Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I have accidentally out found something that I want to share. This may not have any bearing in your life, but you may know someone that it might help. I have mentioned before that my dog Mighty is subject to seizures. He has had them since the day he wandered through my gate as a stray.

They only occur about once a month but they are so very frightening for him. He never loses consciousness, but goes stiff legged, shakes, drools, and is wild eyed terrified. There is no consoling him. I can only hold him wrapped in a towel till they pass in about 5 minutes.

The veterinarians can put him on phenobarbital but I hate to give him such a strong chemical every day for something that use to occur only about once a month. Unfortunately, the frequency was increasing.

Activity levels seemed to have no bearing. I kept a journal trying to see if there were any triggers that maybe we could avoid. Eventually, I just settled for the fact that it was a part of him and just did my best to comfort him when they happened. The vets call it idiopathic seizures, meaning they do not know the cause.

Several months ago, Mighty hurt his leg and after surgery to rebuild his ligaments, he was subjected to 90 days of therapy. This was his second leg, the first one he had ruptured three years earlier. So we were both use to the drill.

At first he needed pain medication so I changed his food from dry to wet to make sure he had something on his stomach for the medicine. Boy, did he like that so I continued with the wet food as a bit of a reward for the pain he was having to go though.

He made it through the 90 days quite well and he even chased a rabbit a while back. Trust me, the rabbit was in no danger and I think actually enjoyed the chase as much as Mighty. They were both running at half speed.

It was about the same time that I realized that Mighty had not had a seizure the whole time he was in recovery. I had been so concerned about the leg that I just hadn't noticed. I made note of it, thinking perhaps the lack of vigorous exercise might have been the cause.

Then last week, it was time to buy some more of his wet food and I thought I would just finish up the bag of dry that was still 3/4 full. I prefer the dry food for it is better for his teeth. He was greatly disappointed with his dish, but being a bit of a chow hound, he gamely finished it off. That afternoon, he had his first seizure in over 3 months as he lay on the bed. Yes, it could have been a coincidence but that is pretty much a stretch.

This set off flags waving and I compared the ingredients in both types of dog foods. The one ingredient not found in the wet food was gluten. So I jumped on my computer and did some research. There are many articles that say gluten intolerance can trigger a humans seizure, so why not a dog or cat?

This is just one of the many articles on the subject. Go to the section on "The Possible Connection between Grains and Seizures."

Of course there is a way I can test quickly to see it this is Mighty's problem. I can just withhold the wet and put him back on the dry. However I can't bring my self to do something that may cause him to suffer another seizure. They terrify him. So I am doing the slow , unscientific approach to research. I am continuing his gluten free diet and if he later still has a seizure, then I will know my theory was all wrong. If he never has another, then I found the trigger.

If you have a pet with a seizure problem or know someone who does, perhaps you might want to try a gluten free diet. It really can't hurt and hopefully it will help.

Eukanuba makes a dry gluten free food which I am picking up tomorrow and will try. Plan to just mix the wet and dry. I will do what it takes to help my little fellow. If he has a seizure on this new diet, I will let you know.

Maybe some of this will be of help to you or someone you know who has an afflicted pet. It has really given me hope.


  1. WOW. Luckie has idiopathic seizures and is on lowest dose PB. Her seizures were 3 times a month until I put her on PB.

    Recently, the vet suggested I put her on Glucosamine/Chondroitin/ Despite the PB, she had some very unusual spells--sorta like petit mals, lots of lengthy stretching and conscious but not alert.

    Her skin and hair have had a change in texture and lots of skin flakes no fleas. She is on Pedigree. Will consult my vet. Glad to know of one brand without gluten.

    I am going to see how closely related Gluten and Glucosamine might be.

    Luckie was not a seizure dog when we first adopted her. But she was 5 years younger, too.

    Thanks for article.

  2. How lucky you were able to find out what caused them - at least I hope that will be the case and that he never has another one. I've never seen an animal have a seizure, but I am sure it is frightening for you both.

  3. You are unbelievable !!! Mighty must be mighty lucky to have you. That's so sweet. I mean, to examine your pet and do a serious diagnosis is something remarkable. Great Patti !

  4. I assume you've found a source of Eukanuba. There is a Pet specialty store in Mountain Home by the WalMart Superstore.

  5. How interesting, Patti... I often wonder about different ingredients in foods and how they effect us (and animals). That is interesting about gluten--and Mighty.

    My Duchess ate mostly 'wet' dog food--but we kept those hard biscuits and bones for her --which helped her teeth. Glad you found a dry dogfood that doesn't have gluten in it.

    Thanks for the info. VERY interesting!

  6. That would be a wonderful thing to have discovered...hope that's the answer to Mighty's seizures...

  7. Good for you to figure this out and I bet you are on the money!
    Low calsium will also cause seizures. I got the call, got to go get baby girl! :)

  8. Here is a site I found:

    written by veterinarian.

  9. Our kitty cat has seizures, and has had them since the day my SIL found him and brought him into our lives. He only has them when he's sleeping deeply, and they are so profound that he literally hurls himself off of whatever surface he happens to be sleeping. Sometimes that means a terrible thud to a hard floor. It would be interesting to see if his vet-prescribed food (he's prone to urinary tract infections) has gluten in it. I'm sure all the other foods he's ever eaten has had it. I often wonder what we are feeding our pets, since even human food has questionable quality these days.

    Great research, patti. You are an intrepid detective!

  10. Nitwit,
    Each dog may have their own particular food intolerance much as people do. I don't know about glucosamine/chondroitin as I have had Mighty on that per vet recommendation since his first surgery three years ago.His seizures have gone on for over 10 years.
    Just got back from Mountain Home/Petco and after a ton of reading-think I may have found a gluten free food.
    Nature Balence-- Grain free.
    That site you found was one of the ones I had also checked. There is a lot of material out there.
    Good luck with Luckie.

