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The Reality of Canine Seizures Plus Giveaway

Watching a dog experience seizures is one of the most disturbing things a dog parent can ever experience; I know because my first Cocker Spaniel experienced two seizures in her nearly 15 years on earth. If your dog has had a seizure or has been diagnosed with epilepsy, you have likely landed on this article for those reasons.

“Epilepsy is one of the most common neurologic diseases in dogs, but no one knows for sure just how common it is,” says Dennis O’Brien, DVM, PhD, Diplomate, ACVIM, Specialty of Neurology, University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine, for the Canine Epilepsy Network. Further, he says some studies estimate up to four percent of all dogs are affected, with certain breeds having a high propensity than others. Amazingly, cats and other pets do not experience epilepsy as frequently because it is presumed they do not have a hereditary form of the disease.

help for canine seizures

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy means repeated seizures. When the seizures repeat over and over, again and again, the diagnosis goes from ‘seizures’ to epilepsy.

Dorothy Wills-Raftery, also known as the “FiveSibesMom,” knows all too well about canine epilepsy. She’s been writing about it for about six years. In November of 2010, she sat down and wrote her first blog about her dog, Gibson, and his battle with canine epilepsy.

In an effort to help other dog parents who have a dog experiencing epilepsy, this is her story.

Dorothy and her dog, Gibson

Dorothy’s Story

“With regards to epilepsy, when Gibson was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy 10 days after his third birthday in 2009, and our first steps into that journey of the unknown were very scary,” Raftery says. “ I did not know of anyone at the time who had an epileptic dog (Epi-dog).”

She says the key is to stay calm so as to help your dog. I can personally attest to this because in the two times my dog seized, my insides were freaking out but I stayed as calm as possible for her overall well being.

“With treatment, special care, and lots of love, these dogs live amazing lives, just like my Gibson did,” she shares. “He loved life so much, it was infectious! That said, the road is not an easy one.  Medication schedules are critical; the dog needs to be dosed on time each day. There is uncertainty. There is worry. And there is always the chance another seizure will occur even if your dog is on medication. Medication can also have side effects.”

Raftery says that epilepsy is frustrating in that it there are so many unknowns. She advises learning as much as you can, especially about triggers, and provide that lifestyle for the dog. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet questions on that first visit (or any time).

Gibson’s Story

Raftery’s Siberian Husky, Gibson, was diagnosed with idiopathic canine epilepsy soon after his third birthday. For seven years, he became the face of canine epilepsy awareness for her and through her writings and radio show.

Gibson passed away in December of 2015 but not from epilepsy. He died from hemangiosarcoma discovered while under anesthesia for a splenectomy.

Canine epilepsy dog

From the Front Lines: Canine Epilepsy Management

The first time your dog seizes in front of you, it is very upsetting, but as time goes along, you learn how to deal with them and how to react to keep the dog calm and prevent any trauma.

Raftery recommends the following after a dog has a seizure for the first time:

Take the dog to the veterinarian for an examination, any testing and blood work to rule out any underlying health issues. A conversation with the vet should include:

  • what the results of the tests are,
  • whether they will wait to see if the seizure was a one-time thing or if there will be more,
  • if/when treatment should be started
  • what the medication options are.

If able, she recommends making some notes in a journal (online or written) about the seizure, as this would be very helpful to the vet. Notes should include (if known):

  • when the seizure occurred
  •  how long it lasted
  • description of the seizure
  • how the dog was afterward,
  • what their dog was doing and/or eating prior to the seizure

Create a Canine Epilepsy Kit

Along with the kit, as extension of that, keep an ice pack (frozen veggies will do in a pinch!) and some natural vanilla ice cream on hand in the freezer to give to the dog (followed by a little protein) post-seizure to help raise the blood sugar levels so the dog does not go into hypoglycemia.

For information about what to put in an Epi First Aid Kid, visit the Canine Epilepsy Kit post written by Raftery.

Got an hour? While you do some household chores or during some down time, five a listen to this fabulous interview between Raftery and Dr. Arnold Rugg, who was Gibson’s lead veterinarian. You can  tune in any time, or find “The Sibe Vibe” on iTunes under the Dog Works Radio family of shows.

