Preparing Your Epi-Dog For The Solar Eclipse
There is a lot of buzz about the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21st, especially for folks who are in the path of totality. No matter where you live, if you plan on watching the solar eclipse, aside from protecting your eyes from “eclipse blindness” with special American Astronomical Society approved eclipse glasses, did you know that the eclipse could have an affect on your Epi-dog (epileptic dog)?
With the simulation of “night” as the sun is covered by the moon, animals may go into a nocturnal mode, or seem restless or confused, while others, will be unfazed. However, the excitement of the eclipse by humans could create excitement in our dogs, whether they have epilepsy or not, as they pick up on our energy and moods. The same as with non-epileptic dogs, if there is a lot of noise, whistling, clapping, or fireworks to celebrate, dogs could be frightened and attempt to escape. As with any loud or stressful holiday or event, be sure to have your pets securely and safely kept away from opening and closing doors, and keep their collars on with up-to-date ID and microchip tags, just in case they slip out during the commotion, or while you are eclipse gazing (only with the certified eclipse glasses, of course). And, as with any lunar phases, solar flares, changes to the Earth’s magnetic field, and/or environmental shifts, the eclipse could also be a possible trigger for your Epi-dog.
Will your dog definitely have a seizure? No. Could s/he? Yes. Therefore, it’s always good to be prepared, just the same as in any situation where there are stressors present or when there are any incidences that stray from the norm, such as dietary, environmental, weather, and/or atmospheric changes.
Preparing Your Epi-Dog For the Solar Eclipse
Prior to the eclipse, have a chat with your veterinarian, and do a little pre-planning, as you would for any out-of-the-ordinary situation or event that could have an adverse effect on your Epi-dog. While the eclipse (hopefully) may not trigger seizure activity in your dog, some helpful hints in preparing, include:
1 Keeping your Epi-dogs safely inside during the eclipse.
2. Having your Epi First Aid Kit ready and waiting.
3. If your Epi-dog is on anti-seizure medications, be sure s/he has been properly dosed on time and have any emergency doses at the ready.
4. If you use natural anti-anxiety supplements or treats, be sure to administer them early enough, as according to the directions and vet instruction.
5. If you use an anxiety vest or shirt on your Epi-dog, this is a good time to put one on, just as a precaution.
6. Playing soothing music or white noise in the background.
7. Plug-in a calming pheromone diffuser or use a spray.
8. Diffuse a calming essential oil*, such as lavender (but NOT spike lavender oil). Also, when diffusing, choose either #7 or #8, not both at same time.
9. Put a cooler or herbal calming collar on your Epi-dog.
10. If you use a cooler mat or bed for your Epi-dog, have it refreshed and encourage your dog to lie on it.
11. Stay close to your dog, petting and talking to him/her in a reassuring manner until after the eclipse is over.
12. Have an emergency plan. Be sure your vet/ER hospital numbers are handy, as well as having a means of transportation, should your dog should go into seizures.
Please note, that even with the best of preparations and care, a dog with Canine Epilepsy, even if on anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), still may experience anxiety, pacing, and/or seizure activity. Not sure if your dog is having a seizure? Contact your vet immediately.
*A word about essential oils – again, it is important to check with your veterinarian before using, especially if trying for the first time. Some essential oils, such as spike lavender, eucalyptus, hyssop, rosemary, sage, camphor, tea tree, et al., can trigger seizures.
What's In Your Epi First Aid Kit?
In addition to your regular dog First Aid Kit items, for an Epi-dog, also be sure to have:
- Seizure medications.
- Instructions in case of a seizure (for when you have a pet sitter).
- A journal to note episodes, length of seizure, reactions, meds, etc.**
- Instant ice packs.
- Rubbing alcohol wipes. (I prefer ice packs).
- Emergency contact numbers: vet, neurologist, 24-hour vet hospital, poison control, a friend/neighbor to help.
- Natural/herbal anti-anxiety calming oral spray (I use Rescue Remedy).
- Calming pheromone room spray.
- Herbal calming collar.
- Portable water bowl
- Dog Ear Thermometer
Additional Items to Have on Hand
- Natural vanilla ice cream.
- Organic honey or maple syrup.
- Source of protein, i.e., organic creamy peanut butter, low-fat mozzarella sticks, cottage cheese, organic yogurt, chicken, tuna, etc. (low-fat healthy protein treat to help raise the sugar levels back up after the ice cream or honey/maple syrup).
- Fresh water.
- Pet bath wipes (for post-seizure clean-up).
- Disinfectant wipes (for area clean-up).
- Paper towels.
- Latex gloves.
- Collar, harness, leash.
- Car Ramp or blanket as a makeshift stretcher to transport pet if incapable of walking.
**For keeping a digital journal, as well as important seizure information, download the FREE Royal Veterinary College (RVC) mobile app for Apple and Android devices. Check out my blog post with Gibson all about this great app HERE.