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News Article

Trial of MCT oil supplement for canine epilepsy


Medium‐chain triglyceride (MCT) enriched diet has a positive effect on seizure control in some dogs with idiopathic epilepsy

Research conducted by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), funded by The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF), shows that small changes to the diets of dogs with hard-to-treat epilepsy has the potential to reduce the number of seizures.

Current treatments for canine epilepsy focus on managing the condition and reducing how often seizures occur. However, despite treatment with appropriate anti-seizure medication, approximately one-third of dogs continue to experience frequent seizures. This has significant impacts on their behaviour and cognitive functions and can also make dogs prone to anxiety.

Helping develop new treatment strategies to reduce epileptic seizures and improve the overall welfare of dogs, a team of researchers, led by veterinarians Professor Holger Volk and Dr Benjamin Andreas Berk, alongside canine behaviour and welfare scientist Dr Rowena Packer, at the RVC, tested the effects of a medium‐chain triglyceride (MCT) oil supplement on seizure frequency in dogs with drug-resistant epilepsy.

Previous research by the RVC had shown that the oil could have beneficial effects when included within a dry kibble diet. During this study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the oil was added as a supplement to a dog’s existing diet to determine if the same benefits could be achieved. The oil was tested in a clinical trial during which 28 dogs received the MCT oil for three months and a placebo oil for three months. Both owners and investigators were blind to which oil dogs were receiving during each phase.

Overall, dogs had significantly fewer seizures during the MCT phase compared with the placebo phase. Two dogs were free of seizures, 3 had ≥50% and 12 had <50% reductions in seizure frequency, and 11 dogs showed no change or an increase in seizure frequency.

The researchers conclude that although the overall significant statistical effect was small, some dogs had a good response. “Future studies are needed to test if MCT can be clinically more significant in drug‐naive dogs or dogs with less drug‐resistant epilepsy,” they say.

Dr Rowena Packer, BBSRC Research Fellow at the Royal Veterinary College, said: “Epilepsy is often a challenging and distressing condition for dog owners to manage, particularly when dogs don’t respond to anti-seizure medications in the way their owner and vet might have expected or hoped. Historically, diet has not been considered a key part of epilepsy management, but along with other recent findings, these results indicate that nutrition likely plays an important role in seizure control.”

Article: Berk, B.A., Law, T.H., Packer, R.M.A., Wessmann, A., Bathen-Nöthen, A., Jokinen, T.S., Knebel, A., Tipold, A., Pelligand, L., Meads, Z., Volk, H.A. (2020). A multicenter randomized controlled trial of medium-chain triglyceride dietary supplementation on epilepsy in dogs. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, online 15 April 2020, doi: 10.1111/jvim.15756

Article details

  • Date
  • 11 May 2020
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals