RVC research finds memory-boosting effects of a dietary supplement for cognitively-impaired dogs with epilepsy - Veterinary Practice
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×

RVC research finds memory-boosting effects of a dietary supplement for cognitively-impaired dogs with epilepsy

This rigorous, controlled clinical study used non-invasive cognitive tests and a validated psychometric tool to show that dogs had improved spatial and working memory when treated with MCTs

New research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), funded by The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF), has shown for the first time that changing the fat profile of the diet of dogs with hard-to-treat epilepsy can not only improve their seizure control, but also their cognitive abilities, such as combatting memory problems.

Epilepsy is the most common brain disease in dogs, which is very distressing for both dogs and their owners. Current treatments focus on managing the condition by primarily reducing how often seizures occur however, recent research suggests that comorbidities such as anxiety and cognitive impairments are common in dogs with epilepsy. Subsequently, there is an urgent need for new epilepsy management options which help to not only better control seizures, but also improve behavioural and cognitive comorbidities.

Led by canine behaviour and welfare scientist Dr. Rowena Packer from the RVC and veterinary neurologist Professor Holger Volk from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo), alongside RVC PhD student Dr. Benjamin Andreas Berk, a team of researchers tested the effects of an oil supplement on seizure frequency in dogs with drug-resistant epilepsy.

Multiple studies from the RVC have shown that medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oils-enriched diets can improve seizure control in difficult to treat, drug-resistant dogs with epilepsy. This rigorous, controlled clinical study used non-invasive cognitive tests and a validated psychometric tool to show that dogs had improved spatial and working memory when treated with MCTs.

Dr Rowena Packer, Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare at RVC, said:

“Our ground-breaking research into the behavioural and cognitive comorbidities of canine epilepsy was the first to identify cognitive impairments in this population. We have now gone one step further and found a promising way to boost the impaired memories of these patients and reduce their seizure frequency, by a simple dietary change.”

Professor Holger Volk, Department Chair for Small Animal Diseases at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, said:

“Our guts influence how well we think – this study highlights the importance of diets and the power of the gut-brain axis. We are just at the beginning of understanding how diets can influence complex diseases such as epilepsy and dementia. MCT oil could offer a promising addition to our management tool-kit.”

Veterinary Practice

Improve Veterinary Practice (part of the Improve International Group) is an online knowledge and information hub for veterinary professionals across all specialties. It provides reliable, useful and interesting content, written by expert authors and covering small animal, large animal, exotics, equine and practice management
sectors of the veterinary surgeon and nursing professions.

Improve Veterinary Practice also offers a subscription-based membership, offering CPD courses and much more for the whole veterinary community.

Improve Veterinary Practice exists to inspire and inform your day-to-day work, and enable your ongoing professional development.


More from this author

Have you heard about our
IVP Membership?

A wide range of veterinary CPD and resources by leading veterinary professionals.

Stress-free CPD tracking and certification, you’ll wonder how you coped without it.

Discover more