Good Morning, Readers! Andy and I recently got a new puppy! So today I’d like to talk about the pro’s and con’s of getting a new puppy if you also have an Epilepsy diagnosis. Our puppy’s name is Minnie and she’s a mix between Smooth Border Collie and Labrador Retriever… meaning she is fully of energy 24-7 but she’s also very loving! Before getting a puppy, Andy and I had some concerns about balancing life with Epilepsy and raising up a pet that was so time consuming. Mostly we were concerned about me getting enough sleep & down time away from all the added stimuli of walking, potty training, playing, grooming, vet visits, etc.
Now that we have had the dog for a bit, there are 6 tips that I’d like to share for balancing out your life with that of a new puppy or other pet:
- Get enough water. Water is good for our bodies in so many different ways, and I can definitely tell a difference on the days that I don’t drink enough of it! My brain feels sluggish, I tend to get my “twitches” more frequently, and I just plain feel exhausted. With raising a new puppy, I have found that I’m very tuned-in to when she needs to eat & drink. So, in addition to having all the puppy supplies laid out & ready on the counter, I’ve also got my water bottle on the counter. This way, every time I walk by it, I take a drink. This ensures me that I’m not getting distracted or putting off my water drinking until I have time to sit down and relax and enjoy a glass. Because honestly, sometimes it feels like I don’t sit down until bed time, and if I didn’t drink any water until then, we’d be in trouble.
- Eat small snacks/meals through out the day. Keeping your blood sugar consistent can be a big key for many people with Epilepsy. Just like your water intake, make sure you are fueling your body with smart foods every few hours so that your blood sugar stays at a consistent level. If your blood sugar experiences exaggerated highs and lows, our hormones, digestion, and many other bodily processes can be thrown off. Inconsistensy like this for an extended period of time can contribute to seizures. Choosing the right foods to fuel your body will also keep your blood sugar consistent. Things like fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains, yogurt, and eggs will keep you running a lot longer than chips, candy, soda, or fast food. Some of my favorites to pack for the day are Greek yogurts, celery with peanut butter, whole grain gluten free crackers, apples or bananas, canned green beans, and hard boiled eggs.
- Take naps and ‘stimulus free’ breaks through out the day. It’s important to make sure that both you and your pet are getting enough sleep and relaxation time through out the day. Currently, Minnie is snoring away on her blanket; indulging in a little ‘stimulus free’ break herself! Allow yourself to take a nap during the day. Or, if you cant fall asleep, just lay down and turn off the lights. Don’t read or watch tv or play on your phone. Give your brain time to re-charge itself. After a 20-30 minute break like this, you will feel much more energized to tackle the rest of your day.
- Take turns sleeping vs. letting the dog outside. New puppies need to go to the bathroom all the time. Honestly, some days it seems like we are in our front yard more than we are in our house. And these potty breaks also frequently occur in the middle of the night. Andy & I both work outside the home and we both need to get sleep in addition to bringing Minnie outside. The best strategy that we have come up with is taking on/off shifts for sleeping and letting her out. So for example, last night we shut the lights off at 8:00pm (I know that’s early, but it makes a huge difference for getting enough sleep!) Andy went to sleep and I just rested my eyes while listening for Minnie to whine that she needs to go potty. I stayed on doodie duty (get it?) until around 10:30pm. At this time, Andy felt more rested so he let me sleep and he started his shift of snoozing/listening for Minnie. Then, and 3:30am I heard Minnie whine so I took her outside and let Andy sleep. The next time she needed to go out about 5:45 and Andy took her out so that I could sleep until my alarm went off at 6:00. It’s not a perfect science, but it really helps you get good periods of solid sleep when there is someone trading off with you.
- Exercise with your puppy! Another big part of self-care with Epilepsy is making sure we get enough exercise. It can be really expensive paying for a gym membership; plus when you can’t always rely on having a driver’s license, you need to find ways to exercise at home. I really enjoy going for walks around our neighborhood! We have a 0.5 mile loop, a 1 mile loop, and a 4 mile loop near our home. Since Minnie needs to go on walks anyways, Andy and I exercise with her! This really accomplishes 4 things all at once;
- Minnie gets her exercise
- We get our exercise
- Walking/strolling many times feels like a ‘stimulus free’ break
- Andy & I get to catch up on each other’s day/spend time together
- Plan Ahead! This is by far the most beneficial tip that Andy & I have found so far. Between scheduling my medications, both of us sleeping, both of us working, eating, puppy classes, puppy potty training, taking walks, vet visits, and everything else in life, planning ahead is a saving grace! You can write your schedule out on paper and leave it on the counter, you can use a planner (paper or electronic) you can use a chalkboard wall (we get TONS of use out of ours!), you can use anything really that helps you maintain your busy schedule. If multiple people are on this schedule, it does help having it in a place that everyone can see it. Plan your whole week all at once. It doesn’t take very long to do and it will definitely pay off in the long run!
And now, I hear Minnie whining to go outside! If you have any other suggestions/ideas on how to stay healthy while raising a new puppy, please comment below! Have a wonderful afternoon and remember to Seize The Day!