Category Archives: cats


This blog was updated in April 2017 and is intended as a flea/tick/heartworm/parasites product guide for our clients that live in the area of Moncton, Dieppe, Riverview, Salisbury, Scoudouc, Bouctouche, Shediac, Amherst, Memramcook, Cap Pele, etc.

2 lyme disease is just one

Ticks, these little critters are so small, yet can cause such large issues, and their numbers just keep rising. Ticks can give you lyme disease!  Help us reduce the tick population by treating all pets that go outdoors. Here is a 2012 Map about location of ticks submitted in Canada for testing. We have seen the numbers rise yearly in the past 2-3 years in NB. Cases of lyme disease in pets and people are on the rise!

Ticks can be found in tall grasses like those in parks, wooded areas and even the unkempt lawn of your home. Ticks do not jump but instead grab a hold to anything walking by from the tallest grasses they perch on. When a tick bites is is virtually unnoticeable and neither animal nor human will feel it, but the danger lies in the possible infections they can carry in that bite. Usually it takes 24-48 hours for an already attached tick to potentially transmit such diseases as follows.

  • Lyme disease (transmitted by the deer tick)
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Tularemia
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Relapsing fever
  • Colorado tick fever
  • Babesiosis

A great way to do prevention at home for yourself and pet is to do a quick shake down of your pet, feel for any lumps that are new or unusual . If a tick is found, there are few safe options/tips for you to follow.

    • Never place any type of product or attempt to burn the tick, this will cause them to regurgitate which causes transmission of any disease we are avoiding in the first place.
    • You can use a Tick twister/remover ( found at a clinic or pet store)
    • To remove a tick, you must remove it from its attachment site, i.e. the head. By placing a tight grasp with your Tick Twister on the closet part to your animal’s skin, and slowly pulling while twisting at the same time should loosen and remove the tick. ( think of it as removing a nail with a hammer end)
    • Wash your hands and if possible wear gloves! We are easily the next target for infection and disease.
    • If you are unsure/uncomfortable with removing a tick, don’t hesitate to call your vet hospital. Our Veterinary technicians understand how to remove them and it is free of charge.
    • Deer ticks are carriers for Lyme disease, if you remove a tick and are concerned in any way, bring it in to the clinic so we can send it away to test if it is a carrier.
    • Once a tick (s) is removed it is a proper to clean the area and dispose of the tick in the correct fashion. If you wish not to send it away for analysis, make sure to kill the tick to keep others safe and control the population. Submersing the tick in alcohol is advised. In the long run, Keep an eye on the area the tick latched onto, there can be irritation and/or redness. If anything more arises such as lethargy, fever or any signs of sickness in your pet , you need to bring them in for an exam. Lyme especially can incubate in your pet and only show 6-8 weeks after the initial attachment. If your pet is exposed to ticks, there is a blood test that we can do 6-8 weeks after exposure to see if your pet has been exposed to lyme disease. The blood test cost is 67+tax and tests for 4 diseases: Canine Heartworm, Anaplasma, Borrelia and Lyme disease).  The results of the blood are available the same day within 10-20 minutes. If you are concerned that your pet has been exposed to ticks,  schedule a blood test with one of our technicians today!


Always check with your own veterinarian about what they recommend for your pet. Recommendations may vary depending on where you live. 

PRODUCTS FOR TICKS IN DOGS: Advantage Multi DUO  combo of Advantix and Advantage multi (for dogs only), Revolution (dogs and cats), Bravecto (dogs), Simparica (dogs) and Nexgard (dogs) are some products commonly used in Canada for ticks. Advantix is the only product that we sell that repels ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes. Advantix Multi DUO and Revolution are in a form of a liquid that is applied on the skin on the back. Bravecto, Simparica are pills.

advantix blog.png


The Advantage DUO consists of  2 tubes ( one tube of Advantage Multi and one tube of Advantix) that need to be applied at least 2 days a part and applied to 4 spots on the back. If you are applying Advantage Duo products, you apply in 4 spots on the skin on the back.

how to apply advantix

Advantix is very toxic to cats. We recommend applying the Advantix at night and separating cats and dogs from each other overnight until the product is dry. Once the product is dry, it is safe for cats and dogs to be in contact, the issue is the wet form of the product. On the other hand,  Revolution is safe for cats and there is no need to separate your pets overnight unless they are licking the product off each other which would decrease its potency but not cause toxicity. Revolution does not repel ticks and does not kill ticks as fast as Advantix/Advantage Multi Duo.


