Medium-chain triglycerides and seizure control in dogs

July 10, 2020

A new study shows that dogs fed a diet high in medium-chain triglycerides had a significant reduction in seizure frequency compared with control dogs.

Why they did it

Seizures and epilepsy, among the most common neurologic conditions in dogs, are typically treated with anti-seizure medications. Because many anti-seizure drugs come with significant adverse effects, it can be difficult to balance the need for seizure control while maintaining the dog’s quality of life. Additionally, about a third of dogs continue to have seizures despite anti-seizure drug therapy.

Dietary modification for seizure management has been studied extensively in humans. A new veterinary study analyzed whether a diet high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) would help control seizures in epileptic dogs currently treated with anti-seizure medication.1

What they did

Twenty-eight pet dogs with idiopathic epilepsy were included in the randomized, double-blinded, multicenter, placebo-controlled, crossover study. The dogs had no bloodwork abnormalities, had previous normal cerebrospinal fluid analysis and magnetic resonance imaging findings, had at least three seizures in the previous three months, were currently being treated with at least one anti-seizure drug and were categorized as resistant to at least one of those drugs.

Dogs in the study group received a daily oil-based supplement high in MCT, while those in the control group received regular olive oil. Seizure frequency was then monitored for three months, after which the study dogs received the placebo and the placebo group received the MCT supplement for another three months.

What they found

Study dogs had a significant reduction in seizure frequency (number of days per month on which a seizure occurred) vs the control group. Two dogs were seizure free, three had a 50% or greater reduction in seizure frequency, and 12 had a reduction in seizure frequency. However, 11 dogs showed no response.

Take-home points

A diet high in MCTs may be a useful tool for managing seizures in dogs. While the response does not appear to be as striking as for first-line anti-seizure drugs, a high-MCT diet has significantly fewer potential side effects and appears to be well tolerated.

Reference

1. Berk BA, Law TH, Packer RM, et al. A multicenter randomized controlled trial of effect of medium‐chain triglyceride dietary supplementation on epilepsy in dogs. J Vet Intern Med. 2020;34:1248-1259.

Dr. Nappier is assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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