K9 Epilepsy: What’s in Your Dog’s Epi First Aid Kit?

It is November and with it comes the time of year when many of us are busy with the hustle, bustle, and preparations for the upcoming holidays. November is also Epilepsy Awareness Month, a time to support those living with epilepsy—humans and canines.

K9 Epilepsy: What's in Your Dog's Epi First Aid Kit?

So while you are making lists and checking them twice, I encourage you to do a purple awareness ribbon in support, and if you share your life with a dog who has Canine Epilepsy, to use this time to take inventory of your dog’s Epi First Aid Kit.

First, and foremost, if your dog has a seizure, be sure to take steps to keep them safe, away from other pets, made as comfortable as possible, and contact your vet or emergency veterinarian hospital immediately. Being in touch with your dog’s vet is a must and critical to the health of your dog.

As part of my FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness Campaign, I share tips and important information to help educate families who live with, or who are adopting, a dog that has seizures. One of the things I kept handy and highly recommend to Epi-dog caregivers is to have an up-to-date Epi First Aid Kit.

What is an Epi First Aid Kit?

An Epi First Aid Kit is a standard canine First Aid Kit that also includes essential items needed for the care of an Epi-dog.

What can I use to hold the First Aid Kit items?

Any type of container that will hold the items will do. It should be obviously labeled and easily recognized, such as a red duffel bag with compartments, or a large basket or container marked “First Aid Kit.” Keep the First Aid Kit in a place where all members of the family can locate it during an emergency.

What should be in my dog’s Epi First Aid Kit?

In addition to the standard items in your pet’s First Aid Kit, I recommend these additional items for Epi-dogs:

  • Prescribed anti-seizure medications, or a note as to where they are located.
  • Instructions for administering meds, dosages, and seizure protocol for family members and pet sitters caring for your dog in your absence.
  • Emergency phone numbers of vet, neurologist, emergency vet hospital, a family member or friend to assist if needed, etc.
  • Copy of your Epi-dog’s vet records (in case you are away with your dog or wind up at the emergency hospital).
  • Instant cool packs to help cool down the seizing dog as his/her body temperature can rise dangerously during a seizure (a baggie with crushed ice or frozen peas/veggies can also be used).
  • Thermometer to monitor the dog’s temperature post-seizure.
  • Alcohol swabs* (see caution note below).
  • Journal** – with description of seizure, time, and length of seizures, as well as medication times and what your do was doing prior to the seizure. This information you will then share with your vet.
  • Pet towel (to wet and lay over dog to cool down).
  • Hand-held fan.
  • Rescue Remedy®

For Post-Seizure Care & Clean Up:

  • Pet wipes
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Disposable latex or non-latex gloves
  • Disposable bags

Additional Items to Have on Hand

  • Natural vanilla ice cream (to help raise sugar levels post-seizure).
  • Corn syrup, honey, or maple syrup (if ice cream is not available or dog cannot eat dairy).
  • A source of protein, such as low-fat cheese sticks, natural creamy peanut butter, chicken, tuna, plain yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. (to give to dog post-seizure after ice cream or syrup to help stabilize sugar levels).
  • Fresh water (allow dog to take sips post-seizure).
  • A cooler collar (kept in freezer).
  • A cooler water bed or mat for dog to lay on to help lower temperature.
  • Ramp or large sheet/blanket (to transport dog).

*Alcohol swabs should only be used in extreme emergencies, where no cool or ice packs are available. A light wipe to the paw pads or tips of ears can help an overheating dog cool down, however, alcohol can cause seizures itself in some dogs if it is licked or absorbed. Unless under veterinarian care, I highly recommend using instant cool packs, gel ice packs, or crushed ice in a baggie to cool down a seizing dog. (If your Epi-dog has short or shaved fur, or is a single-coated dog, wrap ice pack in a cloth).