Listen here: Talking Canine Epilepsy With Gibson’s Vet, Dr. Rugg

Help for canine seizures

Preventing Epilepsy in Dogs

“I think until a cure has been found, there is no one exact thing that can prevent seizures in a dog with idiopathic epilepsy,” Raftery shares. “There is an exhausting list of possible triggers, ranging from dietary (commercial food, wheat gluten, rosemary, preservatives, rawhides, colorings, artificial ingredients, grains, etc. to environmental triggers such as perfumes, room fresheners, candles, some essential oils (ex: rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus), insect and rodent repellents, yard sprays, toxic plants, trees and shrubs, to even vaccines, flea & tick preventative, weather, storms, lunar phases, and even solar flares.”

She says that medication (traditional and alternative), supplements, acupuncture, massage, and eliminating and/or preparing for possible seizure triggers are the best defense in hopefully managing seizures. When a dog is going into a seizure, some have found success with applying ocular pressure, cool packs to specific areas on a seizing dog’s body, and even hugging and gently speaking to their dog have helped the dog come out of a seizure quicker.

Having a veterinarian who is qualified to treat a dog with seizures is key for Raftery and she says if your vet is not knowledgeable, find one who is.

Further Resources on Canine Epilepsy

A few excellent resources about why dogs get seizures, types of seizures, the role nutrition plays, and treatments and trials, are (Links are clickable):

*Canine Epilepsy Resources Overview

*Talking Canine Epilepsy With Dr. Karen Munana & LVT/Research Specialist Julie Nettifee-Osborne of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine Neurology Department/Companion Animal Epilepsy Research Lab :

*What Causes Seizures with Dr. Karen Becker

*Articles by Dr. W. Jean Dodds, Founder of Hemopet

*Canine Epilepsy Resources The Role of a Natural Healthy Diet in the Management of Canine Epilepsy:

* 12 Important Tips for Dogs with Canine Epilepsy 4Knines

 * Gib Strong: November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month, American Pet Magazine, Page 22.

Book and Book Giveaway

Raftery has penned books on the topic of canine epilepsy, which are:

 EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy: This book is a large, 264-page, beautiful color coffee table-style book that contains personal stories of 124 dogs who have lived/are living with Canine Epilepsy, including their treatments and insights.

Dog seizures book

The other is What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy: This is the first book in her  illustrated FiveSibes Tale series. The story is intended to help children not be afraid if they see their own pet (or a human) have a seizure. In the book, Gibson has a seizure and the other FiveSibes come to his aid. It actually contains a few real-life tips that help empower children with a way to help, should this ever occur in their lives.

Both books are available through her ArcitcHouse Publishing website store (with links to either PayPal or

For both books, she donates a portion of proceeds via #LiveGibStrong to the Canine Epilepsy Resources Epil-K9 Foundation’s “Emma’s Seizure Fund” through the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Connect with Dorothy at FiveSibes and on Facebook FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews.




Thanks to all who entered!


Just in time for the holidays and in memory of my Gibson, Fidose of Reality has teamed up with Raftery to give away a gift set including:

A copy of  EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy ($49.95 value) and a #LiveGibStrong awareness bracelet.

Canine seizures bracelet

We’re giving one copy away to a Fidose of Reality follower. Simply enter below. And good luck!

Tell us the name of a pet who has made a difference in your life in the comments below.

US only, please; must be 18 or older. One entry per person.

Winner will be drawn at random on December 16, 2016 AND notified via email.

Rules Here


A dog lover of the highest order is how Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant, when she appeared with her Cocker Spaniel on Oprah Radio’s Gayle King show to dish dogs. Carol created and owns the trademark, My Heart Beats Dog® and lives that mantra. A 30-year veteran of the dog world, she is President of the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) and the 2020 DWAA winner for Best Dog Blog.


  1. Tina Deming says

    My newest adoptee Mini the Chihuahua has brought so much happiness into my life. She has a silly unique personality and always makes me laugh. Except when she potties on my bed. Grrr.. She is also very energetic for a little dog so I find myself being a lot more active.

