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Toxins in Commercial Dog Food: The Best Diet for Dogs with Epilepsy

Updated: Jun 14

Toxins in Dog Food: The Best Diet for Dogs with Epilepsy

Today, we're discussing an important topic that affects the health and well-being of our epileptic dogs: toxins in commercial dog foods containing grains like corn, wheat, or rice. Understanding what goes into your dog's food is crucial, especially if your dog has specific health conditions like Canine Epilepsy.

Why Commercial Dog Foods Can Be Toxic

Commercial dog foods often contain ingredients that can be harmful to our dogs over time. These foods are designed for convenience and shelf-life, not necessarily for optimal nutrition. Many of these foods contain harmful substances like mycotoxins, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. These toxins can accumulate in your dog's body, leading to various health issues, including exacerbating conditions like Epilepsy in Dogs.

Mycotoxins: Hidden Dangers in Grain

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by certain types of mould found in grains commonly used in dog food, such as corn, wheat, and rice. These toxins can contaminate the food during growth, harvest, or storage. Mycotoxins persist once they've been formed by moulds. They cannot be killed and are very heat-stable, meaning pet food processes will not kill them. Pet food companies are currently not required to test finished products for mycotoxins. In one US study, nine out of twelve dog foods tested were positive for at least one mycotoxin. Six classes of mycotoxins most frequently affect common pet food ingredients: aflatoxin, DON, fumonisin, ochratoxin, type A tricothecenes (T-2 and HT-2) and zearalenone.

Mycotoxins, such as aflatoxins, are known carcinogens and can cause liver damage and immune suppression in dogs. DON can cause immune suppression, gut dysfunction, and deformed red blood cells. Studies have shown that chronic exposure to low levels of mycotoxins can have cumulative effects, leading to long-term health problems.

Impact on Dogs with Epilepsy: There is no research directly linking mycotoxins to epilepsy in dogs, but it has been shown that mycotoxins released by certain moulds have the potential to directly damage the central nervous system (CNS), leading to neuropathy (nerve damage), tremors, dizziness, coordination problems, and even seizures in severe cases Dogs with epilepsy are particularly vulnerable because their neurological system is already compromised, so avoiding these harmful chemicals can only be a good thing!

Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fungicides

Commercial crops used in dog food are often heavily treated with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides to ensure higher yields and longer shelf life. Unfortunately, these chemicals don't just disappear; they can end up in your dog's food.

Pesticides like glyphosate (used in Roundup), herbicides, and fungicides are widely used in agriculture. Glyphosate (a type of organophosphate), in particular, has been linked to various health issues, including endocrine disruption, potential carcinogenic effects and neurological damage. Studies have shown that glyphosate residues can persist in food products, leading to chronic exposure.

Impact on Dogs with Epilepsy: The problem is that our dogs tend to eat the same meals daily, so they are exposed to low levels over a very long period. Consuming these chemicals regularly can lead to a build-up in your dog's system. Pesticides such as organophosphates have been shown to cause neurotoxicity, potentially leading to increased seizure activity in dogs with pre-existing conditions like epilepsy.

What Can You Do?

To protect your dog's health, consider these steps:

  • Read Labels: Look for dog foods that use high-quality, organic ingredients and avoid those with grains and a long list of artificial additives.

  • Go Natural: Opt for natural, whole foods for your dog whenever possible. Fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits can provide better nutrition without the added toxins.

  • Consult Your Vet: Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your dog's specific health needs, especially if your dog has epilepsy or other chronic conditions.

  • Homemade Diets: Consider preparing homemade meals for your dog. This way, you can control the quality and source of the ingredients.

Conclusion: Toxins in Dog Food: The Best Diet for Dogs with Epilepsy

Understanding the potential toxins in commercial dog foods is crucial for ensuring the long-term health and well-being of your pets. By making informed choices and opting for healthier alternatives, you can help your dog live a longer, healthier life, even if they have conditions like Canine Epilepsy. Remember, a healthy diet is one of the best ways to support your dog's overall health and longevity!


Yang, L., Yang, L., Cai, Y., Luo, Y., Wang, H., Wang, L., Chen, J., Liu, X., Wu, Y., Qin, Y., Wu, Z., & Liu, N. (2023). Natural mycotoxin contamination in dog food: A review on toxicity and detoxification methods. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 257, 114948.

Witaszak, N., Waśkiewicz, A., Bocianowski, J., & Stępień, Ł. (2020). Contamination of pet food with mycobiota and Fusarium mycotoxins—Focus on dogs and cats. Toxins, 12(2), 130.

Forster, G. M., Brown, D. G., Dooley, G. P., Page, R. L., & Ryan, E. P. (2014). Pets as sentinels of human exposure to pesticides and co-occurring chemical mixtures. Environmental Science & Technology, 48(24), 14677–14685. Böhm, J., Koinig, L., Hollmann, M., & Razzazi-Fazeli, E. (2008). Mycotoxicoses in pets and the occurrence of mycotoxins in dry dog foods. Bulletin UASVM, Veterinary Medicine, 65(1).

Rodney Habib, & Karen Shaw Becker. (2021). The Forever Dog: Surprising New Science to Help Your Canine Companion Live Younger, Healthier, and Longer. Harper Wave.

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