Gluten free food for dogs suffering from Spike’s Disease

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In my previous post on Spike’s disease I have mentioned how unfortunately a cure for this terrible disease has not yet been discovered. Then again in time it has been proven that you can manage Spike’s in your dog with a gluten free diet.  Today I’d like to tell you a bit more about gluten free wheat free foods that you may want to introduce in your dog’s diet if he/she is affected by Spike’s, and how effective gluten free food for dogs is in the management of Spike’s symptoms.


What is gluten, what is wheat

Please don’t quote me when it comes to domestic science applied to food and how it’s formed – or when it comes to science, for all that matters!!

My understanding, however, is that gluten is a protein contained in many grain foods.  Many allergy sufferers have been found to be intolerant to gluten – most commonly known are celiac disease sufferers.

But gluten is found in wheat, as well as rye and barley.  For this reason, all gluten free food is also wheat free, whereas the same cannot be said about wheat free food, as food free of wheat may still contain rye or barley, which carry the protein of gluten.


What food has to do with Spike’s

Let me take you back to the history of Spike’s and how it was discovered.  The first symptoms were registered in Germany back in 1994 by a Mrs Plunge, who started publishing her findings on what appeared to be abnormal liver function in affected Borders.  That is the reason why initially efforts were concentrated on possible liver disease, and which eventually pushed Mrs Plunge to try to find a solution in implementing dietary changes.

When however in 1999 it was registered that Borders with a normal liver function also started displaying seizures but did not suffer from epilepsy, the search for affected subjects was extended to the rest of Europe and eventually to the States too.  The exercise of compiling a database of as many Borders as possible all displaying the same symptoms wanted to meet the need to cross-match their habits and their traits to see if there was any common denominator that would make reason of their unwell being.

I do not want to bore you excessively with the details of how the research progressed, other than to say in the meantime our Dutch border Spike was identified as exhibiting more sever episodes of epileptic-like fits and cramps, which escalated to 2-3 episodes a week in 2001.  At the same time Utrecht University in Holland established once and for all that these symptoms were not signs of epilepsy, and recognised a new disease in its own right, Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS) or more commonly known by most of us as Spike’s.

I expect the common denominator further forums discovered, and specialised vet centres alike, with the broadening of social media and internet communication in the last 15 years, is that when you applied a certain gluten and/or wheat free diet to your Border, seizures and confusional cramping state in dogs decreased in frequency.


Trial and error

Unfortunately in dogs the same ‘trial and error’ principle applies as in humans.  How many times we go to the doctor’s with some unusual complaint, and we are prescribed some tablet and asked to make another appointment a few days later to see if it has worked?  With Spike’s it has been the same since it was classed as a disease in its own right.

And unfortunately to date a curative formula for Spike’s has not yet been discovered.  But what owners of Borders, or other dogs affected by Spike’s, have had to learn is to adapt their hound’s diet in an effort to reduce cramping episodes.


What food is to be avoided

In the many years since owners and vets have managed to identify this dreadful disease in their hounds, it’s been found that the following foods are to be avoided, if you want to reduce cramping episodes in your dog:

  • wheat, barley and rye –  it appears that the only grain Spike’s affected dog tolerate is oats
  • rice, if episodes persist after eliminating the above grains
  • dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese and others
  • artificial preservatives and colouring
  • beef, eggs and fish, if again episodes keep re-occurring after the above foods have already been eliminated.

As you can see, most of these foods are to be removed from your dog’s diet only if he/she still has adverse reactions.  The main indicator is however the removal of gluten based foods, as this is  the one category of food where, when removed, most owners of affected dogs have noticed an improvement in their hounds.


What’s advisable

By contrast, it has been proven that the best and most advisable type of diet for dogs suffering with Spike’s is row meat.  Initially you can start feeding your dog all sorts of row meats, including beef.  If however you see that your dog still gets episodes in the same frequency and violence, you can try removing beef from his or her diet – this should trigger a neat decrease in number and intensity of cramping.