  2. FiveSibesMom says

    Thank you SO much for this wonderful article and for the interview, Carol! So appreciate your support of #LiveGibStrong Canine Epilepsy awareness.! Sharing everywhere!

    • Pat J says

      Dorothy: This is an excellent article full of information and thank you to Carol, for putting it together. As an admin of a Facebook page with over 5,000 Labrador Retriever rescue members, we often have people facing this disease for the first time. I always send them to one of Dorothy’s articles or posts. Your knowledge is appreciated by more people than you know, Dorothy! It is also my privilege to know you personally. Thank you so much for helping so many people and their dogs.

  3. De Hufford says

    My 10 year old mini Aussie, Gabby, has had seizures for the last 6 years. Sometimes she goes several weeks between and sometime 2 or 3 a day. Very scary. We can’t figure out any specific reason. Tried meds and alternative treatments but not much luck. Helps to hear at least we are not alone. Thanks for posting.

  4. Nichole says

    Thanks for sharing the story and all of the great information. We have not experienced thus with our dogs, but are bookmarking it for future info.

  5. Sandy Kubillus says

    My first dog I had developed epilepsy. Penny’s seizures could only be controlled with heavy doses of phenobarbitol that made her very groggy and overweight – not how a 3 year old dog should be. I changed vets and he lowered the dose, but she still had about 4 seizures a week. For months after she died (at the age of 5 from a snowmobile accident), I would awake with a jolt thinking “a seizure”, since she often had them at night. I always tried to run to her with a towel in hand to collect the urine she release at the end of every seizure. It was a tough time.

  6. Carolyn says

    My childhood dog Holly had epilepsy. It was a major issue since she also had a skin condition & the medications available at the time for the 2 conditions could not be taken together – but not treating one of the conditions made her miserable.

  7. Two French Bulldogs says

    Seizures are so scary. Mom actually helped a human lately that had one in a restaurant.
    Lily & Edward

  8. Tara Davis says

    My epi-warrior Nico is my soul pup. He was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy on his second birthday. He just celebrated his 4th birthday and is fighting the monster at least 3 times a month. I’ve just started giving him CBD oil during a seizure, and he comes out of it immediately! Praying we can someday find a cure for epilepsy. Until then, we will fight every day!

  9. Jen Coomes says

    My sweet Bella has k-9 epilepsy. I can not figure out a trigger. I’m trying to educate myself on it. She was diagnosed at age 1 she will be 3 in January. She is a beautiful sweet Great Pyrenees.

    • kellie boyle says

      Hello Jen, I have been looking for any info I can find on Pyrs and seizures. My two and a half year old Pyr Oliver has had three that we know of since last July. The first two he had while at his boarding kennel on separate stays, and today he had the first one that we are aware of at home, while just relaxing around the house. It was mild and short and he snapped out of it quickly thankfully, compared to the seizures at the kennel. Blood work has turned up nothing. Would you by chance have anything to help us try to figure this out? How is your sweet Bella doing now?

  10. Ruth Epstein says

    My best friend is epileptic so I understand how hard it is, have been around her many many times when she has had seizures but admire her as nothing has stopped her in life.. This is a great interview as it one illness you do not hear a lot about when it comes to our pets,

    Dorothy thank you for the great work you are doing and I am sure opening eyes to many who do not know and was honored to share a pic of Gibson on my FB page during November which was Epileptic Awareness Month,

  11. Princely Paws says

    Thank you for creating awareness about Canine Epilepsy. I only know too well how traumatic the experiences are not just for the dog but for the family too having worked as an assistant to a vet for 7 years but was clueless about an epilepsy kit post seizures something new that i have learnt now!!. Pawsome give away , good luck to all the pawticipants

  12. The Daily Pip says

    We have followed Dorothy and Fivesibes for many years and remember Gibson fondly. She’s done so much good through her writing and advocacy!

    Ruby has had a few small seizures – though they are not as severe as some, but still scary. We knew when we adopted her that this was an issue. She’s on meds and this does control them for the most part.

