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Does Noise Pollution Affect our Animal Companions?

Published April 29, 2012 in Dr Peto Says, Monthly Care Tips, What's New, uncategorized |
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Before we explore if noise pollution affects our animal companions, let’s see how it affects us.

We are surrounded by an environment of sound everyday. But when sound becomes noise and it escalates to levels well above what is healthy for our ears or our well being, it becomes noise pollution.  We take in sound through our ears, where it is then changed into electro-chemical impulses that are sent to the brain. Interestingly, we also perceive it through our skin.

Sound is measured in decibels (dB). To understand this measurement, let us take the simple conversation between two people into account. According to Noise Pollution Facts: A Dummy’s Guide, if they are talking in relaxed tones, the sound is close to 60 decibels; if they whisper, the sound measures barely 30dB. If, however, the people start shouting at each other, the decibel level increases a magnitude of 100 times, up to 80 dB.

What about our beloved animal companions? They have become part of our families. We try and provide them with love and balanced lives, which would include educating ourselves in how human made sounds affect them.

Humans hear up to 20 kHz. Dogs hear 125% higher than that, up to 45 kHz. And cats hear up to 64 kHz, that is 42% higher than dogs and 220% higher than humans.  It should not be any surprise that cats get easily agitated when they hear people fighting, and dogs bark when trains screech, or they shake and show other anxiety signs during the roars of motorcycle sounds. The sounds of garbage trucks and the beeping of trucks backing up have been known to send dogs into a state of panic. Dogs are always trying to figure out what is safe in their environment. When they cannot orient where a sound is coming from and if it is safe, an imbalance can occur in their nervous system.

While most of us do not have the luxury of living in a quiet rural environment, there are many things we can do to improve our sonic environments for ourselves and our animal companions.

For starters, commence by taking a sonic inventory. Sit quietly for 30 minutes in your home and note all of the sounds you hear. It will help raise your awareness of all the sounds you take for granted and may even no longer notice. What is buzzing, beeping, and ringing? Are you able to lower the volume on those machines and appliances? Can your companions be in a separate room when loud machinery is turned on? Do you have two sound sources blasting at the same time in your home ~ perhaps a radio is playing in one room while a television blares in another? Definitely turn at least one off.

What to Do When Your Animal Companion is Having a Seizure?

Published April 4, 2012 in Dr Peto Says, Monthly Care Tips, What's New |

We have encountered numerous queries regarding canine seizures prior to directing concerned fur parents to veterinarians who are able to assist. Before any assistance can be dispensed, it is important to understand the possible causes of canine seizures.

The Types Of Dog Seizures

Most dogs have their first seizures between one and five years of age.

It is important to seek medical care for your animal companion if he/she has more than one seizure per month, has changed behaviour in between the seizures, or becomes generally lethargic, has difficulty in walking, or refuses food. (Excluding the “Post-ictal” period of 24 hours directly after the seizure)

If only a portion of the body is affected, the dog seizure is called a Focal Simple Seizure, meaning the dog retains consciousness. Focal Simple Seizures often involve the muscles of the face.

If only a portion of the body is affected, and the companion looses consciousness, this is referred to as a Focal Complex Seizure.

Another type of dog seizure is a Focal Motor Seizure, involving a repeated twitching movement in either the face or limbs and usually only lasts a few seconds. These type of seizures may often go unnoticed especially if they involve fairly innocuous movements like swallowing.

When an area of the brain that controls the conscious process is affected, the dog seizure is called a Psychomotor Seizure. During this altered period of consciousness, the dog may show fear, aggression, hyperactivity, repetitive behaviour, gum chewing or snapping at imaginary insects.

A Grand Mal Seizure causes an acute decrease in consciousness, repeated movements of the body, excessive salivation, vomiting and often a loss of bladder and bowel control. This event may last from 30 seconds to a few minutes. This dog seizure is generally followed by a period of drowsiness, difficulty walking, difficulty seeing, lack of appetite, and changes in behaviour, which can last around 24 hours.

The Causes Of Dog Seizures

In diagnosed Canine Epilepsy, the root cause of seizures may be a defect in nerve transmissions within the brain.

During an epileptic seizure random impulses are sent from the nerve cells of the brain to muscle tissue throughout the body. In “true” or idiopathic epilepsy the source of these abnormal brain impulses are small areas of abnormal or damaged brain tissue.

During a dog’s seizure, these tiny areas of abnormal brain tissues begin sending out electrical impulses that are received by the nerve cells that surround them. This results in a chain reaction, where the surrounding nerve cells are stimulated to fire off a shower of signals of their own to various muscles of the body. These abnormal electrical signals constitute a seizure.

Secondary Canine Epilepsy frequently occurs due to non-brain events.

Examples are Overheating (hyperthermia), increased intracranial pressure, low blood glucose, fevers, intestinal inflammation, a major body organ failure, an injury to the head, ingested poisons, ingested chemicals (including BHA and BHT in dog foods), and nutrient deficiencies.

What Would You Do If Your Dog Has A Seizure?

Watching your dog experience a seizure can be a very upsetting experience. However, to ensure that you do not cause further harm to your animal companion, it is extremely important that you know what to do (and what not to do) when your dog is having a seizure. Here are a few simple guidelines.

Do not Try to Restrain Your Dog!
This is one of the most common errors that many fur parents make when their companion is having a seizure. It has been confirmed by veterinarians that a dog will not usually experience pain during a seizure, so it is not necessary to try to stop the seizure. A seizure is simply a spastic contraction of your dog’s muscles. Attempting to restrain your dog during a seizure can result in injury both to you and your animal companion.

