Best Ways To Manage CECS – With Stacey Firth’s New Book

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Yes, it has taken me longer than I thought, but I have finally finished reading a book that brought clarity to me on an issue that seems to affect primarily Border Terriers. If, like me, you still wonder what are the best ways to manage Spike’s Disease in Borders, you don’t want to miss this read:


Title:      Understanding Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome

Author: Stacey Firth

Available from: Amazon

Price:     approx. £8

My rating: 4.9 out of 5 – Excellent Reading!!!

Understanding CECS by Stacey Firth

Who Is Stacey Firth

First off, and before I better introduce you to her book, let me give you a little background as to how I got to know Stacey and to whom Stacey is.

I was approached by my articles on Spike’s. She informed she had just completed this book on best ways to manage CECS, after extensive research and documented evidence both on her Borders and on other dogs.

You can imagine how this tickled my curiosity. Even if luckily Indy has never shown symptoms – or at least, not that we are aware of, I can only but imagine how distressing it is for dog owners who have to witness such nasty episodes in their dogs, and the more accurate information I can gather to help in my very little, the better for those Border owners that will come across my website and read on.

Stacey was very kind in sending me copy of her book, which gave me the opportunity to learn more about her and her work.


Stacey Firth from Dogs Magazine Sept18
Did you know that Stacey Firth and her book are featured in the September issue of Dogs Monthly magazine?

Stacey started her extensive research after her first Border, Lucy, started showing the first symptoms back in 2007. In short, this prompted Stacey to start her own research, not only to see if she could help Lucy, but also if she could be of any help and support to any other Borders and their owners. Because, as I have mentioned in my original article on Spike’s Disease, one of the main obstacles is not many vets to this day are aware of the existence of this condition, and keep treating affected dogs with drugs for epilepsy.

Stacey went on to taking a course in America on canine development, and qualified on canine nutrition. She then spent another three years researching into herbal and holistic remedies for dogs’ illnesses, and went on to taking studies in canine psychology and awareness, due to the fact that, unlike humans, dogs cannot tell us what their symptoms are.

Finally, it was only in 2012, after gaining so much experience and knowledge in how a dog’s body and mind work, that Stacey could formally start her own research on CECS. And the result has culminated in this brilliant book.


Why The Need To Understand CECS

I have talked in the past about the horrible disease that CECS is, both due to the symptoms which are very scary for dog owners to see and for Borders to go through of course, but mostly as research is still ongoing and so far a cure has not been found yet.

This does not necessarily mean that Spike’s cannot be kept under control. Your Border (and sometimes other breeds) can reduce episodes and symptoms, but unfortunately (s)he will never be able to get rid of the disease.

However, so far it has become increasingly unclear as to whether to attribute its causes to neurological factors or to gluten intolerance. This is mostly as it appears that one of the ways to keep the disease under control is through diet, which should aim to reduce or exclude gluten altogether.

Well, all this until Stacey found a most plausible cause.


The Three Stages Of CECS

Stacey explains that Spike’s develops in three stages.

From an extract of Understanding CECS
From an extract of Understanding CECS

Stage I -The first stage affects your dog’s digestion – and if you read this book, you will probably realise that your Border too has gone through this stage. It doesn’t mean that whenever your dog shows signs of indigestion, (s)he is having a Spike’s episode. But if episodes of indigestion in your dog, when recurring, will be approached by your vet through a process of elimination of any other illness affecting the digestive system.

Stage II – Most dogs may experience a stage one episode, or several, without the digestive system escalating the discomfort to any further and more severe levels. However when your dog’s liver and bile start overworking, that’s when your dog is going to experience a hepatic breakdown. At this stage of CECS, your dog will display more severe symptoms, such as:

  • repetitive overstretching
  • lip smacking
  • grass eating
  • trembling
  • sickness
  • lack of interest in daily routine.

Again, Stacey advises to consult the vet purely to rule out any other conditions with similar symptoms, but she also reassures that at this stage your dog should be able to return to his or her normal functioning the day after, or even after a few hours.

Stage III – This is where the neurological input comes in the game, because it is at this stage that toxins penetrate through what Stacey refers to as ‘blood brain barrier’ and affect the brain. It is at this stage that your dog collapses, but without loosing consciousness. And that’s the difference between a CECS episode and an epileptic seizure. This with latter one, your dog is prone to lose consciousness – now with a CECS episode.

These are the scary episodes that CECS is known for, and which requires consultation with your vet in order to rule out epilepsy.


Spike’s Disease, But Not Only

The beauty about this book is, however, not only in the fact that it gives you an understanding of CECS like I have not found anywhere else. Through this book, I have learned so much more about dog’s behavious, about the digestive system and how it reacts to different external stimuli, and mostly about food that we feed our dogs every day.

Stacey Firth is very knowledgeable in her book
Stacey Firth’s knowledge in everything canine spans over and beyond CECS.

You can see how highly knowledgeable Stacey Firth is, particularly when she goes onto explaining how your dog’s main vital organs work and their reaction to chemical influences.

Without wanting to spoil the surprise for you – you’ll have the book to find out the details – Stacey is able to explain what are the main triggers of CECS and how to manage the disease through different diets. But she then moves onto analyzing cause and effect of most commonly canine diseases which can present similar symptoms or which can affect the digestive system in your dog, as well as other organs, and can possibly lead to stage one or two of CECS.

I am sure you will find it as fascinating as I did, to learn about chemical reactions to certain diets we can adopt to manage Spike’s in our dog, as well as how far more digestible and probiotic friendly some herbal remedies can be.

