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The Best Diet for Dogs with Epilepsy

Updated: Jun 22


The Best Diet for Dogs with Epilepsy

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in managing epilepsy in dogs, as it can significantly impact seizure control and overall well-being. Choosing the right diet for your dog with epilepsy is crucial for their health and quality of life. If the cause of your dogs's epilepsy is unknown, you can do wonders for them by eliminating potential triggers in food and improving their general health. This article will explore the best diet for dogs with epilepsy, focusing on key nutritional considerations, suitable food options, and the benefits of incorporating MCT oil to enhance seizure control.

High Protein, Balanced and Nutrient-Dense Foods

A study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science showed that ketogenic diets (high protein diets) have a positive impact on dogs with idiopathic epilepsy by reducing the frequency and severity of seizure activity. We recommend diets that are at least 60% real meat, cooked at low temperatures and freshly prepared. It's vital to ensure the protein source is the main ingredient in your dog's food to avoid diets high in fillers and carbohydrates that may trigger seizures. High-quality protein sources such as lean meats or fish are essential for dogs with epilepsy, providing the necessary amino acids for optimal health without triggering seizures. A study published in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology emphasises the importance of high-quality protein in canine diets for maintaining muscle mass and overall health. Sources such as chicken, lean beef, or fish like salmon provide essential amino acids without unnecessary fillers. These can be fed as part of a commercial diet formulated for dogs with health conditions or as fresh, cooked meats (ensure they are cooked without harmful seasonings or oils).


 

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Low-Glycemic Index Foods

As stated above, real meat should be the main ingredient of your pet's food, but incorporating low-glycemic index foods like sweet potatoes and whole grains can help provide vitamins and minerals/ aid digestion while ensuring your dog's blood sugar levels don't spike. Research in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine suggests that dietary management focusing on glycemic control may offer benefits for dogs with certain health conditions, including epilepsy. Incorporating low-GI carbohydrates can provide sustained energy and help stabilize blood sugar levels. These ingredients should be a minimal part of the diet to prevent them from acting as fillers. You can introduce these carbohydrates by mixing small, cooked portions into your dog's meat-based meals, ensuring they are well-cooked and easy to digest.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, known for their anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, can be beneficial for dogs with epilepsy. A study in the American Journal of Veterinary Research highlights the positive impact of omega-3 supplementation on canine health, suggesting potential benefits for brain function and seizure management. Foods rich in omega-3s, like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), flaxseed, and chia seeds, support brain health and have anti-inflammatory effects. Including these in your dog's diet can be as simple as adding a spoonful of ground flaxseed or chia to their meal or opting for a high-quality fish oil supplement designed for dogs. Introduce supplements gradually to monitor your dog's tolerance.

Limited Ingredient Diets

For dogs with food sensitivities, limited-ingredient diets can help minimise the risk of dietary triggers for seizures. These diets, focusing on a single protein source and minimal carbohydrates, can be especially beneficial for dogs with food-related sensitivities or allergies, as noted in research published in Veterinary Dermatology. Chemicals and additives in dog food, such as artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives, can also have various negative effects on canine health. For instance, some artificial preservatives have been linked to health issues including allergies, cancer, and organ toxicity in dogs. Additionally, foods with high levels of synthetic additives may contribute to inflammatory processes in the body, which could potentially exacerbate seizure activity in dogs with epilepsy.

For dogs with epilepsy, it's particularly important to avoid ingredients that could act as neurological triggers. Chemicals like propylene glycol often used to maintain moisture in dog foods, can potentially lead to adverse reactions. Similarly, excessive salt or flavour enhancers could disrupt the dog's normal neurological functions, increasing the risk of seizures. A limited ingredient diet can be a valuable tool in managing epilepsy in dogs, reducing the potential for food-related triggers, and minimizing exposure to harmful chemicals and additives. By focusing on whole, unprocessed foods and being mindful of the ingredients in commercial dog foods, pet owners can better support their dog's health and well-being.

MCT Oil

The inclusion of MCT oil in the diet of dogs with epilepsy has gained attention for its potential to enhance seizure control. MCTs are metabolized differently from other fats, providing a quick source of energy for the brain in the form of ketones. A study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association examined the effects of a ketogenic diet, rich in MCTs, on dogs with epilepsy, finding a reduction in seizure frequency. MCT oil can be mixed directly into your dog's food, starting with a small dose and gradually increasing based on your veterinarian's recommendations. Ensure the MCT oil is pure and free from additives that could harm your dog. Read our post "Choosing the Best MCT Oil for your Epileptic Dog" for more information.


 

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Conclusion: The Best Diet for Dogs with Epilepsy

Selecting the right diet for a dog with epilepsy involves a multifaceted approach that includes high-quality proteins, low-glycemic index foods, omega-3 fatty acids, limited ingredient diets, and possibly MCT oil. It's crucial to collaborate with a veterinarian to tailor the diet to your dog's specific needs, ensuring optimal seizure control and overall health. Proper nutrition is a key component in managing epilepsy in dogs and can significantly enhance their quality of life.


 

References


  • 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.

  • Potschka, Heidrun, et al. "International veterinary epilepsy task force consensus proposal: outcome of therapeutic interventions in canine and feline epilepsy." BMC Veterinary Research 11 (2015): 1-13.

  • Löscher, Wolfgang. "Dogs as a natural animal model of epilepsy." Frontiers in veterinary science 9 (2022): 928009.




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