Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Comparative Studies in K9 & Human Epilepsy: Triggers, (Clinical) Trials & Tribulations

 
Read "News" Below For Upcoming Webinar, Open Clinical Trials & Grant News

A solar eclipse. A full moon. Severe storms. Devastating hurricanes. And, according to NASA, “Two solar flares were released by the Sun (on September 6), on which was the most powerful flare recorded since 2008.”  What are solar flares? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Weather Prediction Center reports that “Solar flares are large eruptions of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun lasting from minutes to hours” and, while they do occur periodically, this powerful one set a “strong geometric storm watch” in effect for several days.

What Does All This Mean For Those with Epilepsy?


According to NeuroResearchProject.com, from a medical hypotheses on National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) PubMed.gov, “Admissions of 762 patients for epileptic seizures and 1,553 for dizziness were studied for the connection with the level of monthly and yearly solar activity in the 11-year solar cycle and with four levels of daily geomagnetic activity levels (400 epileptic patients and 802 patients suffering with dizziness). Conclusion: Admission of patients with epileptic seizures and dizziness are related to geomagnetic and solar activity.“

Furthermore, “The annual percentage of patients with convulsive seizures in the Neurological Department of the Bangur Institute of Neurology, Calcutta, is found to be significantly correlated with the annual values of sunspot numbers and geomagnetic activity” over the 11-year period. “For a particular geomagnetic (GMA) activity index the correlation coefficient is significant at a 99% confidence level.”

Beyond the Human-Canine Bond

Beyond the amazing love and communication bond that exist between our beloved dogs and us, humans and canines with Epilepsy, also share many of the same seizure triggers—including genetics, illness, injury, stress, certain foods, stress, anxiety, ingestion or inhalation of toxins, flashing lights, fireworks, environmental factors, changes in barometric pressure, thunder and lightning storms, lunar phases, eclipses, and solar flares. Dogs and humans alike are prescribed some of the same type of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), such as Phenobarbital, Keppra, etc., and alternative treatments, such as Cannabidiol (CBD), to treat seizures. 

“Epilepsy in dogs has many similarities to the diseases in humans. There is increasing interest in exploring Epilepsy from a comparative standpoint – to create discoveries that can impact both human and animal health.” 
~Dr. Karen Muñana, 
North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

According to Karen Muñana, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology) and Julie Nettifee, RVT, BS, VTS (Neurology) at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where much research and clinical trials in the areas of epilepsy in companion animals are conducted, “Epilepsy in dogs has many similarities to the diseases in humans. There is increasing interest in exploring Epilepsy from a comparative standpoint – to create discoveries that can impact both human and animal health.”


Over at Paws to People: Bridges to Cures, they are committed to furthering translational studies and research in catastrophic diseases, such as epilepsy and cancer, in an effort to save the lives of both humans and pets. Susan Sehi-Smith, founder and president, notes that,Dogs who experience seizures are particularly sensitive to changes in weather and even in season or moon cycle.” Sehi-Smith also says that, “research suggests that more seizures occur in the winter and that there might be a connection to fewer daylight hours. It is interesting to note that these correlations have been seen both in animals AND humans.”

"If during these types of phenomena, you notice mood or behavioral changes in your dog, don’t ignore it." 
~Dorothy Wills-Raftery, 
Author and Founder of FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong 
K-9 Epilepsy Awareness Campaign


So with all the wild weather and disruptions in the atmosphere, why is it important that we listen to our dogs? Explains Sehi-Smith, “Dogs are so much more sensitive to things like changes in air pressure, rising humidity, storm dynamics, and temperature changes than humans are. It is the same with high tides, earthquakes, and other environmentally driven events. Often our pets can sense changes approaching even before the news hits the weather channel.”

Our dogs’ intuition, and their language in response to these changes, can be verbal or behavioral. Bottom line is, if during these types of phenomena, you notice mood or behavioral changes in your dog, don’t ignore it.


