Canine Epilepsy – Signs & How to Treat

Izzy and canine epilepsy.

Since Izzy is looking for his forever home we asked our primary Veterinarian – Dr. Amy Kidd of Pocopson Veterinary Station in West Chester, PA – for some information about canine seizure disorders. Izzy was treated by Dr. Kidd and has been seizure free for several weeks now. His seizures are easily managed by an inexpensive prescription medication. He is now enjoying life and is perfectly healthy. If you’d like more information about Izzy please check out his page and contact us. His sweet personality will be a wonderful addition for a lucky adopter.

Canine Epilepsy

Living a long and happy life with canine seizure disorder.

Canine epilepsy or idiopathic epilepsy is a very common seizure disorder in dogs. There are many causes of seizures in dogs so it is very important to have a full evaluation for each patient to rule out an underlying cause such as liver disease, tumor, toxins, and other infectious diseases. Once these other causes of seizures are ruled out, idiopathic epilepsy is diagnosed.

Dogs with epilepsy usually present with their first seizure between the ages of 6 months to 5 years. They can have either “partial seizures” or “generalized seizures”. Partial seizures usually only involve minor muscle spasms and the patient is usually conscious. Generalized seizures are much scarier to see. They can be very convulsive, have more violent muscle movements, and the patient is usually unaware of the episode. During an epileptic seizure, the dog is generally laying on his/her side, all the legs are rigid and paddling, and they can urinate and defecate. After the seizure is over, they can have a period of time where they are a little wobbly.

What to Do If Your Dog Has a Seizure

It is very important to know what to do if you see a dog having a seizure.

  • The first thing is not to panic.
  • The main thing to remember is to stay away from their mouths. Dogs do not swallow their tongues during a seizure. They can however, clamp down on your hand (without knowing it) with a force strong enough to do serious damage.
  • You should use a blanket or towel to pull them away from anything dangerous like stairs or falling objects.
  • Do not cover them with anything because the body can overheat and cause permanent brain damage.
  • You should try to time the seizure from start to finish. This is valuable information for your veterinarian to properly treat the patient.

Izzy and canine epilepsy.

Seizures can occur very infrequently or they can present in clusters. Cluster seizures can lead to a severe and potentially fatal condition called Status Epilepticus. If one seizure seems to lead into another, this is a true medical emergency and the dog needs to be rushed to the closest veterinarian to be treated.

Treatments for Dog Epilepsy & Seizures

Treatment of epilepsy varies depending on the duration of the seizures and the time in between having them. The general rule of thumb is to medicate any dog having one or more seizures a month. There are many different medications we use to treat these patients. The most common ones are phenobarbital, potassium bromide, Keppra, and Zonisamide. Keppra and Zonisamide are two relatively new agents we use to control seizure activity. They do not require blood levels like the older medications do. Luckily, they are both now in generic forms which has made them relatively inexpensive and our go-to meds. We also like them because we see less side effects, if any. Sometimes we combine medications to fully control the seizure activity.

Seizures are extremely scary to see, but if you understand the disorder and seek proper treatment, dogs with epilepsy can live a full and happy life.

A strong proponent of cutting-edge medicine, Dr. Kidd prides herself in her ability to deliver high quality preventive medicine and perform both routine and emergency surgeries. She provides these services for the patients and their owners at Pocopson Veterinary Station in West Chester, PA. Be sure to visit her website for more information.

The Lucky 11!

The Lucky 11 from Arctic Spirit Rescue!

This month marks the one year anniversary of the launch of Arctic Spirit Rescue! Make no mistake, it hasn’t all been fun and games but it has been satisfying. There’s no better feeling than to know your efforts and hard work are saving lives. Collectively, our Directors have well over 30 years of experience in the rescue world. This experience is invaluable and allows us to effectively manage the day to day requirements and responsibilities that come with a professional non profit rescue.

We came together and set our sights on excellence right from the start. There were countless hours of meetings and planning sessions which are necessary to do things correctly and professionally.  We surrounded ourselves with other experienced professionals – attorneys, accountants, a graphic artist, a technology specialist, an analytics professional, photographers, a groomer, a team of veterinarians, a canine behaviorist and trainer, and many more talented and well trained individuals. This level of professionalism opened many doors which allowed us to make many new friends. People began to realize we were different, innovative, and focused. During this first year we were able to save 11 dogs, all of which were from our immediate area. That surpassed our expectations and we might just be gloating a little! 

