Health Care
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
Holistic Treatments for Epilepsy in Dogs
A holistic approach to canine epilepsy


Question: My dog was just diagnosed with epilepsy. Are there holistic treatments that will prevent seizures while avoiding the use of harsh medications like Phenobarbital?

Answer: Seizure disorder and epilepsy are common ailments, seen in at least 1 percent of all dogs. Seizures, also known as convulsions, are precipitated by any process that alters normal brain function and causes inflammation. One of the difficulties in treating epilepsy is that your veterinarian may not be able to easily determine the cause of the seizures.

Veterinarians usually arrive at the diagnosis of idiopathic (cause unknown) epilepsy only after systematically eliminating all other causes of seizures, including low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), severe ear infection, head trauma, allergic reaction and reaction to environmental toxins or certain medications, severe vaccine reaction, and finally, brain tumor and liver disease. If your dog experiences a seizure and your vet suspects epilepsy, he or she will want to do a comprehensive blood panel and perhaps x-rays to rule out other possible causes. Once everything else is excluded and a diagnosis of epilepsy is made, most traditional veterinarians will prescribe anticonvulsant medications such as Phenobarbital and potassium bromide to control the symptoms.

Holistic veterinarians look for ways to treat illness on a deeper, constitutional level instead of temporarily palliating the symptoms, and can offer a variety of alternatives to anticonvulsant medication, which can have toxic side effects and cause over-sedation and personality changes when used on prolonged basis. Following is an overview of holistic approaches to treating epilepsy in your pet.

Integrative Options
Acupuncture: In my practice, acupuncture—the ancient Chinese art of inserting fine needles into specific points in the body to gently move energy, or “chi”—is the most effective treatment for canine epilepsy. Initially, I give 20 to 30 minutes of acupuncture once a week for four to six weeks, then every six to eight weeks as needed to prevent further seizures. I often prescribe Chinese herbs in addition to regular acupuncture sessions; additionally, gold-bead implants can be used once a long-term treatment plan is in place.

Diet: Depending on your dog’s specific situation, sometimes diet changes alone can be effective in treating seizures. Numerous case studies have shown a correlation between food allergies and epilepsy. Switching your dog to a hypoallergenic diet or transitioning from an over-the-counter commercial food to home-prepared meals with organic ingredients can prevent seizures and make a huge difference in your dog’s overall health.

Essential Fatty Acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils): Many humans with epilepsy  have been helped by eating a ketogenic diet (high in fat, low in carbohydrates). High fat seems to decrease the excitability of the neurons in the brain, and the addition of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (both of which are found in wild-caught-salmon oil) can decrease seizure frequency and intensity in dogs.

Chiropractic Care: Regular chiropractic adjustments are especially effective in treating cases of epilepsy that follow head injuries or physical trauma, as well as chronic, recurrent ear infections that seem to trigger seizures. Make sure your pet’s chiropractor is a certified veterinary chiropractor with experience in canine epilepsy.

Nutraceuticals: The exact mechanism of action of each supplement is beyond the scope of this discussion, but a variety of vitamins and nutritional supplements have been highly effective in decreasing seizures in dogs. In my practice, we regularly recommend the following for our epileptic patients: DMG (n, n dimethyl-glycine); Choline; taurine; L-tryptophan; magnesium; melatonin; phosphatidylserine; and antioxidants such as vitamins C, A and B complex.

Western Herbs: Many over-the-counter Western herbs, in both capsule and tincture form—including chamomile, milk thistle, skullcap, valerian, oat straw and ginkgo biloba—are used to treat seizures. As with nutraceuticals, always discuss appropriate herbs and dosages with your veterinarian(s) before giving them to your dog.



CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Hety Skyler | June 18 2011 |

Dr. Taylor,

It appears that you don't mention hypothyroidism as a cause for seizures. Hypothyroidism is a major cause of seizures! Many symptoms of hypothyroidsim are apparent but overlooked or not even realized.

Also, heart disease may manifest as kidney failure, at which time it will be too late for the dog. Heart disease may cause low blood pressure which will then diminish blood flow to the kidneys. Very important to check creatinine levels in full blood panel.