PILL FORM PRODUCTS FOR TICKS (given by-mouth):  Bravecto, Simparica and Nexgard are three types of pill products that areavailable. Bravecto kills ticks and fleas and it is a pill you give once every 3 months.  If you want to use a pill form product, we do recommend combining Bravecto with Interceptor in order to cover fleas/ticks/heartworm and intestinal parasites.







** PRODUCT FOR TICKS IN CATS-CATS that go outdoors: At this time, because of the increase in ticks in New Brunswick, we do recommend that any outdoor cat be treated with Revolution to help reduce the population of ticks and human exposure to lyme disease. 

revolution for cats.jpg


AdvantageRevolution(Selamectin),Program(Lufenuron),Advantix,Bravecto,Nexgard and Sentinel (Milbemycin oxime/Lufenuron). From the following, you can see there are numerous products to chose from , each with their own benefits.

There are also many products available at Walmart as well as different pet stores in the area, as an animal health care provider we do not recommend any of these products for flea treatment. Be in mind we have seen many pets being treated with these pet store products coming in for an exam as they are still being attacked by fleas. Unfortunately we also have seen many adverse reactions with pet store/Walmart products, they are not regulated and are pesticides, not medications. Just to have this is mind to know and be careful, if anything, please call your veterinary practice for information and tips.


Some vets will use Program injectable (Lufenuron) which requires a visit to the office. The veterinarian will administer an injection that lasts for 6 months and will prevent fleas from developing (Insect Growth Regulator). Otherwise, monthly topical products like Advantage Multi for fleas/skin mites/ear mites/intestinal worms or Revolution for cats to cover fleas/skin mites/ear mites/intestinal worms and ticks are available during the flea and tick season. To cover for tapeworms if your cat eats or hunts mice then Cestex, Milbemax or Profender are two options for tapeworms. Revolution and Advantage Multi do not treat for tapeworms.


In Moncton and surrounding areas, the flea season has changed in the past few years. It is now earlier than ever. We started to recommend Flea and Tick prevention products as early as April 1st this year. We do recommend treating until at least the end of November and possibly into December depending on how mild it is. We are now looking at a tick and flea season extending from 6 months and really going to almost 9 months of duration. Changes in the weather and seasons have impacted the risks of exposure to fleas and ticks.  

New studies in Canada have shown that if the temperature gets above 4 Celsius, we can now see ticks. A tick will take about 24-48 hours to transmit Lyme disease to your pet, so if you do a daily check on your pet and pull the ticks before its attached for more than 2 days, you are reducing the risk of Lyme disease. If your pet goes to daycare, some are now advocating the year round deworming protocols and prevention of fleas and ticks. 

If you have pets that go outdoors and some cats that stay inside, We would recommend you treat the ones that go outside only with a product that covers for fleas and ticks. If you do that, it reduces the need to use preventive products on your indoor furry friends!



Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos.

Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos.  It is considered endemic in other provinces, in the USA and we are seeing more and more positive cases in the past year or so. We do recommend preventive measures for it. it is just a matter of time before it becomes a problem in our city.  It is preventable by using products like Advantage Multi, Interceptor, Heartguard and Revolution. 


The SNAP 4DX test we use to detect exposure to Lyme disease also tests for Heartworm. So, if you travel a lot with your furry friends, you should consider testing them for their previous exposures. Want to know if your pet has been exposed before using a preventive product, call us at 506-858-9900 to schedule a Lyme/Heartworm test with one of our veterinary technicians. Results are available within 20 minutes. 

idexx test

General guidelines in addition to using products. 


Keep washing your pet’s bedding in hot water, or replace it regularly.

Pay attention to potential re-­infestations due to contact with untreated animals.