If you are wondering what types of behavior your Epi-dog may display, Sehi-Smith explains, “Being so ‘attuned’ often causes general nervousness, pacing, restlessness. It can heighten normal behavioral responses like barking or needing to be close to you. This sensitivity can trigger unusual behaviors as well: incontinence, refusal to eat, fear-responses, aggression, anti-socialness.” She also notes that for dogs that live with chronic conditions, such as hip dysplasia and rheumatoid arthritis, “weather can sometimes dictate additional pain. Dog systems can be thrown off balance during weather swings decreasing the effectiveness of medication and increasing limping or mobility issues. You might see a temporary spike in a diabetic pet’s blood sugar numbers. Or skin conditions might become hyper-itchy or sensitive. Weather affects responses to certain cancer treatments, and the patient’s overall state of being. And so it is with autoimmune illnesses and others.” And again, Sehi-Smith reports that, “There is much anecdotal evidence that (seizure) reactions are triggered during periods of extreme weather and during the approach of full moons in the lunar cycle.”


"Often our pets can sense changes approaching even before the news hits the weather channel.”
 ~Susan Sehi-Smith, 
Founder/President Paws to People: Bridges to Cures


According to Dr. Muñana, “Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disorder in veterinary medicine, and is estimated to affect up to 1% of dogs and 2% of cats in the general population.” (Dr. Muñana will be addressing “What’s Feeding Those Seizures? An Update on Refractory Canine Epilepsy and the Potential Link to Gastrointestinal Health” in an upcoming webinar sponsored by the AKC CHF. Registration info below).



 While we can not always know exactly which things from a long list of possible triggers will actually trigger a seizure, when there is advance notice of such things as inclement weather, electromagnetic field (EMFs), lunar phases, and solar eclipses and flares, we can prepare ourselves by being ready for a possible seizure in order to help Epi-dogs as best as we can should a seizure arise. Being calm is extremely important for the seizing dog, and the best way to be calm (as calm as one possibly can be in such an emotionally heightened situation) is to be prepared.

Please refer to my post on “Preparing for a Solar Eclipse” HERE for a list of tips, plus what items should be in your Epi-dog’s First Aid Kit. And, as always, do research and have a conversation with your Epi-dog’s veterinarian for how to best treat and care for a dog with seizures.

Epilepsy can be extremely frustrating and worrisome for Epi-dog parents, as there are so many, an almost endless list, of possible seizure triggers, but there is much hope as new research surfaces, and many new clinical trials and studies are being conducted. In 2014, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF) launched an Epilepsy initiative, and in February of this year, they announced “a new initiative to advance research into canine epilepsy.” According to the AKC CHF, “one in every 100 dogs will be affected by Epilepsy, many dogs, with the support of dedicated owners, can lead a good life by following a veterinarian’s treatment plan.”





***UPCOMING WEBINAR***
What’s Feeding Those Seizures? An Update On Refractory Canine Epilepsy And The Potential Link to Gastrointestinal Health” with Karen R. Muñana, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology)

DATE: October 24, 2017

TIME: 8:00 PM US/Eastern



Summary: “This 45-minute webinar will include discussion of refractory epilepsy in dogs, with a review of its clinical characteristics and our current understanding of the mechanisms that can result in drug resistant seizures. The concept of the microbiota-gut-brain axis will also be introduced, and evidence presented to demonstrate the role that the gastrointestinal system plays in the development and progression of epilepsy and other neurological disorders in humans.  Finally, published information on the link between the gastrointestinal tract and epilepsy in dogs will be reviewed, and future directions for research explored.”



Registration is FREE! Compliments of sponsor, the AKC Canine Health Foundation! 

To sign up, visit: 



APPLICATIONS BEING ACCEPTED FOR:



“The Use Of Accelerometry To Detect Seizure Activity In Dogs With Idiopathic Epilepsy Enrollment Ends 10/15/2017

Principal Investigator: Dr.Karen Muñana, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Download FLYER: https://cvm.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Accelerometry-to-Detect-Seizure-Activity-Study.pdf

*NOTE* This trial will run later than the original date of October 2017. They are actively seeking more cases. Dog would have to come to NC State for their visits. 



