As stated by Dr. Shawn Messonnier in his book titled “Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats”, epilepsy is the name given to seizural disorders in dogs and cats for which there is no identifiable cause. Primary epilepsy is the result of functional cerebral disturbances without obvious cause other than a possible hereditary tendency. For a diagnosis of epilepsy to be made, other causes of seizures, including poisoning, infection, tumours and cranial trauma, must be ruled out through diagnostic testing.
While true epilepsy can occur in pets of any age, most commonly dogs and cats with epilepsy begin demonstrating seizures between 6 months and 5 years of age.
Seizures occur in epileptic pets as hyper excitable neurons within the brain that show activity. As the development of progressive and refractory seizures correlates with the number of seizures, early diagnosis and treatment are important in preventing a worsening of future seizures. Generally, conventional anti-epileptic medicine is not prescribed unless the pet has at least one seizure per month, as the goal of treatment is to reduce, rather than to eliminate, seizure frequency, severity and length.
Seizures, regardless of cause, manifest themselves in different ways and are more variable in clinical presentation than in dogs. You may not notice the physiologic state or event (ictal) phase or actual seizure event readily until the signs are more obvious.
- Ictal ;- refers to a physiologic state or event such as a seizure, stroke, or headache. The word originates from the Latin ictus, meaning a blow or a stroke. In electroencephalography (EEG), the recording during a seizure is said to be “ictal”.
- Pre-ictal ;- refers to the state immediately before the actual seizure, stroke, or headache, though it has recently come to light that some characteristics of this stage (such as visual auras) are actually the beginnings of the ictal state.
- Post-ictal ;- refers to the state shortly after the event.
The aura or pre-ictal phase may comprise subtle behavioural changes in the pet that include aggressiveness, pacing, crying, restlessness, hiding, unusual affection, salivation, frantic running, hissing, growling, and anxiety. The aura may last seconds to days, but usually lasts for several minutes.
The post-ictal period can last from seconds to days. This period can manifest as confusion, aimless wandering, pacing, blindness, increased hunger, and changes in sleep / awake patterns.
There is no known cause for primary or idiopathic epilepsy, which is only diagnosed by eliminating other possible causes for the seizures. The age at diagnosis is only one factor in diagnosing canine epilepsy, as one study found cause for seizures in one-third of dogs between the ages of one and three, indicating secondary or reactive rather than primary epilepsy 1.
A number of pets with epilepsy have been reported, through anecdotal reports, to show improvement upon dietary manipulation. Suggested dietary changes, which may decrease a food hyper-sensitivity that causes the pet to seizure, include: diets free of red meat, home made diets free of common dietary allergens, diets free of preservatives, and diets using minimally processed foods. Some pets may also be sensitive to the flavouring in monthly or daily heartworm preventative medications; therefore, using a non-flavoured product may also be helpful when dietary manipulation alone is not successful.
Since seizures are a medical problem, pet parents should not try dietary manipulation without a proper diagnosis and veterinary supervision.
As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.
Principal Natural Solutions
- Natural diet, choline / lecithin, orthomolecular therapy
Supporting Natural Solutions
- Bach flower essences, DMG, taurine, thyroid supplement / glandular, herbs: Ginkgo biloba, Gotu kola, kava kava, skullcap, valerian, B vitamins, magnesium, tyrosine in combination with taurine, bugleweed, dandelion leaf, burdock, red clover
Epilepsy Herbal Support Blend
Before feeding a pet with a medical condition one of our natural diets, please check with your veterinarian first to make sure the diet does not compromise your pet’s health care.
Start by switching your fur kid to natural raw cuisine. Once your fur kids transitioned to raw, typically between 4 and 6 weeks, introduce our Epilepsy Herbal Support Blend into the diet. The Epilepsy Support Blend is used to ease seizure disorders, using 100% natural herbal blend. The Epilepsy Support Blend contains Ginkgo, Gotu Kola, Skullcap, Valerian, Brewer’s Yeast, Dandelion, Rosehips, Turmeric, Rosemary, Garlic, Fenugreek, Kelp and Alfalfa.
These can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies. The natural treatments are widely used with variable success but have not been thoroughly investigated and proven at this time.
Additional Articles and Videos
Good reference articles & videos further reading available at:
- Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, by Dr. Shawn Messonnier (Amazon);
- 8 Natural Remedies For Your Dog’s Seizure (Dogs Naturally Magazine);
- Preventing Seizures (Natural Awakings Magazine);
- The Role of a Natural Healthy Diet in the Management of Canine Epilepsy (Canine Epilepsy);
References and Research
- 1.Podell M, Fenner W, Powers J. Seizure classification in dogs from a nonreferral-based population. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1995;206(11):1721-1728. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7782244.