Show Us Your Purple in Support of K9 Epilepsy Awareness

Mar 12, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Pets

by Dorothy Wills-Raftery

Dorothy is a fellow pet blogger whose blog is named FiveSibes™ : Siberian Husky K9 News and Reviews. We found each other through a site called Blogpaws and I asked her to share something with us about K9 epilepsy.

(check out FiveSibes blog ~AND~ Confessions of a Rescue Mom blog to learn more about K9 epilepsy & Purple Day! There is a link to the blog hop at the end of this post)Badge Purple Day Blog Hop

March 26 is Purple Day® for Epilepsy, a day to join together in support for Epilepsy awareness by wearing or creating and sharing something purple. Motivated by her own struggles with Epilepsy, Purple Day was founded in 2008 by a nine-year-old girl named Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada, along with the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia (EANS). In 2009, the New York-based Anita Kaufmann Foundation and EANS teamed up to launch Purple Day internationally. Cassidy’s goal is to get people talking about Epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths, and inform those with seizures that they are not alone.

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Author Dorothy Wills-Raftery and Gibson

Epilepsy does not just affect humans. Thousands of dogs are diagnosed with Canine Epilepsy or a seizure disorder across the breeds around the world each year. Not too long ago euthanasia was the recommendation made by many veterinarians for a dog who had seizures. Today, that is no longer the case as there are many medications and alternative and holistic treatments available to treat dogs with seizures. These dogs, called “Epi-dogs,” may only experience one seizure from some unknown origin, and never have another, while others manage their seizures with medications and diet. One of my own Siberian Huskies, Gibson, began having ‘grand mal’ and cluster seizures shortly after his third birthday. He was diagnosed with idiopathic (unknown cause) Canine Epilepsy and was placed on medications, alternative therapies, and a specific diet that all helped him to live seizure-free for the last seven years of his life.

There are many reasons a dog may begin to have a seizure. It may be genetic. He may have an underlying illness or experience an injury or trauma. She may have ingested or came into contact with something toxic; there are many possibilities ranging from a poisonous plant or shrub, paint, chemical yard sprays, candles, air fresheners, perfumes, and certain oils, such as rosemary, eucalyptus, or tea tree. Certain foods and ingredients can trigger a seizure, such as wheat gluten, rosemary, some grains, and preservatives. Rawhide bones have caused seizures in many dogs. Flashing strobe lights, TVs, lightning and thunderstorms, heat, and even lunar activity, solar flares, and barometric pressure can affect dogs with seizures. And then there is the other end of the spectrum, no known cause, or idiopathic Epilepsy.

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Gibson cover dog on EPIc Dog Tales

If your dog experiences a seizure, go to your vet office as soon as possible. They will run a series of tests, including blood work, to rule out any underlying health issue. Your vet may want to wait and see if the dog has another seizure before prescribing medication. In the meantime, if possible, try to get a history of your dog’s bloodline to see if it’s genetic. It’s not always possible to do, especially if they are rescue or shelter dogs, but continue ruling out other possible triggers that may be affecting your dog. If your vet recommends anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), it may be a while to find the right combination and for the dog to adjust to them. Some dogs respond immediately; others may still continue to have seizures and/or side effects from the AEDs. Also research holistic therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, therapeutic oils, and Reiki, as well as vitamins and supplements, which can be added to your dog’s care under the supervision of your vet or veterinary neurologist. Keep a written or a video journal of your dog’s seizure activity from the time it starts to the length of the seizure and what your dog did or ate prior to the onset. Use these notes to discuss your dog’s case with your vet.

Be your dog’s advocate. Research all you can about Canine Epilepsy. Join a support network. There are some wonderful online ones, including the Epil-K9 List on Epil-K9 Foundation’s Canine Epilepsy Resources site at www.Canine-Epilepsy.com. With some care and lots of love, Epi-dogs can live wonderful lives.

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Lily & Banyan Arnoff

Alisa Arnoff, a director of the Epil-K9 Foundation, is the mom to two Tervurens: Epi-dog Lily and newest addition to the family, rescue sister Banyan. Introducing a new pup is always of concern, especially when an Epi-dog is involved. “What if the puppy did not work out? Did not respond well when Lily seized? What if Lily hated the dog?” But, Alisa says, Banyan has become a real positive influence for Lily. “Lily loves playing the alpha dog, and has increased her activity, which given the extra weight resulting from increased appetite due to her meds, is wonderful. Banyan even ‘alerts’ me to Lily’s seizures. She senses something is wrong before it happens and then goes into a frantic dance to get my attention. Then Banyan lies down with Lily after a seizure. Life continues to be a challenge, but my Lily now has her own canine champion at her side.”