But you can tell where Stacey comes in her own element, when further ahead in the book, she moves onto analyzing the different types of foods we feed our dogs. I found it absolutely revealing how some brands or types of food that we deem amongst the healthiest on the market, can in fact have such a debilitating consequences for our dog’s health.


The Price

Now, before I move onto telling you whether I think you should buy this book, let me stop for a moment to discuss the price.

Whether you purchase this book directly from Stacey’ own website Hands & Paws, or from Amazon, this book retails at short of £8 + delivery charges.

Too much? I DON’T THINK SO!!!

This is a 133-page worth of hard work and years of study and research in not only the possible causes of CECS, but also in understanding how CECS works and develops, and how your dog’s anatomy and more specifically your dog’s digestive system works.

It also comes with a small supplement where you find details of flower supplements and recipes available from Stacey’s website Hands & Paws, as well as other important information on Border Terrier Welfare UK charity, of which Stacey is a representative for the North East of England, and of other suppliers selling natural good food.

If you compare the level of knowledge and expertise with other books in the canine category, you can understand that in fact this books retails at much a cheaper price than the average dog book, if you take into account the accuracy of Stacey’s research work, and her knowledge.

As far as I am concerned, after going through the book twice over, I believe this book is worth every penny of it.


My Verdict

Yes, of course I recommend this book. And with an almighty 4.9 out of 5 rating!!!

What’s preventing me from rating this book as perfect?

The content is definitely perfect. As mentioned, I have learned more about CECS from Stacey than from my 12 months of research into this disease.

I wonder whether Indy has suffered from Stage I of CECS
I wonder whether Indy has suffered from Stage I of CECS.

The other appealing aspect of this book is that Stacey makes it all understandable by absolutely everybody. She understood that it will be normal people such as you and me that will want to find out more about this disease. And she has put it together so that both you and I could understand more about CECS and how to manage it in our dogs.

The only tiny criticism I have is that regrettably at present this book is only available in paperback, and as I am not aware that it is available in bookshops, you would have to have it delivered to any UK address, which adds the delivery charges to a price which, personally, I do not find too expensive, but other dog owners might.

On the other hand, if you are into taking notes whilst reading a book, that’s something you can do quite easily on a paperback and which you are going to miss if purchasing and downloading a book online.

This said, and above all reasons mentioned so far, what really appealed to me about this book is the fact that Stacey gives hope in the fact that you and your dog can lead a perfectly normal life, provided you follow the correct and most suitable dietary requirements your dog needs to manage Spike’s Disease. This approach matches the innermost nature of Borders, who do not let anything, illness or disease alike, to get in the way of doing what the are bred to do: enjoy their walks, their food, their playtime and the affection and love from their human family.

My recommendation is that you grab this book as soon as you possibly can, if you really want to find out more about CECS, whether your Border displays symptoms and how to best manage them.

Of course, and as ever, I shall welcome any comment and thoughts about this book, that you may want leave below. Share your opinions, and I shall reply to each and every of you as soon as I possibly can.


Title:      Understanding Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome

Author: Stacey Firth

Available from: Amazon

Price:    approx. £8

My rating: 4.9 out of 5 – Excellent Reading!!!

Understanding CECS

If you are interested in CECS, you may also want to read these articles:




  1. // Reply

    Hi Giulia,
    This was a very interesting article on this disease. Personally, I own shelties and not terriers, but I do know someone who owns one. I haven’t heard them speak of this, but you never know.
    I’m going to forward your article for sure. Prevention could be very important.

    1. // Reply

      Thank you ever so much Suzanne. You are so right, you never know, especially as Spike’s Disease may develop in Borders at a later stage of their life. Hopefully it won’t be the case for your friends’ Borders. My Indy, as you may have read, has had many ailments and even more severe conditions, but he’s never displayed signs of CECS. Yet, I found the book most helpful particularly when it comes to finding out how different foods can affect your dog’s body. I found it all fascinating and an eye opener at the same time.
      Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment, and hope to see you soon again 🙂

  2. // Reply

    Hi there
    I just wanted to say what a fab website you have here
    I have a five year old border terrier bitch who has had more than her fair share of problems but most definitely suffers from spikes. It is frightening when it happens but we find the symptoms disappear almost as quickly as they arrive.
    I have found absolutely no help from our breeder who I once tried to phone to talk about it ( Ruby was from a litter of eight)!but she was extremely dismissive and said she had never heard of it and tried to get me off the phone as quickly as possible. That’s why sites like yours are extremely invaluable. Thanks again.
    Kind regards
    Donna Green

    1. // Reply

      Donna, for starters apologies for catching up with your comment with such delay. And thank you ever so much for appreciating my efforts. It is a concern to hear that breeders do not acknowledge the issue. I am not doubting that your breeder does her job responsibly, but she is probably scared by this relatively unknown disease and the potential consequences it might have for her business.
      Now, are you based in UK? The reason I ask is because the Border Terrier Welfare UK charity has started putting together a database of affected Borders, so as to possibly break that inheritance chain of affected genes at the time of breeding. I believe the exercise is done in strict confidence, so nor you or your breeder would be contacted. But it might be worth looking into that and contributing to their research. This is their website:
      I hope this can help. And I sincerely hope you can manage your Ruby’s episodes as best as you can, for hers and your sake. By all means, do feel free to get back to this site with more contributions and to share your experience. I am never claim to be an expert, and it is your testimony which, I am sure, will help other Border owners 🙂

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