What has been advised, however, if you decide to switch to row meat regime for your dog, is to ensure that no stomach or neck are fed to them, as often these parts retain grain elements that may have been eaten by the animal you are feeding to your hound.  Even minuscule amounts of grain or gluten based foods are deemed to be the cause of an increase in seizures.

Please be aware, and I can’t stress this enough, that the above advice is not the ‘be all end all’ solution to improving, let alone curing, CECS episodes in your dog.  If still in doubt, the best practice I suggest is to consult your vet to discuss potential risk factors in changes of your dog’s dietary habits and requirements.

And that is the difficulty about CECS.  There are still so many open questions about the disease!!  For a start, at times vets still struggle to identify and separate its symptoms from the ones of epilepsy.  But even when the disease is diagnosed in your dog, it is difficult in veterinary science to advise one course of action against another.

As ever, in implementing changes to your dog’s diet, you want to ensure that your dog does not end up missing out on intake of vital nutritional values, such as calcium.

At times, and when your dog’s health noticeably improves after you have started eliminating the above categories of food, your vet might still want to prescribe tablets to overcome a possible unbalance in your dog’s newly adopted diet.

In any one case, whatever decision or ‘trial and error’ method you adopt with your dog, go with caution – I am sure the last thing you want to do is put your fur child’s health in jeopardy, and as they say, better safe than sorrow!!!


Not enough hours in the day?

Yes, I know the feeling.  You would have just come back from work, after stopping at the local shop for a bit of food shopping.  You are now to come back home, take the dog for a walk, put dinner together for the family whilst doing a few more chores in the house (the famous or infamous multi-tasking regime so many people are stuck into!) and of course, don’t forget to prepare your dog’s meals!!

The reality is that your dog’s health does come at a price.  As I have mentioned at different points on this website, your dog is your fur child.  In the same way as you would be prepared to spend money, time and effort for your human child, so you are to be prepared to do the same with your dog.

If however you are really desperate and cannot make the time to put your dog’s meals together, you can try one of the many gluten free foods available on the market.  Amazon has a healthy range of gluten and grain free food for dogs,  But for once I feel the need to deviate from my usual supplier Amazon, to the benefit of Zooplus.  Please click on the below image to find out the many opportunities offered on Zooplus website.


As mentioned in my previous post on Spike’s Disease, of all the ailments our Indy has had to endure so far, Spike’s is not one of them.  Yet, I have regularly used Zooplus not only as a regular supplier of food for Indy, but also in the past when we had guinea pigs, for their supplies and for their outdoor run.  And we have always found Zooplus most competitive in prices as well as in quality of service.  I shall talk more extensively at another time about Zooplus as an alternative in fulfilling your dog’s and your needs as a dog owner.

For now, however, I would like to draw your attention to the raw meat dog diet program that Zooplus has recently launched.

This is an extract I took from Zooplus current banner on their website home page.  As you can see, what Zooplus has to offer is the perfect solution for you to be able to provide ideal meals for your dog affected by Spike’s, as you find there a combination of raw meat meals or raw meat mixed with vegetables.

The advantage of getting supplies of raw meat meals for your dog from Zooplus is multiple.  Not only food is sold in convenient bulk packs at an extremely competitive price, and with free delivery for orders over £29.  But given the perishable nature of the food, packs are delivered frozen and can be stored frozen, guaranteeing freshness of the meat and other ingredients you feed your dog for up to 12 months.

I believe Zooplus is a winning option, which will guarantee a healthier diet in controlling your dog’s Spike’s symptoms whilst making your life as a dog owner much easier!!


Share with us

My previous post of Spike’s Disease has received much attention online, as well as on social media.  So many of you left comments, which opened my eyes as to how many more Borders unfortunately are affected by such nasty disease worldwide.

Many of you asked for advice on the benefit of a gluten free and raw meat controlled diet for affected dogs.  I am hoping, with the above suggestions, to be able to help from the little I have learnt myself.