Try to keep untreated animals out of your home living areas.

Vacuum and thoroughly dust your house regularly, paying particular attention to the areas where your pets eat, play and sleep.


Written by Dr Cindy Lizotte, DVM, MBA, CVFT (CHI institute), CVA (IVAS), Grad Dip Vet Western Herb Med (CIVT) Grad Dip Vet Chinese Herb Med CVHM (IVAS/CIVT)

Flea and Tick products and natural options

With the warmer months approaching, flea and tick season will soon be upon us, calling for preventative measures to hopefully protect your canine friend from becoming prey to these parasites. Fleas can cause dozens of health issues, ranging from severe allergies, injured skin, skin infections, anemia, and tapeworms. Choosing a flea and tick product to use is often overwhelming and confusing. There is a wide variety of different options, from standard spot-on or oral flea treatments, such as Frontline, Revolution, Advantage, Adventix, Sentinel, Program, Bravetco, Nexgard Capstar to a variety of natural topical remedies and supplements.

flea dirt



Preventative Measures For Fleas and Ticks

Although flea and tick infections are not entirely possible to prevent, it is certainly practical to use preventative treatment options to keep your dog’s immune system as healthy as can be.

— Improving Your Pet’s Health

Improving and strengthening your pet’s overall health is a preventative option for any type of disease. In some households with multiple dogs or cats, it’s not uncommon for one dog/cat to be ravaged by fleas while another is flea-free. Flea problems can stem from the mere presence of fleas, but sometimes health and environmental factors allow opportunistic parasites to feed on weakened animals.

Diet plays a major role in your dog or cat’s health. In some cases, upgrading their diet may help strengthen their immune system and help them prevent these opportunistic parasites from invading them and your house. See our previous blogs on raw diets, home-made diets and commercial kibbles/cans.

Proper grooming and daily body exams for fleas and ticks is part of the recommended guidelines for any pets during the summer months. Groomers can help identify and find fleas on  your pet, so regular visits to them may help prevent issues.

— Supplements and Herbal Remedies

Supplements can also be helpful in repelling fleas and ticks; however their effectiveness varies on the individual’s body chemistry and makeup. An essential fatty-acid supplement (Omega 3) is important, as essential fatty acids play critical roles in how your dog’s immune system responds to threats of infection, including parasites. Essential fatty acids are also beneficial in creating healthy skin and a shiny coat. Not all Omega 3’s are created equal and the brand I currently recommend and trust is the Ascenta Dog/Cat fish oil. Make sure to store the product in the fridge once it is open as rancidity is a problem with all omega 3 supplements.

Probiotics may also be a good supplement, as they assist with the transport of nutrients throughout the body and aid in the breakdown and removal of waste and toxins. Purina Fortiflora, Rx Vitamins Biotics, Rx Vitamins Nutrigest, Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotics are all good options. Consult with your veterinarian about which pet specific probiotic would  be best. I do not recommend using human probiotics since the bacteria found in animal flora is different. Pet specific probiotics are usually ideal. Here is a link to Dr Dodds point of view on probiotics for those interested in reading more about them.

As far as herbal support, some holistic veterinarians recommend garlic for flea issues but I do no agree with them. Garlic is helpful as it supports the immune system, liver, and the skin but it does nothing to directly prevent or treat fleas and ticks. No study has ever been able to support its usage for fleas/ticks versus other natural less toxic products. Natural does not mean safe! Some owners use fresh garlic, garlic powder, or garlic oil which can be very dangerous! It is important to talk to your veterinarian before starting your pet on a garlic supplement, as garlic can be toxic at certain doses, causing anemia and possible hospitalization. CATS ARE VERY SENSITIVE TO IT!  Usually I do NOT recommend its usage in cats and I would not recommended it for fleas in dogs since there are more safer and more efficient products available. 

