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First Aid for Fits

This exceptionally hot summer I have seen a number of cases of dogs experiencing their first suspected fit.

These may have been brought on by the heat, or they may have not been fits, but rather cases of heat stroke, and I found myself in each case needing to give advice on how I want a pet owner to behave should a fit happen again.

Firstly I reassure them that it is extremely unusual for any animal to die during a fit.

Also, that animals do not swallow their tongues during a fit, so there is no requirement to move the tongue. Putting your fingers into a fitting animal’s mouth is a really good way to get yourself a very serious injury! Do not do it!

What you should do is darken the room, reduce any noise, take the time and protect your pet.

You may recognise that your pet is going to have a fit: they will become tense and unsure beforehand. Interestingly, dogs can be trained to alert a human that she is going to have a fit, which can be life-saving for epileptics.

The full-blown fit itself very often involves the pet falling down and assuming an odd stretched, rigid or quivering posture. This phase lasts usually one to two minutes, and is followed by ten to thirty minutes of returning to normality, during which the pet will be disoriented and wobbly, but improving.

As soon as you see things starting, turn off the lights and the TV or radio. Pull the curtains and take the time. Any child who cannot be calm should be gently sent out.

Talk to your pet quietly and calmly, but do not stroke or attempt to move them. If they are at risk of falling off something, place a cushion to prevent this, or on the floor beneath them, then wait, watching the clock.

If the fit goes past two minutes, call the Vet: they will talk you through the next step. But most likely, you will recognise that your pet is already recovering well before then.

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