ADVANCED PLANNING, WHAT CAN I DO  

BEFORE MY DOG HAS A SEIZURE?  

 

The Guardian Angels would like to share some of the things that they do before seizures happen.  It includes tips on being prepared before a seizure strikes and how to protect your pup in the event you aren't home when your pup has a seizure.

Judi and Angel Keno - Siberian Husky Deb and Dude - Border Collie
Diane and Molly - Shepherd/Husky Mix  Tina and Angel Jaff - Border Collie
Barbara and Irie - German Shepherd  Debbie and Leo - Collie
Nancy and Tahoe - Australian Shepherd Linda and Bailey - Collie Mix
Lorianne and Angel Harley - Collie/Australian Shepherd mix Dale and Sam - Golden Retriever
Debbie and Baxter - Dalmatian Paula, Little Guy & Angel Alex - Yorki-Poos
Dj and Angel Mozart - St. Bernard Pat and Dixie - Jack Russell Terrier
Sharon and Tasha - Jack Russell Terrier

Judi and Angel Keno - Siberian Husky     Return to Top of page

Have a plan!  Include all members of your family; everyone should have a specific 'job' to do, especially children.  The plan should include handling any other dogs in the home.  Someone should turn off the TV and/or lower the lights; someone to talk soothingly (or even sing) to your dog; someone to get medicine; someone to prepare ice cream and food for the post ictal period, and so on.

KNOW where your medications are, and be able to access them easily.

Know where any other assistance items are; (have them in a permanent place) such as folded towels to place under the head, or under the back end if incontinence of urine or bowels is usual; a muzzle or long soft towel to use as a muzzle if aggressiveness is sometimes present.

Deb and Dude - Border Collie     Return to Top of page

My three dogs all have free range of the house; however, when I am not home, I place a gate across the stairs so that Dude could never have a seizure on the stairs and hurt himself.  All of my rooms with the exception of my kitchen and bathroom are carpeted, and those are heavily "rugged".  Fortunately, I live close enough to my office so that I may come home during my lunch hour to check on my fur babies most weekdays!

Although I am the only human in my home, I have a sheet taped on my kitchen wall outlining Dude's medication schedule and my vet's phone number. I personally know my vet's number better than my home number, but this is in the rare event that someone else needs the information.

Dude has never given me much of a warning pre-seizure; however, my female dog Murphy has frequently alerted me to the fact that Dude is beginning a seizure in another room!

Paula, Alex and Little Guy – Yorki-Poohs     Return to Top of page

I keep a journal (or calendar) handy to record happenings in our family that are a bit different from everyday living.  I jot down if my pups ate something a bit different or if something really stressed them out for the day (thunderstorms, strong winds, company, etc....)  This also helps keep track of things like maybe an upset tummy for a day or diarrhea or just not wanting to eat (this doesn't happen very often)  :-)  This is great for keeping track of when a seizure occurs and lets me monitor seizure patterns. 

I also keep a special shelf where I have extra Pb, diazepam, Rescue Remedy and a list of "angel" phone numbers along with the number for our vet.  I also have a list of phone numbers in a clear magnetic picture frame along with the meds my kids take and a little note telling me exactly what I usually do if a seizure occurs stuck on the side of my refrigerator for safe keeping.  (the little note is for my benefit as well as for someone who may be watching my kids while I am away...I tend to forget all I have learned when I get nervous and this just refreshes my memory and calms my nerves).

Barbara and Irie – German Shepherd      Return to Top of page

What I do before a seizure is to try and make sure that I have everything I might need just in case and all within easy reach. For instance, I keep my Rescue Remedy and Melatonin together in the kitchen next to the refrigerator so when I go for the ice cream I can easily add the meds without taking my eyes off Irie for very long.  I also make sure I have clean towels in the bathroom to put under Irie's head because she drools very much during a seizure.

Dj and Angel Mozart – Saint Bernard      Return to Top of page

Unfortunately, with Mozart there was no pre-warning as to when his seizures were coming.  It was very important that I always kept his immediate environment safe so he could not injure himself, especially if he was home alone.  I always kept all chemicals and pesticides way out of his area, even though humans cannot smell them in another room, dogs noses are 100 times more sensitive, especially an epileptic.  I always kept his valium protocol with him no matter where we were and a emergency contact list of names and numbers and a listing of all his meds.

Debbie and Baxter  - Dalmatian      Return to Top of page

I make sure that I have Baxter's seizure kit handy and well stocked with oral valium, liquid valium, syringes, Vaseline, Rescue Remedy, squirt cheese (to get him to take the oral valium and no-sodium wheat crackers.  This kit, (mostly for my husband and the pet sitter), sits on the kitchen counter next to the sink.  I also make sure that the vet's phone number and the phone number for the emergency clinic are handy and ready to use, should we need them.  All meds and instructions are clearly marked and are in a place where they can be easily found, should we have to leave in an emergency and the pet sitter would have to come.

I have never treated Baxter differently from the others so he stays where they do when I'm gone.  We haven't had a problem with anyone attacking him during a seizure, thank goodness.

Nancy and Tahoe - Australian Shepherd      Return to Top of page

Tahoe doesn't give me any pre-ictal behavior I have been able to interpret since most of his seizures happen when he is asleep.  But I do try to keep him safe wherever he is in our home and in the evening he sleeps in our room so I always have a sense of what’s happening with him during the night.

When we are not home we keep Tahoe in an area of the house, which we have pretty much "seizure-proofed" so he cannot hurt himself should he seizure.  There is nothing he can get under, tangled up in or have fall on him. 

Debbie and Leo -  Collie      Return to Top of page

When we leave Leo alone, we confine him to the kitchen so he can't hurt himself if he seizes.  We keep Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream (Breyers is too tempting!) and Rescue Remedy on hand. And we have liquid valium long with a syringe, just in case Leo clusters again. I keep all vet numbers handy both on my computer and taped to the refrigerator. 

Leo takes his meds twice a day, approximately 12 hours apart at 10 and 10. (We chose these times so we could go out to dinner and not worry about being late).  Since I don't always remember if I've given the morning one, and since we never know who will be giving the evening pill, I keep two of those pill cases that have separate compartments for the days of the week - a white one for daytime and a blue one for night - and fill them in advance every week.  This way, no one except me has to keep track of what pills to give him, we never have to worry that Leo has been given an extra dose, and I'm sure that he's gotten the right pills at the right time.

When we go out of town, we leave the pill boxes pre-filled, phone numbers of friends who know how to handle seizures along with the number of the University veterinary hospital and Leo's case number.  We also leave his pill containers, and very strict instructions that he is not to be given any food or treats with ethoxyquin, BHA, or BHT.  

Pat and Dixie  -  Jack Russell Terrier      Return to Top of page

Dixie usually stays in our family room, that is carpeted and is full of soft, upholstered furniture. Usually, she stays alone, when I am gone for short periods of time, but if it will be longer, I arrange for someone to come in, or we drop her at "Grandma's".

I have the Vet's numbers and our cell phone numbers above the kitchen telephone, in case her caretaker needs it. I have an "emergency list" of steps to take in case of a seizure, with the last step being a trip to the Vet, in case of status.  I also have Rescue Remedy in the refrigerator, and I have a label taped to the door, with a red arrow pointing it out.

Dale and Sam  -  Golden Retriever      Return to Top of page

There is no favorite time or place for Sam, my 3-1/2 year old Golden Retriever to have a seizure.  The only thing I can do to be ready is to know where her drugs are, and I have also trained my husband to respond quickly to a very low volume request for help!  He also knows where the meds are and all our emergency numbers are on the fridge.  Hubby sees those every day, but I always wonder if he would know where to look if he ever had to! Sam is at home with our two other dogs through the day and they are confined to a safe area. The area does have a set of stairs, but Sam does tends to find a place to lay down to seize, and does not have much post ictal, so while I am not to thrilled about the stairs, they do not worry me too much.  I trust the other two dogs to be there to comfort Sam if I am not around. That is a huge blessing in itself!

Lorianne and Angel Harley - Collie/Australian Shepherd mix     Return to Top of page

We were always prepared for a seizure. We kept an emergency kit handy with rectal and oral valium, as well as emergency phone numbers and instructions in case we were away from home and someone else was caring for Harley. We would have towels hidden in the area of the house where we had hard wood floors so that we could make sure the towel was under his head and he wouldn't hurt himself on the hard floor. We always made sure to have Breyer's all-natural vanilla ice cream and Rescue Remedy on hand. We also used "pill boxes" with the days of the weeks & times and made sure they were always pre-filled. This way, we would never forget or miss a pill.

