A ketogenic diet for dogs helps prevent seizures in dogs with epilepsy, according to a recent trial published in the British Journal of Medicine.
Of the 21 dogs in the trial, seven experienced a 50% reduction in seizure frequency, while three became seizure free, said study author Tsz Hong Law, of the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, United Kingdom.
Less than one percent of dogs have epilepsy, yet it is one of the most common neurological disorders in dogs.
Should your pet switch to a ketogenic diet for dogs to treat his or her epilepsy?
If your pup isn’t epileptic, why choose a ketogenic diet?
If your pup is healthy, should you avoid a ketogenic diet for your dog?
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Ketogenic diets include a high ratio of fat compared with protein and carbohydrates.
The high fat content of the diet results in the conversion of fat to ketones – short-chain fats produced by the liver – which the body uses as energy in place of carbohydrates.
Humans have treated epilepsy with ketogenic diets since the 1920s.
However, it hasn’t been extensively studied in dogs.
Why Choose a Ketogenic Diet?
In addition to a potential reduction in seizures in epileptic dogs, ketogenic diets are also gaining popularity for cancer treatment.
In 1924, Otto Warburg theorized cancer feeds on sugar, which is what carbohydrates become during digestion. However, cancer does not process fats well.
As such, Warburg concluded patients could cut out sugars and carbs to slow cancer growth.
KetoPet Sanctuary outside Austin, Texas utilizes the Warburg theory. The nonprofit sanctuary rescues dogs with terminal cancer.
KetoPet claims to cure dog cancer with a combination of a ketogenic diet, metabolic conditioning (strenuous exercise), and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
However, their findings are not scientifically proven.
Why Avoid a Ketogenic Diet?
Ketogenic diets are problematic for diabetic pets, because you have to lower morning insulin doses to prevent hypoglycemia, according to Dr. Marc Smith, co-founder of PET | TAO and practicing veterinarian at Natchez Trace Veterinary Services.
Additionally, dogs are more resistant to ketosis than people.
Because dogs are carnivores, they adapt to long spans of time between meals. As such, ketogenic diets have a greater impact on humans than dogs.
Furthermore, dogs risk getting pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas – in high dairy fat diets.
What’s the Best Way to Feed My Dog?
Always contact your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet’s diet.
If you need a resource for finding a local holistic vet, click here.
PET | TAO recommends a diet combining Western nutritional standards and Eastern Food Therapy philosophies.
Pet parents who cook for their pups can find PET | TAO homecooked recipes here.
Don’t have time to cook for your pet?
Check out our TCVM Food Therapy line of canned dog food and treats.