Can Raw Dog Food cause Seizures?

Updated on January 24, 2022

Can Raw Dog Food cause Seizures?

Understanding Epilepsy in Dogs

Seizures can be caused by a number of triggers in dogs, including ingesting poison and or other toxic substances. These triggers also include low and high blood sugar, electrolyte imbalances or other metabolic reasons.

The most common cause of seizures in dogs is idiopathic or primary epilepsy. The cause of this disorder is unknown. In other words, there is no underlying identifiable disease, nothing “provoking” the seizures, and the dog is otherwise healthy. There are several “types” of seizures. The major groups are generalized, focal, and unknown seizures. Some breeds are also more genetically predisposed to having seizures and epilepsy.

Can Food Cause Seizures?

The more pertinent question is whether or not food can cause seizures, not just raw food. Upon further research you will find many contradictory writings on this topic. However, most research is focused on common neurological disorders associated, and we have not been able to find any associated to food.

We therefore have to conclude that food causing seizures are highly unlikely. What we have found, is some good advise from Dr Jean Dodds regarding certain dietary ingredients.

Dogs prone to seizures should not eat the following:

Foods that promote inflammation. Inflammation affects every organ in the body, including the brain, so it probably comes as no surprise that inflammation can cause seizures. Dogs prone to seizures should not consume any potentially inflammatory ingredients, including foods that trigger allergies or intolerances / sensitivities, such as chemical additives, wheat, corn, soy, beef or cow’s milk products— but remember that it can also include any food that causes a problem for an individual dog. In particular, never give products containing gluten to dogs with seizures, since gluten is specifically linked with neurological disorders, including epilepsy, and promotes autoimmune thyroiditis​1​ .

Foods that cause fluctuations in blood sugar. Sugars can disrupt the body’s equilibrium or homeostasis, possibly leading to seizures​2​ . Avoid giving seizure-prone dogs carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (GI), including honey, sugars, white rice, wheat, corn, white potatoes, carrots, and peas.

Foods containing glutamate and aspartate. Glutamate and aspartate are two excitatory non-essential amino acids​2​. Foods high in these amino acids include: grains, especially wheat, barley and oats; all cow’s milk products (opt instead for goat’s milk, which is much lower); beans, especially soy, pinto, lima, black, navy and lentils; nuts, especially peanuts, cashews and pistachios; seeds, including sunflower and pumpkin; any food sweetened with aspartame, such as NutraSweet and Equal; rabbit; turkey; and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a glutamine salt. MSG is used in many prepared foods and can appear on pet food labels under a number of pseudonyms, including “hydrolyzed vegetable protein”, “soy protein extract” and “textured vegetable protein​3​ . These foods should also be avoided in dogs with liver disease.

Rosemary and oregano. Rosemary is commonly added as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to pet foods. While likely fine for most dogs, it is a neurotoxin that can promote seizures in vulnerable dogs. Oregano is also a powerful neurotoxin and should not be fed to epileptics.

Vitamin / mineral deficiencies and seizures. Many vitamins and minerals are important for normal functioning of the nervous system. Deficiencies in the minerals calcium, magnesium and sodium, for example, can affect electrical activity of brain cells and result in seizures​2​. Calcium and magnesium, as well as zinc, are also referred to as sedative minerals because they are calming for the nervous system​3​. Antioxidant vitamins (A, C and E) help boost the immune system and fight inflammation. Perhaps the most important vitamins to protect against seizures are the B vitamins.

Research and References

  1. 1.
    Kresser C. Thyroid Disorders. The Gluten-Thyroid Connection.
  2. 2.
    Stafstrom CE. Dietary Approaches to Epilepsy Treatment: Old and New Options on the Menu. Epilepsy Currents. Published online November 2004:215-222. doi:10.1111/j.1535-7597.2004.46001.x
  3. 3.
    Wilson L. Epilepsy and Seizures. L.D. Wilson Consultants.