I am not a fan of over-the-counter products containing garlic since it is very hard to know the exact dose of garlic in these products and therefore there is a risk to pets consuming these. I would highly recommend you consult with a veterinarian before using any garlic containing products. A lot of people think garlic actually kill or repels fleas and IT DOES NOT ! There has never been anything published supporting this belief but there is a lot published about the benefit of garlic on the immune system. A lot of people will use that as proof and mis-represent garlic as a flea repellent product when it is more of a immune system supporter. The link between giving garlic to pets and preventing fleas has never been directly established. If you give garlic, you may help the immune system, which may then help prevent against opportunistic external parasites (like fleas) from infesting your pet. But, garlic has been linked toxicity and poses a risk at certain doses.

There is no scientific study supporting the use for garlic, brewer’s yeast or vitamin B as being able to control fleas. Client often buy these products at pet stores and they believe these work because they have yet to see fleas on their pets. The main reason they are probably not seeing fleas on their pets is because either their pets were not exposed to fleas or they are healthy enough to not allow fleas to invade them. We must not forget that fleas are opportunistic and will invade weak animals more often then strong ones.

For ticks, there are several types of natural spray/shampoo products that may be effective in discouraging ticks from infesting on your dog. If you are unsure of which type works in your area, contact your local holistic veterinarian for guidance. I personally do not use any of these products on my pets. They need to be applied often and if you forget and miss a few applications you are putting your pet at risk. A lot of them have a lemon smell and I am not a fan. 

If your pet is having problems with itchy skin, talk to your veterinarian about other skin support supplements. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a good herb to give to your dog if the itching is severe and the skin is inflamed. It also acts as an internal anti-inflammatory. Nettles is another great anti-itch herb.   Some probiotics like Rx Vitamins Nutrigest contain garlic (low dose) and licorice so these types of product may benefit dogs with allergies during flea season.

Borax, Borates and Borax powder can be toxic (irritants) to cats and dogs. They can kill fleas but these products are not safe for pets. Electronic flea collars not really effective while electric flea trap do work but I personally would not bother using them. Products with citrus extract like limonene will repel fleas but should not be used on kittens and puppies. Flea and tick collars may help reduce fleas, but I have seen so many pets loaded with fleas come into my office wearing those collars and scratching that I usually do not recommend them.

Pyrethrum (natural form) or permethrin (synthetic) based products can be found in topical flea and tick powder at your veterinarian’s office. Permethrin or pyrethrin products are considered SAFE INSECTICIDES FOR DOGS ONLY. DO NOT USE THESE PRODUCTS IN CATS! Pyrethrum is derived from chrysanthemum flower. Be careful with organophosphates based products in cats.

Essential Oils Blends FOR DOGS ONLY (I do not recommend the topical use of essential oils on cats for flea prevention). Cats are very sensitive to essential oils like tea tree, cedar, peppermint, lavender and many more and this can be very toxic for them if ingested. Cats like to groom themselves and therefore the risk of exposure is high. In regards to dogs, the same can apply, specially if you are making bandanas and collars out of essential oils mixes. Make sure you dog does not chew them as they are potentially toxic.

Essential oils repel but do not kill fleas. Because of this, they are not recommended for pets with allergies to fleas or when you are dealing in a major flea infestation.

I would not recommend this to my clients, but these examples have been recommended by some holistic vet and I am making the information available to my clients. If you want to know what I do for my own pets for flea prevention, read this blog.

a) This formula was taken from page 46 of Dogs naturally magazine March-April 2014 issue.

1/2 oz base oil (hazelnut or sweet almond), 4 drops of clary sage, 1 drop citronella, 7 drops peppermint, 3 drops lemon

Apply 2-4 drops topically to the neck, chest legs and base of the tail. You can also add the drops to a bandana or cotton collar.

b) The book The Pet Lover’s Guide to Natural Healing for Dogs and cats (well worth the 15$) gives other mixes for essential oil blends at p. 556-557. Again, I am not a fan of using essential oils for flea and tick prevention. Dr Barbara Fougere, will also sometimes recommend using Revolution and supplementing with herbs like milk thistle, omegas and other natural supplements to support the immune system and detoxify topical flea products. She co-authored the textbook Veterinary Herbal Medicine with Dr Susan Wynn. Both of these books are great references.

Example of how to make a natural DOG flea-free collar(not for cats) found in book the The Pet Lover’s Guide to Natural Healing for Dogs and cats .

