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The Problem with Most Dog Foods for Dogs with Epilepsy

Updated: Mar 19


Epileptic dog eating kibble

When it comes to caring for our furry friends, providing them with the right nutrition is paramount for their overall health and well-being. However, for dogs with epilepsy, finding suitable food can be challenging. Many commercial dog foods contain ingredients that may exacerbate seizures or fail to provide the necessary nutrients to support neurological health.

The Problem with Most Dog Foods

Commercial dog foods are often marketed as providing complete and balanced nutrition for dogs, but in reality, many of these products fall short in meeting the unique dietary needs of dogs with epilepsy. Here are some of the main issues with commercial dog foods:

  1. High Carbohydrate Content: One of the biggest problems with commercial dog foods is their high carbohydrate content. Carbohydrates, such as grains and fillers like corn, wheat, and soy, are often used as inexpensive sources of energy and to provide bulk to the food. However, for dogs with epilepsy, high-carb diets can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, which can trigger seizures. Additionally, some dogs may have sensitivities or allergies to grains, further complicating matters.

  2. Artificial Additives: Many commercial dog foods contain artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives to enhance palatability and extend shelf life. These additives can have negative effects on your dog's health and may contribute to seizure activity. Common additives to watch out for include BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and propylene glycol, all of which have been linked to health issues in dogs.

  3. Low-Quality Protein Sources: Some commercial dog foods use low-quality protein sources, such as meat by-products or rendered meats, which may lack essential nutrients and be difficult for dogs to digest. High-quality protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass, supporting immune function, and overall health, but many commercial dog foods skimp on this crucial ingredient.

  4. Grains and Gluten: Grains such as corn, wheat, and soy are common allergens for dogs and may contribute to digestive issues and inflammation, which can exacerbate seizures. Gluten, a protein found in grains, has also been implicated in neurological issues and may worsen seizure activity in some dogs.

  5. Chemical Preservatives: Chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are often used in commercial dog foods to extend shelf life. However, these preservatives have been linked to health issues in dogs, including cancer, liver dysfunction, and neurological problems. Additionally, some preservatives may interact with medications used to manage epilepsy, further complicating treatment.

 

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What Foods Are Good for Dogs with Epilepsy

Fortunately, there are alternative options available that can better support the health of dogs with epilepsy. These include:

  1. High-Quality Protein: Opt for dog foods that contain high-quality protein sources such as lean meats, fish, and eggs. Protein is essential for muscle function, immune support, and overall health.

  2. Healthy Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and flaxseed, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in dogs with epilepsy. Incorporating these healthy fats into your dog's diet can support brain health and reduce inflammation.

  3. Low Glycemic Index Carbohydrates: Choose dog foods that contain carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as sweet potatoes, peas, and carrots. These carbohydrates are digested more slowly, leading to more stable blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of seizures.

  4. Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, can help support your dog's immune system and protect against oxidative stress, which may contribute to seizure activity. Incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into your dog's diet can help promote overall health and well-being.

  5. MCT Oil: Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a type of healthy fat that has been shown to support brain health and reduce the frequency of seizures in dogs with epilepsy. Adding MCT oil to your dog's diet can provide a concentrated source of these beneficial fats and may help improve seizure control.

Scientific Evidence

Numerous studies have highlighted the importance of diet in managing epilepsy in dogs. For example, 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 fed a conventional diet (Smith et al., 2019). Additionally, research published in the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics demonstrated the anti-seizure effects of omega-3 fatty acids in dogs with epilepsy (Brown et al., 2020).

 

Need Support?

Join our online community of epileptic pet owners who can help you through this journey. We know how stressful it can be caring for an epileptic dog, and we are here to help.

 


Conclusion: The Problem with Most Dog Foods for Dogs with Epilepsy

Choosing the right food for your dog with epilepsy is crucial for managing their condition and supporting their overall health and well-being. By avoiding problematic ingredients found in many commercial dog foods and opting for high-quality, nutrient-rich alternatives, you can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures and improve your dog's quality of life.

References

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

  • 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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