“The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis in Canine Epilepsy: Determining the Role of Lactobacilli (Pilot Study)” Enrollment Ends 1/27/2018

Principal Investigator: Dr.Karen Muñana, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine






"Efficacy of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Epilepsy in Dogs" 

Purpose: "Dogs with epilepsy that are receiving conventional anti-convulsants and having at least two seizures per month. Upon enrollment, every dog will be evaluated by a neurologist and any medication adjustments will be made prior to starting the trial"

Interested participants can learn more by contacting one of our research technicians by emailing CSUNeuroTrials@colostate.edu or Dr. Stephanie McGrath, or by calling (970) 305-0455​, or visit HERE.
 




NATIONAL DATABASE FOR DOGS WITH EPILEPSYto register your Epi-dog, fill out the form HERE.




ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT STUDY:


American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF) "Efficacy of Cannabidiol (CBD) for the Treatment of Canine Epilepsy" A “major” clinical Trial to “study the use of Cannabidiol to treat drug resistant epilepsy in dogs.”



Study Leader: Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a board-certified veterinary neurologist at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences



For more AKC CHF info and other news on Canine Epilepsy, visit http://www.akcchf.org.




CALL FOR RESEARCH GRANT APPLICANTS:


Paws To People: Bridges to Cures Offers Open Grant ApplicationPaws to People is 501(c)3 non-profit registered in the State of New Mexico that is committed to “achieving lasting change that transforms the lives of humans and pets suffering from catastrophic disease. Through our grant making, we support innovative thinkers, researchers, and organizations that are working to find causes, preventions, and cures for catastrophic diseases.” For more info and grant application, visit HERE.





RVC Clinical Investigation of Nutrition Breakthrough to Help Manage Dogs With Epilepsy


 University of Helsinki. "Significant Epilepsy Gene Discovery in Dogs." ScienceDaily





RVC DIGITAL K9 EPILEPSY DIARY & INFORMATION CENTER


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 past FiveSibes blog post with Gibson all about this app HERE.
  
 

"IMPORTANT LINK BETWEEN ZINC DEFICIENCY AND SEIZURES IN SIBERIAN HUSKIES" with Margit Maxwell, dog trainer, canine behavior specialist, and an Epi-dog parent who specializes in the training of Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. Margit is the creator and writer of The Divine Dog Project.  Click HERE to listen.

"TALKING CANINE EPILEPSY"  with Gibson's lead vet, Dr. Arnold Rugg, the Medical Director & Owner of Kingston Animal Hospital in Kingston, NY, and he discusses in great detail Canine Epilepsy, seizures, and Gibson's case. Click HERE to listen.

"TALKING CANINE EPILEPSY & CLINICAL TRIALS" with Dr. Karen R. Muñana, Professor of Neurology, veterinarian, and author of over 70 works on veterinary neurology; and Julie Ann Nettifee Osborne. a Licensed Veterinarian Technician with Neurology specialty, research specialist, and author; both from the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Click HERE to listen.

 This contains an Amazon affiliate link that if you click on it and purchase the book, I will receive a small commission that helps to defray operating costs of FiveSibes. Thank you!

EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy is a library of valuable resources, informational links, canine epilepsy expertise, and 122 personal stories of families from across the globe living with, and loving, an Epi-dog. 

Author Note: I feel absolutely honored to have "met" these amazing dogs, who are from all breeds, and their equally amazing human companions. I will forever have a special bond with each and every one of these wonderful dogs, and you will too after reading about them.



19 comments:

  1. Really interesting that humans and canines share some of the same triggers! Also, that dogs sense major weather and environmental changes. I know cats also really pick up changes as well. I remember during Hurricane Sandy there were reports of the cats in Atlantic City at the boardwalk leaving a day before the storm and returning a day after the storm. They seemed to know it was coming.

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    1. Yes, for sure...I never underestimate the instinct of an animal. When I had horses, they always alerted me to things way beforehand. Animals are truly so amazing.

