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Archive for July, 2010

The 4 Stages of a Seizure in a Dog (Part 2)

July 28th, 2010 1 comment

Good morning! Here’s part 2 of yesterday’s article:

The Aura. This is the period of intensity of the pre-ictal symptoms, just before the seizure starts.  The dog may be restless, apprehensive, begin pacing, or even try to hide.

The Ictal Phase, also known as the “Ictus.” Ick is the word indeed, as this is a period of intense neurological spasming resulting in a disruption of brain activity that explodes in a chaos of mixed signals flooding the dog’s body.  Most seizures last for 1 to 5 minutes.  Any longer than 5 minutes and you have a prolonged seizure that may require medical intervention.  During this phase most dogs fall onto their side and are either stiff-legged with rigidity, or paddling uncontrollably while convulsing.  Sometimes the dog will lose control of its bladder or bowels during this phase.  The best thing you can do for your dog is to act like you are remaining calm, turn off the lights and any noise, keep the dog from hitting his head on something, and perhaps ocular compression will help lessen the duration or intensity of the seizure.  If your dog has already been diagnosed as having epilepsy, your vet will probably have given you several syringes full of valium which you can use if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, or if one seizure quickly follows another.

The Post-Ictal Phase. Once the seizure has ended, the dog may appear to be dazed for several minutes to several hours.  Many dogs pace frantically.  Some are temporarily blind and will bump into walls.  Your dog will most likely need to go outside to eliminate, and then you should help replace the glucose that will have been depleted by the seizure.  A spoonful of honey on top of some natural, preservative-free vanilla ice cream will help restore the blood sugar levels quickly, and your dog will appreciate lots of fresh, filtered water to drink.

I hope you’ve found this information helpful! To see other resources I’ve written about dog seizures, visit the resources page. Stay tuned for more posts soon, including an update on the progress of the book!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

The 4 Stages of a Seizure in a Dog (Part 1)

July 27th, 2010 No comments

The first time Cory had a seizure he was only about 5 months old.  I woke him up from a sound sleep and he started walking as if his legs had gone to sleep, crossing over each other in the front and wobbling as if he’d been drinking alcoholic beverages.  We laughed, thinking it was funny.  I checked in with Cory’s vet a few days later, who shrugged it off as nothing to be concerned about.  This incident happened a few years before Cory had his first grand mal seizure, when we finally understood that the curious symptoms leading up to it meant that he had been having small seizures and suffering from epilepsy all along.  I wish I had been better educated about what to watch for, as I believe if I had known to suspect that Cory was having pre-epileptic episodes we might have possibly avoided that horrific grand mal seizure which I describe in the first chapter of Cory’s Story.

The following article is to help educate you in knowing what to look for in your dog’s behavior, in order to assist your veterinarian in making an accurate diagnosis with the information which you observe.

Cory’s seizures began as curious moments when he would lose muscle control and be unable to walk correctly, or he would assume a blank look and stand as if he were a statue, staring into space with drool running out of his mouth.  Those periods did not last long enough to cause us much concern, especially when we’d get the assurance from various veterinarians that nothing was wrong.  Unfortunately, seizures can gradually worsen over time and eventually become serious to the point of being life-threatening to the dog.  All seizures should be taken seriously, because whatever is causing them is not likely to disappear on its own.  With the increased frequency of the seizures comes the potential for the stage which is known as status epilepticus, a state of continuous seizures with infrequent or no periods of consciousness, which can lead to death without medical intervention.  Therefore, you need to know about the four basic stages to a seizure.  They are:

The Prodome, or “Pre-Ictal” Phase. This is a period of time which may begin moments before a dog’s seizure or even as much as 24 hours prior to a seizure, where your dog’s behavior will be markedly changed from what it is like normally.  In Cory, we saw him become worried and he would run to one of us and want to cling to us for reassurance.  You may also see the vacant look I described above, and excess salivation or drooling.  Your dog may start to tremble or whine, as if knowing that something dreadful is about to happen.  There are two things you can do during this phase – administer Rescue Remedy or give your dog a small amount of preservative-free vanilla ice cream, and give your dog as much assurance and comfort as you can.  With Cory’s early episodes, this phase did not progress on to the next stages for several years.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 (of 2), in which I’ll describe the other 3 stages of seizures in dogs.

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

VIDEOS: Cory Swimming in his Golden Years

July 22nd, 2010 No comments

As I promised earlier, here are some videos of Cory swimming in his golden years. We used to throw things out as far as we could for him and we could still never tire him out. He was always full of energy! These days he’s not nearly this spritely, as arthritis has caught up with him. But he still perks and wags his tail at the mention of “going for a swim.”


