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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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  
For Post-Seizure:
  • 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.


  1. I never thought about the eclipse affecting our dogs. I was planning to keep them inside anyway, just in case. But this is great, thanks for sharing. Our dog Boomer has thankfully not had a seizure in almost a year. Lets hope it stays that way through Monday

    1. Thank you! And yes, I hope Boomer does not have any more seizures - a year is great! Let's go for another!

  2. Hope the eclipse doesn't trigger seizures, poor pups!

  3. I wondered about any impact the eclipse would have on animals. Thank you for sharing this information. We're in the path for a total eclipse. The girls will definitely stay inside. I haven't decided where I am going to watch it. I have my glasses.

    1. Where did you watch it from? We did on TV (I didn't get the glasses); pretty amazing. Yes, eclipses, lunar phases, and solar flares, in addition to weather, barometric changes, etc., can all trigger seizures in some dogs. Hopefully, all pups did okay.

  4. My goodness! I would never have thought that an eclipse could affect our dogs health! You learn something new everyday! I hope everything goes well for you and your dogs and they don't have any side effects.

    1. So many things can be a trigger, even eclipses, lunar phases, and solar flares, in addition to weather, barometric changes, etc! Hopefully, all pups did okay - we were fine, here!

  5. Wow, these are great tips for any dog, whether an epi-dog or not. I hadn't even considered the eclipse might make such a difference. Thank you!

  6. Thank you for these thoughtful tips. Being in San Francisvo, We are not in the path of totality but I will keep an eye out anyway for our pup.

    1. Thank you, Baymonkey! Hope all went well there in San Fran!

  7. Great info. So often, people don't think to consider the effects on fur kids.

  8. Excellent tips and a great idea to make everyone aware!

  9. Wow I never thought about it affecting the pets either, but it's a good thing to keep in mind even if you don't have epi dogs.
    As always, thanks for the great advice and I hope you pups make it through fine.

    1. Hi, Lorie! Thanks so much! We were all fine here!

  10. I am very interested in seeing how my dogs and horses react to the eclipse. Very exciting! Great tips, and I hope those animals stay safe.

    1. Thanks, Heather! How did your horses and dogs do - fine, I hope!

  11. We are all planning to stay inside well away from the windows that day. Those are some very good pointers for epi-dog owners. We would never want to see Angel Ciara have to deal with more seizures, but we so wish she were still here with us, as we know you are feeling the same for Gibson:(

    Woos - Lightning and Misty

    1. Thank you! And thinking of both of our sweet furangels. <3

  12. Fabulous post about a critical matter that affects Epi-Dogs! May I add it to our own eclipse post - I think this will be most beneficial.

    1. Thank you! And many thanks for adding to your post as well. Awareness education is so important!

  13. Never thought of it that way. Fortunately, we doesn't seem to be getting "much of it" where we are; just a partial eclipse.

    Though I have seen a full eclipse long time ago and it wasn't all that impressive.

    1. I remember the ones from the late 70s! This time, we had only had a partial here as well.

  14. Very thoughtful post! It never occurred to me that the eclipse could cause any problems. I definitely agree with the moto to always be prepared and will be keeping a close eye on my dog that day.

    1. Thank you, Mary. Many folks do not realize things such as eclipses, solar flares, lunar phases, and weather can be triggers for dogs prone to seizures. Pray for the best, but always good to be prepared!

  15. Thank you for providing this resource for other people who have epileptic dogs. I never would have thought of the eclipse causing an episode, but it makes sense. I read an article today about how wild animals are also affected. So interesting.

  16. I've decided to watch it safely on the news. I'm sure the dogs could care less. The traffic in my state will be obscene so we plan to avoid it at all costs. Thank you for sharing valuable info.

    1. You are welcome! I heard the traffic was wild in many of the areas in the path of totality. We did exactly that...watched it on the TV!

  17. I honestly never even had this cross my mind! This is great advice for those with an epileptic dog!

  18. Thanks for sharing what you should have in your Epi Dogs first aid kit! This will be really helpful for a lot of people.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them