Buy a soft cloth collar. Mix vodka 2 tsp, lavender 2 drops, citronella 1 drop, cedar 1 drop, rose geranium 1 drop, garlic capsule 2 capsules

Double this formula for pets over 15kg and under 30kg. Triple this formula for dogs over 30 kg. You need to soak collar with mix and allow to dry. Repeat each month as the smell wears off.

Essential oils used for flea sprays should always be diluted to about 15 drops per 500ml of water. If you prefer to dilute with almond oil, then use about 10 drops per 20ml of almond oil and then massage onto your dog’s fur twice a week at about 1 drop per kg.

—- Repellent Herbs

Dr Barbara Fougere, in her book suggests to plant Fennel, Sage or Wormwood near the kennel or cattery. These are meant to environment outdoor flea repellents, not to be ingested by your pet.  Lavender can also be sprinkled around the bedding.

— Outdoor Environment

Controlling the outdoor flea population can be difficult, especially since you can’t control how your neighbours keep their yard. Keep your grass short, especially where your dog spends a lot of time, as this will help reduce habitat for fleas. Flea eggs, larvae, and pupae live in long grass and piles of leaves.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy to control the tick population with simple measures such as grass clipping. Ticks do like to live in organic matter, so keeping the leaf or pine needle litter to a minimum in your yard may help prevent ticks.

You can also use food grade diatomaceous earth, which is a calcium dust ground from single-cell, ocean organisms (fossilized remains of hard shell algae). Diatomaceous earth acts as an abrasive and a desiccant, drying out and destroying adult fleas and killing larvae. This is a relatively easDEy and inexpensive product to use with positive results. Food grade diatomaceous earth is the only recommended kind (do not use the industrial type) and in some case it may lead to lung irritation in people. Also, water and rain will wash it off and you will need to re-apply it as needed.

I personally do not recommend using food grade diatomaceous earth anywhere near myself nor on my pets. I would use it strictly outdoors. It is basically fossilized remains in a dust form and I personally do not want to be breathing calcium deposits (dusts) into my lungs nor do I want my pets to breath that in either. It is a known lung irritant and some people may be more sensitive to it. I constantly have direct contact with my pets and their fur so I do not want to have them full of a potential lung irritating powder. Chronic lung irritation in people and pets can lead to long term health issues and I am not willing to risk that at this time.

Beneficial nematodes can also have a good effect on flea-infested areas. Nematodes are small worms that kill flea larvae and pupae by feeding on them. They can be purchased at some garden supply stores or online.

Products containing Insect Growth Regulators (chemicals/insect hormones) do work. They are still not considered natural, but they do seem safe and effective for long term use. I call these products the birth control for fleas! The veterinary products Sentinel (Lufenuron) and Program are considered Insect Growth Regulators versus Revolution (Selamectin) and Advantage (Imidacloprid) which are considered insecticides. The Insect Growth Regulators do not kill the fleas like insecticides but they stop them from developing. The fleas will eventually die off. They are considered a more biological way to control infestation than the use of insecticides and do remain a valid options for clients.

— Indoor Environment

When controlling your indoor environment, it’s important to target the highest pfleas and their life cycleart of the flea population — the non-adult stages. Over 90% of the flea population is in your house is in the form of egg, larvae and pupae. It does not reside on your pet, but in your actual home environment. Less than 10% of the fleas will be found on your pet. I often hear clients saying that they do not have a flea problem because they only saw 1-2 fleas on their pets. In my brain, this actually translates to: these people actually have millions of fleas in their house that they are not aware of!

Good housekeeping is essential when preventing flea growth. Wash your floors frequently, vacuum carpeting, and remove any rugs. Wash your dog’s bedding at least once per week in hot water and mild detergent or vinegar. If you own a steam cleaner or can borrow one, this is a great tool to use as the steam kills adults and larvae. The steam stimulates the eggs to hatch as well, so it is important to follow up with a vacuum after a day or two to capture the newly hatched fleas. Otherwise, you can simply vacuum weekly any carpets, but also on and under furniture. Make sure you seal your vacuum cleaner in an airtight bag before disposing or put in the freezer overnight. In some cases, where people have ceflea cycle vetntral vac, they will put flea collars in their vacuum containers to help. Vacuum will kill fleas in all life stages and at a rate of about 96% for adult fleas and 100% of younger fleas! So, people looking for a great chemical-free option to get rid of flea infestations in their houses can start by buying and using a vacuum routinely! This is a great article that talks about a study done on vacuuming and fleas.


