Canine Epilepsy & Cognitive Impairment

News

pug dog playing chess

Hello everyone, CEO Olivia here. I have a confession to make. I’m not always obedient & sometimes I may appear to be ignoring my HuMom.

The Royal Veterinary College of London may have an explanation. They have conducted several studies on the connection between cognitive function & epilepsy in canines. It seems that dogs with epilepsy may find it harder to obey commands, are slower to learn new tricks, have spatial memory deficits & are easily distracted.

In one study, when measured against non epileptics, dogs with epilepsy found it harder to obey a sit or stay command, were slower to learn new tricks, were more easily distracted by interesting sights, sounds or smells, & were less likely to pay attention to their human. Anti-epileptic drugs were found to worsen behavior, particularly potassium bromide & zonisamide, along with the use of multiple drugs simultaneously.

In another study, dogs with epilepsy more commonly failed to recognize familiar people, had difficulty finding food dropped on the floor, & paced or wandered without direction or purpose ( speaking personally, my meds make me pace a lot). Within the group of dogs with epilepsy, those with a history of cluster seizures or a high seizure frequency were most likely to show these signs, which may reflect progressive brain damage.

In the most recent study, dogs with epilepsy were found to show reduced performance in a spatial memory task. While most control dogs were able to immediately find a food reward in a room after a short period of ‘forgetting time’, dogs with epilepsy spent longer searching for the reward. These results are published in Veterinary Record today.  

The researchers, following the conclusion of these studies, recommend using reward-based methods when training a dog with epilepsy, & engage in brain-boosting training activities to improve their cognitive abilities.

My HuMom has always looked for ways to keep my brain sharp. I’m pretty smart & we want to keep it that way. That’s why I have puzzle games & sometimes I do a routine for a treat. She also feels all training should be reward based which is wooftastic for me. Besides, adverse training methods, such as using bark-activated collars, prong collars or verbal punishment are not effective & do more harm than good.

In closing, if you have a good dog who lives with canine epilepsy, just remember, he or she may be a bit slower & less focused than other dogs. You will need more patience, understanding & treats. Emphasis on the treats. BOL!

CEO Olivia

CBD Effects on Epilepsy Medication

Health

It seems at least once a week I am asked about CBD Oil. It is showing promising results in the management of epilepsy. I have tried it briefly & my huMom believes it was helping me but we are hoping to get a specific CBD oil called, “Charlotte’s Web”, because it is made specifically to manage epilepsy. We are also doing our due diligence as this is a relatively new medication & it is not yet regulated (or legal) here in Canada.

A study is underway at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Adults & children with hard to manage epilepsy are trying CBD oil but the study is also looking as to how CBD interacts with other seizure medications.

The study has found that there were significant changes in levels of the drugs clobazam, topiramate, & rufinamide in both adults & children. Changes in zonisamide & eslicarbazepine was observed in adults only. Except for clobazam, however, the drug levels did not change outside of the normally accepted range. Tests also showed that participants taking valproate & CBD showed slightly more stress on their liver.

The findings emphasize the importance of monitoring blood levels of anti epileptic drugs as well as liver function during treatment with CBD oil. The perception exists that since CBD is plant based, it is natural & safe. While this may be true, this study shows that CBD can interact with anti seizure drugs.

Studies like this are very helpful. We intend to try CBD Oil again, once we find a quality brand that clearly helps. There seems to be no question that CBD oil can shut down seizures but some standardization & quality control needs to be established. Maintaining a regular dosage is very important.

Do you use CBD Oil to manage epilepsy? If so, I’d like to hear your story.

CEO Olivia

Living With Canine Epilepsy

News

Olivia November 2015

It has happened more than once. My huMom tells someone that I live with canine epilepsy & they say something like, “If it was me, I’d have that dog put down”. People seem to think my life is nothing but suffering & endless seizures. Nothing could be further from the truth. 99.9% of the time, I’m just your average happy, playful dog with a keen sense of humor.

I do have special needs. I take three different medications twice a day, Potassium Bromide, Zonisamide & Phenobarbital, plus  my “cluster buster” Keppra when I do have a visit from the epi-monster. My huMom pays special attention to nutrition, food intake, & my supplements. She also tries to keep the home environment as stress free as possible with two dogs, a cat & a house pig.  My routine of daily exercise/walks are also important.

My huMom is also constantly researching & reaching out to other families with epi-dogs like me. Together we support one another & share information. I also have a wooftastic vet who regularly consults an animal neurologist on my behalf.

In short, I have a very good life. I’m loved & cared for. That being said, I know I’m one of the fortunate ones. Many epi-warriors have fallen to this disease. It is my hope that one day a cure is found.

CEO Olivia