Is MCT a miracle oil? To be honest, I don’t know yet. Even if I knew I wouldn’t answer that question in the first line, would I? So, please read on.
Here’s how we came across MCT oil. Recently our nine-year-old boy and our Paw-In-Chief Mr. Popo was diagnosed with a condition called Lafora’s disease. Roughly around a year ago we started noticing some symptoms in him including sensitivity to sudden noise and movements along with sleep startles. We mentioned this to our trusted veterinarian, and he said its perhaps due to onset of old age. Every time he said that I protested “but Popo isn’t even old enough.” And our doctor would patiently explain “aging happens differently in case of dogs just as in humans.”
But nothing prepared us for the harsh diagnosis which literally shook the ground beneath our feat. No, I’m not being dramatic. We felt as if the world around us was falling apart. Then came the big question ‘why him’. Especially because our vet always gives him a clean chit on health and calls Mr. Popo a “perfectly healthy dog.” Yet this had to happen to him. Then my husband started researching to find out more about Lafora’s. He literally spent most of his waking hours one week only researching. That’s when he came across MCT oil, which our vet had also mentioned to us soon after Mr. Popo’s diagnosis.
What is Lafora’s disease?
Before getting into the benefits of MCT oil [whatever we know so far], here is what we learnt about Lafora’s disease.
According to Dr. Clare Rusbridge, a UK-based specialist in Veterinary Neurology, “Lafora’s disease is an inherited, late onset, progressive myoclonic epilepsy. Myoclonus (jerking) is a feature of the disease. And characteristically this can be induced by flashing lights, sudden sounds and movement (especially close to the dog’s head). Generalised or complex partial seizures may be seen in some dogs. The disease progresses slowly over many years and gradually other neurological deficits such as ataxia, blindness and dementia occur.”
Yes, indeed, we have noticed Popo get startled induced mostly by sudden sounds and movements. For example, if someone suddenly touches his face. We’ve also seen him fall backwards if strong sunlight hits his eyes, especially while he is shaking himself [like dogs do].
“Lafora’s disease can occur spontaneously in any breed. However, the miniature wire-haired dachshund, Bassett hound and beagle are predisposed. Typically, the first signs occur in animals over 5 years (usually over 7 years) age and both sexes can be affected. The beagle has a more severe version of the disease, and the associated epilepsy can be drug resistant.”
Over to benefits of MCT oil
MCT oil is a dietary supplement distilled from coconut oil, which apparently has many benefits for dogs and humans. We are still learning more about MCT oil and will do a follow-up in-depth piece to share more information soon. But what we know so far is that MCT oil supports healthy brain function and immune response. It promotes healthy yeast/candida management and gets rapidly absorbed for energy.
In an Instagram post veterinarian and author of The Forever Dog Dr. Karen Becker cites an interesting finding. “A new study highlights when epileptic dogs had MCT oil added to their food, 71% of the dogs experienced a reduced seizure frequency. MCTs provide medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) and ketones as auxiliary brain energy and can reduce seizures in rodent seizure models, dogs and humans with epilepsy.”
“Multiple studies have shown that certain seizures frequencies can be reduced by changing to a higher fat/low carb diet (i.e., a ketogenic diet) and/or adding more clean fats to their dogs’ food, like MCT Oil. In approximately 50% children and adults with certain types of epilepsy, seizure frequency can be effectively reduced as long as the diet is continued,” she added.
What we’ve noticed so far
Back to the question: is MCT a miracle oil? While we are yet to find that out here are some small changes that we are noticing. This is since adding MCT oil in Mr. Popo’s raw food almost a month ago. Although he doesn’t suffer from seizures, he does suffer from what’s called hypnic jerks or sleep starts. Those have not reduced yet. But the number of severe startles that sometimes resulted in him falling backwards has gone down slightly.
Of course, we are doing a few other things too such as ensuring Mr. Popo isn’t exposed to strong and flashing lights. We are trying our best to avoid startling him with loud noise and sudden movements around his head and eyes. Yes, we have also started adding another supplement with his food, more on that in another post.
Overall, what we know and believe is that any alternate therapy always takes time to show results. While we are still researching to find out more about MCT oil, I still wanted to share our experience. Perhaps with the hope to share and get more information. Who knows who else is going through the same experience as we are? So, yes, every bit of relevant information counts and we will be grateful if anyone is willing to support us with whatever experiences they have. Be it a veterinary doctor or a human whose dog has/is going through a similar experience.
Note: This article is meant for information and awareness only and should not be considered as medical opinion.