  13. Nikey Mattson says

    My 3.year old boxer bloodhound mix, Sergeant is my life.. He is epileptic and we almost lost him a year ago. That made me realize how special he truly is. He’s my best friend and I don’t know what I’d do without him. ❤️

  14. Dale Burn says

    My boxer girl Sophie is three and a half and has had idiopathic epilepsy for two years now. She ingested a chemicals when she was fifteen months and has been epi ever since. She is on Pheno and Potassium Bromide and clusters. She is reasonably well controlled and the longest we have been seizure free is six months. At the moment we have just gone through three, three weekly stints. Hopefully this is over but one would never know with this unpredictable illness. I have never been able to predict when a seizure is coming unfortunately. Epilepsy is the hardest thing I have ever experienced and seizures are tough, so tough, but when not seizing my girl lives a wonderful life with us and her siblings, running, rabbiting and beaching. I shall continue to search for answers to keep the monster at bay but I shall never give up on my beautiful girl. I pray she lives a long and happy life..

  15. Monika & Sam says

    As a child I had 3 cocker spaniels who all had seizures. About 25 years ago, my mixed breed mutt developed a severe case of seizures at around 3 but lived a good life with medication until 8. He was a pill of a dog that taught me a lot about epilepsy and life in general. Crosby was one of those special dogs that made a difference in your life and how you looked at things. This September I adopted another Standard Poodle and 2 weeks after bringing her home, she developed idiopathic epilepsy. We have figured out the appropriate dosage of Phenobarb and CBD oil and she’s now 5 weeks seizure free. We hope it stays like that but know the chances of episodes down the road. Having been rescued from a horrible puppy mill environment, she deserves a good life full of love and care and we intend to give it to her. With her illness, I’ve just become acquainted with the FiveSibes and the amazing resources Dorothy has assembled. Bless her for her advocacy!

  16. Sweet Purrfections says

    I never thought about a dog or cat having seizures or epilepsy. I had two gran mal seizures myself when I was in my 20s and the doctor said they were stress related. This is a great article with important information for those who have dogs with the illness.

  17. Sandy Weinstein says

    i have 3 gals and they have all made a difference in my life. however, my oldest, Evie, is 15 years old and 3 months. she has had a rough 2-3 years with health issues that were cause by the use of a popular expensive, flea/tick collar. she was perfectly healthy until i used the collar. she has had vestibular twice, which is unusual, which caused her to develop back issues because of the tight circling. she developed reactions to almost everything, even vaccinations. she is now deaf, lost most of her eyesight and most recently has terminal cancer. i found a sarcoma on her paw and the vet did a paw block, but then they found a mass in her chest. she is too old to go under anesthesia, so we are doing chemo. Evie has been my baby since she was 6 weeks old. she is my BFF. she was a wonderful granddog to my mother. she was always a great dog. she learned very quickly, never had accidents in the house, in fact, she would hold it for an entire day while i was taking care of my mother at the hospital. Evie never showed any meanness to anyone or a another animal. no matter how much kids messed with her, she just took it. she was great to take to the senior homes to visit my mother and other seniors. she knew exactly what room her grandma was in. she would pull my mother down the halls in her wheelchair. Evie is a mini schnauzer, weighing only abt 15 lbs. she has always been there for me, when times are hard, hugging me when i am crying or upset. she would let me do anything, dress her up for parties and dog events, Evie has only about 4-6 months to live and i am more than devastated. it is very hard on all of us. she is very hard to take care of. i cant leave her alone for very long. she hates when i leave the house. she is even more attached to me now. i rarely sleep because she also has some dementia and has sundowners. i have had to put rubber mats on the floors to keep her from sliding and a big tarp down because she has lots of accidents. however, i cant imagine my life without my baby. when i hold her like a baby, she looks at me with those big eyes. i hope that she realizes how much she mean s to me and how much i love her. my life will be so empty without her even though i have my other 2 gals whom i love very much as well. i am single so my 3 gals are my only family. they mean the world to me. Evie still likes to try to chase the deer and sometimes she will want to play paw touch and run and play. sometimes i cant even keep up with her. she makes me smile. she does not like to sleep with me anymore because of her anxiety and being up high. so sometimes i will lie down beside her. i fixed a nice bed at the food of my bed for her. she walks and sits in the water bowl sometimes, gets mad when i dont feed her on time and takes the bowl and saying she wants more. she will walk for hours, one day i put a pedometer on her just for part of the day and she walked over 13 miles. she does not like to travel anymore, and she used to love going with me everywhere. she jumps, screams, even with 2 seatbelts on, i tried putting her in a crate one time going to the vet and that was a disaster. so i drive with one hand holding her and one hand on the steering wheel. i love my baby and i hope she knows how much she has meant to me for the past 15 years plus. i am hoping for a few more months with her. she is not showing any signs from the cancer. she still has a great appetite and does not appear to be in any pain. we go to get vet several times a month for checkups. i hold her and sing to her about once a day. songs like my best girl, my baby, etc.

