5 Holistic Treatments for Epilepsy in Dogs · The Wildest

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5 Holistic Treatments for Epilepsy in Dogs

Watching your pet suffer a seizure can make you feel helpless. We asked three veterinarians to weigh in on natural remedies that show promise

by Daniela Lopez | expert review by Dr Sam Wheelwright BVSc MRCVS
31 October 2023
Redhaired woman holding her Rhodesian ridgeback dog
ververidis / Adobe Stock

Epilepsy and dog seizures can be frightening and frustrating for pet parents. If your dog has seizures, you’re not alone: canine seizures are common ailments seen in at least one percent of all dogs. But knowing canine seizures are common doesn’t make the experience any less stressful for you and your pup.

Whilst your dog‘s veterinarian should always be the first port of call, the good news is that there are many safe, natural, holistic treatment options that can prevent or reduce seizures in dogs. But first – what are seizures, and what causes them in dogs?

A seizure, also known as a convulsion or a fit, is a neurological condition. Seizures are a sudden involuntary physical response to excessive electrical activity in the brain. When a dog suffers from chronic or recurring seizures, it’s called canine epilepsy. One problem in treating epilepsy in dogs is that it is often difficult for vets to determine the cause.

What causes seizures in dogs?

“The causes for seizures are often unknown and dogs are diagnosed with canine epilepsy. However, some events can lower a dog’s seizure threshold,” says Dr Angie Krause, a vet at Boulder Holistic Vet in Colorado, USA. “For some dogs, events like visitors, travel, storms and loud noises can trigger stress. This can, in turn, cause seizures.”

There are three basic types of triggers that can alter a seizure threshold: extra cranial (problems outside of the brain), intra cranial (problems with the brain itself) and idiopathic (meaning unknown reason). Low blood sugar, allergic reactions, environmental toxins, certain medications, head trauma, meningitis, brain tumours and liver disease can all cause seizures.

If your dog experiences a seizure and your vet suspects epilepsy, they will perform a complete evaluation, including a blood panel, to root out potential causes. If nothing is discovered after thoroughly evaluating your dog, a vet will typically diagnose your dog with idiopathic epilepsy.

When a diagnosis for epilepsy in dogs is made, traditional veterinarians will often prescribe anticonvulsant medications such as phenobarbital and potassium bromide for treatment of the symptoms. Unfortunately, there have been numerous reported side effects of phenobarbital treatment in dogs. Unpleasant side effects include negative personality changes such as anxiety, agitation, nervousness, pacing and whining, in addition to physical side effects including lethargy, incontinence and vomiting.

The role of a holistic vet is to provide options to treat dog seizures that can either complement (or, in some cases, replace) traditional medical treatment. Holistic vets will look for natural alternative approaches to treating epilepsy in your dog with fewer side effects and can work alongside your regular vet. The following is an overview of holistic approaches to treating epilepsy in your dog.

Natural remedies for dog seizures


Acupuncture, the ancient Chinese practice of inserting needles into specific points in the body, is often used to remedy idiopathic canine epilepsy. Studies have shown that the positive benefits of acupuncture on canine epilepsy are likely a result of increasing inhibitory neurotransmitters.

Don’t worry: there’s no pain when the needles are placed. In fact, most animals become relaxed during the process. Dr Ronald Koh, vet and professor at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in California, recommends an acupuncture treatment every two to four weeks for five to eight sessions, followed by treatment every three to six months as maintenance.


While nutrition’s exact role in canine seizures is unknown, case studies show a correlation between food and epilepsy. Depending on your dog’s specific needs, a diet change could effectively lessen their convulsions.

“There are some prescription diets that are proven to reduce seizures by inducing ketosis,” says Dr Krause. A ketogenic diet (high in fat, low in carbohydrates) is rich in medium-chain triacylglycerols. By using fats instead of carbohydrates for energy, a ketogenic diet can trigger the body to enter a state of ketosis, potentially reducing a dog’s seizure frequency.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are also beneficial supplements for dogs suffering from seizures. Working with a vet nutritionist, you can create specialised home-prepared meals that could eliminate the allergens that cause seizures. Talk with your vet about the best options for your dog’s needs.


“A variety of vitamins and nutritional supplements have been highly effective in naturally decreasing seizures in dogs,“ adds Dr Jenny Taylor, founder of Creature Comfort Holistic Veterinary Center in California, USA.

“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.” Always discuss supplements and dosages with your vet before giving them to your dog.

Western herbs

In both capsule and tincture form, many natural over-the-counter Western herbs – including milk thistle, valerian and oat straw – can be used to treat seizures. Milk thistle is often recommended by holistic vets to be used in conjunction with prescribed phenobarbital as it contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties to treat the liver problems which are a common side effect.

Valerian root, a mild sedative, and oat straw, a calming herb, can aid dogs suffering from seizures triggered by stress and anxiety. Always discuss herbs and supplements, as well as dosages with your vet before giving them to your dog.

Flower essence

Another option for natural seizure prevention is Rescue Remedy Pet. These drops combine the flower essence of rock-rose, clematis, impatiens, cherry plum and star of Bethlehem for an overall calming effect.

Prevention of canine seizures at home

You can do even more to help a dog suffering from seizures at home. Reducing toxins and chemicals from your home can significantly help your dog’s overall health. “Avoiding environmental toxins such as toxic household cleaners and lawn chemicals is a wise idea, no matter what,” says Dr Krause.

Since many cases of epilepsy occur after stressful events, look for ways to promote a happy, stress-free lifestyle for your dog with plenty of exercise. Make time to ease your dog into stressful situations like a stay at a boarding kennel or moving to a new home to reduce chances of potential fits. “Stress is hazardous to health, no matter your dog’s age or health status,” adds Dr Krause.

If you are interested in these natural remedies as a treatment for your dog’s seizures, please consult your vet.

Disclaimer alert: this article is here to share information and should not be taken as fact or medical advice. Always talk things over with your vet when making decisions, and use your best judgement.


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daniela lopez

Daniela Lopez

Daniela Lopez is a digital media specialist and long-time contributor to The Bark.

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