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Daylight Savings Time and Seizures in Dogs

Updated: Jun 14


dog with epilepsy during daylight savings

The Impact of Daylight Savings Time on Canine Epilepsy

Many dog owners may not be aware that the shift in time during daylight savings can affect their pets, particularly those with epilepsy. Studies suggest that changes in routine, such as shifts in medication timings, and biological rhythms, such as sleep patterns, can potentially trigger seizures in susceptible dogs.

Managing Medication Routines During Time Changes: A Gradual Approach

When preparing for the shift in daylight savings time, it's good to plan ahead, especially when it comes to adjusting your dog's medication schedule. Here's a suggested timeline for gradually shifting medication timings over a few weeks:

  1. One Week Before: Start by adjusting your dog's medication schedule by just 15 minutes earlier or later, depending on the direction of the time change. For example, if it is about to be spring and daylight savings time will begin, move your dog's medication time 15 minutes earlier each day.

  2. Three to Four Days Before: Increase the adjustment increment to 30 minutes earlier or later each day. This gradual approach helps your dog's body acclimate to the new schedule without causing undue stress or disruption.

  3. Day of Time Change: By the time daylight savings time officially begins or ends, your dog should already be accustomed to the new medication schedule, minimising any potential impact on their health.

Remember, consistency is key when managing epilepsy in dogs. Be sure to monitor your pet closely for any signs of discomfort or changes in seizure activity during the transition period.

 

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Understanding the Mechanism Behind Seizure Triggers: Insights into Circadian Rhythms and Brain Activity

Circadian rhythms are the natural, internal processes that regulate the sleep-wake cycle and other physiological functions in living organisms, including dogs. These rhythms are governed by an internal "biological clock" located in the brain, which responds to environmental cues such as light and darkness.

Daylight savings time can disrupt these circadian rhythms by suddenly shifting the timing of daylight exposure. This disruption can lead to disturbances in sleep patterns, as the body struggles to adjust to the new schedule. A more noticeable shift would be when we fly and experience jet lag. In susceptible individuals, such as dogs with epilepsy, these disruptions can have profound effects on brain activity.

The brain's electrical activity is tightly regulated by the intricate interplay of neurons and neurotransmitters. Changes in sleep patterns and circadian rhythms can disrupt this delicate balance, leading to abnormal electrical discharges in the brain, known as seizures.

During daylight savings transitions, the sudden shift in daylight exposure can confuse the brain's internal clock, causing it to send mixed signals to various regions of the brain. This confusion can manifest as increased neuronal excitability and hyperactivity, making dogs with epilepsy more vulnerable to experiencing seizures.

 

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Can I just give my dog their medicine one hour later or earlier depending on the shift in daylights savings time so they maintain “the same time” for pill time?

When adjusting your dog's medication schedule for daylight savings time changes, it may seem convenient to keep the same time as before (e.g. if you give your dog their medication at 7pm GMT, giving your dog their medication at 8pm BST). However, it's crucial to consider how this may affect your dog's internal body clock (circadian rhythms). While maintaining consistency is important, the new medication time may not fully align with your dog's natural rhythms, potentially affecting their response to treatment. Consulting with your veterinarian is essential to ensure that the chosen medication time balances consistency with your dog's biological needs, ultimately prioritising their health and well-being.

Conclusion: Prioritising Your Dog's Health

As devoted pet owners, it's our responsibility to prioritise our dog's health and well-being, especially when managing conditions like epilepsy. Disruptions to sleep patterns and circadian rhythms during daylight savings time can influence the brain's electrical activity, potentially triggering seizures in susceptible individuals. Abrupt changes in medication routines can also trigger seizures. By understanding the potential impact of daylight savings time on seizure triggers and taking proactive measures to adjust medication routines and daily schedules, we can help our furry friends lead happy and healthy lives.

It's essential to consult with a veterinarian before implementing any natural treatment interventions, as individualised care and monitoring are crucial for optimising efficacy and safety. With a comprehensive approach that integrates natural therapies alongside conventional treatments, pet owners can empower themselves to effectively manage their dog's epilepsy and provide them with the best possible care and support.


References:

  1. Mistlberger, R. E., & Skene, D. J. (2005). Social influences on mammalian circadian rhythms: animal and human studies. Biological Reviews, 80(3), 549-571.

  2. Parisi, P. et al. The relationship between sleep and epilepsy: the effect on cognitive functioning in children. Dev. Med. Child Neurol. 52, 805–810 (2010).

  3. Spencer, D. C., Sun, F. T., Brown, S. N., & Jobst, B. C. (2020). Temporal lobe epilepsy: Recent advances and future directions. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, 20(12), 1-11.

  4. Packer, R. M. A., Shihab, N. K., Torres, B. B. J., Volk, H. A. (2018). Clinical risk factors associated with anti-epileptic drug responsiveness in canine epilepsy. PLOS ONE, 13(3), e0193599.

  5. Nobili L, Frauscher B, Eriksson S, Gibbs SA, Halasz P, Lambert I, Manni R, Peter-Derex L, Proserpio P, Provini F, de Weerd A, Parrino L. Sleep and epilepsy: A snapshot of knowledge and future research lines. J Sleep Res. 2022 Aug;31(4):e13622. doi: 10.1111/jsr.13622. Epub 2022 Apr 29. PMID: 35487880; PMCID: PMC9540671.

  6. Sanchez Fernandez, I. et al. Continuous spikes and waves during sleep: electroclinical presentation and suggestions for management. Epilepsy Res. Treat. 2013, 583531 (2013).

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