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Published August 10, 2012, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: New diet eased dog’s seizures

Dear Dr. Fox: I want to thank you for helping me cure my dog’s seizures. She was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy and was put on phenobarbital, which made her groggy but helped a bit.

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I want to thank you for helping me cure my dog’s seizures. She was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy and was put on phenobarbital, which made her groggy but helped a bit. Then I checked the archives on your website – bingo! I put her on a cereal-free diet, and within a few days she seemed more relaxed. She is now off the phenobarbital and doing great!

Why don’t more vets know about this? Sure, there are many other causes of epilepsy/seizures in dogs, but this one is so easy to fix! – G.L., Norman, Okla.

Dear G.L: Your letter is very telling – many veterinarians do not consider the role of dietary ingredients in canine epilepsy and a host of other health problems. Swedish veterinary researchers showed a connection between wheat in dogs’ diets and epilepsy 20 years ago.

Corn can also be a problem, as Julie Messenger details in her article “No More Seizures” in Animal Wellness magazine. Her terrier-mix, Leo, started having seizures at six months old. He was prescribed phenobarbital and diazepam for almost six years. Then Leo developed diabetes mellitus and was put on a special diet to lower his blood sugar. The frequency of his seizures increased dramatically, so his medication was increased – to no avail. Leo’s seizures were so severe that Messenger considered euthanasia. Fortunately, she learned from the owner of a natural dog food company that the corn in her dog’s prescription diet could be the cause of the seizures. Leo had corn in his diet before, but this prescribed diet contained considerably more. Messenger took appropriate action, transitioning Leo onto a diet of quality meat, brown rice and vegetables. Leo is now seizure free, off his meds and happy and enjoying life to the fullest.

Most corn and soy in pet foods is genetically engineered, and brands containing such ingredients should be avoided. The research literature on the effects of such food ingredients in laboratory animal tests, which I review on my website (www.DrFoxVet.com), show a host of serious health consequences.

Dear Dr. Fox: My husband and I are having an ongoing argument that I hope you can resolve.

He cleans out the cats’ litter box, which I appreciate. But he says once a day is sufficient. I say it’s not. We use a scent-free clumping litter, and our two cats drink plenty water so you can imagine there’s lots of clumps by end of day, plus poop. They eat a lot, but they are young and active and not overweight.

I say he should clean it out twice a day. What do you think? I am concerned – not so much about the smell as for the poor cats who have to step around the stuff already in the box. – Y.T., Fargo

Dear Y.T.: I appreciate and share you concern for your two cats, and wish that more people did. Try not flushing your toilet for a day – that will get your husband to empathize with the cats!

Cats hate to get their paws wet and dirty, and a common reaction to dirty litter boxes is to become unhousebroken. They develop an aversion to the dirty, stinky litter box and evacuate elsewhere. The problem often goes unnoticed for a while since the cat evacuates in some concealed spot.

For our two cats, we use unscented World’s Best, corn-based clumping cat litter, and I clean the boxes out four times a day – just before each small meal I feed them. Some days I am amazed at how much they can deposit!

Your husband may be lazy or have his own aversion to the litter box, but out of concern for the cats and respect for you, he should be cleaning it out at least three times a day.

Dog food recalled

Mars Petcare U.S. has voluntarily recalled three Pedigree weight management canned dog food products due to possible contamination with blue plastic fragments that inadvertently entered the food during production.

Visit www.pedigree.com/update or call 877-720-3335 for more information about the specific lots affected.

No other Pedigree products are affected, including any other variety of wet food, dry dog food or dog treats. The company will refund all purchases of these contaminated products.

Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.