EMERGENCY CARE FOR CANINE SEIZURES
By Joanne Carson, Ph. D.
Cluster seizures is more than one seizure in a 24 hour period. Two seizures in a 24 hour period are "cluster
seizures" according to Dr. William Thomas, a board certified neurologist.
Because cluster seizures are so dangerous and can cause brain damage, or worse, there is the rectal and oral valium protocol which has the ability of stopping cluster seizures and limiting it to the one original seizure. To be most effective, it is necessary to use both the liquid and oral valium/diazepam.
It is important to give a dose of liquid valium as soon as possible after a seizure. Many people administer the rectal valium while the dog is seizing, and run to get it when they are sure the dog will not harm himself during the seizure. It is important to use both rectal and oral valium so you should have your veterinarian read the published information about the rectal and oral valium protocol.
Click on the following link to request the complete valium protocol which consists of 8 separate e-mails:
NOTE: If you have NOT received
eight (8) separate emails
If your veterinarian is reluctant to prescribe that, then it may be time to think about finding a veterinarian who is more willing to work with you.
Please ask your veterinarian for rectal and oral valium to have at home just in case your pup clusters or goes into status. Status is life threatening and liquid injectable valium should stop status. It may save you a trip to the ER, and can possibly save your pup's life by not having to wait for the ER to stop the seizures.
If cluster seizures will not stop you need to get emergency attention. Please remember that in the ER, if seizures continue, you could suggest using an IV valium drip (valium given intravenously), or even the mild anesthetic PROPOFOL, which is recommended for epi's to keep them sedated to break the cluster cycle. This anesthetic is the safest for epi's. Pentabarbitol is not recommended as an anesthetic for dogs with epilepsy.
After a severe seizure, you should always check your pups gums. If they are pale or white you need to get to an ER immediately. This could be pulmonary edema which is liquid filling up the lungs. This is very dangerous and you need to keep them sitting up, even if you have to hold them up, until you get to the ER.
And, since seizing raises the body temperature and high body temperatures can lead to brain damage, please be sure to keep your pup cool during a seizure. You can sponge the dog with a washcloth dipped in lukewarm water, soaking the fur, especially on the tummy, throat and head. If the air temperature is particularly hot, you might want to lightly fan the dog to aid cooling. This will cause the body to cool - but never, ever throw cold water on a dog or submerge a dog in water - doing so can cause a dog or person to go into shock and make a bad situation worse.
Please note that as soon as your pup can safely swallow, a SMALL amount of H„agen Dazs vanilla ice cream helps to raise the blood sugar level and could stop or slow the pacing and possibly preventing more seizures. The reason for using ice cream is that the fat holds the sugar in suspension so that the sugar doesn't hit the system all at once and cause a rebound reaction. The reason for H„agen Dazs is that it has no preservatives (which are not good for dogs with epilepsy) and it is all natural.
The recommendation for ice cream is "Less is More," so for little pups, 1 teaspoon of ice cream is recommended, medium pups can have 2 teaspoons, big pups get 1 tablespoon, and for very large pups, 2 tablespoons is adequate.
If you do not have the H„agen Dazs ice cream on hand, there is a good substitute. Please mix, very well, 1 tablespoon of honey with 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter (1/2 and 1/2) and put it into a small container that you can also carry where ever you go, if need be. For small dogs under 15 - 20 lb, make sure you don't give them more than 1 teaspoon of the mixture after a seizure, and for large dogs, not more than 2 tablespoons. You can always give another 1 teaspoon in 20 minutes if you think it is helping, but use caution in giving more.
A seizure to your pup is equal to your running the Boston Marathon. It is exhausting and s/he needs to replace lost energy. Again, after your pup can safely swallow, feed him/her a full meal being careful to only give a few pieces of kibble or small amounts of home cooking at a time. Please give your pup foods that are higher in carbohydrates.
The reason for giving only very small amounts in one bite is that after a seizure, pups are starving and can inhale their food. This can cause aspiration pneumonia, which needs immediate Emergency Room attention. If your pup is coughing constantly and you suspect aspiration pneumonia, you need to get him or her medical attention immediately as aspiration pneumonia can be life threatening.
Sometimes you can feed small amounts by hand but if your pup cannot distinguish between your fingers and the food, put little amounts in a bowl at a time. Then you will want to give small amounts every hour or two to keep the blood sugar level up. Do not worry about weight gain; seizures burn up a lot of calories.
Also, some people add Rescue Remedy (RR) to the ice cream, or give it alone. Many people have discovered that this flower essence has helped to calm their dogs in situations of panic and hyperactivity, or just before or after a seizure. On a seizing dog, a few drops of Rescue Remedy can be rubbed onto the ear flap and top of the head and also a few drops onto the gums, not into the mouth. When the seizure is over and the dog has recovered enough to stand up a little, ice cream can be offered with RR on it. When the pup is recuperated enough to eat something solid, many people follow up with some food, as noted above, to keep the blood sugar stable.