We won’t rest there. There’s much more work to be done. We’ve identified our goals for year two and with the help and support of the communities around us, we’re confident we’ll achieve those goals. Thank you to everyone who has joined the Arctic Spirit Rescue team. We can’t wait to see what the future holds!

What’s New With Baloo?

Baloo, the Alaskan Malamute.

By now most of you have met Baloo – our very fuzzy, very large Malamute youngster. We know many of you fell in love with this kind-of-gentle giant. How could we not? He’s everything many of us have secretly (or not secretly) wished for in a dog. He’s an attention grabber, he’s soft and fluffy, he’s BIG, and he reminds us of a loveable character we may have seen in a Jim Henson creation way back when. He just makes us happy! And therein lies part of our “problem”. Maybe not so much a “problem”, but a challenge. Of course, everyone wants him. We had numerous inquiries and we knew a couple would provide a very loving home, but that wouldn’t be enough for Baloo. When one obtains a Malamute as a puppy one is usually prepared for the monumental commitment the training process will require. It’s not a when-I-have-time-because-I-work-a lot project. It’s a daily process that requires dedication. Most Malamute owners realize this and don’t perceive it as a chore. They perceive it as something fun and fulfilling. Somewhere along the line, Baloo’s puppyhood didn’t include this training commitment. Therefore, we met a 100 pound, extremely strong young fluffball that had absolutely no concept of manners or personal space. He wanted to go from point A to point B immediately regardless of who was on the other end of the leash. It may sound funny but it posed a problem. He certainly wouldn’t be able to attend any public events until we were able to convince him there was a proper way to behave. Even with all of this, he sure is cute and has such an awesome temperament and so much potential.

Baloo the Alaskan Malamute, playing with his new fur family!
When we consider a dog as having special needs, one might imagine a chronic illness that would require lifelong care. But that’s not always the case. Even though Baloo is as healthy as a…well….Ox (so the saying goes), he still has very special needs. So, we made a list. As time went on that list got longer. Sure, we might be able to compromise here and there and could hope we found the right home that wouldn’t become overwhelmed by the challenges life with Baloo might present. The concern loomed large. What if we were wrong and several weeks later, and several pounds heavier and stronger he was returned to us? That’s a common concern for every dog we place of course, but one so large would require a specific foster home (again) and we’d be faced with possibly even more issues than we began with. These are big worries, but we were focused and intent on finding that perfect home. We went down our checklist line by line and it happened. We found it! We are excited to announce that Baloo’s foster home is adopting him! This is a win/win for all of us, including his many fans. Having a foster home “fail” is frequently a challenge for any rescue group since it has the potential to eliminate the home from fostering in the future. Fortunately, that’s not the case for this home. They will continue to foster and Baloo will ultimately be an integral part of the welcoming committee for any newcomers. Since our goal for each dog we take in is to make their needs a priority and to go the distance to fulfill those needs regardless of how long it takes or how much it costs we knew this was the right decision. We will also share an inside glimpse of his progress and you’ll be seeing him at future events. The perfect Northern breed spokesman! You’ll see his progress as his family works with a trainer to learn how to manage Baloo’s Malamute exuberance.

Baloo playing with his new sibling!
We congratulate Baloo on his new home and selfishly are thrilled that we really don’t have to say goodbye after all, and we look forward to having him at future events for all to enjoy. Welcome to the Arctic Spirit family! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for further updates on Baloo!

DeBella Dog Walk 2017 Event Recap – Green Lane, PA

Last Sunday May 7th was the annual DeBella Dog Walk at Green Lane Park in Green Lane, PA. Arctic Spirit Rescue had the honor of attending this fantastic event run by the John DeBella Show and 102.9 WMGK of Philadelphia. Despite getting rained out the day before, dog rescues, vendors, and attendees were still there in full force.

Despite some clouds and a few rain drops, the crowds were out in full force at the 2017 DeBella Dog Walk.

It was a great opportunity for the Arctic Spirit Rescue dogs and volunteers to make some new friends (2 and 4-legged varieties alike!). Even newcomer Tamika had a great time meeting new people at her very first public appearance!
Arctic Spirit Rescue husky Tamika made a new friend at the DeBella Dog Walk in Green Lane, PA.

As always, the event ran flawlessly, all thanks to the WMGK team and of course John DeBella himself. We’d like to thank everyone involved with making the event happen, as well as all of the volunteers and attendees that made it possible. Be sure to check out the video recap above, or watch it on the Arctic Spirit Rescue YouTube Channel. You can also see more photos from the event via the Facebook photo album.