Ticks do not thrive in houses, so the issue of larvae nesting in your sofa is thankfully not an issue!

Flea and Tick Control Products

Unfortunately, as much as we may try to prevent them, fleas and ticks may still invade our dogs and our home. Luckily, there are multiple treatment options. As a general rule of thumb, in treating any disease, choose the lesser of the two evils — many flea and tick products arguably contain some ingredients that may not be the safest, yet in some severe cases, may be deemed necessary for the overall health of the dog. Generally, choose the least toxic product that is effective in your dog’s individual case.

Check to see if your product is targeting multiple parasites — some products target both fleas and ticks. Others also offer protection for heartworm and intestinal worms. Don’t subject your dog to these additional ingredients if the targeted parasite isn’t an issue in your area or at a certain time of year.

Cats are very sensitive to chemicals, so only use flea and tick products labeled for cats.

Also, use these products only as needed or as directed by your veterinarian. Many manufacturers recommend administering tick and flea repellent monthly, year-round. But, for most people, flea and tick season is not a year-round threat and this is completely unnecessary. If fleas is the major concerns, then some people prefer waiting till their pets actually get fleas before using veterinary products like Revolution or Advantage. At one point, it becomes more a personal choice. Other owners never use conventional flea and tick prevention and their dogs never have issues with parasites. It truly depends on the environment and the animal’s overall health.

 Flea Allergies

Some dogs and cats suffer from flea allergies, resulting in severe itching to the point of skin damage and infection. This is caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva which contains an anticoagulant substance that prevents the blood in the wound from clotting, thus allowing the flea to suck additional blood. Flea saliva also contains other substances that can irritate the pet’s skin. In cases of flea allergies, I always recommend using an insecticide to kill the actual fleas. So products like Avantage and Revolution are used instead of Program and Sentinel. Only a couple of fleas are required to send your pet into a scratching fit, so you need to get rid of the fleas ASAP.


Typical Flea allergy Pattern

Typical Flea allergy Pattern

Lyme Disease

Some areas of the world may experience a higher number of Lyme disease cases, while in others the probability of your dog contracting it is rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Lyme disease is most commonly found in the United States northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper north-central regions. In these areas, the risk is greatest in residential areas surrounded by woods.

Unfortunately, the natural options for tick prevention aren’t really effective, especially when the risk of Lyme disease is high and you feel that your dog needs to be protected. In the end, it ultimately depends on the individual dog’s body makeup and chemistry, determining if the product works.

pet fur tick

Tick attached to a dog.

As far as preventative measures, check for ticks every time your dog has been outside, particularly around the legs, belly, neck, and armpits. Ticks can transmit lyme disease in about 2 days, so even if you only check your pet once a day at night for ticks, removing what you find can prevent the transmission of lyme. Ticks travel towards dark and warm areas of the body. Ticks are most active mid-morning, so try to limit your dog’s exposure during this time.

Fleas and ticks are frustrating to deal with, however with patience you can usually find a safe product that works effectively for your dog or cat. As always, prevention is key, and concerning fleas, there are quite a few options for controlling both indoor and outdoor populations. With the high of flea and tick season approaching in many areas, we wish you the best of luck in protecting your pets from these parasites!

Written by Dr Cindy Lizotte, DVM, MBA, CVFT (CHI institute), CVA (IVAS), Grad Dip Vet Western Herb Med (CIVT) Grad Dip Vet Chinese Herb Med CVHM (IVAS/CIVT)

Seizures in dogs and cats

What are Seizures?

Seizures occur when your dog’s brain causes the body to experience sudden, uncontrolled physical attacks, with or without loss of consciousness. Some seizures are a result of genetic abnormalities, while others occur for unknown reasons (idiopathic).