 
 

Does your dog love swimming too? Leave a comment!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Categories: Videos of Cory Tags:

Foods That Can Cause Dog Seizures (Part 2)

July 20th, 2010 No comments

Hi everyone! Here’s the rest of the list of foods to avoid giving your dog to avoid dog seizures (and if you missed Part 1, read that first!):

  • Mushrooms.  Some mushrooms contain toxins that can cause problems for a dog, especially wild ones.  I knew this and was alert to keeping Cory away from mushrooms on our walks.  “Leave it” is a great command to teach your dog early.
  • Cat food.  Cory is not going to like it that I found out about this one, as he loves to lick the kitty’s plate after she finishes her canned food.  It turns out that cat food is too high in protein and fats for dogs to eat.  OK, maybe he can still lick the kitty’s plate, but don’t substitute cat food as meal for your pup.
  • Apple seeds.  Apple seeds and other pits from fruit contain the poison cyanide, which can cause seizures.
  • Grapes and Raisins.  When I first learned that grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs it was at the same time I was reading a training book for dogs that actually advocated giving raisins as treats!  I contacted the author with my concerns and she was very defensive, saying that she had always used raisins as training treats for her dogs.  All I can say is be aware of the risks and do more research before giving grapes or raisins to your dog.
  • Egg whites.  It is OK to feed your dog a whole egg, but there is a danger in splitting the egg whites off and feeding them without the yoke, because they contain a protein known as avidin, which can actually deplete your dog of one of the essential B vitamins. Apparently the yoke contains the antidote to this protein, so if the egg is served whole, there is nothing to be concerned about.

I hope that this has been helpful.  I would love to know if anyone has anything to add to this list.  If you have something to add, please also tell us why the food is harmful to dogs.

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Foods That Can Cause Dog Seizures (Part 1)

July 19th, 2010 6 comments

As anyone who follows this blog already knows, I believe that commercial dog food is a culprit for many illnesses in a dog, and that it contributed to or may even have caused Cory’s seizures.  The reason I came to that conclusion is that Cory’s seizures gradually were reduced once we stopped feeding him kibble and canned dog food, until they stopped completely over 5 years ago, without ever putting him on anti-epileptic drugs.  But, did you know that there are other foods that can harm your dog’s health, even causing seizures?   Some of these caught me by surprise!

  • Chocolate.  Almost everyone knows that chocolate can cause seizures and even death in a dog.  One day Cory got into Jayson’s stash of Halloween chocolate.  He had consumed quite a bit of it when Jayson discovered him, with Cory’s head deep inside the bowl of chocolate bars and his tail wagging with exuberant glee.  Jayson called poison control and was advised to pour Hydrogen Peroxide liquid down Cory’s throat, which made Cory vomit.  Happily I had Hydrogen Peroxide in the cupboard where I keep first aid supplies. Jayson took Cory outside for this messy task.  We were very lucky that Jayson found out about it soon enough so that no harm was done.  If you suspect your dog has consumed chocolate and you are not sure when it happened, call your veterinarian immediately.  If you catch your dog in the act, then try the Hydrogen Peroxide treatment.  Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate.
  • Onions or Products Containing Onion Powder.  These contain sulfoxides and disulfides which can cause damage to the red blood cells, resulting in the dog becoming anemic.
  • Raw Fish.  Especially here in the Pacific Northwest, salmon and other fish often carry a fluke which in turn carries a bacteria which can cause seizures and death if consumed raw. The danger is completely eliminated if you cook the fish first, although you have to be careful to get all the bones out of the cooked fish before allowing your dog to eat it.  I’ve been told that freezing the fish at a certain temperature will also kill the fluke & eliminate the problem, but I’m not enough of a scientist to know what that temperature is or how long the fish would need to be frozen in order to be comfortable feeding raw fish to my dog.
  • Nutmeg.  Not that it ever occurred to me to sprinkle nutmeg on Cory’s chow, but apparently it can cause tremors, seizures and death.  Just don’t share any of your cookies containing nutmeg with your pooch and you should be OK with this one.

Tomorrow I’ll post Part 2 of this series! I’m sure you’ll be surprised by some of the other foods that cause cause your dog to have seizures. Have you ever noticed a correlation between something your dog ate and a seizure? Leave a comment and let us know!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Cauda Equina Syndrome: Cory’s Incision After 15 Weeks

July 16th, 2010 1 comment

I just wanted to give an update on Cory’s back. This photo was taken about 15 weeks after he had surgery for Cauda Equina syndrome. As you’ll recall from an earlier post, we started using DERMagic skin care lotion to help speed the healing and hair regrowth process.

