What’s the Right Canine Epilepsy Diet? (2024)

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Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that has no known underlying cause. Epilepsy can be treated with various seizure medications with the goal is to decrease the frequency of the seizures, the severity of the seizures, and how long it takes your pet to recover from a seizure. Seizure medications are used to control seizures but generally do not totally eliminate seizures. Clients commonly ask their veterinarian if there is a canine epilepsy diet that can help control this disease. Below we will review what are seizures and epilepsy, treatment options, and discuss the potential benefits of a canine epilepsy diet.

What are Seizures?

Seizures, also known as convulsions or fits, are classified as a symptom and are not a disease. What this means is that seizures can be caused many different underlying problems such as trauma to the head such as that occurs when hit by a car or hit with a ball bat, ingestion of various toxins, brain tumors, infections, organ failure and many more possible causes. Learn more about Causes of Seizures. Epilepsy is a seizure disorder when no underlying cause has been identified.

A seizure occurs when excessive electrical activity occurs in the brain that results in a series of involuntary contractions of the muscles, abnormal sensations or behaviors, or some combination of these events. Most often seizures occur at night or early in the morning while a dog is at rest.

Many believe there may be a genetic basis for epilepsy but the cause of epilepsy is largely unknown. It is believed that the incidence rate of epilepsy in dogs is 0.5% to over 2% of all dogs. Epilepsy generally begins in dogs that are fairly young ranging from 6 months to 5 years. Epilepsy can occur in females and males equally.

Tests for Epilepsy in Dogs

  • Diagnostic tests are recommended to look for an underlying cause for the seizures. Testing recommendations may depend on your dog’s symptoms and may include:
  • Bloodwork that includes a complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile to evaluate for signs of infection, anemia, kidney or liver abnormalities
  • Urinalysis to evaluate kidney function
  • Bile acid blood test to evaluate for liver disease
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look for structures changes in the brain or tumors
  • Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) tap to look for signs of inflammation or infection
  • Fecal examination to check for parasites

These tests can help determine if there is an underlying cause for the seizures. If there is not an underlying cause found, epilepsy is often diagnosed.

Treatment for Canine Epilepsy

Treatment of epilepsy will depend on the frequency of the seizures. If the seizures occur more than once every 4 to 6 weeks or a dog has more than one seizure in any 24 hour period, the medical therapy is often recommended.

Treatment generally includes medications designed to manage the seizures by decreasing the frequency and severity of the seizures. Common medications used for canine epilepsy are Phenobarbital, Potassium bromide, Diazepam (Valium), Zonisamide, Levetiracetam, Felbamate, Gabapentin, or Clorazepate.

It is important to carefully follow your veterinary instructions regarding these medications. These drugs should not be started, stopped, increased or decreased without the approval of your veterinarian. Some drugs, such as phenobarbital, require regular blood testing to determine if the amount of the drug in the blood is therapeutic.

What You Should Feed Your Dog if He Has Epilepsy

Nutrition is important for overall health of all dogs. Specific diet recommendations for dogs with epilepsy include:

  • There appears to be benefits in feeding dogs with epilepsy a medium chain triglyceride (MCT)-based diet. Diets that were developed for the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction were was studied to determine if there were any benefits in dogs with epilepsy. The results suggested that the frequency of seizures were lower in dogs fed this diet compared to a placebo food. You can supplement MCT’s in your dog diet by offering your dog natural coconut oil with his food. Coconut oil is a very good source of all four MCT’s. The coconut oil dose most commonly used is ¼ of a teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight twice daily. For example, a 40-pound dog would require 1 teaspoon every 12 hours. A MCT-based dog food is Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formula.
  • There have been studies to evaluate high-fat and low carbohydrate diets and their impact on epilepsy. These studies have shown no improvement in seizure control in dogs with epilepsy.
  • If your dog is overweight, a diet plan for a weight-reducing plan is recommended to optimize your dog health. Many dogs on seizure medications can gain weight while on therapy.
  • Dogs receiving potassium bromide medications require study levels of dietary salt. Too much salt can increase the excretion of bromide which decreases the bromide blood level. Too little salt can lead to increased bromide levels.

Can You Feed Dogs with Epilepsy Human Food?

