Full Title: Seizures (Case Study)
Author: Valerie Hill
Date of Publication: January 1, 2017
Research Paper Text:
As our knowledge and experience grows, we are recognizing the need to treat actual diseases rather than merely mask the symptoms. Specifically with dogs who suffer from seizures, it can be heartbreaking to witness an animal suffer as the owner helplessly seeks a solution. Medications and other forms of treatment can reduce episodes, eliminate symptoms altogether, or have no effect on the condition at all. Sadly, euthanasia becomes an option when the pet is unresponsive to treatment because of the low quality of life this disease can yield. After analyzing the nature of seizures and current forms of treatment, it is clear that PetMassage™ has been the missing piece to the puzzle.
Taking a closer look at the different types of seizures will allow us to be informed on what we are trying to counteract. The convulsions or odd behavior that we see are created by a burst of abnormal electrical activity, temporarily disrupting regular brain function; any process that changes brain activity or increases inflammation can cause this type of reaction. Activities that are known to cause such a sudden change in brain activity include feeding, excitement, or as the dog is waking up or falling asleep. When the nerve cells in the brain experience too much excitation, the animal may seize; this refers to the excitatory influences on the nerve cells rather than the dog’s emotional state. The general term for seizures is known as epilepsy; the episodes may occur sporadically or at frequent intervals. When the cause of the disorder is unknown, the pet is diagnosed with idiopathic (or primary) epilepsy; this is the most common diagnosis because there are so many possible causes and identifying the root of the disease can prove expensive an unsuccessful. When the cause of the disorder can be identified, the condition is known as symptomatic (or secondary) epilepsy; this means the seizures are a symptom of another issue in the body. From here, the other types of seizures branch off into multiple different categories. First, symptomatic epilepsy breaks down into generalized and focal seizures. During generalized seizures, the activity occurs everywhere in the brain at once. During focal seizures, the activity occurs only in a small region of the brain. Next, generalized seizures then branch off into grand mal and petit mal seizures. Grand mal seizures occur when the pet is experiencing intense muscle spasms and prolonged loss of consciousness. Petit mal seizures occur when the pet experiences a mild seizure characterized by brief periods of unconsciousness, without loss of posture. Going back to focal seizures, these now branch off into simple and complex seizures. Simple focal seizures occur when the activity originates in the region of the brain that controls movement and only affects one side of face and possibly body. Complex focal seizures occur when the activity originates in the region of the brain that controls emotions and behavior (the temporal lobes) and causes the animal to act very bizarre. Through reflecting on our observations of seizures, we are gaining a solid understanding of what the dog is experiencing. A seizure is commonly composed of three phases: the pre-ictal phase, the ictal phase, and post-ictal phase. During the pre-ictal phase, the dog can give warning signs through altered behavior; they may become anxious, appear nervous, demand affection, cry out, or seek seclusion. During the ictal phase, the canine may become unconscious, stiffen up, become unresponsive, hallucinate, or experience a general change in mental awareness. Other obvious symptoms of an episode include chomping, chewing, drooling, urinating, defecating, or discontinued breathing for up to 30 seconds. If a fit occurs for over five minutes, it is important to seek out medical attention immediately, as this state of status epilepticus (or prolonged seizure) is a life-threatening emergency. Status epilepticus seizures have a poor prognosis because they are usually caused by a serious brain disease or by toxins. During the post-ictal phase, it is common for the animal to experience disorientation, confusion, restlessness, or temporary loss of vision; this postseizure state may persist for minutes or hours. These conditions can be hereditary, as the traits of the neurons in the brain are determined by their genetics. Research is working towards identifying the defective gene in these dogs so we can stop breeding them; this is necessary because dogs can live 3 to 5 years before experiencing a seizure and the pet may have already bred. Understanding seizures allows us to have an educated opinion on what course of action will be most effective.
By analyzing the effects that seizures have on the rest of the body, we will gain a better understanding of how to effectively treat the disorder. Though the dog does not generally experience pain during an episode, they can experience panic and/or brain damage. Intense panic puts a tremendous amount of stress on the heart and other organs as well, possibly contributing to other current or future conditions. Occasional seizures (occurring less than once every two months) are reported to be a low concern, but it is very important to keep record of the day and length of time the episode took place. For short seizures, the main effect is an increased probability that the seizure will reoccur again in the future; it is also possible for brain damage to occur and organ systems to be compromised for in order to make up for the imbalance. Research shows that over time the damage tends to accumulate and the seizures may worsen over time, especially without seeking treatment. Dogs experiencing cluster seizures may develop high body temperature due to all the muscle activity and irregular breathing, which can possibly lead to hyperthermia. Status epilepticus seizures, or seizures lasting over 30 minutes, must be stopped as soon as possible to avoid permanent brain damage or death. Following this type of serious episode, the animal may lose its memory or even change its personality. In some cases, the pet may be left in a coma after these convulsions or suffer from a heart attack and die; fortunately, this is rare. However with proper diagnostics and treatment, the average seizure tends to be brief and the pet can continue live a normal life. Now that we have a complete basic understanding, we can look at the current means of treatment to distinguish the best option for our pet.