Hety Skyler

Submitted by Dr Jenny Taylor | November 3 2011 |

Dear Hety

Thank you so much for your comment- YES hypothyroidism can cause seizures, as can many other metabolic imbalances and brain disorders. It is very important that your veterinarian performs a full blood panel amongst other tests to rule out the many possible causes of seizures in your pet.
There are many reasons a pet may have a seizure- once you and your doctor have ruled out other causes and come to a diagnosis of idiopathic Epilepsy, your pet is often placed on strongly sedating medications like phenobarbital to treat this disorder. This article was addressing a more naturopathic approach to treating idiopathic epilepsy once all other causes are ruled out. Thank you for your comment and allowing me to clarify that point!
Dr Jenny Taylor

Submitted by Jackie | January 20 2014 |

my dog was suffering from seizures, my vet did do a blood panel on him. He has a thyroid problem. He takes 0.8 mg of soloxine every 12 hrs. He did well for almost a year. now his seizures have com back and are severe. Any suggestions of treatment other than synthetic medicines?

Submitted by Colleen | January 25 2012 |

can you put your dog on dmg if he is currently taking pheno?

Submitted by randy | July 2 2012 |

just changed max's diet to wet and dry food with salmon.
one of the best articles that came up. thank you. randy

Submitted by Suze | August 11 2012 |

Forgive me for asking such a specific question in this forum. I have a 6 yr. old German shepherd who developed epilepsy one year ago. He was having focal(head bobbing) seizures once every 3wks. About 7 total until we got them under control. We started him on Epiplus, neurotrophin pmg, neuro-DMG, probiotics, nupro, and coconut oil, and he was seizure free for 7 months. They've now returned and I'm wondering/hoping/praying there is something we can add or are missing? Again I hope it's not inappropriate to ask in this forum but we can't find a holistic vet in NYC(if you know of any -I'd love a recommendation).
Thank you so much for doing what you do. I strongly believe we need to rethink out approach to medicine and without pioneers like yourself it simply won't happen.
Best, suze

Submitted by Anonymous | January 15 2013 |

Hi Suze - My 18-year-old mini doxie has been under the care of a holistic vet and energy worker for about ten years (or so). She has saved Abby's life more than once. Her name is Donna Starita and she runs a clinic in Gresham, Oregon. You don't have to take your pet to her clinic to get help. She uses many techniques in natural healing and I'm sure she can help you or direct you to someone who can. Her number is 503-658-0316. Good luck and God bless you and your pet.

Submitted by elizabeth | January 9 2013 |

Hi and thanks for sharing this info. My mini poodle had seizures a few times a year since she was 7. She is now 13 and in the past month has had many seizures. This past weekend she had about 6 in one day! (short, like 10 - 15 seconds, no loss of conscious). She used to recover very quickly, but now she seems drained after them and uncomfortable. Of course, I took her to the vet, did all the bloodwork and an X-ray, but no identified cause. Her seizures are precipitated by a hacking kind of cough or exhale, like she has something stuck in her throat (but its not collapsed trachea, definitely seizures). So the vet prescribe phenobarbitrol with a liver support supplement. I would normally look for a more holistic approach, but since she had so many seizures, I felt it was more urgent to stop them. She just started the pheno today. Wondering if you think natural approaches could work given the number of seizures she has had? Or where to go from here. Thanks!

Submitted by Dr.Navaz | January 29 2013 |

Dear Elizabeth, Holistic diet really works.U can start with Sancoat(intervet)or glossy coat or nutri coat.They contain omega 3 &6 fatty acids.Avoid carbo's n give protiens.All d best n gd luck.

Submitted by Amy | February 12 2013 |

My dog has epilepsy and is having grand mal seizures on a regular basis. The vet has perscribed Phenobarb. I am desperate to find alternatives which can help her. any advice would be appreiated. Im over in the UK so if you also have an email for the Vet in USA i would be extremely grateful.

Submitted by Paul Tierney | February 26 2013 |

Dr taylor this article is very helpful and I hope that one of the above remedies will work for our Boston Terrier. She is 3yrs old and has been having seizures for about a year now. We have been trying a holistic approach by changing her diet to limited ingredients, and we are currently using melatonin. Nothing has helped her so far. We don't want to put her on "pheno" as she is only having one seizure a week, on the same day of the week, every week. We were wondering if you've ever treated a dog with the same issue of having one seizure a week on the same day? Our veterinarian told us that she was ideopathic epilepsy because she has had more then one seizure. I don't know if I really trust the diagnosis though because of the circumstances of the seizures. Please let me know if you have ever heard of this before, we would really appreciate it because we've exhausted almost every avenue. Thank you. Paul,Brianna, and Mia Tierney.