You can feed your dog some human foods but he doesn’t actually need human foods. What he needs is a good quality balanced dog food. It is important to know that some human foods can be dangerous and even toxic. Read more about Dangerous Foods – Learn What is harmful to Your Dog.

If you feed some table food as treats, avoid foods with excessive sodium such as processed meats and cheeses if your dog is taking bromide medication.

Can You Feed Dogs with Epilepsy Raw Meat Diets?

Raw meat diets are controversial. There are no known scientifically studied and documented benefits of feeding a raw meat diet to dogs with epilepsy.

In general, there are pros and cons of feeding a raw meat diet to dogs. Some pet owners and veterinarians are proponents of a raw meat diet and others are passionate about the claims. Read more – The Raw Meat Diet Debate. This raw meat debate has nothing to do with canine epilepsy but on the controversy over feeding raw meats. There are no known specific benefits of feeding dogs with epilepsy a raw meat diet.

The Best Food to Feed Dogs with Epilepsy

Food recommendations for dogs with epilepsy include:

  • Quality food. The best food to feed dogs with epilepsy is a good quality food that conforms to AAFCO* standards. This indicates the manufacturer is following the national consensus recommendations for dog foods. Check the label (see footnote below).
  • Add MCT. Add a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) in the form of coconut oil at a dose of a ¼ teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.
  • Canned or Dry. You can feed your epileptic dog either canned or dry food. The choice of canned, semi-moist or dry food is an individual one, but if your dog is more than 30 pounds, dry food is preferred as the base diet for its greater caloric density (more calories per volume of food). There are a number of excellent dog food manufacturers.
  • Avoid obesity. It is important to feed to maintain your dog at an ideal weight and avoid obesity.
  • Avoid excessive salt. This is especially true if your dog is taking bromide medication.
  • Provide plenty of fresh clean water at all times.

For more information about the best recommendations for feeding your dog – go to Nutrition in Dogs.

* The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” dog and cat foods. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards. Diets that fulfill the AAFCO regulations will state on the label: “formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for…(a given life stage).

Additional Articles of Interest:

References:

  • Patterson E, Munana K, Kirk C, et al. Results of ketogenic food trial for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. J Vet Int Med 2005;19.
  • Podell M. Antiepileptic drug therapy and monitoring. Top Companion Anim Med 2013;28:59–66.
  • Danial NN, Hartman AL, Stafstrom CE, et al. How does the ketogenic diet work? Four potential mechanisms J Child Neurol 2013;28:1027–1033.
  • Kelley SA, Hartman AL. Metabolic treatments for intractable epilepsy. Semin Pediatr Neurol 2011;18:179–185.
  • Pan Y, Larson B, Araujo JC, et al. Dietary supplementation with median chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs. Br J Nutr 2010;103:1746–1754.
What’s the Right Canine Epilepsy Diet? (2024)

FAQs

What’s the Right Canine Epilepsy Diet? ›

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NC NeuroCare is the first and only diet to help nutritionally manage dogs with epilepsy as an adjunct to veterinary therapy,” says Jason Gagné, DVM, Dipl.

What should dogs with epilepsy eat? ›

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NC NeuroCare is the first and only diet to help nutritionally manage dogs with epilepsy as an adjunct to veterinary therapy,” says Jason Gagné, DVM, Dipl.

What foods should I avoid if my dog has epilepsy? ›

Food that causes seizures. According to the ASPCA, caffeine, dark chocolate, mushrooms, theobromine, ethanol, and xylitol can cause your dog's seizures.

Which diet is most effective in epilepsy? ›

The ketogenic diet is one treatment option for children or adults with epilepsy whose seizures are not controlled with anti-seizure medications (ASMs). The diet may help to reduce the number or severity of seizures and may have other positive effects.

What foods make epilepsy worse? ›

This includes grapefruits and other types of citrus, spicy food, alcohol and caffeinated drinks. These foods and drinks may speed up the way your body metabolizes (breaks down) the epilepsy medication. This would make the drug less effective and could therefore increase the number of seizures you have.