What are the symptoms?

Seizures manifest in different ways, however there are normally three phrases: the “pre-ictal” phase, the actual seizure, and “post-ictal” phase. In the pre-ictal phase, dogs usually start acting agitated or stressed. They may become extra clingy to their owner or they may seek solitude. This phase can last mere minutes or a few hours. Directly before the onset of the actual seizure, the dog may experience trembling, loss of vision, and unresponsiveness. During the seizure, the dog may stiffen, fall over, and convulse. Some will kick their legs in a running motion, foam at the mouth, or lose control of bladder and/or bowels. In the post-ictal phase, the dog may be lethargic, disoriented, and confused. Some dogs may experience temporary blindness.

Watching your dog experience a seizure can be a scary thing to witness, however it’s extremely important to remain calm, clear the area around your dog, and speak gently to him/her. Never place your hand near your dog’s mouth, as your dog may be unaware of your presence and may bite unknowingly. Do not try to pet or calm them because sometimes external stimuli may actually worsen the signs and prolong the seizures.

What is the cause?

There are two types of seizures: primary and secondary. Primary seizures (idiopathic) have no known source, while secondary seizures have a known source (disease process).

If the dog is less than one year, the most common cause of seizures is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This is more common with puppies and toy-sized breeds. However, dogs with liver disease, diabetes, or pancreatic tumors may suffer from hypoglycemia as well. Puppies with distemper or congenital issues (hydrocephalus) may also experience seizures.

Seizures in dogs aged one to five are normally considered to be idiopathic.  Idiopathic Epilepsy is considered a genetic condition in some breeds such as the Beagle, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Collie, and Boxer. Brain tumors and head injuries may also be the cause of seizures, as the pressure on the brain tissue can result in loss of vision, loss of coordination, and seizures. Senior dogs with seizures may be experiencing a symptom of neoplasia or liver or kidney disease.

We have found that a lot of the times, it seems that seizures are induced by stress like a visit to the groomer, kennel stays, visit to the vet, etc. Sometimes if we can identify the seizure triggers, they can be avoided and this may help with their management.

What are the treatment options?

For epileptic seizures, treatment varies by the severity of the condition. For dogs that experience less than two seizures per month, traditional treatment is not often recommended. However, for dogs who experience frequent and long seizures, anticonvulsant medication may be an option. Phenobarbital is the usual prescribed drug — unfortunately, it does have some side effects, including sedation and stimulation of hunger/thirst. Phenobarbital also directly impacts the liver and if your dog is on Phenobarbital long-term, liver damage can occur. Potassium bromide, Gabapentin and Kepra (Levetiracetam) may also be used or added to phenobarbital for dogs that fail to respond to the initial therapy. In emergency situations, drugs like valium (diazepam) or propofol may also be used. There are also newer drugs available so the agent used will depend on the veterinarian in charge of the case. In some cases, one drug is needed and it other cases it may take up to three drugs to get the seizures under control. Control is considered achieved when a pet does not have a seizure more often than every 6-8 weeks. That means that some pets will still have seizures but at an acceptable frequency (no more often than  every 6-8 weeks).

There are many holistic and alternative approaches to help control seizures and epilepsy, ranging from supplements to flower essences, that have had great success in minimizing the frequency of seizures.

More information on specific holistic treatment methods below:

  • Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese practice of inserting safe needles into specific acupuncture points to move and unblock energy. Acupuncture can offer great results for epileptic patients.

  • Diet

For humans that suffer from seizures, a Ketogenic diet is often recommended. A Ketogenic diet contains no carbohydrates, low to moderate amounts of fat, and high levels of protein. While the Ketogenic diet has no proven efficacy in dogs, it may be worthwhile to consult with a veterinary nutritionist about using diet as part of anti-convulsant therapy. In dogs, switching to low carbohydrate and higher protein diets or raw diets should be considered

Dogs suffering with Hepatic encephalopathy should NOT BE FED A HIGH PROTEIN DIET / Raw diet.

