Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet NC NeuroCare Review, a diet that helps nutritionally manage idiopathic epileptic pets as adjunct to anti-epileptic drugs.
By Dr. Joanne Fernandez-Lopez
If you are the owner of a pet diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy, you may be frustrated with when the next seizure might hit once again. You make sure you have good control of your dog’s medications and visit the regular veterinarian or veterinary neurologist frequently for bloodwork and rechecks. But did you know that despite appropriate anti-seizure drug treatments, approximately 1/3 of the dogs continue to experience seizures? This concern brought the idea of other new treatment options in addition to the antiepileptic medications. Since there is the saying “let food be thy medicine”, I was very curious when this food came out to the market and started to investigate the science behind it.
The Science Behind It
In 2015, the British Journal of Nutrition published a dietary trial study in chronically antiepileptic drug treated dogs with idiopathic epilepsy or unknown causes of epilepsy. They compared a ketogenic medium-chain TAG diet (MCTD) with a placebo diet. Now, the question is why MCTD as the functional ingredient in the food?
According to Dr. Jason Gagne (director of veterinary technical marketing for Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet NC NeuroCare diet), the neurons typically use glucose as the main fuel source.
As dogs start aging, the neurons are not as efficient in using glucose so ketones can act as an additional source.
Fortunately, dogs can metabolize medium chain triglycerides (MCTDs) to produce ketones. Scientists also believed that dietary MCTDs could have anti-seizure effects by blocking AMPA receptors* in the brain and decreasing excitatory pathways that can cause seizures.
This inspired the Royal Veterinary College to start the research in collaboration with Purina.
A Breakthrough Study
In the study, dogs were fed a placebo or the MCTD diet for 3 months followed by repeated switches in the diet for the next 3 months. The seizure frequency, clinical and laboratory data was collected and reviewed for a total of 21 dogs.
Results showed a significant decrease in the seizure frequency when fed the MCTD diet (0-9.89/month) compared to the placebo group (0.33-22.92/month). Three of the dogs had no seizures, 7 additional dogs had >50% reduction in seizure frequency, 5 had an overall <50% reduction in seizures (38.87%) and 6 showed no response.
What I also like from this study is they compared blood concentrations of anti-seizure medications and also glucose levels which are known to be causes of seizures when they are severely low in the blood stream. They did not find significant changes in blood concentration of glucose, phenobarbital, potassium bromide and weight between diet groups.
Neurocare Diet by Purina for Dogs
Results of this study caught the attention of Purina to develop NC NeuroCare Diet which is formulated with medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil to help nutrionally manage dogs with epilepsy that are also being managed with medications like phenobarbital and potassium bromide.
The diet also has a blend of nutrients like B vitamins, arginine, antioxidants eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to enhance cognitive health and pets already diagnosed with cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
For more information regarding the effects of MCT in the brain, please access the podcast from the West Veterinary Conference this year. You are welcome to explore more by reading the reference articles next.
About the author
Dr. Joanne Fernandez-Lopez is an emergency veterinarian on staff in the Emergency and Critical Care Department at Florida veterinary Referral Center (FVRC).
Originally from Puerto Rico, Dr. Joanne Fernandez-Lopez graduated from North Carolina State University – College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, NC. Prior to joining FVRC, Dr. Fernandez-Lopez worked in small animal general practice and as a relief doctor in South East Florida. Her professional interests include dermatology, surgery, internal medicine, preventive medicine, reptile medicine and practice management.
In her free time, Dr. Fernandez-Lopez enjoys relaxing at the beach, paddle boarding, kayaking, and surfing. She has a small Tibetan spaniel mix named Carlitos.
- Tsz Hong Law, Emma S S Davies, Yuanlong Pan, Brian Zanghi, Elizabeth Want, Holger A Volk. A randomised trial of a medium-chain TAG diet as treatment for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. Br J Nutr. November 2015;114 (9):1438-47.
- Gagne, J. (2017, May/June). Neurologic Breakthrough in Canine Nutrition. Today’s Veterinary Practice. 7 (3), page 77
- Nutrional breakthrough to help manage dogs with epilepsy. RVC Press Release February 17, 2017. URL: http://www.rvc.ac.uk/research/research-centres-and-facilities/clinical-investigation-centre/news/nutrition-breakthrough-to-help-manage-dogs-with-epilepsy Retrieved May 30, 2017
- Gagne J. (February 28, 2017). Purina® Pro Plan® Veterinary Diets NeuroCare. https://digital.wvc.org/audio/New-Product-Showcase-Podcast-Series/Purina-Pro-Plan-Veterinary-Diets-NeuroCare Retrieved May 30, 2017
- Purina Pro Plan NC NeuroCare diet website with feeding guides and client reviews. URL: https://www.proplanveterinarydiets.com/products/nc-neurocare-dog/ Retrieved May 30, 2017