Through comparing the various treatment options for seizures, we will gain the knowledge to effectively distinguish what works best to decrease the amount of episodes, the level of severity, and possibly bringing an end to the seizures altogether. In the event that seizures occur more than once every two months, consult with your veterinarian immediately. After a seizure is observed, veterinary diagnostics are a necessary protocol through examining the pet, running a urinalysis, testing blood samples, running an electrocardiogram (ECG), or testing for heartworms. For severe cases, a CT scan, MRI, or spinal fluid analysis may be performed for further diagnostics. When the underlying cause has been determined (a.k.a. symptomatic epilepsy), treating the diagnosis can cause the issue to resolve itself, such as by removing a brain tumor. However, there is a possibility that brain damage has already occurred and the pet may still continue to suffer from the disease. When diagnostics are indistinguishable or the owner chooses to forgo testing, the first attempt to get seizures under control is generally by using medication; Antiepileptic drugs control the seizures but do not cure the disease. With dogs experiencing initial resistance, the veterinarian may prescribe multiple medications; this approach is called combination therapy. With the use of medication, the treatment is usually life-long because it only treats the symptoms rather than healing the disorder. Additionally, a pet will still have seizures every now and again, even with medication. Occasionally, some animals can slowly decrease the dose of medication until they are completely weaned off and they never seize again. However, it is extremely important to consult with a veterinarian regarding any changes or if discontinuing medication; abruptly stopping medication can actually precipitate more severe seizures. Though this option decreases the frequency and severity in about two-thirds of epileptics, it is not guaranteed that your pet will respond successfully and with all medications there are side effects. Increased thirst/appetite, over sedation, and personality changes are some side effects your pet may experience. It is essential to follow through with regular monitoring of Liver enzymes and serum drug levels to avoid toxicity which can result in liver disease. The process of finding a therapy that actually works can be very frustrating though, as each animal responds differently. Contrary to western medicine approaches, holistic veterinarians seek ways of treating the illness on a more constitutional level instead of just masking the symptoms. Changing your pet’s diet alone can cure the disease as research is showing a correlation between epilepsy and food allergies. Neurologically, the diet contributes to brain activity as well through changing the excitability of the neurons; this is a very important factor as we explained earlier how too much excitability of these neurons will cause an animal to seize. Diets rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils help immensely, as high fat and low carb intake seems to decrease the frequency and intensity of episodes in dogs. It is important to consider that changing diet and seeking other natural therapies are much easier on the organs of the body than conventional western medicine approaches. With natural therapies, it is usually not required to monitor levels through testing because side effects are very minimal. Another component that can help in relation to diet are supplements; many different supplements are available to treat seizures and other neurological problems alternatively. Herbs can also be helpful under the supervision of a veterinarian, as these natural medicines can be very powerful; some may be completely harmless and others can potentially cause harmful side effects. Homeopathic remedies, such as tinctures of belladonna and stramonium, are widely incorporated into natural treatments of seizures also. Moving on, acupuncture has proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of conditions alternatively as well. Acupuncture works at targeting specific acupoints to correct imbalances through channels, known as meridians, to allow the body to heal itself. In cases involving physical trauma, head injuries, or even recurrent ear infections, it has been proven that regular chiropractic adjustments are very effective as well. When using natural therapies, patience and optimism is key also; each animal is created differently but trial-and[hopefully-no-]error will guide us in the right direction. There has to be a therapy that exists that is more promising than taking a shot in the dark though.
Through analyzing the nature of seizures and current forms of treatment, we conclude with the reasons why PetMassage™ has been the missing piece to the puzzle for treating the disease most effectively. First, we must understand that all of the organ systems are interconnected in order to see the importance of tending to all organs in the body. Next, we must understand that the symptoms we are observing are simply only a warning sign and treating this manifestation will only mask the issue. The missing piece to the puzzle all along has been something we humans thoroughly enjoy and something we unintentionally already partially provide to our pets. We know that the power of intention is huge, as many studies support the former theory that just by our intention alone, we create measurable differences in whatever object we are focusing on; this concept is just a small reason why PetMassage™ works and a huge reason why PetMassage™ has raised the bar for other forms of complementary veterinary therapies. PetMassage™ brings proper circulation, stimulation, & relaxation to all organs of the body as the practitioner facilities an opportunity for the dog to experience gentle course corrections, ideally working towards its optimum potential. Dogs experiencing seizures would certainly benefit from this type of treatment, hands down. For example, when weakened liver stores are unable to transport fluids efficiently to cool off the body, the body many begin to experience tremors, which may lead to the manifestation of a seizure. In this case of symptomatic epilepsy, the true underlying issue may have complicated things had the diagnosis become over looked. This previous example is the epitome of how a symptom can be the result of a domino effect, rooting from an underlying cause that can be treated. In reference to this same example, PetMassage™ works to unblock the stagnation of the blood and lymphatic circulation to allow the body to maintain homeostasis. Traditional Chinese Medicine explains how the grade and frequency of seizures are directly correlated with the temperature of the liver; this is an important issue PetMassage™ can counteract through stimulating the proper cells and pathways to rid the body of dis-ease or imbalance. Knowing that the odds of having a longer, more severe episode increase as the heat of the liver increases, allows us to use PetMassage™ techniques and intention to avoid that scenario. Another piece of knowledge used in PetMassage™ that derived from TCM is acupressure; this is the theory of energy flowing through different points in our pet’s body, exactly like acupuncture. When we can modify that energy when there is a disease, we can correct that energy imbalance and ultimately help our pet heal themselves. Specifically, the GB26 point has been a successful acupoint to bring the animal out of an episode. Every dog will benefit from PetMassage™ as the practice radiates relaxation, which is a necessity seeing as most dysfunctional behavior and diseases all stem from stress. Major organ systems can be stimulated to function properly, increase blood and lymphatic circulation, mobilize flexibility, and provide the dog the opportunity to participate with the process. Due to the facts previously mentioned, PetMassage™ is a great asset to treat seizures by incorporating various techniques from multiple practices, transferring ancient wisdom. Though, we must always remember, it is up to do the animal to accept the healing.