**A journal can be a notebook or chart with handwritten information, or it can be a digital application. An excellent digital journal is the free Royal Veterinary College’s Pet Epilepsy Tracker app available for Apple and Android devices (through iTunes Store or Google Play).

Notation: Always check the expiration dates on medications, supplements, and other items in your Epi First Aid Kit to be sure they are not outdated, and update the items accordingly.

Whether your dog has epilepsy, or not, s/he may have special needs or items that should be included in the First Aid Kit in case of emergency, so please take this month to make a point to discuss and review your list of items, as well as the appropriate applications, with your dog’s veterinarian.

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dorothy wills-rafteryDorothy Wills-Raftery

Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the international FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of “The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.” Named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, Dorothy is a 5-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2016 for her writing. An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home­ with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and new grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram (@FiveSibesMom).

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18 Responses to K9 Epilepsy: What’s in Your Dog’s Epi First Aid Kit?

  1. Debbie says:

    This is such a great guide to making an EPI dog first aid kit. I will keep this in mind if Boomer gets any more seizures. She’s only had two, and the last one was about 9 months ago, so we’re hoping it does’t happen again anytime soon. Great resource

    • FiveSibesMom says:

      Thank you, Debbie. I hope through this info I can spare other Epi-dog parents the anxiety and fear if/when a seizure happens. I pray Boomer never gets another seizure. Nine months is a nice stretch…paws all crossed here it keeps going!

  2. Dear Mishu says:

    This is wonderful — I am sure pet parents with dogs with epilepsy will really appreciate you gathering all this in one place. thank you!

  3. Cathy Armato says:

    This is such fantastic advice and will help a lot of people with Epi dogs!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  4. Jana Rade says:

    Our first aid kit certainly grew over the years. Got pretty much everything and the kitchen sink.

    One thing large breed owners should also consider is a support harness of sort, in case their dog suddenly requires support when getting up or walking.

    • FiveSibesMom says:

      Yes, a good thing to have handy, Jana. My boy Gibson was a 100+ pound wooly Husky and I needed to use a lift harness at various times, not after his seizures, but during rehabilitation for weak hind end issues stemming from the side effects of his anti-seizure medications.

  5. Nice guide for gathering supplies for a canine epilepsy first aid kit. I didn’t know that November was epilepsy month. Great timing to discuss the issue for dog’s as well. Sadly, this seems to be a relatively common health problem among dogs and being prepared for seizures can make a difference in the dog’s outcome. Nice post.

    • FiveSibesMom says:

      Thank you! I appreciate it. Epilepsy is a beast with its own mind. It can be so frustrating trying to figure out a trigger from so many possible causes, including environmental, medical and genetic. And then sometimes one may never find a cause. I hope this guide can help other families in caring for their dog during a seizure as I sure know how they feel to be in this position and to be scared and want to do something to help our dear Epi-dog(s).

  6. such a wonderful guide for having a first aid kit handy for dogs with Epilepsy. I admire how you educate everyone on living with a fur child with Epilepsy.

  7. Such good information. I needed this when I had an epileptic dog over twenty years ago.

    • FiveSibesMom says:

      Thank you! We are fortunate that there is much more information and easy access to it now. Years ago, sadly, many dogs were euthanized upon a diagnosis of epilepsy. Today, thankfully, there are so many resources available to help with information and care so no one feels alone.

  8. Schatzi had a seizure before she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. We were able to prevent more seizures with medication. It wasn’t until she had brain cancer at 13 that she had more seizures. They are so hard to witness.
    This kit is very complete. Thank you for sharing this helpful information.

    • FiveSibesMom says:

      Thank you, Amelia! Yes, hypothyroidism can be a trigger for seizures. My oldest Husky, Harley, had a seizure back in February and she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (after being fine for the first 12 years of her life). Bloodwork is so important. She is now on medication, too, and hopefully, we will not see another seizure in Harley or your Schatzi.

  9. Shayla says:

    What a great idea, and outline! This will be hugely beneficial to Pet parents thar are battling this with their buddies!

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