Make Way For Our Newest Guest – Baloo the Alaskan Malamute!

Baloo is a one year old Alaskan Malamute full of energy!

“Think big, dream big, believe big, and the results will be big!”

We don’t exactly know who said that but it seems to apply to our BIG new guest! Meet Baloo – a 1 year old Alaskan Malamute. Everything about this boy is….big. His paws are big, his head is big, his tail is big, and best of all, his heart is big.

Baloo loves everyone - the 2 and 4-legged varieties included.

He just seems to love everyone and makes the best of any situation. His innocent nature is infectious. Don’t be fooled though! He’s still a youngster and they tend to get into trouble. Since this guy can reach just about everything, there’s lots of trouble to get into! He’s a curious boy who will find something to do if you don’t keep him busy. Baloo came to us from a local shelter who obtained him from an owner who was no longer able to care for him.

Baloo lthe Malamute loves his foster home yard!

He’s spending some time in one of our experienced foster homes where he’s being thoroughly evaluated. We will then identify what we need to work on before he moves on to his forever home. First on the agenda are some basic manners. Since he’s with a pack of dogs accustomed to teaching their guests how to be a good dog, we’re already seeing some progress. His crate skills are improving and he’s enjoying the company of the other dogs.

You can access Baloo’s bio here. Once we get to know him better we’ll begin accepting applications. A priority will be finding an adopter who understands the needs of a young Malamute and can commit to continuing his training. Until then be sure to follow his progress on Facebook.

Arctic Spirit Rescue YouTube Channel & 2017 Iditarun Recap Video

A few weeks ago, Arctic Spirit Rescue hosted our first annual Iditarun 5K and 1 Mile Dog Walk at Oakbourne Park in West Chester, PA. Our Creative Team was able to put together a recap video of the event. This includes footage of the fun had by all, including the 5K and dog walk, as well as all of our happy 4-legged and 2-legged friends, volunteers, and vendors. Check out the video below:

Thanks again to all of the attendees, sponsors and volunteers! We had a fantastic time. Be sure to check out the full event recap here. Also be sure to Subscribe to Arctic Spirit Rescue’s YouTube Channel. We plan on posting regular event and dog updates, as well as helpful educational videos about Northern Breed dogs and their care.

ASR 2017 Iditarun 5K & Dog Walk Event Recap

Runners embark on the first annual Arctic Spirit Rescue Iditarun 5K in West Chester, PA.

On Sunday, April 9th we hosted our first annual Iditarun 5K and Dog Walk. This was a huge endeavor considering we’re less than a year old! We knew early on that this would be our annual signature fundraising event and due to the incredible welcome we have received from the public and rescue communities we felt the time was right. It was hard work but the end result has us looking forward to the next one. The enthusiasm and support from those around us was impressive. Mother Nature was on our side and provided a perfect sunny spring day for our event. Oakbourne Park in West Chester, PA was in full bloom and offered running trails and lush green fields.

We would like to thank our seven sponsors:

The support from these successful community businesses is very much appreciated.

Volunteer Tori helped introduce Arctic Spirit Rescue alum Perrie to our event guests.
There were many that volunteered their time to keep our event running smoothly. Among them was Delta Chi Fraternity from West Chester University, students from West Chester Henderson High School and West Chester Rustin High School. Thank you to the Chester County Running Store for providing the race event services, and Giant Food Stores for providing water and refreshments. We thank the walkers from Kohl’s who arrived with their canine companions to enjoy the day. The Search And Rescue Dogs of PA brought their very handsome and well trained dogs by for everyone to admire and learn about. The vendors included DogGone Memories, Traveling Vineyard, and Weyerbacher Brewing.

We’d also like to thank our team of three talented photographers for capturing the moments of our inaugural event:

Our first 1 Mile Dog Walk in West Chester, PA was a success!
Head over to our Facebook page to see all of the wonderful images they were able to capture and share.

We are enormously grateful to our volunteers who for the past several weeks helped us organize this event, and were also on hand to do whatever needed to be done. We couldn’t have done it without you!

We thank the runners and the walkers, many of whom included their entire family. We love that and hope to see you all next year.

Some of our vendors at Arctic Spirit Rescue's first 5K and Dog Walk in West Chester, PA.
Levante Brewing of West Chester generously offered to donate a portion of their sales proceeds for the day so the fun continued after the Iditarun when many of our guests and participants headed over for some celebrating.