Submitted by Paul Tierney | February 26 2013 |

Dr taylor this article is very helpful and I hope that one of the above remedies will work for our Boston Terrier. She is 3yrs old and has been having seizures for about a year now. We have been trying a holistic approach by changing her diet to limited ingredients, and we are currently using melatonin. Nothing has helped her so far. We don't want to put her on "pheno" as she is only having one seizure a week, on the same day of the week, every week. We were wondering if you've ever treated a dog with the same issue of having one seizure a week on the same day? Our veterinarian told us that she was ideopathic epilepsy because she has had more then one seizure. I don't know if I really trust the diagnosis though because of the circumstances of the seizures. Please let me know if you have ever heard of this before, we would really appreciate it because we've exhausted almost every avenue. Thank you. Paul,Brianna, and Mia Tierney.

Submitted by Heather Wagner | October 6 2013 |

My Australian Shepherd starting having seizures about 5 months ago and she is only 1 1/2 old. At first they were scattered and now seem to happen every two weeks and only on the weekend. I am curious as the what was shared about the Boston Terrier. She is on Pheno and I have tried a few holistic remedies but to no avail.
Thank you! Bella and Heather Wagner

Submitted by Rita and Tom Clark | August 10 2013 |

Hello Dr Taylor,

We have a 6 y.o. sharpei who has been diagnosed idiopathic epilepsy since he was 3 y.o. Unfortunately his fits have gone worse, although not frequent enough yet (1 month apart, usually from Sept/Oct to Feb/March, although this year he had already one in early July and another one yesterday) to be prescribed an antiepileptic according to our vet. Nonetheless, Balou's fits are now quite severe (2 in a row, lasting 2 to 4 mins) and very distressful to watch. He is on Epitaur 500 since February and has daily treats of baked fish skin. He is also intolerant to wheat. Before considering any antiepileptic treatment, we would like to try a more holistic approach but we leave in England. Do you known a good holistic vet you could recommend us? Many thanks and good wishes. Rita and Tom

Submitted by T. Steele | August 27 2013 |

I have a male Boxer about 7 years of age who just started having seizures. He has had 4 now and they happen on the same time and day of the week. I read about the same issue with the Boston and was wondering if there was any information you could pass along. I did change his diet to grain free a week ago however he had another one this morning. Thank you so much.

Submitted by Dee Hicks | October 19 2013 |

My Boxer, Jester, started to have seizures after given sedation medication prior to a dental procedure. This has been on-going for the last 3 months. I am in nursing school, so he has been quite the patient.

My husband and I notice particular signs & symptoms that he is about to have a seizure. He is very well trained and may eat/drink and simultaneously wet himself. He may display several facial twitches or the classic fly-biting. We also notice off behaviors ( like tryig to jump thru a wall/window) and extreme warmth from his belly or head. Other times, his eyes seem to bulge.

When we see those signs, we dim the lights and place ice packs on his lower back, slowly moving upward. We softly talk to him as we gently stroke his head. We do this from about 30 minutes or until we feel he has cooled off, eyes stop bulging, and he appears "with us", by interacting with his environment.

He is on phenobarbitol, which is working. We suspect that his seizures are probably related to tumors since he has quite a few in his mouth, hence the dental procedure. He does have break-thru seizures from time to time. Some seizures were starting to occur the same day of the week & time (Fridays near 7pm), but applying these methods seemed to break the cylce. Also we add 6mg of melatonin to his night med dose, which helps him relax. His break-thru seizures often occurs at 3am when he is in deep sleep, so reducing those were a must because he was beginning to disrupt the entire household.

At first we were scared & overwhelmed, not knowing how to care for him. He seemed to have a personality change after each seizure & during the first few weeks of giving him meds. He's still a bit different, but is still our loving dog & faithful family member and we could not picture life without him.

Submitted by Roxanne | November 14 2013 |

My English mastiff has had neurological problems since 3 months old but hasn't really affected her a lot except to make it harder to stand than normal and she slides her legs out to lay down plus is a lot weaker and thinner than a normal Mastiff.

