If you've witnessed your dog having a seizure, it's a scene you don't want to see again. Medications can help control epileptic seizures in dogs, and certain dietary changes might make a difference. A ketogenic diet is one designed to limit seizures. If you try feeding your dog a ketogenic diet, do so only under your vet's supervision.
According to "Veterinary Practice News," epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological illness in canines, as many breeds are genetically predisposed to the disorder. While symptoms vary, dogs suffering from seizures might lose consciousness and exhibit muscle contraction and stiffness. Along with salivating excessively and throwing his head back, a dog could lose control of his bodily functions during seizures. Most seizures are brief, but those lasting more than a few minutes require an immediate trip to the emergency vet. Even if your dog appears fine after an initial seizure, take him to the vet for an examination. If seizures recur, he may be diagnosed with epilepsy.
If your dog experiences seizures, your vet will likely prescribe phenobarbital or potassium bromide for control. In some severe cases, both drugs are prescribed. Diazepam, marketed under the brand name Valium, might be prescribed for constant seizing, but it loses effectiveness in canines over time. Once your dog is on medication, he must take it for the rest of his life.
People with epilepsy have responded successfully to a ketogenic diet. It consists of low amounts of carbohydrates and proteins but high levels of fat. When fed a large amount of fat and little in the way of carbs, the body converts the fat to ketones, which it uses for energy instead of carbohydrates. It was the treatment of choice for children before the development of antiseizure medication in the late 1930s. Although epileptic patients on the diet do tend to experience fewer seizures, the exact reason for that is uncertain.
The Diet and Dogs
As of 2013, no published clinical study had evaluated the benefits or detriments of a ketogenic diet for epileptic dogs. "Veterinary Practice News" notes that the diet might be considered for dogs not responding to conventional medical therapy for seizure control and that an epileptic dog's diet should be reviewed by a veterinarian for excess amount of carbohydrates and any food additives known to cause allergic reactions. A small number of dogs might experience seizures as a reaction to food additives.
- Veterinary Practice News: Ketogenic Diet, Zonisamide Ease Seizures
- Canine Epilepsy Resources: Does the Ketogenic Diet Work for Dogs?
- Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital: Seizures and Epilepsy
- Veterinary Practice News: Brain Benefits of CAVM for Epilepsy
- Merck Veterinary Manual: Principles of Therapy of Neurologic Disease
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Seizures - General for Dogs
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.