Keep the Area Around Your Dog Clear
While your dog is having a seizure, try to move away any nearby objects that may cause further injury. If necessary, blockade any possible dangerous areas around your dog, such as stairs.

Very Important!
Do NOT try to reach into your dog’s mouth in an attempt to keep them from “swallowing their tongue”! Since your dog is having seizure convulsions, this will only provide further stress, and may result in your dog biting your hands involuntarily. Rarely will a dog “swallow” its tongue, but if the dog should turn bluish you can use an inverted spoon to manipulate the tongue.

If this is not sufficient and the dog is still having difficulty breathing, open the mouth by passing two towels through the mouth and pulling on them – one up, one down – to force the mouth open.

Stay Calm
This is another very important part of dealing with your dog’s seizures. Try not to panic, and instead, talk to your dog in a gentle, comforting tone of voice; even though they will not know you are present until the seizures begin to subside, but it provides a comforting support to your animal companion.

Being stressed, or taking loudly will only increase the severity of the situation for your dog, so try to do your best to be relaxed.

Remove Other Animal Companions From the Area
When your dog is having seizure convulsions, it is possible that they may try to bite or attack nearby people or animals. Keep your hands clear of the area around your dog’s head, and be sure to keep any other companions away from your dog during the seizure.

Take Notes
This may seem like the last thing you should be doing. However, try to identify the characteristics of your dog’s seizure. This can be a very important part of helping your veterinarian figure out what is causing seizures in your animal companion.

Coping After a Seizure
Canine Seizures are generally followed by a period of drowsiness, difficulty walking, difficulty seeing, and changes in behaviour, which can last around 24 hours. Your animal companion may also have difficulty controlling their head motions. Eating and drinking may be very hard for them, so try hand feeding them.

A Listing Of Anti-Convulsants Used For Dog Seizures, and Their Side Effects

Anti-epileptic drugs such as Phenobarbital are commonly used to reduce or prevent dog seizures. Here is a list of the most common dog seizure drugs and how seriously harmful they are.

The side effects of Phenobarbitol are sedation, loss of coordination, lethargic, appearance of depression, weight gain, increased thirst, increased eating, excessive urination, difficulty balancing, weakness in the rear legs, and elevations in serum alkaline phosphatase (SAP) levels which is found by blood tests. Another side effect is the dog’s system becomes used to the drug, and will usually need a greater dosage to maintain control.

Dogs taking Phenobarbital need to have their liver enzymes tested every few months to check for possible liver damage. Phenobarbital can cause severe liver disease.

Potassium Bromide
It is prescribed and used to lower the dose of Phenobarbital. Side effects of Potasium Bromide are vomiting, depresssion, lethargy, and extreme drowsiness.

This drug has been used in conjunction with Phenobarbital. Clorazepate is a benzodiazepine drug of the same group as Valium. Side effects of Clorazepate are sleepiness and a wobbly gait.

It is often given in conjunction with Phenobarbital to lower the Phenobarbital dose. Blood samples need to be taken to check for the possible side effects of liver toxicity and bone marrow suppression.

Gabapentin (Neurontin)
It is often administered as a supplement to other anti-seizure medication such as Phenobarbitol and Potassium Bromide. Neurontin can cause mental confusion and forgetfulness.

Levetiracetam (Keppra)
This drug has been used in humans to control both focal and generalized seizures. Keppra has been used in dogs in combination with Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide to lower the daily dose of Phenobarbital received, and in cases where Phenobarbital was not able to control the seizures. Keppra side effects in dogs include a stiff wobbly gait, vomiting, and salivation.

Dogs taking this drug need to be their salt levels monitored.

A Much Healthier Dog Seizure Medicine

At Petopia, we would recommend non-chemical or natural options in dealing with any canine condition, whenever possible. In order to prevent your animal companions from suffering the side-effects brought about by a drug regime, we’d suggest administering EaseSure from PetAlive.

EaseSure is a 100% natural blend of herbal and homeopathic ingredients specially selected to treat and prevent seizures in dogs. It may be used to relieve acute seizures immediately, and may also be used preventatively for the treatment of chronic dog seizure disorders.

EaseSure’s All Natural Ingredients Are:

Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) is an herb used widely for anxiety and stress and is also useful for calming an overstimulated nervous system. Passiflora is effective in both prevention and treatment of seizures, especially when stress is a precipitating factor, as is often the case with seizures.

Scuttelaria laterifolia (Skullcap) is a well-known calmative and antispasmodic herb and will help to reduce over-stimulation that can lead to seizure occurrence. It is also helpful in lowering fever and regulating blood pressure, two further contributing precipitants of seizures in dogs.

Hyoscyamus (30C) is a homeopathic remedy valuable in the acute and long-term treatment of all seizures and tic disorders.

Belladonna (30C) is also a homeopathic remedy well-known for its usefulness in seizure control, especially those seizures associated with high fever.

Cuprum mettalicum (30C) is another homeopathically prepared ingredient, controls seizures and any associated mental dullness or vomiting.

The EaseSure Drops may be used instead of or along with your dog’s conventional medication for seizures. However, it is not recommended that you discontinue your dog’s prescription seizure medication without consulting your veterinarian.

It is advisable to consult your veterinarian first when deciding to use EaseSure simultaneously with their prescription medication, so that your dog’s progress may be adequately monitored.

When used acutely, EaseSure should take effect within minutes and you will find your dog’s seizure resolves more quickly than usual and when used regularly on a chronic basis you will notice a decreased overall frequency of seizures within 3-6 weeks.