by Dorothy Wills-Raftery
According to PurpleDay.org, “One in 100 people” or 1%, have Epilepsy. Did you know that animals could also have Epilepsy? The North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s (NCSU-CVM) Companion Animal Epilepsy site estimates that up to one percent of the general dog population has Epilepsy, and two percent of the cat population. In addition, horses and rabbits can also have Epilepsy.
March 26 is the annual Purple Day® for Epilepsy. Purple Day was created in 2008 by 9-year-old Cassidy Megan as a result of her own struggles with Epilepsy. The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia came on board in 2008, and in 2009, the New York-based Anita Kaufmann Foundation (AKF) and Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia joined forces to launch Purple Day internationally. Purple Day is a day to encourage others to wear purple in support of those living with Epilepsy, to dispel any fears about Epilepsy, and to let them know they are not alone. Purple Day Every Day, an initiative of the AKF, continues with the efforts of Purple Day and encourages awareness on a daily basis.
I became an advocate for Purple Day® and Canine Epilepsy many years ago because I was inspired by my own Siberian Husky, Gibson, who was diagnosed with idiopathic Canine Epilepsy after experiencing grand mal and cluster seizures shortly after his third birthday in 2009. Sharing our journey in my FiveSibes blog and on our FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews Facebook page, as well as documenting the ups and downs of living with Canine Epilepsy to seeing his zest for life and his tenacity to live life strong—Gib Strong—I was inspired by him to help others. There are so many reasons, the same as a human, for why a dog may have a seizure. Ranging from genetics, an illness or injury, ingesting or inhaling a toxin, side effect of some medications, certain foods and additives, weather and atmospheric changes, stress, heat, and even flashing lights, such as a TV, can each (or all) trigger a seizure. And, as frustrating as it is, there also could be no known cause, referred to as “idiopathic.” While many dogs of many breeds and mixed breeds across the world can have Canine Epilepsy, it sure does not stop them from enjoying life, as only a dog can, just like my Gibson! With some extra care, specifically timed medications, alternative therapies, and lots of love, Epi-dogs (dogs with Epilepsy) can enjoy activities just the same as dogs without Epilepsy. Through education and awareness, we hope that folks will know they are not alone should their dog experience a seizure. Today, there are many supportive resource sites, veterinarians, and organizations available for guidance and information available to families, rescues, and fosters who are the caregivers of dogs diagnosed with Canine Epilepsy.
While Purple Day is held annually on March 26, let us all embrace each and every day as an opportunity for awareness and education to remove any fears and stigmas about Epilepsy, and to support humans and animals, and their families, who live with Epilepsy. Over at Paws to People: Bridges to Cures, a non-profit organization, they have been working hard for years to, as their mission states, “Generate awareness and funds to support Translational Study research to benefit better health and longer lives in both people and pets.” And according to the website at One Health Initiative, their concept is to “unite human and veterinary medicine” and be “a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment.” An all-encompassing human-animal healthcare philosophy is something Dr. Karen Muñana and staff at NCSU-CVM’s Companion Animal Epilepsy Research Laboratory believe in, and “dedicated to develop more effective treatments for seizures in our companion animals, and learn more about the cause of epileptic seizures in dogs and cats. Our goal is to provide education and outreach to promote a greater understanding of Epilepsy and its management while fostering a ‘One Medicine’ approach to benefit both humans and animals with Epilepsy.”
This year, the 4th Annual FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong Purple Day® for Epilepsy Blog Hop is being hosted by yours truly here at FiveSibes, along with two other amazing Canine Epilepsy advocates: Jeanaann Barnaby of Knotty Toys for Good Dogs and Kimberley Matchem of Confessions of a Rescue Mom.
You are cordially invited to join us! How? Just come on by my blog (FiveSibes.blogspot.com) on March 26th beginning at 12:01 AM EST, read our post, visit the Blog Hoppers’ posts, then grab our badge, link up your blog or web post, a photo of you and/your pet dressed in purple, your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google + or any other social media links! Come share your and/or your pet’s Epilepsy story, a photo of you and/or your pet wearing purple or a picture of something purple you made or baked or created—use your imagination and go wild with purple! And, if you do not have Epilepsy, come and help support the move by sharing your purple photographs and being part of the worldwide awareness conversation, so when someone asks, “Why are you and your dog wearing purple?” or “Why did you bake purple cupcakes?” you can tell them about Purple Day for Epilepsy! Directions on how to link to the Blog Hop are easy-peasy and will be listed right on the blog. Don’t have anything to link? No worries! Come read about what’s happening and share our blog hop link with others. After all, sharing IS caring and a huge part of the awareness movement! We sure hope you will join us, and “Show Us Your Purple!”
For info on the launch of the brand new #Paws4Purple program, visit the Anita Kaufmann Foundation at www.akfus.org under the “Programs” tab, and also check out the FiveSibes March 26, 2018 blog post at FiveSibes.blogspot.com.
For info on Canine Epilepsy and #LiveGibStrong, visit www.FiveSibes.com.