Ask the Vet: My Dog Has Epilepsy

My dog has epilepsy. She is on phenobarbital but do you usually recommend any change in diet, too?

There have been suggestions that low protein diets are helpful for dogs that have epilepsy.

The only time that low protein diets would have any effect is if a dog’s seizures are because of liver disease. In this case, the liver doesn’t metabolize proteins well, leading to high blood levels of ammonia. This can cause seizures.

In the case of idiopathic (or unexplained) epilepsy, there is no proof that a low protein diet has any beneficial effect at all.

Another suggested diet is known as the G.A.R.D diet – glutamate and aspartate restricted diet. Glutamate and aspartate are chemical transmitters which stimulate the brain. The theory is that if these ingredients are restricted, the brain will be less excited, leading to less seizures. Again, there is no evidence that the amount of glutamate and aspartate in a dog’s diet will cause any problem.

Lastly, some pet owners claim to have had success in controlling epilepsy with a hypoallergenic diet. They feel that food allergies could be contributing to their dog’s seizures. Again, there are no scientific studies that confirm this.

Dogs with epilepsy just need a good quality, balanced diet, so what you are feeding your dog is probably fine. However, if you want to try a low allergy food to see if it helps her, it won’t do any harm at all.

Every week we run a column from Dr. Harvey. If you have a question about your dog’s health, send in a question on our Ask Dr. Harvey form!

The purpose of this column is to educate. DogTipper shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this site. This column does not replace the importance of specific advice from your own veterinarian. If you have any concerns at all about your dog’s health, please make an appointment with your vet.

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About Paris Permenter

Paris Permenter is the founder and co-publisher of LT Media Group LLC. Along with her husband, John Bigley, she edits,, and has authored over 30 books on pets and travel.