Tips for living successfully with an epileptic dog.

Epilepsy in dogs is a scary but fairly common occurrence, especially in certain breeds like Beagles, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Shetland Sheepdogs.

It is caused by something abnormal in the brain, so although it cannot be cured, it can be managed in different ways. Speaking with a trusted veterinarian is the best way to learn about treatment options, so be sure to visit yours as soon as your dog exhibits seizures.

If you are currently living with an epileptic dog, here are some tips that have helped make life a little easier for my family. I hope they can do the same for yours.

  1. Don't let epilepsy hold you and your pup back! Yes, epilepsy is a scary thing, but it's not a death sentence. Your dog can live a happy, healthy, and wonderful life despite his diagnosis.

You can still camp, swim, hike, and cuddle with your epileptic pup! This shouldn't change the good things you do together. It will just make you appreciate the good times that much more.

  1. Be ready. You never know where or when a crisis will strike, so you must always be prepared. This means having medication with you and making sure your dog always wears his ID tags in case he runs away.

It's also good to have a plan in place for when a crisis occurs. My husband and I were used to it, with one of us shouting "seizure" when we were awakened by his familiar jolts.

We would put her somewhere safe, get some towels and try to calm her down. Develop your own plan based on your puppy's specific needs.

  1. Transform your home into a crisis-friendly oasis. Think of your dog as you would a toddler. Sharp edges? Cover them! Fragile things on the edges of the shelves? Move them somewhere else!

Your dog might hit these edges and knock over these shelves when he has a seizure, so it's best to be careful. And although seizures are unpredictable, you might find that your dog has a pattern.

Sammy had a habit of having seizures in the early hours of the morning. That's why we finally stopped letting her sleep on our big bed (we didn't want her to fall) and created a comfortable, safe corner for her in the bedroom with a soft, waterproof mattress cover (because you know, urine).

  1. Learn all about the medications prescribed for your dog. Many of them are very effective, but they often have specific side effects or may cause problems for some dogs.

Be aware, be informed, and always speak to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog's treatment. And don't forget to ask questions - lots and lots of questions!

Remember, you are your dog's advocate and best friend. It's up to you to advocate for them and find the best way to treat their epilepsy.

  1. Make sure everyone around you is well informed. This includes your dog sitter, family and friends coming over for a barbecue, friends at the dog park, etc. The more support the better, and that way you won't have to worry about people freaking out if they see your dog having a seizure.

  2. Write it all down! This goes along with the previous tip, but it's essential to take notes and have easily accessible information about your dog's condition, as well as advice on how to treat it.

This is especially important when it comes to dog sitters, walkers, and anyone else who is alone with your dog. When a crisis occurs, it is much easier to avoid panic and fear when there are clear instructions to help.