What to do if someone is having a seizure
How to Cope With Canine Epilepsy
Canine epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions that afflicts dogs. The symptoms of this disorder can be severe, and comprise seizures of various durations and various degrees of severity.Even after your dog has received treatment, it can be hard to see your pet suffering with this condition. In order to cope with your dog’s epilepsy, be sure to communicate regularly with your veterinarian, give the dog its daily prescribed medications, know how to manage in the event of a seizure, and manage the stress that epilepsy brings into both of your lives.
Making Practical Adjustments
Recognize when your dog is approaching a seizure.The period of time immediately before a canine seizure is known as the “aura.” Dogs often seem apprehensive, disoriented, or restless during the aura phase, and may exhibit nervous behaviors including whining. If your dog is showing signs of being in the aura phase, but still walking around, attempt to lead the dog to an open area where they will not be at risk of hurting themselves when the seizure begins.
- After the seizure has concluded, your dog will enter the appropriately named “post-seizure” phase. Although convulsions will have stopped at this point, the dog will be physically exhausted and may feel confused as well. Dogs can take hours to recover, so give your pet space while it reorients itself.
Stay calm when your dog experiences a seizure.Don’t panic or try to stop your dog from moving. You should leave the dog alone during this time, as the dog cannot control its movements and may lash out and strike you. If there are pieces of furniture, chairs, etc. near your dog, move these so that the dog does not injure itself on them.
- Be especially cautious around your dog’s mouth while it’s experiencing a seizure. The dog will not be in control of its muscle function, and could easily bite you if you put your hands on its head or near its mouth.
Keep your dog out of the water.Although many dogs love to swim and splash around in lakes, rivers, or even a backyard pool, you should keep your epileptic dog out of deep water. If the dog were to have a seizure while in the water, it would be unable to swim to safety and would likely drown.
- If you live in an area where your dog could easily run to a large body of water, consider building a fence around a portion of your backyard to prevent your dog from reaching the water.
- Alternately, purchase a canine life vest for your dog, and put it on the dog each time it’s in or near water.
Monitor your dog’s weight.Most dogs who are on long-term antiepileptic medications gain weight as a side effect. While this may not present itself as an immediate problem, you will need to closely watch your dog’s weight; excessive or rapid weight gain can be harmful to your dog’s health.If you notice that your dog is gaining weight rapidly or is approaching an unhealthy or obese weight, talk to your veterinarian about putting the dog on a diet play.
- You can use a typical bathroom scale to weigh your dog in your own home. Since dogs are energetic animals and it’s difficult to have a dog stand still on the scale, weigh your dog by holding the dog and standing on the scale, and then subtracting your own weight from the total.
- If you don’t have a bathroom scale, or if you have a large dog that you can’t pick up, your veterinarian’s office will have an animal scale that you can weigh your dog on.
Dealing with Stress
Calm your dog after it experiences a seizure.Reassurance is important after a seizure; your dog is likely to be scared, confused, and disoriented, so soothe the pet by stroking it and speaking to it with a calm voice and a low tone. Keep your dog relatively static until it has regained its bearings and is acting normally. If the dog begins walking or running too soon after a seizure, it could fall and injure itself, run into the walls, or fall down a flight of stairs.
- Dogs will be unable to control their bowels or bladder during a seizure, so you may want to have towels or plastic bags on hand to clean up urine or feces.
- If your dog overheated during the seizure, rub it down with a damp towel or bring a small fan to blow air gently over the dog.
Practice personal stress reduction.Living with and caring for an epileptic dog can be intensely draining and stressful for the owner. To reduce this stress and to help yourself mentally and psychologically cope with caring for your dog, first try taking a series of five deep breaths. Hold each breath for a few seconds and then fully exhale—the repetition of this breathing practice will decrease stress and help you calm down.
- It’s also important to be physically active to help reduce stress. Taking a long walk or practicing yoga—even for as little as 15–20 minutes—can help your mind decompress, and reduce stress and worry.
