Canine Epilepsy and Diet

John B. Symes, D.V.M.  (aka " Dogtor J ")                                                                                                            Dogtorj

As you probably know, the dietary control of epilepsy is one of the main focal points of my Website. You may have seen it by now but here is the link to the Epilepsy and Diet section on the new Website


I know that my Website can be a bit overwhelming. It has gone from a simple site with a few articles to a major collection of papers over the years. But, the more you understand about the diet, the better success you will have. You will even come to understand the seasonal nature of seizures if you have not already made note of that pattern.


The first thing to read is The Epilepsy Diet Made Simple. It explains the rationale behind the diet, which is the removal of "the big 4"- gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy and corn. These are the top 4 human and pets food allergens and the main ones that damage our ability to absorb nutrients from the small intestine. They are also loaded with proteins (glutamate and aspartate) and estrogens that over-stimulate the brain, just as MSG and Nutrasweet can do.


The next thing to read is How to Control Idiopathic Epilepsy Naturally. It is a step by step paper on what to do and discusses some auxiliary measures/testing. It discusses thyroid and liver testing, supplements (which can be very important), and other things that can be done to help stop seizures. If a pet (or a person) does not do well or respond quickly, then blood tests can be done to evaluate thyroid and liver function.Low thyroid is the number one reason for epileptic dogs to continue seizing on the diet (other than cheating ). Same for people. In fact, I just heard about a case of human epilepsy in which the person had been seizing for years: They went on the diet and improved greatly but their seizures did not completely stop until the low thyroid was finally diagnosed properly. This is commonplace for the dog. Liver diseases can also worsen seizures as this important organ is the principle one that harvests dietary glutamate (glutamic acid) from the bloodstream. In Lyme areas, blood tests can also be done to rule out that condition if seizures persist beyond the diet change. Lyme disease is gaining more and more notoriety in playing a role in autism and epilepsy.  


You can then read over the other papers in the epilepsy sections that deal with other aspects of seizures, including their seasonality. We typically see a big spike in seizures in spring and fall and then again during the “dog days of summer” (July 3- August 11). This is all very explainable and quite fascinating. If you would like to read the transcript of one of my veterinary conference lectures on epilepsy, you can read Food Intolerance, Epilepsy and The G.A.R.D.


The main veterinary diets that I recommend are those that are potato/sweet potato-based (e.g. Dick Van Patten Natural Balance Venison and sweet potato, Canidae Grain-free or Wellness CORE) or those that are rice-based (e.g. Life’s Abundance or any of those on my Recommended Pet Foods section. At least initially, the potato-based diets are preferable because they are the lowest in glutamic acid, the amino acid we are restricting to halt seizures quickly. Rice is a healthy grain (unless the pet is allergic t it) but it has more of this amino acid than potatoes. My favorite diet right now for the initial control of seizures is the Dick Van Patten Venison and Sweet Potato. You can then read the paper below my signature to see what supplements I recommend, the most important of which are vitamin D3, omegas, B complex, C, and magnesium.


Once again, the diet has been phenomenally successful for pets and the rapidly rising number of people who have employed it, having absolutely no down side except for the sacrifices that need to be made. There is nothing even remotely risky about cutting out these top four food allergens or the food additives that cause so many problems in people (MSG, aspartame, artificial preservatives/colors/sweeteners, etc.). There is nothing that we or our pets need from the “big 4” foods that cannot be gotten from multiple other sources that are much healthier for us all. In fact, my research into the origins of the “big 4” shows how they were all serious mistakes to begin with.


It should all make sense by the time you've read these things.  The diet will help. It has yet to fail to produce measurable results, with most experiencing a drastic reduction in the number and severity of seizures. If you need further help, I am available for phone consultations on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday.


I do hope this helps.




John B. Symes, D.V.M.  (aka " Dogtor J ")






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