How to de-stress your epileptic dog's home environment.

As you will know, seeing your dog suffer a seizure can be extremely frightening, especially if it is recent. As the condition is sometimes difficult to diagnose, it is possible that your dog's seizures remain unexplained and could be due to other reasons such as allergies, an underlying health condition or even stress. So while your dog may have been prescribed medication, there are other ways to help him as well.

A journal will help you look for triggers A “trigger” is something that usually happened within 30 hours before your dog had a seizure.

“Within five weeks of his first seizure, the vet told us that Baxter had epilepsy and I have kept a seizure diary ever since,” says Stef. "Recording the time, location and duration of each seizure as well as what happened immediately before it - events, behaviors and so on - helped me see that the majority of Baxter's seizures occurred in the early morning hours. So we set out to create a safe sleeping space for him in our room, with medication, a waterproof blanket and towels nearby. As a precaution, we have also installed a safety barrier at the top of the stairs. »

If you are calm, this helps minimize your dog's stress Stress factors can play a big role in seizures.

“It was terrifying at first, especially when Baxter was having 'cluster seizures' - one after another,” admits Stef. “But as I learned more about his condition, how to respond, and planning ahead, I gained confidence. Dogs are very good at picking up on human emotions and I think my calm approach transmits to him and keeps him on a stable path. It also helps manage the seizures themselves, which he has every two and a half weeks. »

Routine is essential to us Dogs thrive on routine and changes can be a risk factor.

“Baxter likes his routine and I'm sure it helps him,” says Stef. “He takes the first of his two medications at 6am, before I take him and our other dog Ollie out for a walk. Then we come home for breakfast, after which we wander around the house and take our next walk at 2 p.m. After dinner and another medication at 6 p.m., plus an anti-seizure medication if he's had a seizure recently, it's time for a small snack and drink before bed at 10 p.m. I was working when Baxter was diagnosed but took time off to be home with him, especially since my husband's job sometimes takes him away. If something comes up, I will organize my plans around it as best I can. »

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels Dogs have a very strict internal clock and know when it is time to eat.

“Low blood sugar levels have been linked to seizures, so I monitor Baxter’s eating routine,” says Stef. “He eats a wheat-free, gluten-free diet, although some people prefer a raw diet to avoid certain herbs like rosemary, which can be a trigger, and I never allow him to go long without eating. After a seizure he's exhausted and his sugar levels drop dramatically, so I make sure he eats something and then he rests for an hour. This reduces the risk of another attack, balances your sugars and allows your body to recharge. Gavin can take Ollie out for exercise so the house is quiet, and Baxter can recover in peace. »

Holistic treatments are worth a try Supplements are readily available online, but always consult your veterinarian first.

“I always add supplements to Baxter’s food – anything to protect his health and minimize the risk of further seizures,” says Stef. “His anticonvulsant medication is an essential part of his treatment, but it can have side effects. A milk thistle supplement may help boost liver function, while CBD oil, an extract from cannabis plants (which is perfectly legal), has been shown in scientific studies to reduce seizures in dogs . » If prescribed by your veterinarian, Petplan can help cover the cost of CBD oil.

Make your home a haven Seizures can occur after overstimulation of any kind.

“Bright lights, loud noises, and overactivity can all cause stress in your dog, which can trigger a seizure,” says Stef. “Before he was diagnosed, Baxter loved agility classes; recently I made the mistake of letting him participate again and he had a seizure later. Our house is clear, so Baxter can't hurt himself on furniture or wires. I have a friend who puts away all of her epileptic dog's toys at certain times of the day to limit stimulation and help her relax. Another has a dimly lit home and doesn't use air fresheners or scented candles. Raised voices are best avoided in our home as dogs may think any anger is aimed at them and this can be the worst type of stress for your dog. We keep tranquilizer medications around the house to use when Baxter's epilepsy flares up, and in both of our cars, even though he enjoys car rides.