I think as long as I live I will never forget my dog's first seizure. It was one of the scariest things I have ever witnessed and it shook me to my core. It also affirmed our mission at 4-Legger to create the highest quality holistic grooming products and to provide education to pet parents.
For weeks Piper had exhibited some "strange" behavior like jumping from rug to rug to avoid the hardwood floor, over-jumping the threshold of doors, stopping to really analyze and peer at the steps and then hesitating before going up the 2 stairs in the house.
When it first started we took her to our veterinarian who attributed it to a luxating patella and she started laser therapy to help strengthen her knee. We tried socks with treads on the bottom and toe nail guards to help her not slip on the hardwood. We bought a bunch of carpeted stair treads and made paths throughout the house so she wouldn't have to walk on the hardwood. You name it - we did it.
Over the next few weeks instead of getting better, she became even more withdrawn and had completely lost her confidence about moving from point A to point B, no matter how simple. She didn't want up on the furniture because she wasn't confident about jumping down. She was panting a lot and would move from bed to bed as she couldn't get comfortable.
Then, one night - as the saying goes - all hell broke loose.
We were sitting on the couch. She jumped up and lunged herself on top of me. First thing I noticed is that she was soaking wet. She had urinated all over herself. I cleaned her up, cleaned up the couch, and put her blanket in the washing machine.
She is easy to embarrass so it wasn't a great surprise that after getting cleaned up she had taken herself to her kennel. Wanting to cheer her up, I took her a treat.
Instead of taking the treat, she gingerly bit down on my finger. My first thought was "she can't see it". Even after taking the treat she stayed in her kennel.
It was maybe an hour or so later that it happened.
Piper came out of her kennel with a strange very wide legged stance. She then stood up on her back two legs and fell completely over backwards - landing on her back and head. She then lurched up and was up on her back two feet again.
This time I was able to dive and get my hands under her before she hit the ground. She immediately jumped out of my hands and was "flopping around". I pressed my body to her to hold her to the ground and told her, "I got you. Everything is going to be ok."
After that event (we didn’t know yet that it was a seizure), she was able to settle down and rest but was sluggish and not as alert as normal. It was late and since she had settled down we decided to wait until the morning to take her to our veterinarian. We went as soon as they opened and after describing the event and an initial evaluation, she referred us immediately to a Canine neurologist in a higher care facility, in another city an hour away. She was admitted into the hospital through the emergency room.
There she was put on anti-seizure medication and was stabilized. We met with the neurologist who said she felt it was definitely something neurological and she would need an MRI in order to make a diagnosis. The other option was to continue with the anti-seizure medication to see how she would respond.
We opted for the least invasive treatment to start as we were terrified at the thought of her going under anesthesia for the MRI while having active neurological issues.
Within a few weeks it was clear the medication wasn't sufficient to control the seizures. She was having frequent seizures (they were so subtle we didn't know what they were until we filmed one and sent it to the canine neurologist). Upon hearing that WAS a seizure, we knew she had to have the MRI and the lumbar puncture for an analysis of the cerebral spinal fluid.
Here is a short video of the seizure we filmed:
Diagnosis: Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis - GME - an acute, progressive inflammatory disease of the central nervous system.
She started chemotherapy that same day along with high dose steroids and continued the anti-seizure medication. It was the beginning of a long road to battle a disease that many dogs do not survive.
She was critically ill and initially required ICU care for several days. Even after finally coming home, she was still very sick and seldom left her bed except to eat and potty. It was a full time job managing the unbelievable amount of medicine (14 doses throughout the day) she had to take and we were constantly tending to her.
We also began to look for other ways to support her neurological health and one of those was through the use of essential oils. We had previously used essential oils for aromatherapy but not specifically for their therapeutic benefits to support healing from a diagnosis.
We knew she needed to be supported with oils that provided anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic benefits and exceptional cell regenerative properties. And we also wanted to use oils that would provide emotional support for Piper given the severe stress she was experiencing.
Given our lack of time we needed an "easy button".
