful campaign of awareness. We are glad we can add our voice to your message in which we find comfort and inspiration. Quinn is my miracle boy come to us through a network of strangers after I saw his deathrow photo on Facebook. His being a part of our lives was destined to be and I would no more give up on him than I would walk away from my husband if he faced such a challenge. A forever family is exactly that.

    Don't know if you have seen the latest issue of DogWatch put out by the Vet School at Cornell University, but there is a brief but nicely done article on the treatment options available.

    1. Thank you...having other Epi-dog parents to connect with and give/receive support like you guys, is so important! Thank you for lending your voice to our campaign! We look forward to including Mighty Quinn's story in our book! I'll check out DogWatch, thanks for the heads-up!

  3. Thank you again for promoting Epilepsy awareness. My Broo is an Epi dog and I will never forget the first time I saw him seizure. He only gets one good natural dog food brand now - no treats unless they are natural. Even one milk bone can set him off a few days later.

    I will try and write a story about Broo for that book,,,I would for him to be included.

    1. Tori, I will look forward to Broo's story and photos!

  4. Wonderful post. As always, you do so much to educate people on dogs and their health-related issues. Thank you for not only calling out that dogs with epilepsy can have rich lives, but for also providing a wide-variety of resources to pet owners so they don't have to feel so alone.

    My dog Indy suffered from seizures brought on by a combination of vaccinations given to her in one setting. Although it is not epilepsy, I still remember the fear I felt when she started having seizures. You are so right. It is a scary thing. But, it also doesn't have to be a death sentence.

    Thanks for writing on such an important issue.
    Mel Freer
    Team BTC

    1. Thank you, MelF. I'd love to include Indy's story and photos in my book, if you'd like to submit it! No matter the cause, seizures are very scary...it's good to know there is support, options, and lots of info now available to help these babies.

  5. That was such a terrific post and I hope more can be done to help these sweeties that need some help.

  6. Wonderful post on a very worthwhile topic. Special needs and medically challenged pets need love and can have such wonderful fulfilling lives. Thanks for posting.

  7. Thank you for participating in Blog the Change Day! What a great subject, and you provide so many resources for people who may not know where to turn. My oldest niece adopted a dog with a seizure disorder when she was in college. Parker (a Shiba Inu) is a wonderful dog, but his previous owner surrendered him because they couldn't or wouldn't learn how to deal with his health issues. He lives with my mother now and is doing great. He'll be 12 years old in May. Thanks for sharing!

    Vicki Cook
    Team BTC4A

    1. Thank you, Vicki! I'd love to include Parker's story and photos in my book...if your niece is interested, have her Email me at ArcticHousePublishing(at)gmail(dot)com.

  8. Absolutely fantastic post. I really admire your dedication to raising awareness about this issue and educating people about alternatives. Gibson is one lucky pup to have ended up with you.

    Team BtC4A