Holistic Treatment Options for Seizures in Dogs and Cats
While some seizures can be fully managed with holistic treatments, alone, many cannot and will need pharmaceutical intervention. In these cases, holistic treatments used in conjunction with the pharmaceuticals can prevent breakthrough seizures and mitigate the side effects of long term use of prescription medications. Please work with a veterinarian when dealing with seizures, no matter what treatment you are using. Also, please remember that seizures are not something to mess with or try to “figure out” without medical support. They are life threatening. Each seizure causes permanent brain damage. When a seizure occurs the muscles in the body contract and the body temperature elevates and will continue to increase during the length of the seizure. Body temperatures have been documented at higher than 108 degrees Fahrenheit 15 minutes post mortem. Please, please, please work with your veterinarian even if you are managing the seizures holistically. If you need suggestions for holistic vets, or those that are supportive of holistic treatments in addition to their allopathic advice, Hero’s Pets is happy to provide you with a list.
Pharmaceutical Medication -
Prescription seizure medication is known to be hard on the kidneys and liver. As a result, many choose to give holistic supplements to assist the kidneys and liver while on the medication.
Prescription seizure medication can be given safely in conjunction with many herbs but there are some that are not safe.
SAFE TO GIVE IN CONJUNCTION:
Kidney support - Herbs such as Dandelion, Astragalus, Bupleurum or Dong Quai can help the kidneys. Also walnuts and goji berries (not acai berries, which are toxic to dogs) are good for kidneys.
Liver support - Herbs such as Milk Thistle, Spirulina, Celendine, Chicory, Peppermint and Yellow Dock are good for the liver
NOT SAFE TO GIVE IN CONJUNCTION:
MAOI (mono-amine oxidase inhibitor) herbs: Passionflower, Kava Kava and Chacruna may not be safe while on prescription seizure medications.
Steroids – check with your vet before giving with seizure meds
Antibiotics – check with your vet before giving with seizure meds
Blood Thinners, high blood pressure medication, heart medication – check with your vet before giving with seizure medications.
Diabetes medication – check with your vet before giving with seizure medications
Herbs - Turmeric is an excellent herb for all around health but it is also a natural blood thinner and should not be used with seizure medication. Also, nervine herbs such as St. John’s Wort, Passionflower and Kava Kava can control some seizures; however, giving these herbs in conjunction with a pharmaceutical seizure medication may be contraindicated. It’s recommended that you work with a vet and/or herbalist if you are considering nervine herbs while using prescription medications.
Ketogenic Diet –
A high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet (a.k.a. "Long Chain Triglyceride Diet" http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet) has been proven to decrease seizures in children by as much as 50%. Dogs and cats are metabolically designed to tolerate high fat diets and therefore don’t suffer kidney stone or high triglyceride level side effects. Their stomachs are much larger, their stomach pH is much lower, their intestinal tracts are shorter, the location and type of digestive enzymes excreted in their digestive processes are different. As a matter of fact, when one researches a dog or cats’ obligatory diet options in the wild they would naturally consume around 48% fat regularly. When domesticated adult dogs are allowed to choose their own foods they actually choose 69% fat. All nerve endings are protected by a Myelin Sheath. This covering works similar to an electrical cord, once exposed it may release the electrical output prior to making it to its destination. Maintaining the outer covering of the cord, the protective sheath, protects the nerve. Research shows that a diet that is high in the right types of high quality saturated fats while eliminating the wrong types of fats is essential in contributing to the rebalancing of the body and, thus, a decrease in seizures and other health concerns
Detox and Diet Considerations-
Some seizures are caused by a build-up of the heavy metals or chemical toxins in the body… detoxifying the body of these substances through a nutritional and/or supplemental process could resolve the seizures. Hero’s Pets can assist you in determining the correct diet for your pets’ specific needs and for your budget. Here are some very basic dietary considerations:
Good things to do:
- Kure Raw, Cultured Goat Milk or Cow Milk Kefir – see below
- Kure Fermented Fish Stock – see below
- Coconut Oil - see below
- Give a starch/sugar/preservative-free snack before bed – imbalances in blood sugar may cause seizures. An all meat jerky or freeze dried treat with 3 ingredients or less, or a raw or dehydrated meat food-snack is ideal.
