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Blood Sugar Fluctuations and Epilepsy in Dogs

Updated: Jun 14


Epilepsy in dogs

Blood sugar levels, also known as glucose levels, play a critical role in the overall health and neurological function of dogs. Fluctuations in blood sugar can have significant effects, especially in dogs with epilepsy. Here’s how these fluctuations are linked to epilepsy in dogs.

How Blood Sugar Affects the Brain

The brain relies on a constant supply of glucose to function properly. Glucose is the primary energy source for brain cells, and stable levels are essential for maintaining normal brain activity. When blood sugar levels are either too high (hyperglycaemia) or too low (hypoglycaemia), it can disrupt normal brain function and lead to neurological issues.

Hypoglycaemia and Seizures

Hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, is a well-known trigger for seizures in both humans and animals. When blood sugar levels drop too low, the brain is deprived of the necessary energy to function correctly, leading to seizures. This is particularly dangerous for dogs with epilepsy, as their brains are already more susceptible to seizure activity.

Mechanism:

  • Energy Deprivation: Low glucose levels mean the brain cells don't have enough energy to operate, leading to neuronal hyperexcitability.

  • Neuronal Stress: This stress can trigger seizures, as the neurons misfire due to lack of energy.

Hyperglycaemia and Neurological Stress

While hyperglycaemia, or high blood sugar, is less directly linked to immediate seizure activity, it can contribute to long-term neurological stress and damage. Consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes, which in turn can cause complications such as diabetic neuropathy, further stressing the nervous system.

Mechanism:

  • Inflammation: High glucose levels can cause inflammation, which can affect brain function.

  • Oxidative Stress: Excess glucose can lead to oxidative stress, damaging cells throughout the body, including the brain.

Carbohydrate-Heavy Diets and Blood Sugar Fluctuations

Commercial dog foods high in carbohydrates can cause significant spikes and drops in blood sugar levels. When a dog consumes a high-carb meal, their blood sugar levels spike rapidly. This is followed by a sharp drop as the body releases insulin to manage the glucose, creating a cycle of highs and lows.

Impact on Epileptic Dogs:

  • Increased Seizure Risk: These fluctuations can increase the risk of seizures by destabilising the brain’s energy supply.

  • Difficulty in Management: For dogs with epilepsy, maintaining stable blood sugar levels is crucial to reducing the frequency and severity of seizures.

Dietary Management for Stable Blood Sugar

To manage epilepsy effectively, it’s essential to keep your dog’s blood sugar levels stable. Here are some dietary strategies:

  • Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Reduce or eliminate grains and other high-carb foods from your dog’s diet. Opt for high-quality proteins and healthy fats instead.

  • Regular Feeding Schedule: Feed your dog at consistent times each day to help maintain steady blood sugar levels.

  • Grain-Free Diets: As discussed, grain-free diets help avoid the rapid spikes in blood sugar associated with high-carbohydrate grains.

Gluconeogenesis: Getting Glucose from Protein

While dogs can get glucose from carbohydrates, they can also synthesise glucose from proteins through a process called gluconeogenesis. This is especially important for maintaining stable blood sugar levels in dogs on low-carb diets.

How It Works:

  • Amino Acids: Proteins are broken down into amino acids during digestion.

  • Conversion: These amino acids are then converted into glucose in the liver.

  • Energy Supply: This glucose can then be used by the body, particularly by the brain, which requires a constant energy supply.

By relying on gluconeogenesis, a dog’s body can maintain glucose levels even when dietary carbohydrates are limited. This process ensures that essential functions, such as brain activity, are not compromised.

Conclusion: The Link Between Blood Sugar Fluctuations and Epilepsy in Dogs

By understanding and managing the link between blood sugar fluctuations and epilepsy, you can help your dog lead a healthier, more stable life. Ensuring a balanced diet that avoids high-carbohydrate ingredients can significantly reduce the risk of seizures and improve overall Dog Health.

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1 Comment


Guest
Jun 21

My dog only eats 1 time per day, usually at dinner. He never wants to eat a meal before around 3-4pm. He does get some calories in the morning, however, when I give him his Keppra and Chinese herbs in usually about 1 tablespoon of ricotta cheese. Is eating only one larger meal later in the day okay as it relates to keeping blood sugar balanced?

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