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How Dogs Help People with Epilepsy – and Vice Versa

Dogs help out ushumans in so many astonishing ways, from detecting contraband at our borders to sniffing out seizures in people with Epilepsy. November is...

Julia Szabo  |  Nov 14th 2010


Dogs help out ushumans in so many astonishing ways, from detecting contraband at our borders to sniffing out seizures in people with Epilepsy. November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month,a fine timeto stop and appreciate a group called 4 Pawsfor Ability.

This non-profit, based in Ohio, trains dogs to alert people with epilepsy when a seizure is coming on. It’s lifesaving work, and the incredibly sophisticated training that goes into preparing each service dog for this noble calling takes time, effort, and money. It costs 4Paws an average of $22,000 per dog placed, so theyrequire families receiving a dog to contribute at least $13,000. (To see proof ofthe extraordinary bond between a seizure-alert assistance dog and his human, check out the photo of young Curtis and his 4Paws dog Cadbury at right.)

Sadly, some people with epilepsycannot afford to have one of these lifesaving dogs. But Pawcurious wants to change that for one little boy. So the web site coordinated a blogathon to raise the funds needed for 4-year-old Bradyn Ferguson to have a 4Paws dog. The goal of the blogathon is to collect $13,000 by today. To learn more about how you can help, even after today,go here.

Dogs too can suffer from seizure disorder. Annette Frey of Biscuits by Lambchop knows this well. Her beloved mutt Lamby, the inspiration for her dog-treat business, had seizure disorder. But he thrived and lived to the ripe old age of15 because he ate his mom’s home cooking, and she researched all the ways a healthy diet can help an epileptic dog cope with his disorder.

Now other dogs can enjoy the health benefits of the treats baked in Lamby’s honor. Biscuits by Lambchop arefree ofgrain and gluten,because one sure way to help reduce the quantity and duration of seizures in epileptic dogs (and people) is to feed them a grain-free, gluten-freediet.

I learned this many years ago, when I took extra-special care ofa beloved dog who had seizures. Although he was on seizure-control medication, I still wanted to take every precaution, so I fed him a high-protein diet that contained no rice or any other kind of grain. In between meals, he got only scraps of meat. (That was before Annette invented her Biscuits by Lambchop, or I would’ve fed him those!)

Biscuits by Lambchopis hosting a scavenger hunt and giving away a bag of awesome biscuitsto the first person who correctly hunts down the answers to four questions. Here’s how to play: Find the questions onBiscuits by Lambchop’sFacebook page thengo to Twitter – the handle is @LambyBiscuits – and use the hashtag #blogathon to sendin your answers. The winner will be contacted on Twitter today.

When one of my rescued dogs, the beautiful Lupa (who now lives with my ex)presented with violent seizures, I wanted to find an alternative to phenobarbital, which is conventionally prescribed for dogs with epilepsy.Phenobarbital (Phenobarb for short) works to control seizures, but – like many medications administered to pets long-term – it takes a hard toll on a dog’s liver.

Lupa was just under one year old, and I didn’t want to compromise her liver by putting her on Phenobarb if I could help it. I wanted an anti-convulsant medication that wouldn’t have such a harsh, long-term side effect.

But also I needed to be sure that whatever alternative I found for Lupa wouldreally work. Her seizures were heartbreaking to witness: Once, while we were out walking at night, she ran up a stoop to a building and began screaming, leaping in the air,and throwing herself at the front door. I finally managed to calmmypoor babydown,but shewas terribly frightened and spent from her scary experience;she sat huddled in the corner of the doorway, staring blankly into space. I had to find something to help Lupa, and fast.

Luckily, I learned about Lepsilyte. This all-natural medication is made by Buck Mountain Botanicals.This is the same company that also invented Neoplasene, the cancer medicine taken by my dog Tiki. Lepsilyte is a combination of extracts from two plants, Valerian and Skullcap; it does not harm the liver, so it’s safe for dogs to take every day, for their entire lives.

Lepsilyte really works. Ever since Lupa’s been takingit daily, she’s never suffered another seizure. More and more veterinarians are recommending it for their canine patients. To learn more about it, gohereor ask your vet to contact Dr. Terence Fox atBuck Mountain Botanicals, 406-232-1185.