Things to avoid:
- GMO’s (which means no corn, no soy, no rice, no peas, and generally no grain)
- white potato (which contains inflammatory solanine)
- hot meats (no chicken, no venison, no lamb) which increase the body temperature
Specific diets that we’ve seen work well for seizure pets include:
- Kure Pet Food
- Most non-HPP, higher fat raw or dehydrated raw diets (for more information regarding HPP please ask Hero’s Pets for literature). Low fat proteins (not ideal for seizures) include rabbit, goat, buffalo, elk and turkey. These meats CAN be given to seizures pets in conjunction with raw goat milk, raw cow milk and/or coconut oil.
Coconut oil- This is a very clean and beneficial source of fats that can be used as part of a ketogenic diet, highly beneficial for neurogenic disorders. Extra Virgin (never heated) Coconut Oil provides healthy unsaturated fats into the domestic dog or cats’ diet.
Raw Goat Milk or Raw Cow Milk Kefir – Both supplements will be major players in a great ketogenic diet. They will also assist in building a varied and strong microbiome among many other benefits (please ask us for more information about the many benefits of raw goat milk). Kure is the highest quality brand available. Their goats are 100% naturally fed, humanely raised, provided herbs to increase milk nutrients and breeds are rotated to create a nutritionally complete and diverse product. In addition, Kure is fully raw, never heated and it cultured which increases nutritional benefit for your pet. Their Goat Milk is cultured, and their Cow Kefir uses Kefir to ferment. Rotation of these products provides an unrivaled variety of beneficial bacteria to assist with increased health and intestinal bacterial balance. OC Raw is straight from the goat, fully raw, and still complete. This type of Goat Milk is better if your pet is experiencing Pancreatitis. Increased enzymes (found in cultures) may exacerbate Pancreatic conditions.
Fermented Fish Stock – this contains a HOST of fantastic beneficial vitamins and minerals for nerve protection/support and overall well-being.
- Vitamin D is a primary mediator of the immune system. Known for its function in preventing cancer, regulating minerals, building bones and regulating hormones. It is essential to maintain sufficient levels of Vitamin D to prevent disease. Synthetic Vitamin D can cause calcification of the heart, bone loss, kidney failure, weakened immune function, allergic reactions and toxicity (and is a primary ingredient in Rat Poison) therefore natural whole-food sources of Vitamin D from products like Fish Stock are safer.
- Vitamin D must be received through the diet, not the sun, in all animals with hair/fur. Without Vitamin D other minerals act “drunk” and get lost in the body because Vitamin D is the moderator that instructs them of their jobs. Vitamin D deficiency increases the likelihood of problems with the kidney's (stones/crystals), nervous system, bones, thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, spleen, etc.
- High in Astaxanthin – a natural sunscreen and potent antioxidant
- High in Vitamin B12 – is required for the proper function and development of the brain, nerves, blood cells and many other parts of the body. It’s notoriously used as supplementation for neurologic disorders, diabetes, sleep disorders, depression, weak bones, swollen tendons, IBD, asthma, skin allergies, macular degeneration, Lyme disease, ringing in the ears, MS, and protection against poisons and allergens.
- High in natural Omega 6 and Omega 3 – isolated omega oil supplements (such as Salmon Oil) are often heated (making them carcinogenic), are often preserved with Ethoxyquin (a cancer-causing preservative that is often not listed on the label) and can easily go rancid (increasing the internal toxic load). Kure Fermented Fish Stock offers the healthy Omegas you’re seeking in fish oil without carcinogens, heating, toxic preservatives or rancidity
- Arginine is an amino acid that supports kidney function and has also been found to be particularly beneficial for whole-body inflammation (which seizures can cause)
- CoQ10 (that converts to Ubiquinol) which assists in maintaining heart health and tissue elasticity
Hero’s Pets carries the following lines of CBD products:
Anderson’s CBD by Ambary Gardens – Locally made and organically grown hemp tincture in MCT coconut oil. This is a whole plant product with approximately 0.3% THC or less.
Suzie’s CBD – Treats and tinctures
FACTS ABOUT CBD/THC and HOW YOU SHOULD USE IT: (there is a LOT of info we could put here…so instead we have another article dedicated to CBD that we recommend reading in conjunction with the brief summary below)
- CBD/THC products must often be used for two weeks prior to seeing full results.
- All mammals naturally produce endocannabinoids and we have cannabinoid receptors throughout our central nervous system, immune system, GI tract, and elsewhere
- Phyto cannabinoids (there are over 400!) occur in different concentrations in the hemp/marijuana plant and these act on the body by simulating our own endocannabinoids.
