Can Dog Seizures be tied to Food?

by Kerry

I have two brothers - Goldendoodles that just turned 3. The one started having canine seizures at 2-1/2.

We had just changed their food 6 months prior to Blue dog food. We have always fed them good food since they were pups. I am totally freaked out. He has had so much blood work done. He is on Pheno. (lowest dosage) and now thyroid medicine (border hypo-thyroid).

I now question every dog treat or biscuit given to him. His brother is fine. He has been experiencing Grand Mal Seizures since Jan. 2010 - and has them every 2-weeks or so.

I recently took him off of Blue and put him back on Nutro (he does not seem to like as much....) and we went almost 6 weeks without a seizure. He just had one last week (and they are bad).

Please anything that I can research or any information that you can share. These are my babies.....

Editor's Reply

Hi Kerry -

Having personally been through the same agonizing situation, we do empathize with you! See our About Us page   :(

In the future, we will be publishing an article on canine seizures and dog food ingredients. In the meantime, however, here are a few tips to help with your research and ongoing discussions with your veterinarian.

  • Regarding your dog’s hypothyroidism and treatment: According to research on Canine Thyroid Disease by W. Jean Dodds, DVM (Holistic Veterinarian), almost 80% of dogs with seizures have thyroid disease.

    "..Our ongoing study now includes over 1500 cases of dogs presented to veterinary clinics for aberrant behavior. ... Results showed a significant relationship between thyroid dysfunction and seizure disorder, and thyroid dysfunction and dog-to-human aggression."

    However!  She also points out that phenobarbital therapy is known to cause FALSELY low values on some thyroid tests.

    “Drug effects on thyroid binding proteins and thyroid levels do not produce true hypothyroidism, and so treatment with thyroid supplement is unadvisable ....... It is well known that phenobarbital and some other drugs, such as potentiated sulfonamides can affect blood levels of thyroid hormones. With the sulfonamides, after long-term use, a clinically hypothyroid state can be produced.” (

  • Regarding a tie to food. Yes, canine seizures can definitely be caused by a reaction to food ingredients. However, as epilepsy in dogs can be triggered by so many different factors (or even a combination of factors), it can be very difficult to determine the root cause.

    For starters, your doggie will be much better off with something other than Nutro dog food. Have you closely compared the dog food ingredients of the Blue dog food recipe with his present Nutro dog food? Are there any ingredients noticeably absent from the Nutro formula? Keep experimenting with premium dog foods with limited ingredients. Your pooch probably won’t turn his nose down to a good canned dog food. Not only is it more flavorful and palatable to dogs, there are other advantages to feeding wet dog food.

    For full control, your best option could be to make your own homemade dog food so you'll know exactly what ingredients you’re feeding him. Experiment with the different meat proteins to see if there's either an improvement or a deterioration in his seizures. If you decide to go this route, you absolutely need to know what you're doing to ensure your baby is getting all his required nutrients. This book by expert author Patricia Schenck, DVM Phd., Veterinary Nutritionist on Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets is, to date, the only book on homemade dog recipes that we feel comfortable recommending.

  • Avoid feeding rawhide bones, particularly the white, chemically bleached chews!

  • Eliminate foods containing any herbs. There is evidence to suggest herbal extracts such as rosemary may cause canine seizures.

  • Avoid exposure to chemicals and toxins such as household detergents, sprays, chemical flea treatments, etc.

  • Can you draw a link between your dog's seizures and his vaccinations? Dogs can have numerous adverse reactions from vaccinations - including seizures. You might wish to research "annual titer tests" and choose this option as opposed to automatically vaccinating him whether he needs it or not.

  • If you have any niggling questions or concerns that you feel might warrant a second veterinarian opinion, or you need an immediate answer from a qualified vet, the Ask a Veterinarian Online service is a very useful and inexpensive resource.

Be persistent in your research and keep experimenting and trying to find the root cause.

Hard as it may be for you, try to always remain very calm, reassuring and comforting during and after his grand mal seizures.

We hope we've been of some help, and are sending healing cyber vibes your way.

Please come back and update us on his progress, or any other findings you may have.

A call-out to all our other furry visitors: If you have anything at all to add to the topic of canine seizures and dog food ingredients, PLEASE share!

Comments for Can Dog Seizures be tied to Food?

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Flea Meds and Dog Foods.
by: Anonymous

If you dog does have seizures, you should not give him flea meds by mouth. The dogs need to do the liquid formula on the skin on their backs. The dog pills (example Comfortis) that are for fleas can also cause seizure as they use a neurotoxin that causes the fleas and ticks seizures. That's how the fleas and ticks die, they bite the animal and the dog has it in her system and then they die.

Also, I have given my dog bags of dog food without Rosemary as well, as some dog foods cause them even without Rosemary. NATURAL BALANCE LID has a limited amount of ingredients. It works for my dog, she got off her seizures on that dog food.

Duck Jerky Caused Seizures
by: Anonymous

I was giving Sam (6 year old Yorkie-Poo) Dogswell Happy Hips Duck Jerky. Sam has joint issues and would not take the glucosamine the vet prescribed so Happy Hips seemed like a good alternative.