It’s definitely working. Take a look and you’ll notice a light layer of hair growing back almost all over the shaved area. Interestingly, you can also see some small patches of hair that seem to be growing faster than other areas. We’re hoping he gets his entire coat back soon!

cauda equina hair growing back

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Cory Scootering

July 15th, 2010 1 comment

Hey everyone! One of Cory’s favorite activities when he was young and invincible was scootering. Sandy covers this more in the upcoming book “Cory’s Story” but I thought it would be nice to show you what it looks like in case you’ve never seen a dog scooter before. This video turned up miraculously from one of our good friends, Johanna. She captured some priceless video of Cory swimming, running, playing, and scootering. We’re SUPER excited to share the videos with you! For now, here’s a video of Cory scootering. By the way, if you haven’t tried this, it’s absolutely a BLAST!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Categories: Videos of Cory Tags:

Cory Went Camping

July 8th, 2010 2 comments

We went camping over the 4th of July weekend.  Cory got to swim in a lake and dry himself off by the campfire.  He was delighted to be strong enough to do the things he loves to do the most!

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Categories: Pictures of Cory, Updates on Cory Tags:

Health Considerations for the Older Dog

July 1st, 2010 No comments

It snuck up on me.  One day I looked at my dog and thought to myself, “when did you get old?”   Wasn’t it just last week you were pulling me all over the neighborhood on our walks, with me pleading with you to slow down?  When exactly did you stop jumping up onto our bed for your morning hugs and cuddles?  When was it that you decided not to jump into the back of the SUV to go for a treasured ride?  I remember researching dog ramps and ordering one online, but that was because I thought you might need one “someday,” and now you cannot get into the car without it.

That’s the way it is when our beloved dogs gain senior status.  It is wise to prepare for that inevitability emotionally and to educate yourself so that you will be ready and able to help them when they need you.  Of course, you cannot predict when your dog is going to officially become a senior.  It is certainly not at a specific age.  In fact, generally the smaller the dog, the longer the expected life span.  For example, if you look at two dogs who are both 10 years old, the one who weighs under 20 pounds is roughly 56 years old in human years, and the dog who is over 90 pounds is about 78 years in human years.  That’s a 22 year difference!  A lot will have to do with your dog’s overall health to begin with.  But if you are able to make yourself aware of the subtle changes that come with aging, you will be in a better position to get help for your dog’s health problems when they might be easier to treat.

Common signs of aging:

  • Tiring more quickly;
  • Reluctance to jump into the car, or falling when attempting to jump onto something that used to be easy for the dog;
  • Graying hair, especially on the face;
  • Difficulty getting up from or lying down on the floor;
  • Sleeping for more hours of the day than before;
  • Increased dream activity, shown by the dog moving his legs as if running while sleeping;
  • Problems with vision or hearing;
  • Excessive sneezing, where the dog’s nose sometimes hits the floor with the explosion of the sneeze;
  • Dragging hind legs over the knuckles during a walk;
  • Tumors, especially fatty tumors that form under the skin;
  • Growths like warts that form on the dog’s skin, often on the face;
  • Incontinence, resulting in accidents in the house.

What can you do?

  • Be vigilant to the changes your dog is going through and educate yourself about the therapies that are available for aging dogs;
  • Adjust exercise so your dog remains confident and does not get stressed by overdoing it;
  • Keep excess weight off if at all possible.   I found that this is easily accomplished by feeding an all raw, natural diet.  Obesity is probably the most common reason for stress on the overall health of your dog;
  • Have a geriatric work up done by your veterinarian about every 6 months to screen for common ailments in senior dogs such as a thyroid imbalance, kidney, heart or liver diseases, arthritis and diabetes;
  • Keep your dog’s teeth clean, (periodontal disease is one of the most common problems seen by vets in their senior patients).

What Therapies and other Aids are available for aging dogs?

In addition to traditional medicines, such as the commonly prescribed  Rimadyl for arthritis pain in dogs, there are a host of “alternative” therapies that are becoming popular to the great relief of owners of senior canine citizens.  They include holistic therapy and homeopathic remedies.  Here are some examples:

  • Arnica Montana, is a homeopathic remedy that you can buy in any health food store.  It works wonders for dogs with aches and pains, and there is absolutely no danger of any unpleasant side effects.  It especially provides relief from sore muscles after exercise.  (This remedy is actually made for humans, so you won’t find it at the pet store);
  • The following must be done by licensed professionals, but the benefits can be well worth the cost:

Hydrotherapy;
Acupuncture;
Massage, (often combined with the      hydrotherapy in the same session);
Chiropractic treatments.

