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Monday, February 06, 2012

Epilepsy Awareness Interview

One of the scariest illnesses around has to be epilepsy.  A nasty disorder that can lurk unknown for months, or years only to appear out of nowhere and scare the bejeezus out of everyone involved.

I am blessed to have never experienced this issue in any of my gimpy dogs, but I know a lot of people who do and have.  I don't envy them at all.  I've dealt with spine, knee, and hip issues.  I've dealt with blindness, cataracts, and a myriad of other gimpy issues, and would much rather deal with them again than have a dog with epilepsy.  Its not that I wouldn't deal with it... I just would rather deal with something I can see, treat, or help with... seeing one of my poor pups dealing with a seizure would break my heart, and its very hard for me to understand how the brave epi dog owners can handle it.

It is a great honor that I had an opportunity to interview Dorothy Wills-Raftery, author of the FiveSibes blog™ who recently wrote a children's book about her Siberian Husky, Gibson, and his battle with epilepsy.

Gimpy Dogs:  What is the biggest message the book will give to both kids and their parents?

Dorothy:  It is my hope that the message kids and parents get will be that it's okay to have a pet with epilepsy. Today there are medications, diets, and vitamin therapies that can help a dog live a good life, even as an Epi-Dog.  I also hope that it takes some fear away for children. They may have a pet of their own that has Canine Epilepsy, or even a family member, friend, or they themselves may epilepsy, so I hope this helps them know they are not alone. And there are real tips in the book, such as the bag of frozen peas... cooling a pet's body after a seizure is important and when Gibson had his first seizure I didn't have an ice pack in my freezer so I used a loaf of frozen Italian bread and bags of frozen of peas.  If a child sees their pet seizing and they remember to get a bag of frozen peas or a dish of water or even the vanilla ice cream ready, then they will feel they are helping, and that's important.

Gimpy Dogs: Even though its in a kid's version format, can a dog owner just starting out learning out Canine epilepsy learn from reading it?

Dorothy:  Yes, I believe so. The "Tale" is based on true facts from Gibson's seizures, so the things that Harley instructs the pups to do or she does herself are true.  She has them stay calm.  She has them get a first aid kit - every Epi-Dog household should have one.  Harley and the pups help steady Gibson and get him safely inside - a dog who has just had a seizure will be confused, disoriented, and even have temporary blindness, so they need some guidance and should not be left alone.  Harley jots notes in a journal and a journal is important to have to mark down seizure dates, time, length of seizure, meds, emergency vet numbers, etc.  Having ice packs or frozen peas on hand.  Water to drink.  And even the ice cream is fact for a few spoonsful of natural vanilla is good to help bring a dog who has just seized sugar levels back up. We always have a pint or half gallon of Breyer's All Natural Vanilla in our freezer just in case! 
Gimpy Dogs: What is the one thing in the book that a first time epi-dog owner may discover that is not commonly known?

Dorothy: In the book, I'd have to say first-time Epi-Dog parents may not know about the First Aid Kit.  In my blog I have a link to what is good to have in a First Aid Kit. The thing about Canine Epilepsy is that even a dog who is being successfully treated, there is always a chance a seizure could still occur. We pray it never will, but having the First Aid Kit keeps us prepared just in case. I'll be happy if it gathers ten inches of dust and never has to be used again, but I will always have it on hand.

Gimpy Dogs: You've talked in other interviews about how hard it is to just "let him live his life" without jumping at every little hiccup or snort, what helped you let go and just let him be a dog?

Dorothy: That was the best advice my vet gave me...but it's not always easy.  I always keep Gibson under watch and I am vigilant in timing his medications, vitamins, and meals and also opt to have his blood levels checked every six months (sooner if I think something may be off) rather than annually.  I think  the biggest thing that helped me adjust though is time. As each day turns into a week that turns into a month that turns into a year passed without a visit from the "seizure monster" is what really helps.  I let Gibson lead me.  If he is happy and talkative and is eating and playing with the others, then he makes me feel good and that's the key. When he has the days of stomach upset or is really lethargic, then I am on high alert. Having a baby monitor by his bed helps too!

Gimpy Dogs: What was the biggest resource, other than experience, that helped you learn more about epilepsy in dogs?

Dorothy: There are three.  First, a gal who I met via social networking when I posted a notice on MySpace explaining what was happening with Gibson.  She is a nurse with an Epi-Dog and she talked me through so much in the early days, including what to expect and side effects from the meds. I also have a wonderful - no, make that awesome - veterinarian team. They care so much about Gibson, all of my Huskies, and are open to discussing the best treatment for him. They are also pro-holistic treatments combined with medication. I like that. They do not believe in over-medicating a pet, and they just really work hard to keep him healthy. Then there are some valuable online resources (which are also listed in the blog link) including the Canine Epilepsy Resources, the center I will be donating a percentage of profits from the book to so they can keep up the great job of providing valuable information and resources to Epi-Dog parents worldwide.
Gimpy Dogs: Who would you recommend this book to, and for what reasons?