He was having unexplained seizures and incontinence. The vet had no idea what was going on. I read an article about treats from China causing unexplained seizures and death. So I stopped giving him the treats and he stopped having seizures and was on medication for incontinence which eventually went away.

A couple of weeks ago I bought Dogswell duck jerky again because it states that everything in it is from a completely US source. I thought it was safe. Sam almost immediately started having the same neurological issues as before. I quickly discontinued the treats and the symptoms stopped right away. I don't know what is in this product that could cause the issues he was having but I want other pet owners to know what it did to him so they might avoid the same problems with their precious pets.

My Dogs Seizures Stopped.
by: Anonymous

My dog started having them at a later age. The vet thought it was a brain tumor. He was going to put her on a bunch of meds. I told him to let me try something before he does.

I took my dog off all medication (Flea pills and heart worm Pills). I then switched her dog food to Natural Balance LID along with Little Caesars for day meal and I cooked for her a night meal. She was initially eating Blue Buffalo. Her seizures stopped within about 3 weeks. She has not had another since.

I have also found that if I switch her dog food to a very high quality dog food she gets twitches. They look as if she will start to have seizures and when I go back to Natural Balance LID they stop. She can not handle the high quality dog foods. Not sure why. I hope this helps.

by: Martha Philbeck

I have a female that had her first seizure a week after we bred her. she was 4 years old. She had them 3 different times a week apart. I had taken her to a homeopathic vet as I did not want to put her on phenobarbital since she was pregnant. Then the seizures stopped and she had no more until after the pups were weaned. They started up again and every 2 weeks she is having them. She is on phenobarbital. She does not have thyroid problems yet.

I have switched her to a meat and sweet potato dog food. Someone had told me to put her on a gluten free food. she has been gaining weight. The seizures are bad when she has them and I worry about going away and leaving her. Any comments would be appreciated.

4 year old Shih tzu Suffering Seizures
by: Brenda

Hi I have a 4 year old Shih Tzu named Boo. Boo started having seizures about 4 months ago. Boo was on a grain free food, Performatrin Ultra. We thought it was the no grains that were causing the seizures. We changed foods and they were happening once a month. The food I changed him to was discontinued at the store. I therefore changed to Three Dog Bakery Bake to Nature adult formula. My Boo after eating this for two days suffered 4 seizures within 12 hours. He was rushed to hospital where they diagnosed him with epilepsy.

Boo is now on Phenobarbital for the rest of his life. I checked the ingredients on the bag all natural ingredients and NO rosemary. All treats that I serve Boo are all Natural treats. The only thing I find competitive is chicken. Could chicken cause seizures?

Hot dogs and seizures
by: Anonymous

This probably isn't the case with your dog but for anyone else who this might be relevant to, my dog had 3 seizures and I am wondering if they had anything to do with the hot dog my mother gave the dog as a treat the night before.

I read this online:
"Cured Meats-Nitroso compounds in hot dogs, sausages, cured hams, etc. can cause many neurological problems including seizures."

The quote was in regard to humans but it might be the same for dogs.

Dog Food and seizures
by: Anonymous

My Dalmatian started having seizures when she was 6. We joined the epilK9 group and learned tons.

She had about 1 seizure a month for many years until a stay at a boarding kennel where they did not give her her bed or medication, then she had them almost weekly with lots of focals. Eventually, with an up dose in medication she was back to about 1 grand mal per month.

I was feeding Purina Hi-Pro at that time. I finally switched her to a raw diet of Alaska salmon, moose, caribou and whatever veggies and fruits were cheap and on sale, cottage cheese, whatever, all ground together and raw chicken wings whole.

She went from a definite grand mal every 3 weeks to one after 18 weeks and one after another 19 weeks. Huge change! At this time she was now 13 years old and had epilepsy for 7 years.

The sad part is that after such success (and learning about the raw diet too late) she went into status one night and we ended up putting her down. Had she been a young dog we might have tried harder, but at her age and arthritis in a badly broken leg we decided to end the fight.

So, yes, dog food DOES make a difference. I am a very careful label reader now. The raw diet is great, but really hard to keep up. It requires a lot of dedication.

Red food dye - seizure
by: Anonymous

My 3yr old Spitz mix started having seizures & I monitored everything I gave him. Was told to watch food ingredients for corn. But I noticed that foods with Red Food Color seemed to have a connection. I tested it with Beggin Strips and other red treats. Some created seizures within an hour. Cherry freezer ice pops caused a seizure within 4 minutes. Be careful of this and treats that come from overseas, they tend to have chemicals to preserve them that most dogs can't absorb. Good luck

I believe they can be
by: Anonymous

We had a dog that started having seizures after being a normal healthy dog for about 3 yrs. I realized since we had switched her dog food the seizures started. I thought I'd try switching back to the original food to see if the seizures would stop and they did. I don't know what specific ingredient was the cause of the seizures, I was just happy they went away.

seizures and dog food
by: Anonymous

I didn't know rosemary might cause seizures. The dog food my dog has been on for 8 yrs has rosemary in it and my dog started with seizures soon after switching dog foods. Also, recent liver problems(she is 10 y/o) and it has vitamin K3 in it.

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