New Treatment Tool for Canine Epilepsy

This January at the North American Veterinary Conference Purina revealed their new therapeutic diet, Neurocare.  This diet gives veterinarians and pet owners of epileptic dogs another treatment method to help with seizure control.

Epilepsy can be a devastating diagnosis for dog owners.  This chronic disease can shorten the lifespan of dogs and affects their quality of life.  Owners find the unpredictability of when a seizure will happen and the side-effects of the various medications difficult to deal with.  Any treatment that can potentially decrease seizure frequency and lessen side-effects gives new hope for managing this disease.

Treatment of epilepsy requires a holistic approach encompassing anti-epileptic drug therapy, managing the animals stress level, identifying seizure triggers and now nutrition.  The Neurocare diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate and low protein diet that uses medium chain triglycerides to change brain metabolism.  This type of diet has been shown to be effective in children but is difficult for adults to tolerate as it is a very strict and regimented diet.

Purina tested the Neurocare diet by running a very well-designed study with Dr. Holger A. Volk, a veterinary neurologist at the Royal Veterinary College in England.  Twenty-one dogs with severe epilepsy, concurrently treated with anti-epileptic medications, were fed Neurocare kibble for 3 months.  Seventy-one percent of the dogs showed a decrease in seizure frequency, and remarkable 14% of the dogs stopped having seizures.  These dogs had no change in their drug levels, weight or behaviour and showed no side-effects with the diet.

This new diet is not a cure for epilepsy and at this time is not recommended as a sole treatment for epilepsy it is another tool to be used in the holistic approach to seizure management.  Neurocare is currently available in the US and should be available in Canada sometime this year.

Written by Dr. Dana Cini, DVM