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The Ketogenic Diet For Dogs with Epilepsy: Why Does it Work?


The Ketogenic Diet For Dogs with Epilepsy: Why Does it Work?

How Ketosis Helps Dogs with Epilepsy


Epilepsy in dogs can be a tough condition to manage, but recent research suggests that a ketogenic diet for dogs with epilepsy can help. In this blog post, we’ll explore how ketosis helps dogs with epilepsy, breaking down the science in an easy-to-understand and accessible way.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body uses fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. When dogs eat a diet low in carbs, their bodies switch to burning fat, which produces substances called ketones. These ketones then become the main fuel for the body and brain, replacing glucose (sugar).

 

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How Ketones Provide Energy for the Brain

The brain can use ketones as an energy source, often more effectively than glucose, especially when the brain is stressed, like during a seizure. This steady supply of energy from ketones helps the brain function normally and reduces the chance of seizures.

The Role of GABA in the Brain

What is GABA?

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a chemical in the brain that helps calm things down. It’s like a natural brake that keeps the brain from becoming too excited. When GABA levels are high, the brain is more relaxed and balanced.

How GABA Helps Prevent Seizures

During a seizure, there's too much electrical activity in the brain, like an overloaded circuit. GABA helps by slowing down this activity, making it less likely for seizures to occur. Higher GABA levels mean a calmer brain, which can help control seizures.

Ketosis and GABA

Ketosis can increase the levels of GABA in the brain. Ketones produced during ketosis help boost GABA activity, making the brain more stable and less prone to seizures. This balance between excitement and calm is crucial for dogs with epilepsy.

Other Benefits of Ketosis

Stabilising Blood Sugar Levels

One of the key benefits of ketosis is stabilising blood sugar levels. In ketosis, the body burns fat for energy, producing ketones. These ketones provide a stable and efficient energy source, helping to keep blood sugar levels steady. For dogs with epilepsy, fluctuating blood sugar can trigger seizures, so keeping these levels stable is crucial.

Protecting the Brain

Ketones can protect the brain from damage. This is particularly important for dogs with epilepsy because these protective effects can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures. Ketones might improve how brain cells function and reduce damage from stress, leading to better overall brain health.

The Role of a Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet, which is high in fats and low in carbohydrates, is the main way to achieve ketosis. For dogs with epilepsy, this diet typically includes:

  • High-Quality Fats: Sources like MCT oil, fish oil, and animal fats provide the necessary fatty acids to produce ketones.

  • Protein: Enough protein to support muscle and overall health without disrupting ketosis.

  • Low Carbohydrates: Limiting carbs ensures the body stays in ketosis. Ideally, low GI (glycaemic index) carbs to support digestion and overall health.

 

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Implementing a Ketogenic Diet


Starting a ketogenic diet for a dog with epilepsy should be done with the help of a vet or a veterinary nutritionist. They can help create a balanced meal plan that meets all the dog's nutritional needs while maintaining ketosis.

Conclusion: The Ketogenic Diet For Dogs with Epilepsy: Why Does it Work?

Understanding how ketosis helps dogs with epilepsy can be a game-changer. By stabilising blood sugar levels, protecting the brain, providing a steady energy source, and increasing GABA levels, ketosis can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures. This approach can significantly improve the quality of life for dogs with epilepsy.

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.

Kossoff E.H. Zupec-Kania B.A. Auvin S. Ballaban-Gil K.R. Christina Bergqvist A.G. Blackford R.et al. Optimal clinical management of children receiving dietary therapies for epilepsy: updated recommendations of the international ketogenic diet study group. Epilepsia Open. 2018 Jun; 3: 175-192

Pilla, Rachel, et al. "The effects of a ketogenic medium-chain triglyceride diet on the feces in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy." Frontiers in veterinary science 7 (2020): 541547

Bosch, G., et al. "Impact of nutrition on canine behaviour: current status and possible mechanisms." Nutrition research reviews 20.2 (2007): 180-194

Packer, Rowena MA, et al. "Effects of a ketogenic diet on ADHD-like behavior in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy." Epilepsy & Behavior 55 (2016): 62-68.

Han, Felicity Y., et al. "Dietary medium chain triglycerides for management of epilepsy: New data from human, dog, and rodent studies." Epilepsia 62.8 (2021): 1790-1806.

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