- THC particularly targets the receptors in the central nervous system and CBD targets numerous cannabinoid receptors throughout the body along with serotonin receptors, opioid receptors, and others
- THC and CBD are the most researched of the many cannabinoids and CBD has shown great results in seizure control studies, but only when used as a “whole plant” product in conjunction with THC and the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in the hemp plant
- Hemp products do not interact negatively with medication; however, they can affect metabolization of certain medications that require the P450 enzyme. Due to this please consult with your veterinarian regarding your pet’s specific medications. Most anti-convulsant medications do utilize the P450 enzyme making this an important consideration when working with your veterinarian on dosing.
- Hero’s Pets chosen CBD lines are CO2 or ethanol extracted
- THC is the cannabinoid that causes psychotropic effects, however, CBD mitigates these effects at near equivalent ratios (high THC content products) and it blocks these effects at higher ratios (industrial hemp products are VERY low in THC) so there is no concern for getting your dog “high” or “stoned” when using these products.
- Both THC and CBD can safely be given to pets in appropriate doses
- It is possible to create unwanted and potentially dangerous side effects with human recreational or medical marijuana products as these have higher THC content. Side effects of THC overdose are: ataxia, excessive drooling, urinary incontinence, decreased respirations, hyper-aesthesia, light sensitivity, low body temperature or fever. These side effects can create complications requiring veterinary intervention if they become severe. Please seek medical care if you are concerned.
- Luckily, there are many products available at Hero’s Pets that contain either no THC, or low enough amounts to still provide added medicinal benefits without fear of negative repercussions.
- There are a variety of strains of Hemp that produce varying ratios of CBD and THC, which potentiate each other. (http://www.projectcbd.org/news/cbd-misconceptions/) Therefore, THC is not "removed" from the products that Hero's Pets carries. Rather, they are naturally occurring high CBD, THC-free or low THC products. Hero’s Pets only carries products sourced from Hemp
Pretty much all herbs that are used for calming are also beneficial for seizures as they obviously affect the functions of the brain and have either a sedative, depressant or otherwise calming effect on brain function.
Herbs for epilepsy are those that increase and enhance oxygen flow throughout the body and/or calm the brain:
Oxygenating: Gotu Kola, Gingko Biloba, Ginseng, Holy/Blessed Thistle, Black Walnut Hulls, Cayenne, Ginger, Fo Ti, Mistletoe, Calamus, Green Tea.
Calming: Skullcap, Kava Kava, Passionflower, Chamomile, Astragalus, Valerian, Lavender, Damiana
You can purchase a product like Dr. Harvey's Relax or I can make you a custom blend.
To choose a homeopathic you have to identify which one matches the MOST (not all) symptoms for the individual. Link through to these and try to find which matches the closest to the most number of symptoms. Once you find that let us know and we'll help go from there.
Essential oils: Marjoram, Lavender, Peppermint, Balance by DoTerra, Frankincense or Vetiver. It is best that these oils be inhaled or diffused. There are studies that show that dogs don't really like Lavender or respond to it like people do so Vetiver is often preferred for dogs. Also, if there are cats in the house it's very important to use Essential Oils in a EXTREMELY diluted form only, and if you are diffusing them please ensure your cat can get far enough away from the area to avoid the effects of the oils. A study was conducted where peppermint essential oil was injected into mice, this stopped all seizures and had post treatment survival of 100%. Anecdotally, peppermint has helped many seizure dogs snap out of an active seizure.....there are also a lot of reports of frankincense having the same ability. Balance is also indicated and makes a good deal of sense, since it is a grounding blend which will aid with calming your pet both mentally and physically. In my experience, most dogs really like the smell. Administration and frequency is determined by a number of factors, please ask for assistance.
Flower Essences: Heather, Impatiens, and Water Violet are considered effective in seizure management. We also have a blend by Pet Essences called Seizures that was formulated specifically for daily use in seizure control and is an excellent starting point.
Track the moon: There is some research that shows that brain activity and seizures increase around a full moon. IF you can make a connection it can be helpful to increase flower essences, essential oils and herbs a week or so on each side of a full moon to decrease the effects and likelihood of a seizure during that time. Not all seizures link to a full moon but it is a simple process to track seizure frequency for a few months in correlation to the cycle of the moon in order to determine if this has any value for your pet.
In Conclusion: There are many causes of seizures, some of which we still don’t fully understand. Often there are many factors in deciding what supportive modalities are best for each individual. We are not recommending starting EVERYTHING all at once, this can be overwhelming to an already stressed system AND once everything is started…if it works you’ll have to continue everything or risk breakthrough seizures. Please allow us to work with you and your pet in building the best possible plan.