Because our seizure log showed us that Harley always seized during severe weather patterns, especially with extreme temperature swings, we made sure to always be home with him during these times. When we did have to leave Harley home alone, we made sure that he was in a confined area so that he couldn't fall down stairs or hurt himself by knocking furniture over during a seizure.

Tina and Angel Jaff - Border Collie     Return to Top of page

I always had a kit like a clear make-up bag filled with meds, syringes, valium, typed instructions, etc in our bedroom since Jaff tended to seize in the middle of the night. This bag went with us whenever we left the house as well.

 
I kept towels stashed under the bed so I could grab them and put them under his head or mop up drool during a seizure.
 
When Jaff had to be left alone he was in a very large wire crate with a large crate pad with a bumper that went around the bottom of the crate. I was always afraid he would get a foot stuck while paddling during a seizure. At night we kept a baby gate on our bedroom door because sometimes he would get up and run after a seizure.
 
If you have rectal valium you must practice, practice, practice. Practice opening a new syringe, attaching the rubber tip, drawing out the valium, everything. I had plenty of experience giving shots to sheep but it is totally different in the middle of the night and on your dog.
 
I always used a timer to remind myself when his Pb was due. I kept one in my truck in case we went out and I forgot the one in the kitchen. 

Sharon and Tasha - Jack Russell Terrier      Return to Top of page

I always make sure that I am prepared for the next episode.  I have a drawer in the kitchen which is devoted to Tasha’s medications.  Along with her Phenobarbital and Soloxine I have injectable Valium, Vaseline, a catheter, Rescue Remedy, the phone number to the veterinarian and the ER, and syringes.  Right next to that drawer is the freezer where I keep a soft ice pack that I wrap around Tasha’s upper back to bring her body temperature down during a seizure.  In the drawer I have an instruction sheet itemizing each step of the emergency care in case I get nervous and forget how much Valium to administer or in case I forget to use the ice pack.

Diane and Molly - Shepherd/Husky mix     Return to Top of page

We always keep Molly’s various meds and Valium in a kitchen drawer along with instructions for administering it. (We once had country mice partying in the drawer and snacking on Valium so the meds are now kept in little glass jars.) Two veterinarians’ phone numbers and Joanne’s phone number are posted on the refrigerator in case we need them in a hurry.  When we go out for an evening we take the glass globes off the student lamps so Molly won’t get cut (again) if she knocks into them in an unexpected seizure. We also block off our stairways with baby gates and keep Molly downstairs so she can’t tumble down them if she has a seizure while we’re out. (We don’t go out at all if it is near time for her to seize.) We keep Plexiglas panels over the glass in the French doors so she can’t hurt herself if she crashes into them during a seizure.

Linda and Bailey - Collie Mix      Return to Top of page

I think of canine epilepsy like living on the San Andres fault. You know that eventually there will be another earthquake (or another seizure), but you are not sure exactly when it will happen.  As such, what really helps is to be prepared. First, I keep a list of Bailey's regular meds and dosage plus a list of what to do after a seizure posted inside my kitchen cabinet door. This way anyone that is with Bailey has a reference list of things to do, medication wise or other.

I bought a small zippered tote type bag that I use as Bailey's "seizure bag". I keep all of Bailey's seizure medications in this bag along with important phone numbers (Vet, Animal ER, etc.) and a copy of Bailey's most recent blood test results. I then keep this bag in one place in the house that everyone knows. Keeping the kit away from heat and direct sunlight is important, so I store mine in a kitchen cabinet away from the stove. This way when Bailey has a seizure, everyone knows where the seizure kit is located, and can quickly run and get it.

I also take the seizure bag with me every time Bailey travels with me in the car. This way I have all of his seizure supplies with me and ready just in case he should seize in the car.

Once a month, I check Bailey's supplies and seizure meds to make sure we have enough of everything and that they have not expired. After Bailey has a seizure episode, I call our Vet, inform them of the episode, and request medication refills. I then go and pick up the meds as soon as possible. This way I know I will be ready with enough meds on hand for the next episode.