March 26, 2014

White Dog gave Steve the paw of approval when he came out dressed for work. "Glad to see you are wearing purple," she congratulated. "Today is International Purple Day!"

Purple Day is a grassroots effort dedicated to increasing worldwide  awareness about epilepsy in humans and pets. On March 26th annually, people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness. Last year, people in dozens of countries on all continents including Antarctica participated in Purple Day!

The day was begun in 2008 by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia; she chose purple because the lavender flower is often associated with solitude and the feelings of isolation that surround those with seizure diseases.

Our Mighty Quinn was an epi-dog and so is Gibson at FiveSibes. They are not alone. 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. One in ten adults will have a seizure sometime during their lifetime.  Epilepsy is one of the most common neurologic diseases in dogs. Some studies estimate up to 4% of all dogs are affected. In some breeds, the incidence may be higher. Epilepsy occurs less frequently in cats and other pets, presumably because they do not have a hereditary form of the disease.

It is honor of these brave Warriors who fight misinformation and fear as much as the disease that we share these facts you might not know. Awareness is a powerful weapon in the fight.

Epilepsy simply refers to repeated seizures. Seizures may occur as a one time event from a variety of causes, but only if the seizures repeat again and again over a period of time do we call it epilepsy.

If you have epilepsy, you probably already know that it's not a mental disorder. It can be caused by anything that affects the brain, including tumors and strokes. Sometimes epilepsy is inherited. Often, no cause can be found.

If we can identify the cause of the seizures, say a brain tumor or a stroke, then we say the pet or person has symptomatic (or secondary) epilepsy. That is, the seizures are a symptom of a disease process we've been able to identify. If we have looked and can't find the cause, then we call it idiopathic (or primary) epilepsy. The term idiopathic simply means that we do not know the cause.

During seizures, a dog's body temperature rises and a tremendous amount of energy is used. As a result, there is a drop in blood sugar levels. Some pawrents give their epi-dogs a small amount of vanilla ice cream as soon as a dog is safely able to eat following a seizure. It takes only a very small amount - too much can do more harm than good. For dogs under 50 pounds, a teaspoon or two is plenty; 50-100 pound dogs can handle about one or two tablespoons; and dogs over 100 pounds can have a scant 1/4 cup.

The reason behind this is that blood sugar levels often drop drastically before or during seizures and the ice cream will bring the blood sugar level back to normal. The way it works is the sugar in the ice cream will bring the blood sugar level back up to normal while the butter or fat holds the sugar in suspension so that it doesn't cause a sugar rush which plain sugar or honey or molasses would. Bringing the blood sugar level up too quickly is not good which is why we recommend ice cream. Also, bringing the blood sugar level up to normal can help to prevent additional seizures. Low blood sugar itself can cause seizures. If your dog has very obvious pre-seizure behavior and you give a little ice cream before a seizure happens, this can sometimes stop the seizure altogether.

For people most seizures end after a few moments or a few minutes. If seizures are prolonged, or occur in a series, there is an increased risk of status epilepticus. The term literally means a continuous state of seizure. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, there is a risk of it progressing to status epilepticus, which is a medical emergency.

Dogs: Most seizures will be very brief. They may seem to go on forever, but the average seizure lasts less than 2 minutes. If your pet has a seizure that lasts more than 5-10 minutes without stop, they need to be seen by a vet immediately. Within 30 minutes of continuous seizing, the risk of brain damage skyrockets.


Amber DaWeenie said...

Our April was an Epi-Pup. I wish we had known more about this condition when April was still here fighting.

Thank goodness more research is being done.

Brian said...

We sure hope a cure is found really soon, those are so scary.

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

That is a great post. Unfortunately we too have had to learn a lot about epilepsy for Ciara's sake. Thanks for the info.

Woos - Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Thank you for sharing this.,.. we wish a cure would be found.