Fortunately, we also knew just where to go to get the advice and recommendations for pre-blended oils - Dr Melissa Shelton DVM at animalEO. We knew the quality of her oils, that her blends were supported with blood work and data from clinical usage, and were relieved that we didn't have to take the time to mix our own formulations! We found a ready made solution that Dr. Shelton had used in her practice that was proven to help!
We began to diffuse daily.
Over the months Piper got stronger and stronger and has now completed chemotherapy. In a few months we will see how she handles being weaned off the steroids but will continue with the anti-seizure medication and of course the essential oils.
We will also continue supporting her neurologically with both NeuroBoost™ - applied directly (every other day at first and then daily) and NeuroBalance™ Diffusion Blend (safe for daily diffusion).
We diffuse NeuroBalance™ daily and supplement with NeuroBoost™ when Piper is exhibiting signs of being "overwhelmed". She is an extremely intelligent dog and after initial exposures to these essential oils, she would actually “tell” us when she needed a boost by looking at the diffuser, then at us and vocalizing. She would also relocate to lay closer to the diffuser!
Neurological conditions are terrifying - epilepsy, toxin exposure, brain tumors, medication reactions, hypoglycemia, vaccinosis, liver disease - and so many other conditions can be the cause of seizures and you will need to have a veterinarian investigate the cause and provide treatment.
Unfortunately, once seizures present, it is rare for them to be entirely eliminated without intervention. To give your dog or cat the absolute best chance of survival, we recommend a good, better, best approach:
|Medication as prescribed
by your veterinarian
Ketogenic or Balanced Raw Food Diet
or Balanced Raw Food Diet
|Essential Oil Support|
These are the essential oil blends we used to support Piper's remission:
NeuroBalance™ is a diffusion blend. Safe for daily diffusion starting with 2-4 drops in a water diffuser. The essential oils released into the air will absorb through the skin, lungs and bloodstream dispersing their beneficial properties.
Essential Oils of Helichrysum (H. italicum), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis), Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), Melissa (Melissa officinalis), Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides), Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), Black Pepper (Piper nigrum), Black Spruce (Picea mariana), Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata), Vitex (Vitex agnus castus), Marjoram (Origanum majorana), Juniper (Juniperus communis), Laurus nobilis, Valerian (Valerian officinalis), German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Blue Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Clary Sage (Salvea sclarea), Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi)
NeuroBoost™ is applied directly on your dog. Basically, you just drip the oils up the back and massage in, or you apply the drops to your hands and then rub them on your dog or cat in a petting manner.
How Much Should You Use?
- 10 pounds and under: 3-5 drops
- 11 - 25 pounds: 4-6 drops
- 25 - 50 pounds: 5-8 drops
- Over 50 pounds: 6-12 drops
For animals new to essential oils - starting with less than the recommended amounts, or with further diluted oils can be a good way to ensure you do not create an oil aversion.
You may not see results with lesser amounts, or with further diluted oils sometimes, but since we are also wanting to create a "happy" situation with oil use, and not overwhelm - the added time to slowly build up concentrations of essential oil use can be worth it.
How Often Can I Use NeuroBoost™ ?
Dogs and cats with active neurological issues can receive a "boost" every day.
It is important to keep in mind that diffusing NeuroBoost™ isn't a miracle "cure" for a neurological condition. Neurological issues are very slow to heal and will need nutrition and often traditional medicine intervention.
Fractionated Coconut Oil, Essential Oils of Helichrysum (H. italicum), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), Marjoram (Origanum majorana), Melissa (Melissa officinalis), Basil (Ocimum basilicum), Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Oregano (Origanum vulgare), Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides), Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), Black Pepper (Piper nigrum), Spruce (Picea mariana), Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata), Vitex (Vitex agnus castus), Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), Catnip (Nepeta cataria), Juniper (Juniperus communis), Laurus nobilis, Valerian (Valerian officinalis), German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Blue Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Clary Sage (Salvea sclarea), Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi)
On a very personal note, all of us at 4-Legger send a heart felt thank you to Dr. Debbie Ruehlmann DVM - Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology) at Metropolitan Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services in Louisville, KY for quite literally saving our little girl's life. You have our lifelong gratitude and thanks!