It was a wonderful day and we had fun reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, and looking forward to our future. Thank you to all who made it such a huge success. We’ll see you next year!

They’re Here! – ASR Welcomes 3 New Dogs

With winter comes…..DOGS! December was a busy month for us at Arctic Spirit Rescue, and January is proving to be more of the same. Just before Christmas we were contacted by a local shelter who had a pair of female mixes.

Ella – a Husky/Cattle Dog mix, and Brandy – a Hound mix, were reported to be a bonded pair and had been there for quite some time. These two social butterflies were often taken to events with no issues whatsoever but their adult ages (7 and 8) seemed to be working against them. There’s also a reluctance for potential adopters to commit to adopting two dogs rather than one. As most Northern breed owners know, two are often easier than one. It became obvious that these ladies needed a bit more help so the shelter contacted us. It was meant to be since we had an available foster home that was very willing to take them in. A transport volunteer was generous enough to dedicate part of his day off during the holiday season to spring the girls and they arrived at their foster home just a few days before Christmas. What a gift for them! No more loud, chaotic shelter, soft sofas, yummy treats, new girly collars, and lots of one on one attention. It doesn’t get much better than that. The shelter staff did the best they could and we’re glad they reached out to us. These ladies will make a wonderful addition to a low key home looking for some furry companions. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to get to know them. They’ll be making their Meet and Greet debut soon so be sure to watch our Facebook page for our event schedule if you’d like to meet our ladies.

Then came Jake! This large Siberian Husky is impossible to ignore. He’s as handsome as they come with a personality just as beautiful. This 7 year old came to us with the help of his prior owner and a local shelter who both recognized he needed more than either could give him. In typical Husky fashion he needed to be in a home with other dogs. It was a tough decision for them to relinquish him but they loved him enough to do what was best for him. From the moment he landed in his foster home’s yard it seemed as though he had been there forever. After the initial introductions he quickly moved on to playing with his new pack. This seemed to be the key to his happiness. He spends his days in a large fenced yard romping, running, and playing tag with his foster siblings then eagerly trots inside for a nap to recharge for the next play session. Life is good! Our handsome Jake will make a wonderful addition to a family with a secure fenced yard (he likes to dig!), and at least one other dog of similar size and play level. No cats or small dogs for this guy though.

None of these dogs would have been able to come to us without the help of our volunteers. From transport to foster it takes the love and dedication of kind hearted people that are willing to adjust their schedules – often with very little notice – to make sure these dogs are safe and loved. The paybacks are immense. There’s nothing quite like hearing that sigh of relief from a previously stressed or frightened dog. Seeing them eventually move on to their forever home is the ultimate reward. We thank all of the volunteers that stepped up for our new guests as well as those who generously donated towards their care.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for frequent updates on these dogs. If you’re interested in adopting, check out the Adoption section of our website where you’ll find our adoption application as well as their profiles. Donations also help with the care and future expenses for current and future dogs in need.

Training a Special Needs Dog

How to train special needs dogs suffering from conditions such as blindness or deafness.

The local shelters are bursting at the seams with adoptable dogs this time of year. Some may be older or have special needs and have years of unconditional love to give. Learn about how it might be easier than you think to provide a little extra TLC to a special needs dog.

Training A Special Needs Dog

By: Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, CTDI

Training our dogs is all about communication. Clear, consistent cues enable our dogs to learn quickly and easily, while reinforcing the learned behaviors make the behaviors strong and long lasting. But how can we communicate to our furry, four-legged friends if they can’t see or hear us? In reality, training a blind or deaf dog is no different than you would train a dog that can see or hear. It’s as easy as ABC.

Antecedent. Behavior. Consequence.
An antecedent is something that causes a behavior to occur. A classic example is the ringing of the doorbell causing a dog to bark. When training, an antecedent can be a food lure, physical prompt, verbal cue, or hand signal that causes the dog to sit, down, come, or whatever behavior we are trying to train. The consequence is what happens after the behavior is performed. A positive consequence (reinforcement) will cause the behavior to increase, while a negative consequence (punishment) will cause the behavior to decrease.

Every behavior is always preceded by an antecedent and followed by a consequence. Some of those antecedents and consequences occur naturally in the environment, but when we control the antecedents and consequences we control behavior. The only difference between a blind/deaf dog and one that can see/hear may be how the antecedent and consequence is applied.

