Diet for Epileptic Dogsby Elizabeth Pace
Changing your epileptic dog's diet can have a major impact on her quality of life.
Just as humans who eat nothing but junk food will likely have weakened immune systems and will be more susceptible to environmental stress, dogs who are fed low-quality food are also more prone to illness. Epileptic dogs may have it even harder if they don't get the nutrients their bodies need to function at their best. Diet is not the only piece of the puzzle, but it's a significant step toward managing her epilepsy.
The amino acids found in protein, particularly taurine, may be important in controlling seizures. ccording to Caroline Levin, RN, author of "Canine Epilepsy: A Owner’s Guide to Living With and Without Epilepsy," taurine is thought to act as an anticonvulsant that can create long-term stability in cell membranes. Dr. Susan Wynn points out the importance of feeding your dog protein from whole, natural foods -- at least in part -- instead of solely from processed commercial foods, which undergo an extensive cooking process that destroys much of their nutritional value. She notes that diet is even more important for sick dogs, particularly epileptic dogs prone to seizures. Wynn suggests occasionally supplementing your dog's meals with lightly boiled meat as a way to make sure he gets the high-quality protein he needs for healthy cells.
Food allergies can be difficult to pinpoint. If your dog’s epilepsy isn’t responding to medication, his symptoms may be related to a food allergy. According to Dr. Jenny Taylor, the additives and preservatives in many commercial dog foods can cause inflammation of brain tissue, creating an allergic reaction that makes dogs more prone to epileptic episodes. Hypoallergenic dog foods can benefitr dogs whose epilepsy has a dietary component. If your dog shows symptoms of allergies, like excessively chewing her feet or scratching her ears, investigate the possibility of a food allergy.
Limited Antigen Diet
If hypoallergenic food doesn’t seem to help your dog’s symptoms or if you want to start from scratch in creating the best possible diet, Dr. Mike Richards recommends discussing a limited-antigen diet with your vet. A typical limited-antigen diet can include one type of meat and one basic carbohydrate, preferably a type the dog doesn’t normally eat. Narrowing her diet and monitoring your dog’s reaction to different foods over several weeks can help you and your vet to determine which foods make symptoms worse so you can create an ideal diet to suit your dog's special needs.
Don't Forget Your Vet
It can be tempting to try anything to help a pet in pain. However, all dogs have individual dietary needs that require special consideration. Sudden changes in diet can be especially disruptive for epileptic dogs, whose systems are already compromised. Before trying anything new with your pet, consult your vet about possible dietary issues and work together to develop a game plan suited to your dog’s unique needs.
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