  18. Denise Gruzensky says

    I can’t leave it to just one. Harley was my 1st solo rescue. Learning to live with his Diabetes was a huge learning curve, and that is from someone who works taking care of human health. He inspired everything else. Shasta, continues that inspiration with his Cushing’s disease and Arthritis. As a senior rescue, he came to us with many of his special needs. They have both been my muse to advocate for special needs and education regarding their care. I love that Dorothy has that same inspiration and advocacy!

  19. Christine Aiello says

    My Coco has made a big difference in my life. I am so much happier because I have her in my life. Just seeing her by the door waiting for me to come home puts a big smile on my face even when I have had a bad day. She changes my mood instantly. She is the best present my grandpa could’ve given me!

  20. allison hoffman says

    my dog benny made a huge impact on my life because he had severe separation anxiety and could not be left alone. He came to work with me every day and thetimes i had to go out he either rode in the car with me or i had to get him babysitters. He changed my life in so many ways. Even though he required a lot of work, he was the sweetest dog and everyone loved him

  21. Lynne Linger says

    Outlaw is my epi dog and he has made a tremendous difference in my life since adopted as a puppy. He is a 4 years old Dalmatian and was diagnosed with epilepsy three weeks before his first birthday. Not only does he have epilepsy but he is also deaf. We knew he was deaf when we adopted him but it didn’t matter to us and he knows sign language. He is actually a better “listener” than my hearing dogs! I have another Dalmatian named Sparky who is now 11 and Outlaw loves him so much. He watches everything Sparky does and gets a lot of direction from him. Sparky is also extremely helpful if Outlaw has a seizure. During the postictal phase, Outlaw will suddenly jump up and start trying to run away. He’s very afraid and doesn’t know us but he’ll try and get to Sparky. He bangs into furniture and the walls and doorways and we always try to make things as safe as possible for him and close doors and all so he is pretty much confined to a smaller area. Sparky will actually act as a buffer and place himself in the way so Outlaw bangs into him instead of anything else. It’s an amazing thing to see. Sparky and Outlaw clearly love each other. My third dog is an English Setter, 6 year old Gabrielle. Gabby doesn’t take much of an interest in the boys. She gets along with them but would rather try to be aloof and be left alone. She won’t bother Outlaw if he has a seizure but she will bark to make sure we know what’s going on. Even with his problems, Outlaw is a wonderful and sweet boy. He tries hard to please and he is very intelligent and obedient. He’s also a lot of fun and has a wonderful personality. He loves people and socializing! He has enriched our lives so much by showing us that even with health problems he still can do things and be a “normal” dog. He’s taught me so much about patience and staying calm during his episodes. I love him so much. He’s doing very well now and has both a regular vet and a neurological vet. He takes two different anti-epilepsy drugs and they are a good blend for him.

  22. Connie says

    The pet that made the biggest difference in my life was Melody. She was a little black and white fluffball of a kitten I saw on our doorstep when we were moving into our new apartment that we had to scrounge to find in a bad part of town due to some bad financial steps my husband and I made when we were newly married. We had two cats at the time and I wanted to ‘save’ her by my husband promised me she had a home and told me to leave her alone. A few months later, right before a huge ice storm was due to come in, I heard mewing under my car. I kneeled down to look and it was that kitten, She was so scared but so cold and hungry. We had to trick her into the house and once she was there she was none too happy about it either. A few hardy meals and a warm bed to sleep on turned her thinking around about how we weren’t so bad.