Missy Erickson, a World Cup Medalist, National Champ and Record Holder, and a member of the 2016 Olympic Long Team, along with her partner Andy Lakatosh, a 2004 Olympic Team Alternate, a member of the 2008 Olympic Long Team, a Pan Am Games Medalist, and National Champ and Record Holder hail from San Pedro, California, and are proud parents to a fur-family of four dogs, including Epi-dog Daisy, a rescued Siberian Husky. “Living with an Epi-dog is no different than any of the other three dogs we have!” exclaims Missy. “Daisy is playful, spry, and she absolutely loves walks. She gets all her meds and glucosamine chews in the morning and at night with her bowl of food, and she gobbles them right up.”

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Missy Erickson & Andy Lakatosh FurFamily

Daisy came to Missy and Andy as a 10-year-old stray “just over a year ago, and we’re still seeing her personality come out more and more each day. She hates fireworks or any loud bang, which includes the heater in the living room, so she seeks us out and cuddles. She’s just like any other dog…she’s been known to get right in there and cause mischief like the others!”

For folks concerned with adopting a dog that has seizures, Missy says, “I would definitely encourage anyone to take on a dog with Epilepsy. It’s manageable and controllable with the right care and medication. We’re incredibly lucky. She’s been seizure free since November 14 of 2014! She brings smiles to our faces every single day, and her bounce when we come home is to die for. We wish she would have come into our lives sooner, but at 10 years old, she gives our 9-month-old puppy a run for his money!”

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Missy Erickson & Andy Lakatosh Epi Daisy

Epi-dogs are amazing dogs that are happy doing what they love, whether it’s mushing along a snow-covered trail, parading in a dog show, or accompanying their family on outings. They love to swim and socialize, go hiking, skijoring, bikejoring, and snuggling on the sofa. They do not let Canine Epilepsy stop them from living life.

fivesibsSo on this Purple Day, help to bring awareness to Canine Epilepsy. Education is key since it removes the fear of the unknown. So let’s put something purple on our dogs and ourselves, take a photo and post it on social media with #PurpleDay and #LiveGibStrong, and together we can support and help educate others that dogs with Canine Epilepsy can—and do—live full, happy lives.

Check out more pet stories and articles in our Pet Perspective section, including a column from Fresno Bully Rescue every other month. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to an animal rescue.

Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an author, photojournalist, and host of “The Sibe Vibe” on Dog Works Radio. She has been writing and published in a variety of publications since she was a teen, and spent her career as an award-winning photojournalist and editor in the educational arena for 14 years. In 2010, she began writing about Siberian Huskies, and was named “Best in Print” author for 2015 by American Pet Magazine, awarded Hudson Valley Magazine’s ‘Best Author 2015,’ and is a 2015 Dog Writers Association of America three-time “Excellence” nominee. Her journey with her own Epi-dog, Gibson, was her inspiration behind her books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy, and is the face of the #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign. Dorothy is an official Purple Day® Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation~Canine Epilepsy. Her five Siberian Huskies are the inspiration for her globally top-ranked Siberian Husky website, the FiveSibes™ blog.

50 Comments

  1. What a great way to raise awareness. We love to adopt special needs dogs because we know we will provide them a loving and lasting home until their final days. These pets are worth every moment of your devotion. Thank you for raising awareness!

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    • Thank you, Andy’s Paw Prints! I’m so happy to hear you love to adopt special needs dogs! They are so worth it…and the bond is so special! Thanks for joining us!

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  2. Thank you for raising awareness for canine epilepsy! It’s such an important topic! Gibson was a beautiful boy! <3

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    • Thank you very much, Lauren! Gibson was a very special, amazing, loving, and inspirational boy. I miss him every single day, but with his strong spirit by my side, we will continue on with his #LiveGibStrong legacy in the hopes of helping other dogs with epilepsy and their families know that they can live very happy lives!

      Reply
  3. Great way to raise awareness and will for definite put purple on our FB page on the 26th especially as my best friend is epileptic and she amazes me on a daily basis

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    • Thank you, Ruth, for your support of Purple Day and for your friend, whom I am sure is amazing every single day!

      Reply
  4. Great info! Your pups are just gorgeous! Thanks for raising awareness about this important topic!

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  5. Wow what one big happy family! 🙂

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    • Yes, Tori, I so agree! Daisy is a very lucky pup with a wonderful family!

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  6. Very worthy cause that deserves awareness.

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    • Thank you, Jana. I surely is! And we hope that through our #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness, we can help to continue supporting other folks who are on this journey as well.

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  7. Thanks for raising awareness… we’re happy to be joining in on Purple Day this coming week.

