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Rufus, my five-year-old Springer, was diagnosed with epilepsy a year ago. He has been very stable on his tablets and for months did not have any more fits. Over the last few weeks, though, he has had several fits, one of which was severe and really distressing. What should I do in these situations?

Paul Manktelow advises…

I can certainly empathise with you on this condition, as I’ve seen first-hand how distressing these seizure episodes can be. It’s important to try to keep calm and minimise the escalation of the seizure as much as possible. The first thing I’d advise is to make the room as dark as possible.

Switch off the lights, draw the curtains, and turn off any TV or music that may be playing. Remove as many people from the room as possible and throw a big chunky duvet over Rufus, which will help protect his head and limbs during the seizure activity. Never try to touch his mouth, as there is a high risk of being bitten during these episodes.

You should start timing the seizure episode and if it is going on for more than three minutes, despite the measures you’ve put in place, you should call your vet for advice. These seizures often happen at night, so make sure you have your vet’s out-of-hours number to hand.

The reasons for taking these measures is so that you minimise the stimulus to Rufus as much as possible. You should follow the same principles in case you do need to transport him to the vets. Keep him wrapped in his duvet, and move him calmly and quietly with minimal noise and fuss. Pack the car with pillows and blankets so that he won’t injure himself on the journey and then, knowing that he’s safe, you can focus on driving safely.

It’s worth noting at this point that the aim of therapy in epilepsy is not to eliminate seizures altogether. Actually, your goal is to reduce the frequency and intensity of his fits. You should therefore prepare yourself for these episodes, although they should in theory be much more controlled on his medication. If you are finding that the fits are happening more frequently or more intensely, then you should speak to your vet to see if his dose needs to be adjusted.

It’s also really helpful if you can keep an accurate diary for your vet, which outlines the dates of his fits and their exact timings. It’s also useful to note any other changes in behaviour that happen around the seizure activity.

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