    She stunk. Her long fur was discolored and it was quite apparent she had been living in the dumpster near our apartment. My heart broke for her. I tried bathing her and combing her and while you could tell she wasn’t a fan of either she let me do it. She purred when you looked at her and she was just so grateful to have a warm place to sleep.

    We ended up losing that apartment shortly after that and had to move in with my husband’s parents. very quickly after the move Melody had a medical issue and I rushed her to the vet. No money, no resources really of any kind, I didn’t care, I was going to help her.. but she had FeLV on top of everything and had to be put down. I vowed to never to not help again..

  23. Betsy J Achladis says

    Sams on and Fouli Jayne. Sam was a shep/hound rescue,along with his brother Hercules. Sam had epilepsy. But that did not stop him from saving me not once but twice from carbon monoxide poisoning. Yes twice. Once I was alone,the second time both my husband and I. Without him,we would not be alive. His barking and nudging got us up and out. Fouli is another rescue,I got her at 16,6 years ago. She was blind in one eye,,now in both. She fell down and a seizure started,it lasted 5 long hours at Animal ER. They didn’t expect her to make it. A while later they came out and said she was alert and we could hear her barking! She still can chase a squirrel up a tree. She is the boss,make that THE QUEEN. She is a Shih Tzu mix,most likely dumped from a puppy mill. This little girl has more strength,gumption and courage than I do. She encourages me. Thank you Samson,we miss you terribly…and Fouli for showing us humans you can overcome any obstacle.

  24. Annette Hishmeh says

    My beloved Australian Shepherd Raleigh had epilepsy and thanks to forum I obtained so much help, advice, and support to help me through it all. He was 4yo when it started and he lived for almost 5 years. We sought the help of a neurologist which helped extend his life. I used to sleep with my arms around him so I could feel him going into a seizure. He was my life, my love. I believe God placed him with me to teach me to love my dogs more deeply and to learn about holistic care and feeding a natural diet. RIP my angel, I will hold you again – for all Eternity.

  25. Tracie Rohner says

    My Shihpoo Zoe is amazing. She was very ill when we got her. She was three months old and 1.5 pounds. She had kennel cough that even with treatment became double pneumonia and she then developed ulcerate colitis. Even though she received 4 breathing treatments in her special neb tent a day (we made so she could stay home and not at the vets) and food via syringe feedings, after she would get sick she would grab her ball to play. When our vet told us there was nothing more they could do and suggested what I felt was unthinkable for at this point a 6 month old playful puppy we got a second opinion. Two weeks after a different treatment course Zoe was symptom free! She is still small but full of life and love. I am convinced that Zoe and I found each other for a reason. Zoe is now a TDI certified therapy dog and we make monthly visits to nursing homes, mental health units and addiction centers. And I get lots of sweet nose kisses daily!

  26. mark clara says

    My daughter was diagnosed with Epilepsy. The neurologist was very confident about the diagnosis based, my Daughter had an EEG (no idea if it showed anything; we were tired and may have misunderstood what he said about that). MRI was negative for problems. For the past 4 months or so, I have seen weekly occurrences, making strange faces (this involved cheek twitching and lip quivering). We did not realize it could be a serious problem until she had an obvious seizure (simple partial) last week. What is troubling about my daughter condition is that we have seen many daytime seizures, and that recently the seizures seem to cluster together. No idea if there are seizures occurring at night.
    We were given a prescription for Kapra, but are still weighing the risk / rewards of giving the medication to a toddler. After returning from the hospital, my daughter experienced a round a vomiting lasting from 3 AM to 11 AM, followed by additional vomiting the following morning at around 2 AM. Nothing sense then. She has not had an appetite, is drinking fine, and otherwise appears healthy. I read a lot of blogs where people who shared their testimonies kept mentioning Anti-seizure Herbal medication. I searched for a website I just followed the email address of Doctor Lawson that was shared on these testimonies; I got lucky when I got a reply from Dr. Lawson. I followed his instruction, used Herbal Medicine in less than 2 months, my daughter seizures reduced drastically. Within a period of 5 months, my daughter was cured. I went back to my neurologist, where my daughter checked up and marked epilepsy free.

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