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How to Treat Epilepsy in Dogs Naturally

Updated: Jun 26


How to Treat Epilepsy in Dogs Naturally

Evidence-Based Strategies for Better Seizure Control

Epilepsy in dogs presents a significant challenge for pet owners, necessitating a multifaceted approach to management. While conventional medications are often the cornerstone of treatment, natural therapies can complement pharmacological interventions, offering potential benefits with fewer side effects. In this in-depth guide, we'll explore how to treat epilepsy in dogs naturally, drawing on scientific studies to support our recommendations. It important to note that you should always consult with your veterinarian before starting any adjunct therapies.

Understanding Canine Epilepsy

Canine epilepsy is a complex neurological disorder characterised by recurrent seizures, affecting approximately 0.5-5.7% of the dog population. These seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain, leading to transient episodes of altered consciousness, convulsions, and other manifestations. While genetic predisposition is a significant factor in many cases, other causes such as brain tumours, infections, and metabolic disorders can also contribute to epilepsy in dogs.

The Role of Diet in Seizure Control: Evidence-Based Recommendations

Dietary modification is a cornerstone of natural epilepsy management, with specific nutrients and dietary patterns demonstrating potential efficacy in reducing seizure frequency and severity. Research suggests that a ketogenic diet, characterised by high fat, low carbohydrate, and adequate protein intake, may have anticonvulsant effects in dogs with epilepsy. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found that dogs fed a ketogenic diet experienced a significant reduction in seizure frequency compared to those on a conventional diet.

 

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The Best Diet for Canine Epilepsy: Evidence-Based Nutritional Guidelines

Based on current evidence, the optimal diet for managing epilepsy in dogs should prioritise the following nutritional principles:

  1. Low Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates can contribute to blood glucose fluctuations, potentially triggering seizures in susceptible dogs. A low-carbohydrate diet helps stabilise blood sugar levels, reducing seizure risk. Research published in BMC Veterinary Research indicates that dogs fed a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet experienced a significant reduction in seizure frequency compared to dogs on a high-carbohydrate diet.

  2. High-Quality Protein: Adequate protein intake is essential for maintaining muscle mass and supporting overall health in epileptic dogs. Choose high-quality protein sources such as lean meats, fish, and eggs, as they provide essential amino acids necessary for neurological function. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that dogs supplemented with branched-chain amino acids experienced a reduction in seizure frequency and severity.

  3. Healthy Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and other sources, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce seizure activity in epileptic dogs. A systematic review published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association concluded that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be beneficial in managing epilepsy in dogs, although further research is needed to determine optimal dosing and efficacy.

  4. Antioxidants and Vitamins: Antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C play a crucial role in neutralising free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, which can contribute to seizure susceptibility. Multiple studies in humans and rats have suggested that these vitamins can have positive impacts on seizure frequency and intensity. Incorporate foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, into your dog's diet to support overall neurological health.

  5. Supplementation with MCT Oil: Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil has gained attention as a natural treatment for epilepsy in dogs due to its ability to produce ketones, which serve as an alternative energy source for the brain. A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association demonstrated that dogs supplemented with MCT oil experienced a significant reduction in seizure frequency compared to placebo-treated dogs.

 

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Exploring Omega-3 Oil and its Impact on Neurological Health

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are essential nutrients that play a crucial role in brain development and function. Several studies have investigated the effects of omega-3 supplementation on seizure control, with promising results in other species such as humans and rats; however, only 1 clinical trial has been preformed on dogs specifically. This trial was unable to conclude a benefit in seizure control from Omega-3 oil. Previous research indicates that subjects require 3 months of Omega-3 oil to see any change in seizure frequency and severity, which suggests that perhaps the canine trial was too short to draw conclusive results. Further research for Omega-3 and canine epilepsy should therefore focus on larger placebo-controlled trials of longer duration. In the meantime, the results in other species along with the other health benefits of omega-3 make it a good supplement to provide your dog.

Managing Triggers and Stress: Evidence-Based Strategies

Identifying and managing triggers is crucial for minimising seizure frequency and severity in dogs with epilepsy. Common triggers include stress, environmental factors, and changes in routine. Minimising stress through environmental enrichment, regular exercise, and positive reinforcement training can help reduce seizure susceptibility. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that dogs with epilepsy experienced fewer seizures when exposed to a stress-reducing environment compared to a stressful environment.