Other Aids:

Life Jackets, if your dog is a swimmer;

A harness may help if the dog’s rear end is weak and he needs assistance walking   or using the stairs;

Portable Steps to allow the dog to get up on the furniture; (did somebody say “to help dogs get up on the furniture”?)

A sturdy telescoping ramp to allow the dog to easily get into and out of the car or RV;

Carts (See K-9 Cart Company.  They make custom carts for dogs, tailored to their specific needs).

I realize that there is much more that can be said about health considerations for the older dog, but it is not my intent to write a book on the subject.  I hope that the things I mentioned to watch for and the suggestions for what you can do will help you with a place to start.  It is a sacred journey we share with our canine companions and a special honor to have them live long enough so that we can care for them in their golden years.

Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.

Categories: old dogs Tags:

Foods That Can Cause Your Dog to Have Seizures

July 1st, 2010 5 comments

As anyone who follows this blog already knows, I believe that commercial dog food is a culprit for many illnesses in a dog, and that it contributed to or may even have caused Cory’s seizures.  The reason I came to that conclusion is that Cory’s seizures gradually were reduced once we stopped feeding him kibble and canned dog food, until they stopped completely over 5 years ago, without ever putting him on anti-epileptic drugs.  But, did you know that there are other foods that can harm your dog’s health, even causing seizures?   Some of these caught me by surprise!

  • Chocolate.  Almost everyone knows that chocolate can cause seizures and even death in a dog.  One day Cory got into Jayson’s stash of Halloween chocolate.  He had consumed quite a bit of it when Jayson discovered him, with Cory’s head deep inside the bowl of chocolate bars and his tail wagging with exuberant glee.  Jayson called poison control and was advised to pour Hydrogen Peroxide liquid down Cory’s throat, which made Cory vomit.  Happily I had Hydrogen Peroxide in the cupboard where I keep first aid supplies. Jayson took Cory outside for this messy task.  We were very lucky that Jayson found out about it soon enough so that no harm was done.  If you suspect your dog has consumed chocolate and you are not sure when it happened, call your veterinarian immediately.  If you catch your dog in the act, then try the Hydrogen Peroxide treatment.  Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate.
  • Onions or Products Containing Onion Powder.  These contain sulfoxides and disulfides which can cause damage to the red blood cells, resulting in the dog becoming anemic.
  • Raw Fish.  Especially here in the Pacific Northwest, salmon and other fish often carry a fluke which in turn carries a bacteria which can cause seizures and death if consumed raw. The danger is completely eliminated if you cook the fish first, although you have to be careful to get all the bones out of the cooked fish before allowing your dog to eat it.  I’ve been told that freezing the fish at a certain temperature will also kill the fluke & eliminate the problem, but I’m not enough of a scientist to know what that temperature is or how long the fish would need to be frozen in order to be comfortable feeding raw fish to my dog.
  • Nutmeg.  Not that it ever occurred to me to sprinkle nutmeg on Cory’s chow, but apparently it can cause tremors, seizures and death.  Just don’t share any of your cookies containing nutmeg with your pooch and you should be OK with this one.
  • Mushrooms.  Some mushrooms contain toxins that can cause problems for a dog, especially wild ones.  I knew this and was alert to keeping Cory away from mushrooms on our walks.  “Leave it” is a great command to teach your dog early.
  • Cat food.  Cory is not going to like it that I found out about this one, as he loves to lick the kitty’s plate after she finishes her canned food.  It turns out that cat food is too high in protein and fats for dogs to eat.  OK, maybe he can still lick the kitty’s plate, but don’t substitute cat food as meal for your pup.
  • Apple seeds.  Apple seeds and other pits from fruit contain the poison cyanide, which can cause seizures.
  • Grapes and Raisins.  When I first learned that grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs it was at the same time I was reading a training book for dogs that actually advocated giving raisins as treats!  I contacted the author with my concerns and she was very defensive, saying that she had always used raisins as training treats for her dogs.  All I can say is be aware of the risks and do more research before giving grapes or raisins to your dog.
  • Egg whites.  It is OK to feed your dog a whole egg, but there is a danger in splitting the egg whites off and feeding them without the yoke, because they contain a protein known as avidin, which can actually deplete your dog of one of the essential B vitamins. Apparently the yoke contains the antidote to this protein, so if the egg is served whole, there is nothing to be concerned about.
Canine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Understanding & Living with Canine Seizures

This guide will help you and your canine companion deal with canine epilepsy. You'll learn how to detect symptoms of an upcoming seizure, treat during and after a seizure, and prevent future seizures.

Ready to read Cory's Story? Read Chapter 1 Now.