Is peanut butter bad for dogs with epilepsy? ›

According to the ASPCA, just 1.37 grams of xylitol can rapidly decrease a dog's blog sugar, triggering the onset of disorientation, collapse, and seizures. Some peanut butter brands that contain this natural sweetener include: Krush Nutrition.

Do bananas help dogs with seizures? ›

While bananas do have beneficial properties for dogs, they are also high in sugar, so should be fed in moderation. A medium-sized banana contains around 14 grams of sugar. If your dog has diabetes, epilepsy, or needs to lose weight, they should stay away from bananas, as this can be detrimental to their health.

What triggers epilepsy in dogs? ›

Stress is a trigger commonly reported by owners, and may be caused by a variety of situations including changes in the environment, changes in routine, car rides, thunderstorms, and visits to the vet to name a few. Other owners report certain foods or medications seem to trigger seizures in their dogs.

What stops a dog from having seizures? ›

The two most commonly used medications to treat seizures in dogs are phenobarbital and potassium bromide. Research into the use of other anticonvulsants is ongoing, and newer anticonvulsants, such as zonisamide (Zonegran®) and levetiracetam (Keppra®), are becoming more popular.

Can diet stop seizures dogs? ›

Purina research showed that more than two-thirds of dogs with refractory epilepsy fed a diet supplemented with MCTs showed a reduction in seizures, and 14% of dogs became seizure-free.

What is the 5 2 diet for epilepsy? ›

Subjects may consume their normal diet for 5 days a week. On 2 days in a week, they consume only 25% of their daily calorie requirement. Subjects will continue on the diet for 6 months. Such a calorie restriction is expected to affect a number of signalling pathways to reduce seizure occurence.

What foods reduce seizures? ›

A low glycemic index diet focuses on foods with a low glycemic index, meaning they affect blood glucose levels slowly, if at all. Although it's not understood why, low blood glucose levels control seizures in some people. Foods on this diet include meat, cheese, and most high-fiber vegetables.

What naturally helps epilepsy? ›

Herbs
  • Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri). An herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat epilepsy. ...
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). A sedative herb. ...
  • Kava (Piper methysticum). Has been used traditionally as a sedative herb for seizures. ...
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). ...
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata).

What are 5 triggers of epilepsy? ›

Here are some of the seizure triggers that have been reported by people with epilepsy:
  • Not taking epilepsy medicine as prescribed. ...
  • Feeling tired and not sleeping well. ...
  • Stress. ...
  • Alcohol and recreational drugs. ...
  • Flashing or flickering lights. ...
  • Monthly periods. ...
  • Missing meals. ...
  • Having an illness which causes a high temperature.

What are 4 triggers of epilepsy? ›

Missed medication, lack of sleep, stress, alcohol, and menstruation are some of the most common triggers, but there are many more. Flashing lights can cause seizures in some people, but it's much less frequent than you might imagine.

What triggers epilepsy the most? ›

Triggers can differ from person to person, but common triggers include tiredness and lack of sleep, stress, alcohol, and not taking medication. For some people, if they know what triggers their seizures, they may be able to avoid these triggers and so lessen the chances of having a seizure.

What is the best meat for dogs with epilepsy? ›

Rabbit, Turkey and Oily Fish. These meats have high glutamate amino acid content. The best choice of meat for your epileptic dog is lamb. It has the lowest glutamate content.

Are dogs in pain with epilepsy? ›

Is a pet seizure painful? Pets have no awareness of pain while seizing because of the enormous amount of electrochemical activity occurring in the brain, and because they're unconscious or semiconscious. Although your pet may whine, meow, or bark during a seizure, this has nothing to do with feeling pain.

Can epileptic dogs have cheese? ›

The fungus used to make these cheeses produces a substance called roquefortine C, which dogs can be sensitive to. This substance can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, high temperatures and even seizures. The risk of these symptoms is higher if your dog eats a large amount of cheese.

What does honey do for seizures in dogs? ›

Give a Snack. After dogs come out of a seizure, a little all-natural vanilla ice cream, honey, or natural maple syrup will help to raise their sugar levels back up. Follow with a protein such as little kibble, cheese stick, a spoonful of cottage cheese, chicken, etc. to help stabilize those sugar levels.

