When your dog has a seizure, it can be one of the most horrifying and helpless feelings you can experience. Even a short seizure that lasts for a minute or less can scare the heck out of you.
All you can basically do is talk to your dog and comfort them any way you can. You’re not supposed to move them or hold them. You’re not even supposed to wipe away the abundance of saliva that often accompanies a seizure until after the seizure is done. All you can do is watch, wait, and pray that all will be well after it’s finished. After the seizure is over, your dog will likely be a little disoriented and wonder why you are making such a fuss over them. After a few minutes, and with the shorter seizures, your dog’s demeanor usually returns to normal.
I’ve written before about the chewing gum and grand mal seizures that my standard Schnauzer, Buzz, had experienced. Sometimes his teeth would chatter as if he were standing in the snow and ice on a cold winter’s day. On one occasion, he was standing in the backyard and suddenly collapsed onto his side and lost consciousness for a few minutes. It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life.
We found out later, after a round of allergy tests, that Buzz was allergic to chicken and rice. At the time, these were the main ingredients in Buzz’s food. Once the chicken and rice were eliminated from his diet, the seizures stopped.
Recently my toy Schnauzer, Dusty, woke us up at 5:30 a.m. experiencing her first seizure. Her body was shaking and she was drooling in the crate in which she sleeps. We noticed that earlier in the evening she was restless, wanting to go outside more frequently and chewing excessively on one of her all-natural beef chew sticks. However, it never occurred to us that this could be a precursor to a seizure. Dusty hadn’t even turned two years old.
We knew from Buzz and our other Schnauzers that they were prone to sensitive stomachs as well as food and environmental allergies. We made sure to run full tests on Dusty and Kramer to identify the items that may trigger their allergies and possible seizures and attempted to eliminate those items from their diet and environment. However, nothing is foolproof and you almost have to have a degree in canine nutrition to know what’s contained in even the highest-quality food and treats. For instance, we learned that one of Dusty’s favorite treats contains carrageenan, a form of seaweed. After reviewing Dusty’s allergy charts we found that she was allergic to kelp, which is in the seaweed family.
Her main baked fresh food diet had eggs as one of the ingredients, and the hard kibble we gave her with the fresh food had flaxseed oil. She’s allergic to both of these. All of these ingredients, though they’re listed toward the bottom of the ingredient list, were some of the culprits that could trigger her seizures.
Dusty is also notorious for finding sticks, pine needles, and pinecones in our backyard. As soon as she spots one of these, she will run toward it, scoop it up in her mouth, run to a sunny spot in the yard, lie down and begin chomping away on it until it is totally destroyed. She never consumes them and we promptly take them away from her as soon as we can catch up.
Once the item has been discarded, we spend the next 10 minutes removing particles from her long mustache, beard, and from under her skirt. It’s a total mess to clean up, but we didn’t think that it would cause her any harm. After further research, we found that the pine oil, which is found in the sticks, pine needles, and pinecones, can be hazardous if consumed and can trigger seizures. Now, we take a handful of bison chew sticks and a few of her toys outside with us for every potty break. We do everything possible to keep her distracted from the pine sticks and cones.
We have also discovered, after extensive research and a consultation with our vet, that stress can trigger seizures. The stress can come from a visit to the vet or groomer, a long walk in the park when it is warm outside, or any other changes in her routine.
After Dusty’s second seizure last week, we tried to retrace our day to determine what may have been the trigger. We realized that she had been to the groomer in the past 48 hours (albeit this is the same groomer that she’s been going to since she was three months old), we took a long walk in the park during the Georgia summer humidity (even though much of the path was shaded), her Grandma was visiting for the July 4th holiday, and she carried a large pinecone from the backyard to our back deck (without chewing it at all). Though we can’t be sure what had the greatest impact, and neither can our vet, a combination of all these may have been enough to trigger the second seizure.
So, for now, we closely monitor what she eats and chews on, we eliminate as much stress as possible and trust that the universe will take care of her. It doesn’t seem to be enough to be a pet expert and an expert caregiver for your dog. You also have to be a diligent researcher, investigator, and almost a degreed scientist in order to have half a chance at taking care of your dog. Was it much easier in the good old days or are there just more things to worry about that weren’t in existence back then?
Has your dog had seizures? What did your vet say, and how are you treating the seizures? Share your stories in the comments.
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About Tim Link: All-American guy who loves to rock out to Queen while consuming pizza and Pinot Noir and prefers to associate with open-minded people who love all critters. Considers himself to be the literal voice for all animals. Author, writer, radio host, Reiki Master, Animal Communicator and consultant at Wagging Tales.