Our dog Rolo has Epilepsy; Epilepsy is a common and diverse set of chronic neurological disorders characterized by seizures. Some definitions of epilepsy require that seizures be recurrent and unprovoked, but others require only a single seizure combined with brain alterations which increase the chance of future seizures (reference from the dictionary)
Before We adopted Rolo, I didn’t even know Epilepsy existed in animals, let me tell you I did so much research on the internet to prepare myself! Once we adopted him I joined a group on facebook called Dogs with Epilepsy. This group is for people to share stories, get help and just meet other pet parents going through the same thing. I went on the group last week and asked a few other people to fill out some questions for me, people all have their own ways of treating and dealing with it so I wanted their stories :) Here is Mine!
*Animal Name with Epilepsy: Rolo
*How long has your animal(s) had Epilepsy: He was a rescue so I’m thinking he has had it from 3-5 years
*What is it on to control it: Phenobarbital 2-30mg in the am 1-30mg at night
*What is it like living with an animal that has Epilepsy: It is definitely different then having a regular pet, you have to make sure you remember to give them their pills. Your schedule runs around them, and when you go out of town and cant bring them with you have to make sure the person watching them is responsible. As if they miss a pill there is a high chance that he could seizure.
*How do you deal with fits (if any): Rolo has only had one fit with us, It happened to be really scary but I managed to stay calm and help him. It was around 3am and I thought he was having one of those dreams where they pretend to run, after a second I turned the lights on low dim (we have a dimmer in the bedroom) and move things around him out-of-the-way so he didn’t hit his head. I talked him through it with a calming voice reassuring him that I was there with him. Once the seizure was over I went downstairs to get honey to bring his blood sugar back up to normal. I stayed up with him through the night to make sure he was fine. I also gave him another phenobarbital pill to prevent him from having another one. Water was also important as he was super tired from the seizure. I don’t think any readings on the internet can prepare you for the real thing but I’m glad I stayed calm.
*Animal Name with Epilepsy: Oakley Tibbetts
*How long has your animal(s) had Epilepsy: 3 years.
*What is it on to control it: He is on Potassium Bromide and Keppra 3x day. We also only feed Grain Free it’s made a huge difference for him.
*What is it like living with an animal that has Epilepsy: it’s definitely changed our life’s Oakley is our world he goes everywhere with us. He is so lucky to go to daycare at his Grammies everyday. He is loved by so many.
*How do you deal with fits (if any): I think we deal well with his fits. He does get rectal Valium during a fit to bring him out of it. We only leave Oakley with our immediate family who is well-trained. Oakley can certainly sense when something is going on last year my sister battled breast cancer and each day she had surgery he had a fit he knew she was not ok. I think if you have a dog with epilepsy that you have to be totally devoted and to keep a routine and to those who always say well it’s just a dog they just don’t understand.
*Any Extra Information you want people to know: I wish more people understood the disease. I am very active at learning new things to help him. Thanks for the opportunity we love our Oakley and want to help others. Oh one more thing if costs of meds are a problem look at Costco online we saved a huge amount there
*Your Name: Corina Barrett from Montague, Massachusetts
*Animal(s) Name With Epilepsy: Chopper Elvis Barrett
*How long has your animal(s) had Epilepsy: Two Years
*What is it on to control it: Phenobarbital every twelve hours. 32.4mg
*What is it like living with an animal that has Epilepsy: It has been hard knowing he could seize anytime but the medication has kept it (mostly) in check. He occasionally gets what we call “bobble head” but his meds have kept him seizure free for almost two years. We changed his diet to grain free and give him extra attention daily. His first was awful! He clustered so badly that at the vets I am sure he had no idea who we were. It is tough trying to keep our schedules because he must go everywhere we go except for work. He is crated in a soft lined crate during the five hours I am away from him. I hate being away from him. You worry much more than “normal” pets. When he was first diagnosed people asked if we would put him down. Never. Not in a million years. He is my little baby. Would not change a thing.
*How do you deal with fits (if any): we have not had a fit in quite some time but we keep honey and an ice pack nearby just in case. We put the ice pack on his lower spine to shorten the duration.
*Animal(s) Name With Epilepsy: Danny, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, 4 years old
*How long has your animal(s) had Epilepsy: Since he was 16 weeks old
*What is it on to control it: Potassium Bromide
*What is it like living with an animal that has Epilepsy: Living with a dog with epilepsy is living with constant fear. You are hyper alert at all times, listening for anything out of the ordinary. A thud from another room might mean a grand mal. You watch your dog constantly looking for signs. Is he zoning out? Does he respond when you call him? There’s the vigilance that comes with regular medication. What if you’re late giving it to him? What if you run out? What if the vet forgets to order it? We had that happen once and he started having pre-seizure symptoms. You worry constantly when you leave them alone, worrying that they will seize when you are away. You have to field questions from people who ask things like “Why don’t you just have him put down? Why would you spend all of that time/money on him? It’s just a dog.”
But ultimately we have the reward of having a dog that has beaten the odds. We didn’t think he’d make it to a year, his clusters had gotten so bad. He is my little shadow that follows me everywhere. And even though I know that our time with him is likely to be cut shot because of this awful disease, we will just love him and see him through whatever comes. It is a great responsibility but I wouldn’t trade him for the world.
*How do you deal with fits (if any): We just hold him as best we can. He is smaller, only 25 lbs. We stroke him and talk to him and let him know we are there for him. After a seizure we give him a mixture of peanut butter and sugar to get his blood sugar level raised, which seems to help with post-ictal symptoms.
*Any Extra Information you want people to know: Having a pet with epilepsy, whether you end up with them by chance, or adopt one knowingly, is a lot of work and responsibility. But it is so worth it. Not long ago these pets with epilepsy would have just been put down right off the bat. With medication (once you figure out the combo and dosage) most dogs can live mostly normal lives. Always be sure to do your research and don’t be afraid to talk to your vet, to ask about different medications if what you are doing isn’t working. Different vets have different “favorite” medications they prescribe, but if it’s not working for your case, demand a different drug or a different combo.
*Animal(s) Name With Epilepsy: Filos Coleman, Six year old Australian Labradoodle
*How long has your animal(s) had Epilepsy: Diagnosed with epilepsy at age 2, however meds not started until age 5 1/2 as seizures became more frequent and was having cluster events
*What is it on to control it: Since December 2012 has been on
112.5 mg of Zonisimide 2x a day
25 mg of Pregabalin 2 x a day
1.40 ml potassium bromide 2 x a day
500 mg tablet of Kepra
One 500 mg tablet right after seizure to prevent cluster event and up to one tablet every 8 hours for three days if needed.
*What is it like living with an animal that has Epilepsy: At first, we were very stressed out when seizures occurred. After four years, they are still stressful, but we don’t get as stressed, kind of just go through the motions of soothing him, caring for him until it’s over.
*How do you deal with fits (if any): We give him a little honey or vanilla ice cream right after, food and water as needed, try to keep him quiet and calm which is sometimes hard to do as he paces back and forth. We are now trying ice on his back too.
*Any Extra Information you want people to know: When he is not seizing he is still our lovable, playful, happy dog, with only a bit of lethargy because of the drugs. We will always be here for him unless it gets to the point where his quality of life is compromised by constant seizing. He is the love of our life.
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