Additionally, maintaining a consistent routine and avoiding sudden changes can help stabilise your dog's neurological function and reduce the risk of seizures. By proactively managing triggers and stressors, pet owners can play a proactive role in epilepsy management and promote better seizure control and overall well-being in their canine companions.

Conclusion: How to Treat Epilepsy in Dogs Naturally

Natural treatment options for canine epilepsy offer promising avenues for improving seizure control and promoting overall neurological health. By adhering to evidence-based ketogenic dietary recommendations, incorporating targeted supplementation with MCT oil and vitamin deficiencies, and addressing lifestyle factors with environmental management, pet owners can optimise their dog's epilepsy management plan for better outcomes and enhanced quality of life.

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:

  • Chandler, Kate. "Canine epilepsy: what can we learn from human seizure disorders?." The Veterinary Journal 172.2 (2006): 207-217.

  • Berk, Benjamin A., et al. "A multicenter randomized controlled trial of medium‐chain triglyceride dietary supplementation on epilepsy in dogs." Journal of veterinary internal medicine 34.3 (2020): 1248-1259.

  • Law, Tsz Hong, et al. "A randomised trial of a medium-chain TAG diet as treatment for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy." British Journal of Nutrition 114.9 (2015): 1438-1447.

  • Patterson, Edward E. "Canine epilepsy: an underutilized model." ILAR journal 55.1 (2014): 182-186.

  • Larsen, Jennifer A., Tammy J. Owens, and Andrea J. Fascetti. "Nutritional management of idiopathic epilepsy in dogs." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245.5 (2014): 504-508.

  • Ogunmekan, A. O., and P. A. Hwang. "A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, clinical trial of D‐α‐tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), as add‐on therapy, for epilepsy in children." Epilepsia 30.1 (1989): 84-89.

  • Ambrogini, Patrizia, et al. "Excitotoxicity, neuroinflammation and oxidant stress as molecular bases of epileptogenesis and epilepsy-derived neurodegeneration: The role of vitamin E." Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Basis of Disease 1865.6 (2019): 1098-1112.

  • Sawicka-Glazer, Edyta, and Stanisław J. Czuczwar. "Vitamin C: a new auxiliary treatment of epilepsy?." Pharmacological reports 66 (2014): 529-533.

  • Xavier, S. M., et al. "Vitamin C antioxidant effects in hippocampus of adult Wistar rats after seizures and status epilepticus induced by pilocarpine." Neuroscience letters 420.1 (2007): 76-79.

  • Verdoodt, Fien, et al. "The role of nutrition in canine idiopathic epilepsy management: Fact or fiction?." The Veterinary Journal 290 (2022): 105917.

  • Matthews, Helen, et al. "Effects of essential fatty acid supplementation in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy: a clinical trial." The Veterinary Journal 191.3 (2012): 396-398.

  • Packer, Rowena MA, Sarah L. Hobbs, and Emily J. Blackwell. "Behavioral interventions as an adjunctive treatment for canine epilepsy: a missing part of the epilepsy management toolkit?." Frontiers in veterinary science 6 (2019): 3.

  • Amadei, Eleonora, et al. "The link between neurology and behavior in veterinary medicine: A review." Journal of Veterinary Behavior 46 (2021): 40-53.

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2 Comments


Guest
Mar 06

Best information I've read regarding help for dogs with epilepsy. I hope to learn all I can for my Willow who is the sweetest most innocent dog i have ever known. I intend to follow. I already keto cook for my dog, use MCT oil in her diet, CBD oil when she's nervous or fearful. She gets a sardine almost daily. She's been on phenobarbital for 2 months, had a breakthrough seizure 2 days ago. Now my challenge is to protect her from fleas and ticks! She started having seizures after her first Nexguard chew. No more even though my vet thinks she can handle Nexguard now that she's on phenobarbital. No way!!!

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Guest
Mar 12
Replying to

Could you please share with me what you feed her.My Siberia Husky starting having seizures after her rabies vaccine.

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