Dorothy: I'd recommend it for everyone! All ages of children as young children like to help and this book will help them to understand Canine Epilepsy so hopefully they won't be afraid if they see a seizure and they may even know what to do in the event one happens.  The story is also creatively illustrated by artist Michelle Littler.  She has created the Huskies so adorably that everyone can't help but smile when they see their expressions! It's a good book for teachers and parents to read to children and then hopefully have a discussion afterwards so it can be an important learning tool. I also think adults and pet owners will like it as well.  It's a book that will appeal to the child and pet lover in all of us, while also discussing the important topic of Canine Epilepsy Awareness.




The book "What's Wrong With Gibson" is available at ArcticHouse Publishing
If anyone is interested in purchasing the book, they may do so at the ArcticHouse Publishing website. Books can also be personalized, if a reader would like, just leave a message in the "comment" section of the order form. 

If you want to learn about canine epilepsy, want to teach a child about it, and help a worth cause at the same time, please consider ordering your copy!

Thank you Dorothy and the FiveSibes for helping others understand this invisible disorder that affects so many!

- Gimpy Dogs

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Orthopedic Issues

Dyslplasia is most often a genetic defect passed on from the parents or from somewhere along the dog's lineage.


Dysplasia can be very debilitating, and in the past was a death sentence to the dog that had it. Now, thanks to medical breakthroughs, hip replacement or other surgeries can be performed to provide the dog with pain-free movement, but those surgeries do come with a hefty price and a long recovery time.

Some common myths about dysplasia:


dysplasia is caused by arthritis.

FALSE: dysplasia often causes arthritis

It will go away or get better on its own.

FALSE: it will only get worse if not treated.

Dysplasia is a death sentence.

FALSE: it can be treated successfully through surgery.

Dysplasia only happens in the hips.

FALSE, elbows and other joints can by dysplasic.


Resources


Using Carts to help dogs with leg, hip, spine issues heal:



ACL





CCL





Elbow Dysplasia



FHO




Hip Dysplasia







Knee Injury




Legg-Calve-Perthes






Musculoskeletal System



Pain Management and Rehab



Patellar Luxation




Swimming Puppy Syndrome



Total Hip Replacement




TPLO





TTA






Wobbler Syndrome



Support Groups


Wobblers Syndrom Support Group



TPO Support Group



Hip Dysplasia Support Group


Cancer

Basal Cell Tumors and Basal Cell Carcinomas



Benign, Nonvirus-associated Papillomatous Lesions



Bladder Cancer



Brain Tumors



Hemangiosarcoma




Lymphoma



Mammary Carcinoma



Mast Cell Tumors



Melanoma (skin cancer)



Osteosarcoma




Perianal Adenomas






Skin Cancer



Squamous Cell Carcinomas



Support Groups



Eye Disorders

Issues with the eye can be as simple as a scratch on the cornea, or an underlying symptom of another disease. For instance, cataracts can be a sign of old age, but in younger dogs it could signal the onset of diabetes. There is also some speculation that Cushings disease may cause SARDS. Make sure that you not just treat the symptoms, but get to the bottom of what may be causing the issue.


As with other issues, if you have a specialist available to you after your vet's initial diagnosis, its best to get the opinion of a vet that specializes in that issue. Like most general practitioners, they see the more common problems and may not know the special tests or treatments available for eye issues. What could look like one thing to a general practitioner, may mean a totally different diagnosis and treatment to a specialist.


We also recommend teaching hospitals as an excellent resource. Its a common misconception that students treat the animals seen at teaching hospitals and that IS NOT THE CASE. In most cases, you'll be seen by top specialists at a lower cost than by seeing a specialist that has established their own practice. You will also have access to the state of the art facilities and diagnostic equipment found at teaching hospitals. Another benefit is that students will get to learn from your pet and go on to help others with the knowledge they've gained from your experience.


Blind Dogs Support Group



Cataracts





Cherry Eye





Chronic Immune Mediated Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (CIKS)



Chronic Superficial Keratitis (Pannus)





Corneal Dystrophy




Corneal Ulcers




Distichiasis




Dry Eye (Karatoconunctivitis sicca)




Ectropion




Entropion




Glaucoma






Horner’s Syndrome




Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS)




Lens Luxation




Pannus





Progressive Retinal Atropy (PRA)






Retinal Dysplasia





Runny Eyes



Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration syndrome (SARDs)




SARDS Support Group



Ulcerative Corneal Disease





Uveitis - Inflammation of the Eye