Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Cope When Your Dog Has a Unexpected Seizure

Today I am writing a column that is completely different from what was intended. I was writing a whole different column when something happened, very frightening.  I think others would benefit from what I went through.

This is Jack with my husband

We have two dogs, a  very large 80 pound Aussie and a little Laso about 10 pounds. We have had them for over 5 years. We have been through a lot with Jack, our Aussie, including ear infections and Dysplasia. I have kept Jack with a good quality of life up to this point using homoepathy.  He has been pretty good here the past three years except for a bout here and there with diarrhea. For that reason at night, we keep the living room off limits to all the animals. This house has a light colored carpet in the living room. Stains do not come out easily. We keep one of those wire panels across the door separating the kitchen from the living room.  Lately we have banned the animals out of that area during the day as well. He sleeps at the foot of our bed.

Last night Jack had experienced a bout of diarrhea. It is hard to know the reason, when you have a farm yard consisting of chickens and ducks. Dogs at times eat poo to clean themselves out or if they feel constipated.  He seemed fine this morning, no throwing up, acting like Jack.   The morning was beautiful here so they were outside until about noon. Jack came in at that time and went to sleep down at the foot of our bed on his blanket.  He was taking his usual afternoon nap.   I went in here to my office to write.

A few minutes later I heard this weird thump in the bedroom.  I went in to see what the cats had knocked down. To my shock, Jack was in a convulsion, his whole body uncontrollably shaking, his head jerking, his tongue hanging out of his mouth, foam drooling out of his mouth. I stood transfixed thinking he was having a heart attack. He began panting heavily during the convulsion. I knew not to go over to him. He is 80 pounds. I am not strong enough to carry him or get him into a car. I thought he was dying. I prayed as I helplessly watched him. This lasted it seemed forever, then the shaking stopped.  He wasn't moving much. I made steps toward him to comfort him. He lifted his head and to my shock began growling. The growling got heavier. I felt instant fear. I backed up and called him by name soothingly.  He got up on his feet, looking at me wild eyed, barking at me like I was an intruder, advancing toward me. I had never seen or experienced a situation like this with my own dog. I began backing up toward the kitchen where the wire panel was. He kept barking at me, advancing toward me aggressively. I took the panel away from the door between the kitchen and the living room, placing it between Jack and myself. I then slowly backed up toward the living room front door, opening it up. He was still barking as he ran outside. Then he stood there continuing to  bark at me. This continued for 10 minutes. I was afraid to go out. He was not responding to me as I talked to him. I finally closed the door, not knowing what to do, sat down on our couch and broke down. I didn't know what to do.

After a few minutes, I next called a vet. They asked some questions such as did he get into any chemicals, had he been given a rabies shot, what had preceded the convulsion.  The vet then said it didn't look like poisoning. That it had been a convulsion of one sort or another. I was told that his scary behavior was normal after a convulsion. They come out of the convulsion upset, disoriented, confused, they may have temporary blindness, they may bark in a frenzied way.  Your beloved dog may not know you for a few minutes or a few hours. That is why you don't touch them or pet them while they are in the convulsion. I was told they won't even medicate the dog unless they have three seizures in a month. There could be any number of causes requiring MRI's , blood tests, and other diagnostic procedures.  There is anti-seizure medicine but it is damaging to the liver and kidneys. There is no telling if he will have another one today, tomorrow or in the near future. It is all a question mark. I was told to call them if he had another one. The vet said seizures were quite common in dogs, especially older dogs with a history of dysplasia.

I have to admit, for the first time in 50 years of having dogs, I was terrified of Jack for an hour. I have been through a lot with dogs, lost a couple to poisoning, but not a convulsion of unknown origin. I have never experienced having my own dog advance toward me looking like that. At this moment, I still don't feel comfortable with him. I have been out, washed off his front fur under his neck from the foam, petted him. You couldn't tell it had ever happened. I fed him a few minutes ago and he ate like usual.  But I am done in emotionally after it all.

I understand now about the seizure but when an 80 pound Aussie suddenly is acting like a 'mad' is frightening. I am home with Jack alone most of the time. My husband works some long hours. The future is now in question for Jack. The convulsions I could handle now that I know what to expect. The aftermath of his behavior is another question. I have no answers today. When my husband can help me, we will take him to the vet for an evaluation. If we have any more episodes where he is aggressive like that after a seizure, we may have to make the heart breaking decision to have him put to sleep. There are times when you are just beyond an answer. This is one of those times.

I am sharing this with you because you need to be aware of what not to do when your see your dog having a seizure. I was completely unprepared for this happening. I was even less prepared to handle his behavior after the seizure was over.