    I sure hope so Judy. If you could see the terror in his eyes when one is coming on, you would do what ever you could to stop them. Got my toes crossed.

    I am beginning to think that wet food may be the best choice for dogs. They have less fillers. If Mighty would just let me brush his teeth, I could ignore even thinking dry. He doesn't like those biscuits. He is such a fussy little prude.

    Me too and to think it all came by accident.

    4th Sister,
    It will totally be wonderful if this is the cure.

    Sure hope so. Am expecting lots of pictures of the new baby. Hope every one adjusts.

    Thanks, it just was too quick a reaction to be a coincidence. Hope you can maybe find a relation to food and seizure with your cat. He really has violent ones.
    I look at gluten in dog food like high fructose corn syrup in humans. There is no need for either yet manufacturers insist on putting them in our food. Just a cheap way to go. Good luck with your kitty.

  11. lostworld,
    Like I told kenju, to see him go through a seizure and to see such fear in his eyes, you want to do what ever you can to stop them.
    It was just a very lucky break that I found it.

  12. Thanks for posting that, whilst we currently don't have a pet that has those problems, you never know when the info might come in handy. It is most interesting that gluten can cause seizures, something that I would never have thought of. Years ago we had a dog that had them very occasionally, and they were distressing for all concerned.
    Hope Mighty continues seizure free, and the marvels of new joints soon allow a closer (but not too close!) wiff of rabbit!

  13. Maybe Mighty is a super smart dog and is faking the seizures to get wet food!!!! :-)
    Well done on noticing a trigger to the seizures.

  14. My daughter has a gluten allergy and has had to change her diet drastically. I've never thought about a dog with the problem, though. I'll bet you are right.

  15. Peter,
    Thanks so much. So far so good. Think the rabbits are safe. Even at his best speed, they had little to fear. It is just sport for him.

    You know you might be right. He is really getting off on this meat diet.
    Do hope this is the answer.

    Janie B
    I am so sorry that your daughter has the allergy. I hear more and more of people discovering the intollerance. Hope she has adjusted OK.

  16. it's amazing how many things there are to consider when caring for our sweeties

    I hope the new diet works for Mighty

  17. It is wonderful that you share your experience and observations with us! Our dog has only recently been put on special dry food from the vet because the store bought ones contain ingredients that apparently do not agree with him. For the same reasons he is also not allowed to eat any commercial canned food. My husband cooks chicken for him now, with occasionally a bit of rice added.

    I have heard about quite a few dogs who suffered needlessly from common commercial pet food.

  18. Boy, that sure sounds right to me..! I think you are smart to stop using the dried food with Gluten.....Sometimes doctors and Vets too, overlook the importance that food can make, never thinking something comes from a Food Allergy!
    Poor Mighty...those seizures sound Horrific! But nmybe those days of the seizures are done now. I will cross my fingers!

  19. Wow, very interesting. I'm glad I read this. I will also pass this info on to Ken. Thank you!!

  20. I surely hope the gluten-free diet will eliminate Mighty's seizures. You were quite a detective in determining a possible cause. Keep us posted.

  21. Dianne,
    Thanks, I know you feel the same way.They can't tell us what is wrong with them so we must observe.(though I have a friend whose dog can tell her but that is for another post if I can't get her to do it on her blog. Hopefully she will tell the story.)

    Unfortunately most dog food makers go the cheapest route. Gluten is used as a filler. Way to go "husband" with the chicken.
    Hope he cooks for you too.

    Vets are like doctors and are weak in matters of nutrition. It just isn't taught. That is why we have to do a lot of this stuff on our own. Thank you for your crossed fingers, mine are too.

    Cheffie Mom,
    Sure hope it helps. Am almost postive it can't hurt. It was just pure luck I found it.

    Thanks,me too. It would just have to be a raging coincidence if it is not the trigger. Will let you know.

  22. I think you're onto something. I hope Mighty thrives on the new dog food.

  23. Mighty is lucky to have you looking out for him! Very glad you two happened upon the cause of his seizures. The internet is a wonderful resource – what did we ever do without it? Give Mighty a pat from me!

  24. That would be great news if that works. Your are very thoughtful lady.
    Great Post.

  25. This is so interesting and what i can say is that this post is worth reading !! Nice one.Unseen Rajasthan

  26. Betty,
    Thanks so much, I sure hope so.Somethimes the answers to the hardest questions, are the simplest.

    I too wonder how I stumbled through life without the Internet. Mighty enjoyed the pat and said thanks.

    Boy, I sure hope it is the answer. Thanks so much.

    Unseen Rajasthan,
    Thanks you so much. I enjoy yours also.

  27. We had once a cat that got seizures and they stoppen when his sister died. At the time I had read an article about a lion that suffered from seizures. This was explained as being triggered by jealousie. As soon as our cat had one of his seizures again we cuddled him and pampered him. He was such a cute animal.He lived to be 19, but then he was very thin and frail.

  28. Wil,
    That is about all you can do when they have one. I guess there are all sorts of seizures.
    Your cat lived a nice long life so evidently, you were doing the right thing for him.

  29. My two year old cat started having seizures in March 2007. He had six by September that year. In September, he also had urinary tract problems and we put him on wet food, with no grains or gluten. He has not had a seizure since. Coincidence? Not sure either. But there us a vet called Doctor J who believes gluten does have an impact.

  30. Robert,
    Thank you for stopping by and I am so glad you have found a relief for your cat.
    I do believe that this can be a cause. Mighty has been seizure free for 5 months.