In this article I am going to help you by defining canine epilepsy, listing some common causes and how changing their diet can help greatly. I have experienced canine epilepsy firsthand.
Definition and causes of epilepsy
Epilepsy is generally defined as a neurological disorder which causes seizures or abnormal sensations or behaviors. While there are several things that can cause or bring on epileptic seizures, some of the most common deal with genetics, trauma or injury to the head, brain tumor or stroke and nutritional deficiencies. The average life expectancy for a dog with an unknown cause, or idiopathic, seizure is about nine years. For a dog with a known intracranial disease is approximately six years. The first seizure, although it may be shocking, isn’t always cause for concern, however, after the second seizure, the dog should be brought to a veterinarian for a check up. Be sure to give as detailed information as you can to the vet.
Grand Mal Seizure
This is the most common type of seizure known to occur. A Grand Mal Seizure usually acts in three phases. They are:
- Pre-ictal phase – the symptoms are usually hiding, crying, and restlessness. This stage can last anywhere from a couple minutes to a couple hours.
- Ictal phase – this is the actual seizure itself. It is characterized by temporary loss of conscienceness, uncontrollable twitching and often times, loss of bladder control with urination and defecation possible. In my experience, this can last for up to approximately five minutes, but can vary in length.
- Post seizure phase – this consists of a short period of disorientation which can last anywhere from a matter of minutes up to an hour or two. My dog usually only experienced this for 10-30 minutes at the most.
Note: When a human is having a seizure, it is usually recommended to put a hand, wallet or like object in their mouth to keep them from swallowing their tongue. You do not have to do this with a dog as they are not likely to swallow their tongue. Definitely do not put your hand in their mouth as they will, more than likely, bite you unknowingly.
Breeds more prone to epilepsy
While seizures can affect any part of the brain and in any breed of dog, there are some breeds that are more prone to epilepsy than others. They are:
- German Shepherd
- Irish Setter
- Saint Bernard
- Siberian Husky
- Golden and Labrador Retriever
- Cocker Spaniel
Diet tips for canine epilepsy
Once your dog has gone into several seizures, as mine had, there are treatments through medications and even brain surgery, which can be very costly, and may not be 100% effective. I mentioned earlier that one of the causes could be from nutritional deficiencies. These could be deficiencies such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and also processed foods. One of the best is the BARF diet. This is the Biologically Approved Raw Food diet. Where raw meats are concerned, you want to be careful. Make sure you get high quality meats from a butcher, not those we normally buy in a supermarket as they normally have to be cooked first to eliminate certain toxins before even we can eat them.
Taurine is a good supplement for them. It is a non-essential amino acid that helps to regulate their metabolism, calms their nervous system and aids digestion. The nervous system is important as it affects the brain. Taurine can be found in good quality meats. As for fruits and vegetables, apples (without seeds) are good along with pears, grapefruit and oranges. Fresh vegetables would include broccoli, spinach, celery and carrots. You want to avoid anything with onion, garlic, salts and sugars. Read the label if you’re just sticking to store bought foods. Avoid artificial flavors and colors, soy products and corn. Also, try to avoid a lot of dairy products, as they don’t digest them as well as humans. Avoid complex carbohydrates as they can cause hyperglycemia, which is too much sugar going to the brain, similar to humans and could cause diabetes.
I hope that I have given you some more insight into canine epilepsy, the causes and some dietary tips to, not only help prevent, but also to help in the treatment process in the beginning stages of the disease. As I mentioned, I have firsthand knowledge of this with my dog, who later had to be put down. I wouldn’t want anybody to go the grief I went through when that happened. She was indeed my best friend growing up. If you have any comment or questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to address them.
This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or replace a veterinarian’s medical advice or treatment.