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    • Thank you for your support! Looking forward to your “going Purple” with us!

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  8. Wonderful and informative post about a great cause. My parents had a dog who had repeated seizures, so this is great that you’re raising awareness!

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    • Thank you very much! Epi-dogs are amazing and so are their families who care for and love them!

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  9. When I first began blogging, I only knew of one dog with epilepsy. I am stunned at how widespread it is and I thank you for bringing it to the forefront of conversation.

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    • Thank you, M.K. It does affect dogs across the breeds worldwide and the more we discuss it, the more we hear of dogs having seizures. It is my and angel Gibson’s hope that Canine Epilepsy Awareness stays at the forefront of conversations to help other Epidogs and their families and/or rescues worldwide! #LiveGibStrong!

      Reply
  10. We most definitely will do this – we have a special shirt given to us by University of Washington Huskies to celebrate just this very day! Thanks for the reminder!

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    • Wonderful! Thank you for joining us! I can not wait to see to see the shirt and your #PurpleDay2016 photo!

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  11. Thank you for posting this, I lost my heart dog 3 years ago to idiopathic epilepsy. Its troubling how many sweet dogs have this, while most are well managed with the proper cocktail of medicine most are not so lucky.

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    • You are so welcome. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. They sure take a huge piece of our hearts with them. It is my hope one day there will be cure for Epilepsy across the board.

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  12. Thank you for highlighting this incredibly important health issue. I don’t think all dog owners know that dogs can have epilepsy and I appreciate you spreading the word and raising awareness. Happy to share!

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    • Thank you so much, Sarcastic Dog! The more we share, the more we can hopefully reach others and help Epi-dog families know they are not alone, and that there is much information and support out here.

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  13. I’ve learned so much about epilepsy in dogs thanks to reading about Gibson on Five Sibes. I don’t normally wear purple, but I’ll be wearing it on March 26.

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    • Thank you so much, Beth. I truly appreciate hearing that! And I know my Gibson is smiling, too. Thanks for “going purple” with us in support of all who live with Epilepsy, both human and animals.

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    • Thank you! And I look forward to seeing him in his purple!

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  14. What a great post raising awareness for such an important special need!

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  15. Thanks for sharing such important information. It’s wonderful to know that there is help for dogs with a seizure disorder. Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

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    • You are welcome, Maureen! There is much information to be shared in the hopes that no one feels alone on this journey with their dogs.

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  16. Thank you for sharing this information. Epilepsy should definitely NOT be a death sentence!

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    • You are most welcome! Happy to share. And I so agree, Epi-dogs can and do live happy lives!

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  17. I’ll be sure to wear purple and spread the word. Thanks for spreading awareness!

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    • Thank you Rascal and Rocco! I so appreciate that! And feel free to share your purple pics with us!

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  18. I never realized how common canine epilepsy was until I started blogging. There are a lot of dogs that suffer from this! It is great that you are participating in getting the word out about epilepsy and teaching people what it is really like. Just like many humans with epilepsy, dogs with epilepsy can live fairly normal lives. 🙂
    -Purrs from your friends at http://www.PlayfulKitty.net

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    • You are so right! They absolutely can live normal lives! Gibson showed me that seizures, and later when his seizures were controlled, the side effects from his meds – all did not stop him from being a happy, silly, loving dog!

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  19. Great post. Thanks for sharing and raising awareness about canine epilepsy. I’ll be sporting purple.

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    • Thank you very much, Ava! I appreciate the share – the more people we can reach, hopefully the more families with Epi-dogs will know they are not alone and there is much support and informational resources available! Thanks for “going purple!”

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  20. Thank you for this post. I don’t think I was aware of so many dogs with epilepsy.

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    • You are most welcome! In the early days, when Gibson first started to have seizures, I had no idea myself. It is startling to me to know there are so many who do, but the important thing is that they can live happy lives.

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  21. I knew canine epilepsy existed, but I never realized just how much hope there was for affected dogs. We’ll be sure to show our support!

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    • Thank you for your support! There is much hope for dogs with seizures and/or Canine Epilepsy. By sharing, we can hopefully reach other families on this journey and let them know they are not alone and there is much hope and information available!

      Reply
  22. We’re thrilled to participate in this hop and refer people to those, such as yourself, with experience regarding this condition.

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    • Thank you, Sadie, for joining us, sharing our info, and supporting K9 Epilepsy!

      Reply
  23. I didnt know that the EPIL-K9 foundation had some GSD’s! Love their calendar!

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    • Yes! The beautiful Tervuren Belgium Shepherds, “Lily” Arnoff, representing Epidogs, and her lovely sister, “Banyan!” I love their calendar, too!

      Reply

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