A randomised trial of a medium-chain TAG diet as treatment for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy

Br J Nutr. 2015 Nov 14;114(9):1438-47. doi: 10.1017/S000711451500313X. Epub 2015 Sep 4.


Despite appropriate antiepileptic drug treatment, approximately one-third of humans and dogs with epilepsy continue experiencing seizures, emphasising the importance for new treatment strategies to improve the quality of life of people or dogs with epilepsy. A 6-month prospective, randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled cross-over dietary trial was designed to compare a ketogenic medium-chain TAG diet (MCTD) with a standardised placebo diet in chronically antiepileptic drug-treated dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. Dogs were fed either MCTD or placebo diet for 3 months followed by a subsequent respective switch of diet for a further 3 months. Seizure frequency, clinical and laboratory data were collected and evaluated for twenty-one dogs completing the study. Seizure frequency was significantly lower when dogs were fed the MCTD (2·31/month, 0-9·89/month) in comparison with the placebo diet (2·67/month, 0·33-22·92/month, P=0·020); three dogs achieved seizure freedom, seven additional dogs had ≥50 % reduction in seizure frequency, five had an overall <50 % reduction in seizures (38·87 %, 35·68-43·27 %) and six showed no response. Seizure day frequency were also significantly lower when dogs were fed the MCTD (1·63/month, 0-7·58/month) in comparison with the placebo diet (1·69/month, 0·33-13·82/month, P=0·022). Consumption of the MCTD also resulted in significant elevation of blood β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations in comparison with placebo diet (0·071 (sd 0·035) v. 0·053 (sd 0·028) mmol/l, P=0·028). There were no significant changes in serum concentrations of glucose (P=0·903), phenobarbital (P=0·422), potassium bromide (P=0·404) and weight (P=0·300) between diet groups. In conclusion, the data show antiepileptic properties associated with ketogenic diets and provide evidence for the efficacy of the MCTD used in this study as a therapeutic option for epilepsy treatment.

Keywords: AED antiepileptic drug; BHB β-hydroxybutyrate; Epilepsy; KBr potassium bromide; KD ketogenic diet; Ketogenic diets; MCT medium-chain TAG; MCTD medium-chain TAG diet; MCTKD medium-chain TAG ketogenic diet; Medium-chain TAG; PB phenobarbital; Seizures.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / blood
  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Bromides / blood
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, Ketogenic / veterinary*
  • Dogs
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Epilepsy / diet therapy*
  • Epilepsy / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Phenobarbital / blood
  • Potassium Compounds / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Seizures / diet therapy*
  • Seizures / veterinary*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / administration & dosage*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Blood Glucose
  • Bromides
  • Potassium Compounds
  • Triglycerides
  • potassium bromide
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid
  • Phenobarbital