Is Apple good for dogs with epilepsy? ›

Fruit Cores (Apples, Plums, Peaches, Pears, Apricots, etc): these fruit cores contains seeds that have a Cyanide compound to them. May cause seizures, struggle to breathe, shock and even coma in some dogs.

Is there a natural way to stop seizures in dogs? ›

Ketogenic diets—high fat, low carb—have been thought to be helpful in patients with epilepsy, as high fat can help decrease neuron excitability,” Barrack says. Sometimes supplements such as fish oils can maximize the health of your dog in other ways to help prevent seizures, Liff adds.

Does CBD help dogs with epilepsy? ›

The research found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.

What is the life expectancy of a dog with epilepsy? ›

Approximately 40-60 percent of dogs with epilepsy have one or more episodes of cluster seizures or status epilepsy, and a mean lifespan of only 8 years, compared to 11 years for those with epilepsy without episodes status epilepsy.

Can dogs grow out of epilepsy? ›

Some puppies grow out of epilepsy, but for most, it's a lifelong condition. It cannot be cured, but there are effective treatments available that make it possible for owners to manage the condition in most canines.

How do you stop seizures naturally? ›

Natural remedies for epilepsy and seizures, and how effective they are proven to be
  1. Cannabis and CBD. Share on Pinterest Guille Faingold/Stocksy United. ...
  2. Ketogenic diet. ...
  3. Herbal remedies. ...
  4. Vitamins. ...
  5. Biofeedback. ...
  6. Vagus nerve stimulation. ...
  7. Relaxation. ...
  8. Acupuncture.

What food is good for dogs with neurological problems? ›

There are foods available, such as Hill's® Prescription Diet® b/d® and Purina® Pro Plan® Veterinary Diets NC NeuroCare™, that have been shown to help cognitive function in older dogs, which may be the best choice for your dog.

What is the 10 20 rule epilepsy? ›

They coin the “10/20 rule.” Ten jerks or less is syncope; 20 jerks or more is seizure. Asynchronous jerks of both arms count as two jerks and argues against convulsive seizures (LR- 0.19).

What reduces epilepsy? ›

Treatments include:
  • medicines called anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs)
  • surgery to remove a small part of the brain that's causing the seizures.
  • a procedure to put a small electrical device inside the body that can help control seizures.
  • a special diet (ketogenic diet) that can help control seizures.

Is Sweet Potato good for epilepsy? ›

After administered of purple sweet potato water extract at the end of second week, there was a decreased in seizure frequency of 1.499 times greater in treatment group compared to control, but this did not differ significantly.

What is the best vitamin for epilepsy? ›

Nutrients that may reduce seizure frequency include vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese, taurine, dimethylglycine, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Which fruit is best for seizure? ›

Fruits and Vegetables : To increase your antioxidant intake, incorporate a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, such as berries, cherries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, into your diet regularly.

Does yogurt help with seizures? ›

Statistical analysis revealed that low-fat yogurt and Dough significantly decreased latency time to clonic seizure compared to the solvent group.

What herbs can I give my dog for seizures? ›

In both capsule and tincture form, many natural over-the-counter Western herbs — including milk thistle, valerian, and oat straw — are used to treat seizures. Milk thistle is often recommended by holistic veterinarians to be used in conjunction with phenobarbital.

What vitamin deficiency is epilepsy? ›

The only vitamin deficiency known to cause or worsen seizures is a deficiency of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). This deficiency occurs mainly in newborns and infants and causes seizures that are hard to control. In some cases, the doctor may give the baby the vitamin through an IV while recording the EEG.

Is Egg good for epilepsy? ›

Fats also have the advantage that they contribute to the proper functioning of the nerves, brain, and heart. That is why consuming food with fat is essential for people with epilepsy to improve their health. Such food includes: Eggs.

What foods trigger seizures? ›

Stimulants such as tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, sweets, soft drinks, excess salt, spices and animal proteins may trigger seizures by suddenly changing the body's metabolism. Some parents have reported that allergic reactions to certain foods (e.g. white flour) also seem to trigger seizures in their children.

Are there warning signs before a seizure? ›

General symptoms or warning signs of a seizure can include: Staring. Jerking movements of the arms and legs. Stiffening of the body.

