Friday, March 21, 2008

Does Your Dog Have Seizures? Read This!


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.

I did this with Henry while he was having a grand mal seizure on March 11th. Henry has extremely violent seizures. The seizure ended within a few seconds of applying the ice. It lasted only one minute. Coincidence or not I don't know, but there's no harm in trying!


Michele @ Cherish the Home said...

Very interesting!

Anonymous said...

I just want to say "thank you" for your blog. It is providing me a great deal of comfort and reassurance.

- A new-to-seizures grey mom