Do not pet them.  Stay away from their face and mouth.
Do not try to open or close their mouth. Dogs cannot swallow their tongues.
They could bite their tongue, but that is not treated unless it is severe. 
Do not try to restrict their movement in any way.
Do take objects away from their body that could hurt them.
Be aware that when they come out of it, they may display strange behavior such as frenzied barking, glazed over eyes, and aggressive behavior. They may not know who you are, as in this case.  They are capable of biting you during this time. This can last a few minutes or several hours. Leave them alone where it is safe and quiet while they recover.  Do not give them stimulation of any kind,

Call a vet to get their advice on whether to bring the dog in. In my case, I was afraid to try and take Jack anywhere. He doesn't like strangers in the first place. I would have to muzzle him. 

I will give you an update later, on this traumatic day. I think prayers are in order for Jack. 

This is all for today, Kate Freer.......

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Steps to Grow A Dwarf Moringa Tree

The problem with Moringa Trees is that they do not grow well in most of the United States except for California, Florida, Hawaii, some parts of Texas, and a few other areas that have mild winters with no frosts.   They die when they freeze. They are a tree that loves heat and grows leaves prolifically  when the temperature rises above 75 degrees. They don't do well in areas of high winds and no humidity.   So most people cannot grow the trees outside. So those of us in the business who love Moringa trees are working on the best technique for growing a dwarf tree. Then more people can have the benefits of the fresh leaves for their salads or tea.

The past year, I have been growing trees in the house.  In Nevada, if it isn't the cold, its the winds.  We have frost up until the end of April always.  So the only way I can grow my beloved trees is in the house.  This area gets hot enough in the summer, but the fierce winds dry out the leaves or blow them off.  We got 50 to 60 mile an hour winds for days last year...with gusts up to 70 miles per hour. It turned the leaves black, like they were burned on the lilac bush in the front yard.

What I have learned so far is that our living room is too hard to heat and too expensive. All the trees in the living room did not survive.  I moved most of them into our back room that serves as a laundry room, tool room, and Moringa nursery. That is the warmest of all the rooms, with the most sun available. Using the dryer also helps to warm the room as well. 

 I have my Moringa trees growing in 20 gal containers, 10 gallon, and in 4 -33 gal containers.  I will post a picture.  I lost several but came out with about 10 trees that survived.  8 of those trees are doing well and two are a question.  They all went dormant but stayed green and are beginning to get leaves at this point.  Using the heater in there ran the electric bill up by 60 dollars.  So we turned it off.  Our wall heater keeps it warm enough so they don't die...about 60 degrees.  Even with the heater off, they are sprouting some leaves on several of them.

You can grow 3-5 dwarf Moringa seedlings in a 20 gal or 33 gal black plastic container. You can also buy beautiful large decorator plant containers as well.  You want the trees to be about 4 feet tall in the end with lots of branches which will give you lots of leaves. You may not get flowers or pods on them growing them as a dwarf tree.  

Notice how it has branches coming out from the trunk.

I grow them in 10 gal or 20 gallon pots.  The 33 gallons are hard to manage and move.  I do have 4 of those but they are difficult.  We had to pay two strong teens to move them from the old house and pay to have them moved into this one. I paid 10 dollars a piece for the hard plastic saucers that they sit in.  Then there is the cost of the potting mix.  The trees can be allowed to get much larger in the 33 gallon trash cans. You have to drill drainage holes in the bottom as well.  They can be decorated with paint to make them look more attractive. I did not bother.

Use organic, loose potting soil intended for containers.  DO NOT use miracle grow potting mix. Do not use soil meant for plants planted directly into the ground. 

Make sure the pot has adequate drain holes. You don't want your seedling root to rot.  One sure way to kill them is leaving their root with soggy soil.  Always keep the the area well drained of water.  

Plant the seeds 3/4 to 1 inch deep. Space them far apart.  Then cover them lightly with soil.
Water the soil well.  Keep them in a warm room.  They should sprout within 10 days.
When the seedlings have two tiers of branches, pinch the top back.  The leaves sprout at the tops or at the crotch of the branches.   

When they are 24 inches high, chop the branches off  to half their length. The tree will then send out growth along the trunk.  The trunks will be green when young, 'woody' and brown when older.  Keep pinching the tops off and pruning the branches back.  

If you have them in a 20 gal or 33 gal you can let them get 4 feet high before you pinch them back.  In a 10 gallon pot, I would pinch them back at 18 to 24 inches.

The worst problem I have had with the trees has been gnats and aphids.  Two tablespoons of Neem oil dissolved in  a gallon of water works well against the aphids.  We kept the gnats killed with those hanging sticky traps. Those worked very well. 

All for tonight. Hope you had a great weekend.   

Kate Freer, the Herbladyisin


I do not sell Moringa products as of Sept, 2016. I am working on a project that demands an unbiased viewpoint. 

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