RR can be purchased at health food stores, and most GNC stores carry it. You can read more about and purchase RR and Bach Flower essences at the following sites:
Also, we have found that some pups get an upset stomach and gas after a seizure and this is easy to spot. They will be lying down and then suddenly get up and possibly dart about. It is the gas pain that causes the sudden movement. If you see this, you could try some Mylanta Gas or Gas-X or BeanO; any kind of gas reliever safe for use in dogs will help. A good selection to try is Mylicon Drops which is a gentle, liquid form of Mylanta that is manufactured for use in infants. If it is in tablet form, crush it up with the back of a spoon in a bowl and then mix it with something your pup will eat.
Most of the time you will have nothing more than cluster seizures to deal with. These cautions are to help you be more knowledgeable since the more information you have, the less you will worry....
Also, here is something that can help snap a dog out of a seizure more quickly - it may help your pup, so please make the necessary preparations to have on hand, so that you can help your pup the next time s/he seizes.
All of us know that helpless feeling when our pup goes into a seizure. Besides protecting our pup from harm during the seizure, and getting post-seizure medications ready, there seems little else we can do but wait for the seizure to end.
There is some exciting news, however, about a new technique that has recently been published in a prestigious veterinary journal. This technique may be able to help you shorten or even abort (stop before it begins) your pup's seizure, and may even help reduce the amount of post-ictal recovery time, and to return your pup to full functioning more quickly.
The technique was tested both in an ER and a regular veterinary hospital as well as by people in their own homes, on 51 epileptic dogs. In all 51 cases, the technique either aborted or shortened the usual duration of the seizure, and in many cases, the post-ictal recovery time was also shortened. These results were published in an article by H. C. Gurney, DVM, and Janice Gurney, B.S., M.A. The article is entitled, "A Simple, Effective Technique for Arresting Canine Epileptic Seizures." It appeared in The Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, in the January-March 2004 issue, pages 17-18.
Probably the most exciting part of this discovery is that the technique is not in any way harmful to your pup, and it does not involve giving extra medications. It is as simple as applying a bag of ice to the lower-midsection of your pup's back, and holding the bag firmly in position until the seizure ends. The exact area on the back is between the 10th thoracic (chest) and 4th lumbar (lower back) vertebrae (bones in the spine); what this means is that the top of the ice bag should rest just above the middle of your pup's back, following along the spine, and drape down to the lower-midsection of the back. To see a very good diagram of where the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae meet on a dog's spine, go to:
Look for numbers 13 and 14 on the diagram. Number 13 on the diagram is the13th thoracic (chest) vertebrae (there are 13 total); count back toward the head to number 10: that is your start point for the ice bag. Number 14 on the diagram is the 1st lumbar (lower back) vertebrae (there are 7 total); count toward the tail to number 4: that is your end point for the ice bag.
With a properly sized ice bag, you should not have to worry about being too exact: aim for the middle of the back, and the correct area will be covered. Application of ice to other areas of the body (head, neck, legs and other areas of the spine) was not found to be effective. Ice bags on the middle of the back was the only area found to work.
The article reports that the sooner the ice is applied, the better the results. So you should have the ice ready and prepared: if you have a small dog, fill a small-sized (quart) Ziploc freezer bag with cubed or crushed ice and keep it in a particular spot in your freezer. If you have a large dog, use a large-sized (gallon) bag. You can also freeze water into a block in the bag. When you hear or see a seizure begin, run for the ice or, if you live with another person, have one person run for the ice while the other runs to help the pup. Place the ice bag in the lower midsection of your pup's back and hold it there firmly until the seizure stops. If this technique works as reported, your pup's seizure should not be as long as usual and you may also see an improvement in the duration of the post-ictal period.
The article reports that people who tried using a bag of frozen vegetables instead of ice had less success than those who used ice, so keep a bag of ice at the ready. The article also indicated that dogs with cluster seizures are a special case and may need their usual protocols after the seizure, so if your pup has cluster seizures, follow your veterinarian's instructions for using valium.
And, the article does not discuss using ice after a seizure, only during the seizure itself and also states that you remove the ice the minute the seizure is over. If you can get to an ice bag during a seizure, you might be able better to assess if this will work for your pup or not. During a seizure, most dogs should not be distracted by the ice.
We are very excited about this discovery, and would be so pleased if it turns out to be as effective as reported. If you decide to use this technique on your pup, please let us know how it turned out: was it successful or not? We are seeking permission to add this article to the information on our website, and we would like at that time to be able to add testimonies from those who have used it, and whether or not they found it effective. If it is effective, it will be a godsend to many of us who now feel we can do nothing for our pups but comfort them until a seizure ends.
Again, since seizing raises the body temperature, and since high body temperatures can lead to brain damage, please be sure to keep your pup cool during a seizure. You can sponge the dog with a washcloth dipped in lukewarm water, soaking the fur, especially on the tummy, throat and head. This will cause the body to cool - but never, ever throw cold water on a dog - doing so can cause a dog or person to go into shock and make a bad situation worse.
After a severe seizure, you should
always check your pup's gums. If they are light pink or pale or white you need
to get to an ER immediately. This could be pulmonary edema which is liquid
filling up the lungs. This is very dangerous and you need to keep your dog
sitting up, even if you have to hold him or her up, until you get to the ER.
You need to keep his/her head well above the chest so the dog does not drown.
This is a dangerous situation in which the seizure has disrupted the natural
ability to clear the lungs.