I havent expected her to live a full long life with this problem couldn't bare to put her to sleep but surprised she was pretty normal until now.
Shes over 3 now and started with Seizures a few days ago and has had them once a day for 3 days all later in the day.
She spends most of her time in the house not out. Also while shes still not out of the seizure totally she trys to stand up and is falling all over legs flying like a horse on its side knocking things over I feel this has to do with her neurological disease.This is grand mal not some small shiver like my Yorkie had had.
Shes never been diagnosed as exactly what she has as the vet told me it can cost thousands and still not be defined and I dont have that kind of money .
Im assuming this has to do with her condition. Would i be totally wrong to think that?

Submitted by Heather | April 18 2014 |

My mixed min schnauzer has seizures and was put on phenobarbital.I hated his reaction to the medicine so I took him off and he was fine. I took him off in February of this year and he had his first seizure yesterday and this one lasted all morning now I hate myself for taking him off. We took him to the vet and she suggested putting him back on it. He gained so much weight had no energy and as soon as he was off he was back to his old self. My dog is the most important in my life and of course I want him to be healthy so is there another alternative for a seizure med.

Submitted by Crystal | April 24 2014 |

My dog was diagnosed with Idiopathic Epilepsy last August and is on Phenobarbital and Potassium Cloride. I believe his meds are at times sedating him and at times making him hyper and nervous. He acts as if he is starving to death and is still having seizures about once a month. Do you think he would benefit from acupuncture? He is very hard to live with when he's hyper and I'm at the end of my rope. thanks

Submitted by Reyna Trevino | June 7 2014 |

Hello I have a maltese that began having seizures more than a year ago out of nowhere at the age of 8 yrs. I wasnt sure what was causing it since I feed him organic food... pretty healthy . I didnt want to put him on seizure meds after reading side effects... but eventually had to because of the reoccourances. He ewas still having them once in a while while on medication but then I came across a website on pranic healing and saw a testimonial on a dog. I contacted the lady who offered this service. .. long story short I ended up taking my dog and my dog has been seizure free not even one seizure for a year and 4 months so far. I still have him on medication. .. lower dose. .. but doctors are amazed. They thought it was a tumor. You can go to her site www.ellenmoranoph.com. call her ....takes donations. She does amazing work thru distant healing as well... u dont have to go to her. Pls try her. .. tell her reyna trevino sent u. I think it will help. .. she has helped many.

Submitted by Maris Micheal | July 18 2014 |

my daughter had been EPILEPTIC right from when she was five years after undergoing some major operation then in her brain. we have done everything possible to cure this deadly disease but to no avail but thanks to the herbal medication from Dr Samura who was introduced to my family by a friend and just within some couple of weeks of applying the herbal medication my daughter sudden seizure stop. and we have monitored it for the past 3 months now and i can gladly say my lovely Daughter is completely cured, for your genuine herbal medication, i recommend Dr Samura with email
address below: mosthighsolutiontemple@hotmail.com

Maris Micheal

Submitted by Jenn | August 14 2014 |

Hi! Thank you for your information! It's so nice to see someone who "gets' the natural way to help our pets! I was really worried that I would have to let my puppy go to doggy heavan when she started getting seizures. The vet couldn't find anything wrong and just put her on phenobarbatol. The medication made her so sad and lethargic and all she did was lay there with these big sad eyes. I have already changed the diet and got some antioxidants I have been using for several weeks and seen majoprovement. She thinks she is getting a special treat and waits for them after breakfast every morning! http://nzymespetproducts.com/seizures-epilepsy/ (I've started using less and less of the pheno ) She is so much happier and perked up. I am going to look into getting those omega's you suggested!

Submitted by tony beasley | August 19 2014 |

how did your dog act went he was seizure

Submitted by Rogerio Feltes | August 19 2014 |

Hello I'm from Brazil presciço a help to treat my pet suffering from epilepsia.não want to deal with phenobarbital, want to deal with natural supplements and teas therapies etc ... my email: rogerio.feltes.rgs@gmail.com thanks

More From The Bark

Martha Schindler Connors
Needle and Vaccine Bottle
Mardi Richmond
Susan Tasaki
More in Health Care:
Healing with Oxygen
Stem Cell Therapy For Treating Canine Osteoarthritis
Vet Advice: Dry Eye
Titer Testing
Power of Canine Determination
Is It Time?
Saying Good-Bye
What makes a good vet?
The Scoop on Poop