Communicate your stress to a personal network.Having a healthy network of close family and friends that you can talk with will allow you to cope with the stress that results from your dog’s epilepsy. Don’t hesitate to explain your canine-related worries and anxieties, and talk through whatever aspects of your dog’s condition cause you the most concern. Talking through problems will help you feel better, and friends may present solutions to problems that have concerned you.
- Additionally, use time spent with these family members and friends to get some time away from your epileptic dog; this will allow you to focus on other aspects of your life. Do fun activities with friends: see a comedy show, go to a movie, or take a hike.
Treating the Condition
Take your dog to a veterinarian or veterinary hospital.If your dog has only recently begun experiencing seizures, you’ll need to bring it to a veterinary clinic or veterinary hospital as soon as possible. While seizures are not life threatening and generally only last from one to three minutes, epilepsy is a serious condition and should be dealt with promptly. The longer that epilepsy goes untreated, the higher the likelihood that the disease will cause brain damage to the dog.
- If you need to transport your dog while it is still experiencing an epileptic seizure, put the dog in a crate or kennel. Do not attempt to pick up or lift your dog while it’s seizing, as it could unintentionally injure both itself and you.
Help your vet diagnose the type of epilepsy your dog experiences.Canine epilepsy can take a variety of forms and is diagnosed by observing the type of seizure that the dog experiences and noting the age at which seizures begin. Often, epilepsy will be caused by physical and medical issues, including head injuries, kidney or liver failure, strokes, brain tumors, congenital defects, or extremes in body temperature. The resultant epilepsy is known as “secondary epilepsy.” If your dog’s epilepsy has no discernible cause, it will be diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is also known as “primary,” “genetic,” “inherited,” or “true” epilepsy.
- As a rule, younger dogs are more at risk for primary and idiopathic epilepsy, while dogs who experience epilepsy when they’re 4 years old (or older) are more likely to be diagnosed with secondary epilepsy.
Work with your veterinarian on an antiepileptic prescription.Epilepsy is a genetic disorder and cannot be prevented, so medication is the primary method of fighting the disease. Veterinarians will commonly prescribe Phenobarbital to decrease seizures, and often pair this with Potassium bromide to control some of Phenobarbital’s less pleasant side effects, including liver damage. Your vet may also prescribe Primidone, which is similar to Phenobarbital in its uses and side effects.
- It can take a while to find the right antiepileptic drug (or combination of drugs) for your epileptic dog. Once your dog is on a medication, record a video of your dog having a seizure and keep a written record of all of its seizures; note if they increase or decrease with each new medication and report back to your vet.
- This process will help the vet prescribe an effective medication for your dog’s epilepsy.
Administer daily medication to your dog.The medications that your veterinarian will prescribe for your epileptic dog need to be given daily, and comprise an important part of both the treatment for epilepsy and your practice of coping with the disease. Vets will commonly prescribe two or even three medicines; you should carefully follow the directions for daily drug administration and administer in the dosage that your vet has prescribed.
Take your dog to follow-up appointments.Your dog will need to visit the vet’s office for follow-up bloodwork after each change in medication or dosage, or if the dog experiences a seizure while on medication. In addition to this, it’s a good idea to follow up with testing every 3-6 months to catch any adverse effects on the body organs, particularly the liver, before they become big problems.
- When a dog is first put on medication for epilepsy, frequent blood testing is necessary in order to assess medication levels. This way, the vet can make sure that there is enough of the medication in the dog's body to control seizures, yet not too much to be toxic to the dog.
QuestionWhat if you miss a dose of phenobarbital for your dogwikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMissing a dosage could result in your dog having a seizure in the immediate future. Get back on the prescribed schedule the following day, and communicate with your vet to see if any further steps are needed.Thanks!
QuestionWhen giving my dog the potassium bromide, within minutes he starts panting. Is this normal when on phenabarb and potassium bromide?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYour dog may be allergic to potassium bromide, as it is a type of salt. If your dog starts panting on a regular basis, I recommend you to take your dog to its vet.Thanks!
- In some cases, tumors may contribute to epileptic seizures. If your dog has a tumor that your vet believes contributes to its epilepsy, the vet may suggest surgery to remove the tumor.
Video: First Aid in Seizures
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