How do you stop a seizure from happening? ›

How to Prevent Seizures
  1. Take All Medication as Prescribed. Anti-epileptic medications can be very effective at helping some people reduce or even eliminate seizures. ...
  2. Sleep. ...
  3. Eat Regular Meals. ...
  4. Avoid Alcohol and Drugs. ...
  5. Exercise. ...
  6. Pay Attention to Fevers. ...
  7. Avoid Flashing Lights. ...
  8. Find a Good Neurologist.
Apr 14, 2022

What three things can cause epilepsy? ›

Causes of epilepsy
  • a stroke.
  • a brain tumour.
  • a severe head injury.
  • drug abuse or alcohol misuse.
  • a brain infection.
  • a lack of oxygen during birth.

Does epilepsy get worse with age? ›

It's certainly possible that the severity and frequency of seizures can increase as a person gets older. However, it's also entirely possible that epilepsy can get better with age, whether that's due to the natural changes in the body during the ageing process or through improved treatment.

What is the difference between a seizure and an epilepsy? ›

A seizure is a single occurrence, whereas epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by two or more unprovoked seizures.

What breeds are predisposed to epilepsy? ›

Common breeds that have a higher rate of epilepsy include Beagles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Border Collies, Boxer Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, Irish Wolfhounds, Keeshonds, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, St.

What lowers the seizure threshold? ›

What people with epilepsy are not sufficiently informed about are the factors which lower the seizure threshold and make them more liable to have seizures. Such factors include stress, sleep deprivation, alcohol, menstruation and, especially in children, intercurrent infection and fever.

What smells can trigger seizures? ›

For example, some report that unusual stimuli such as strong smells like petrol, bleach or glue can trigger seizures.

Are scrambled eggs good for dogs with seizures? ›

Dogs suffering from seizures also need to eat eggs as part of their diet as they are an excellent source of proteins and minerals. However, besides that, eggs also contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and glutamate. These substances are essential for improving brain development and memory.

What triggers seizures in dogs with epilepsy? ›

The most common extracranial causes are hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia, hyperthermia, hypothyroidism, liver disease, or ingested poisons such as caffeine, and chocolate. Intracranial causes of seizures are diseases that cause either structural or functional changes inside the dog's brain.

Are carrots good for dogs with epilepsy? ›

Fruits, including tomatoes and carrots, can actually trigger a seizure in some dogs. Certain dairy products, like cheese (particularly if it is moldy), cottage cheese and milk are also danger foods.

What foods prevent seizures? ›

A low glycemic index diet focuses on foods with a low glycemic index, meaning they affect blood glucose levels slowly, if at all. Although it's not understood why, low blood glucose levels control seizures in some people. Foods on this diet include meat, cheese, and most high-fiber vegetables.

What can help stop seizures in dogs? ›

Phenobarbital has been used for decades to suppress seizures in dogs and is typically the first medication prescribed by vets for dogs experiencing seizures. It is estimated that 80% of dogs on phenobarbital experience a decrease in seizure frequency of 50% or more.

Do epileptic seizures hurt dogs? ›

Call your vet when the seizure ends. If dogs have a seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes or have several in a row while they are unconscious, take them to a vet as soon as possible. The longer a seizure goes on, the higher a dog's body temperature can rise, and they may have problems breathing.

Is pumpkin good for epileptic dogs? ›

Pure pumpkin is sodium free.

And if you have an Epi-dog (epileptic dog), it's especially important to keep an eye on the salt intake as it can interfere with the levels of bromide medications, such as Potassium Bromide, and that interference can trigger seizures.

Why does honey help seizures in dogs? ›

After dogs come out of a seizure, a little all-natural vanilla ice cream, honey, or natural maple syrup will help to raise their sugar levels back up. Follow with a protein such as little kibble, cheese stick, a spoonful of cottage cheese, chicken, etc. to help stabilize those sugar levels.

What deficiency causes seizures in dogs? ›

Hypocalcemia. Another cause of seizures, an endocrine disorder is characterized by low levels of calcium. A dog's loss of appetite can cause calcium levels to drop, which could in turn cause seizures. Other dogs may develop muscle weakness as well as cataracts.

References

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