It is extremely important to consult with your veterinarian if thinking about a serious change in diet, as ‘seizure diets’ like the Ketogenic diet can have severe side effects in humans.

Some veterinarians has seen a reduction of seizure episodes when patients are switched to a hypoallergenic or ‘novel protein, novel carbohydrate’ elimination diet. In the past few years, a lot of holistic veterinarian have been discussing the fact that in some cases, allergies and seizures have gone hand in hand and that an elimination diet should be considered in every pet diagnosed with seizures.

  • Flower Essences

Bach Flower Essences makes a tincture called “Rescue Remedy”. It is a combination of five flower remedies all designed to combat stress, panic, and fear. The flower essences it includes are Star of Bethlehem (helps animals that have experienced abuse, shock, and trauma), Rock Rose (helps animals in stressful situations, such as thunderstorm, fireworks, going to the veterinarian, etc), Cherry Plum (helps animals who have lost control of their actions, exhibited by excessive barking or scratching), Impatiens (helps animals who are impatient, unable to wait), and Clematis (helps animals who seem to be sleeping excessively and have lost interest in their surroundings). The tincture provides a calming effect on the animal.  Some seizures are triggered by stress, such as new people in the house or thunderstorms. Consistent use of Rescue Remedy may reduce anxiety and prevent seizures in this manner.  Rescue Remedy can purchased at most health food stores and online. We will be writing a blog about Rescue Remedy in the near future so follow us!

  • Herbals, Supplements and TCVM

A diagnosis from a holistic veterinarian who practices Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) can be very helpful in the treatment of seizures. Some seizures are caused by patients having different Yin or Yang deficiencies, Triple Burner obstructions, Phlegm/Damp accumulation, Liver Yang rising, etc. A TCVM diagnosis can also identify and address other factors that may be contributing to seizure activity. Different tonics, herbs or even ‘cooling’ Western drugs such as phenobarbital may be used together as anti-seizure treatments.(1) There are a lot of Chinese herbal formulas that can assist the treatment of seizures like: Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, Ban Xia Zhu Tian Ma Tang, Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, Xiao Chai Hu Tang, San Ren Tang, Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang, etc.

It is thought that the herb Skullcap may have positive benefits on epileptic animals. The plant is believed to moderate overactive synapses in the brain where seizures are triggered. Valerian, Kava, Saint John’s Wort, Corydalis, Gastrodia, Uncaria, Bacopa and many others may be beneficial as well. For dogs taking Phenobarbitol, Milk Thistle can be helpful as it is commonly used to protect and regenerate the liver. There are many western herbs that can benefit pets with seizures and a veterinarian trained in western herbal therapies can assist you in designing the appropriate formula for your pet. Each pet is different and a patient specific seizure herbal formula is always recommended vs a generic one. It is important to talk to your veterinarian before starting supplemental herbs, as some can interact with common seizure medications.

Dietary supplementation of omega-3 essential fatty acids are important in the development and maintenance of a healthy nervous system. In addition to a quality essential fatty acid supplement, you may wish to give your dog extra minerals (whole foods supplements), digestive enzymes, or probiotics to ensure the nervous system is as healthy as possible.

If seizures are related to allergies, keeping the gut healthy should in theory help with the management of seizures. We have to remember that 70% of the immune system is related to the gut ! Bowel health is an extremely important factor in seizure control and it is often forgotten by conventional veterinarians.

  • TTouch, Massage, and Reiki

These forms of energy and physical healing can help reduce anxiety in all dogs- suffering from seizures. Although your dog’s seizures may never be entirely eliminated, it is possible, with the help of alternative therapies, to reduce the frequency and severity of the attacks.

If you have any questions about seizures, feel free to email me for a consult.

If your pet suffers from seizures, please feel free to tell us about your experience in the comments section.

Written by Dr Cindy Lizotte, DVM, MBA, CVFT (CHI institute), CVA (IVAS), Grad Dip Vet Western Herb Med (CIVT) Grad Dip Vet Chinese Herb Med CVHM (IVAS/CIVT)


(1) Mitchell, Deborah. TCVM Diagnosis and Treatment of Seizures. Western Veterinary Conference Proceedings. 2012.