Training a deaf dog.
Dogs don’t understand English, or any other spoken language for that matter. How they learn is by associating a certain behavior, through repetition, with a sound that comes out of our mouths. However, dogs are masters at reading body language – that’s how they communicate with each other – so I find that training a deaf dog is rather easy using hand signals. Think of it as a form of dog sign language. The biggest challenge for training a deaf dog is getting his attention from a distance, and a vibration collar is a great way to let your dog know you want him to look at you. Once you have his attention you can use your hand signals to communicate to him. (Please note that a shock collar should never be used on any dog. And although some shock collars do have a vibration setting, I do not recommend using one this way, as they have been known to malfunction and can shock dogs at random times.)

Training a blind dog.
As stated above, a dog’s first line of communication is reading body language, so training a blind dog is more challenging. However, we can still use their other senses, especially a dog’s superior sense of smell, to teach them.

Lure-reward training, coupled with clicker training, is a highly effective way to teach your dog new behaviors. This type of training simply involves using food to guide your dog into the desired position or behavior. You then click, or mark, to let your dog know he did the correct thing, then reinforce the behavior with the food. Through repetition and consistent cueing your blind dog can easily learn just about anything you want to teach him.

Training a deaf and blind dog.
A dog that is both deaf and blind presents a more complicated training challenge, as the antecedent – the thing that makes behavior happen – cannot be a hand signal or verbal cue. So how do we ask our dogs to do what we want? We use touch. A gentle touch to a particular place on their body can be their cue to perform a certain behavior. For example, if you are training your deaf/blind dog to sit you would touch your dog on her rear at the base of her tail, lure her into a sit, then reinforce the behavior with food. With the consistent steps of cue-lure-reinforce your dog will learn behaviors in no time.

Final thoughts.
Dogs are born deaf and blind, and don’t gain their hearing and eyesight until about two weeks after birth. So dogs that are deaf or blind from birth seem to handle it quite well – it’s all they’ve ever known! On the other hand, dogs that had their hearing or sight then lost it have more problems adjusting to their disability, and more care and patience needs to be taken.

Special needs dogs can, and do, thrive, but particular care must still be taken to ensure their safety. They may not be able to see or hear cars, predators, or other dangers. Use a secure, physical fence in your yard, and never leave them outside without direct supervision. Use crates and baby gates in your home to keep them from stairs or dangerous objects in your home.

Deaf and blind dogs are no different than other dogs. They just hear and see with their hearts. As their caretakers it is our responsibility to accept them as they are and treat them with the love and respect that they, and all animals, deserve.

Resources to help your special needs dog:
Deaf Dog Education Action Fund
Deaf Dogs Rock
Blind Dog Training
Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Jeff Dentler, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI), provides dog training and behavior modification to residents of the greater Pottstown, PA area. Contact Jeff at [email protected] or 610-505-0123. For more information and daily tips on training, exercise, health, and nutrition please visit DentlersDogTraining or like us on Facebook.

The Danger of Pyometra in Dogs

Sallie the husky resting at an event.

Hello! Sallie here! I want to share with you my scary near death experience so maybe your lady dogs don’t have a similar or worse experience.

When I came to my forever family, they were told that I was spayed but I wasn’t. I kept getting sick, but my new family were very good about getting me the vet care that I needed, and quickly, otherwise I may not be here right now.

When I got very sick, I didn’t want to eat but was drinking a lot of water. I was tired and kept having accidents all the time, then started having trouble getting up and was very weak and shaky. It turned out that I had Pyometra; it was scary and painful, and mom said it was very expensive to treat. She now calls me her “million dollar baby”.

Pyometra is a severe infection of the uterus that is caused by hormones and bacteria. It is a serious and life threatening condition that must be treated quickly and aggressively, because if the uterus ruptures it becomes toxic in a girl’s abdomen- kind of like what can happen with appendicitis. Pyometra can happen in any female dog who hasn’t been spayed and is common in older females, but it can happen with only 1 heat cycle. The best prevention is to have all female dogs spayed, preferably at or before they are six months old and have their first heat cycle.

I was lucky and survived, but many girls don’t. So please, help us spread the word that it’s important to spay your beautiful female pups. Not only does it prevent unwanted pregnancy but it can save their lives!

With a heavy heart we must add that Sallie lost her battle with health issues. There were complications due to her late veterinary care and she passed away two weeks ago. Sallie is forever loved and greatly missed.