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  2. What a thorough invitation to understand epilepsy better in both pets and humans! Your discussion about the disease and its connections to outside factors like weather and solar flares helps make clear how complex managing it can be...and how much we still need to study. Great job with providing followup and resources as well.

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    1. Thank you so much, Susan! And thank you and Paws to People for being such a valued resource for both pets and humans.

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  3. This is such a great post. Luckily Buster has only ever had 3 seizures, but they happened 100% identically. When I started researching and looking into it, I was finding the same things about how seizures in humans and dogs are very similar. I then read the book Pets on the Couch by Dr. Dodman, and it is such a thought-provoking and incredible book. I will definitely check out that webinar! It's interesting that are looking at GI health. In Chinese medicine, GI health is often considered the root of a lot of skin problems, and a lot of the herbs that are beneficial for skin problems are also beneficial for seizures/calming, etc. Interesting how that works!

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    1. Thank you, Alix! Yes, the "gut" can be the root of many health problems - for me, my acupuncturist and chiro help me keep my GI healthy in my battle with RA and Fibroymyalgia, and IBS. I used a combination of both traditional and holistic for controlling beloved Epi Gibson's seizures and also I did alternative therapies to treat side effects of medication, without adding more medication. I am *so* glad that your Buster only had three seizures! May he never have another!

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  4. Humans and animals have more similarities than people realize. This was a very interesting read. This is a good resource for pet owners who have pets with epilepsy.

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    1. Thank you, Lola. In my Gibson's name, I hope to continue to bring info and news that will help other Epi-dog families on their journeys so they never feel alone.

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  5. First. congratulations / Mazal Tov on being a finalist - WOW

    I never realized there were similarities and this post was such an eye opener for me and you are such a great resource on this subject, thank you

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    1. Thank you, Ruth! There are so many factors that come into play with Epilepsy, and I'm so glad to see the comparative studies and research being done. Maybe...one day...we can cure this seizure monster once and for all.

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  6. I'm just reading Dr. Dodds' book on hypothyroidism; I wonder whether anybody did a study about how those two might correlate.

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    1. Hi, Jana. Yes! Excellent pondering. There most definitely is a correlation. My Gibson was treated for hypothyroidism, which I've discussed in the past on my show and here, and Harley recently had a seizure, which we believe was due to the same. (I actually wrote a blog about hers here: https://fivesibes.blogspot.com/2017/08/an-unwelcomed-visit-from-old-foe.html). And this is Dr. Dodd's article on it over on the Canine Epilepsy Resources site: http://www.canine-epilepsy.com/Lowthyroid.html

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  7. Thanks for being such a wonderful advocate! We enjoyed reading about the good things going on.

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  8. Wow I never knew their was a relationship between having seizures and solar activity. When I had an epileptic dog, she would have about 4 seizures a week and they mostly occurred when she was sound asleep - no pacing or pre-seizure anxiety. Very interesting study.

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  9. I know cats are very sensitive to changes in pressure. We find them coming indoors here when there is a big change. This also chimes in with what I heard about the polydactyl cats at Hemingway's House. before the Hurricane arrived they ALL headed indoors!

    I can see that such changes in weather can also make a big impact on the life of a sensitive dog.

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  10. I've never known a pet with epilepsy, so I had never thought about how some dogs will be Epi-Dogs. What fantastic resources you have here. The similarities in how seizures may begin is striking.

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  11. This is really fascinating! I can't believe so many things can trigger a seizure, especially atmospheric happenings. I always wonder about flashing lights - it irks me that there is so much of that everywhere you go these days, I can imagine how many people get seizures just because of that! Our town has flashing camera lights on main roads that are SO distracting! I honestly don't know how they are even allowed to do that.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  12. What a great resource for anyone wanting to know more about canine epilepsy!

    I had no idea that there was a correlation between sun flares and seizures, of course, now that I think about it, it makes sense.

    My pets are mostly inside animals and they don't seem to be very sensitive to weather patterns. Of course, living in Central New York, we don't have a lot of big storms, except snow storms.

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  13. Thank you for sharing the webinar link. I hope to be able to attend that call.

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