Seizures can be from known or unknown causes and are sometimes breed-related. Dogs who have seizures require special care to maintain their health. Regular veterinary exams and medication are important to these dogs; however, the proper diet also can help dogs who have seizures. In addition to the prescription diets and commercial diets that your dog’s veterinarian can recommend, these dogs can benefit from high-quality, high-protein diets made at home and from raw diets.
High-Quality, High-Protein Diet
Theoretically, a diet that supports brain and nervous system function will reduce seizure activity. Therefore, a high-protein diet with a higher proportion of fat should help control seizures in epileptic dogs, as these are the nutrients that support those systems. Human beings with epilepsy are often helped by ketogenic diets; that is, diets high in fat and low in carbohydrates. According to a food trial run by researchers at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the ketogenic diet does not appear to be helpful in treating dogs, possibly due to the canine’s ability to fast for long periods.
Holistic vets suggest supplementing the diet of dogs with seizures using a variety of vitamins. Holistic vets frequently recommend choline and lecithin, used in human treatment of epilepsy, as well as vitamin C and zinc. Your dog may benefit from taking B vitamins, as it is theorized that a deficiency in B vitamins can cause seizures. Supplements do not take the place of traditional medicines; rather, they are intended to work alongside traditional medicines.
Homemade and Raw Diets
A biologically appropriate raw diet that is high in protein can be optimal for your dog’s health. This kind of diet consists of uncooked foods fed in their whole form, creating a diet that mimics what a dog would be eating in his natural state. Using a whole, raw food diet that includes meat, raw meaty bones, fat and vegetables, automatically reduces the possibility of introducing the additives that are so harmful to dogs who have seizures. Because organ meats can store medications and other drugs that have been introduced when the animal was alive, raw food diets primarily from muscle meats appears to be more beneficial. If it is impossible to feed a raw diet, a well-balanced, home-cooked diet is a good second choice.
Prescription and Commercial Diets
Many commercial diets are filled with stabilizing agents, fillers, artificial colors and other chemicals. These chemicals can change your dog’s brain activity, in addition to triggering allergies, dry skin and other conditions. Prescription diets, formulated specifically for dogs with epilepsy, are available from your dog’s veterinarian. High-quality commercial diets can be used instead of homemade, raw or prescription diets, as long as they are free of additives.
Things to Avoid
While no formal research supports the anecdotal evidence, it appears that dogs who have seizures are sensitive to artificial flavors and dyes. Chemical preservatives, such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin may increase seizure activity, as well. At least initially, organ meats such as livers and kidneys should be avoided. An article in Whole Dog Journal suggests that the diet of a dog with seizures should be free of gluten.
When to Consult with Your Vet
If your dog has one seizure, it generally is not considered a medical emergency. A single seizure may be caused by hypoglycemia. Up to two seizures in the two weeks from the initial onset can be considered idiopathic epilepsy. More than two seizures suggest that something else is at work and a diagnosis should be determined.