Please continue to leave comments and messages below.  It is through sharing individual experiences, I believe, that we can all learn from each other in an effort to improve our dogs’ quality of life.










  1. // Reply

    This is not something I have ever heard of before, but it sounds terrible for any dog owner to have to go through, and even worse for the poor wee dog.

    Does this condition affect borders more than other types of dogs? I don’t know anyone with this breed and I would be interested to know if there are certain breeds more prone to this sort of thing?

    1. // Reply

      Hi Craig. Spike’s has become ‘the illness of Borders’ as it was discovered and first officially recognised in Borders. However more recent studies have found the same seizure-like symptoms in other dogs. Regardless of the breed, my understanding is that the disease can be managed – but unfortunately not cured – through a diet regime.

      If you are interested in purchasing a Border, please do so through a reputable breeder so that you can find out if there is history of Spike’s in his/her parents’ families. It becomes a bit more difficult if you are interested in adopting a Border. But, rest reassured that not all Borders have Spike’s!!

  2. // Reply

    Thanks Giulia for sharing your interest.

    I never thought that raw meat would be advisable for dogs. Honestly, I am newbie pet owner and I want my dog to be fit and in good shape. I usually feed my dog rice and left over foods which are still suitable.

    Maybe I need to try your recommendation and see the results.

    1. // Reply

      Thanks for passing by, my friend! First of all, my understanding is that feeding your hound human food is not good – too many fats and salt which your dog’s body cannot process and which can be really damaging to his/her liver. Also be advised that the recommendations I suggest are specifically for dogs suffering from Spike’s Disease. My understanding is that, unless there are specific medical requirements, a more varied diet for your dog is more suited as including all nutritions. My suggestions exclude a lot of food categories, only due to the fact that dogs with Spike’s have an adverse reaction to those categories.

      I hope this clarifies 🙂

  3. // Reply

    Hi Giulia, this is great information. A friend of mine from Thailand was allergic to gluten and she was always on the lookout for gluten-free products. I wasn’t fully aware of this Spike’s disease in Border Terriers so you have provided some really good information and also solutions. It’s pretty scary to think they could have seizures or epileptic fits so it’s good to know about this in advance. Is there no way to really check if your dog has this?

    1. // Reply

      I suspect, Craig, vets can surely run a set of test to exclude epilepsy or other conditions, which leaves Spike’s as only alternative explanation. I’m not sure the dietary suggestions would work for humans – certainly not raw meat. But excluding grains can work as much as with dogs. Like in human medicine, with this type of disease it’s very much a case of trial and error before finding the right dietary equilibrium!

  4. // Reply

    It’s really hard to find suitable foods for our fury friends that are suffering this disease. A friend of mine also suffers as a celiac and lives on a gluten free diet. I like your suggestion of feeding a dog some raw meat and your solution to correct if the dog shows aggression signals.
    Would it be advisable to include mashed up vegetables with the proportion of red meat with their meals?
    Kind regards, jeff.

    1. // Reply

      Absolutely Jeff. In fact I believe Zooplus sells meal menus of raw meat and vegetables and fruit, which I believe are cut in small pieces and par boiled. Their philosophy in putting these menus together is that it mirrors a diet a wild dog would have stuck to. Again, follow the link to Zooplus on my actual post to find out the wide selection of menus available there.
      Gluten allergy or celiac disease are very nasty illnesses, I guess in human as much as in dogs. I wish your friend well on their gluten free diet.

  5. // Reply

    My Border is suffering fro Spikes at present poor little soul. your info re gluten free is very enlightening will certainly consider the zooplus option. He will be 3 this month

    1. // Reply

      Awww bless. It’s a good thing he was diagnosed so early, so you can put in place a care plan with your vet to manage his condition as best as possible.
      I feel Zooplus have a wider choice of gluten free, but even row diet products, which you may end up having to use if eliminating gluten from your little one does not reduce his seizures.
      I hope you all have a lovely birthday- do post us some pics if you can, or send them to my email
      And by all means, do let us know how you guys progress with your Border’s Spike’s.

  6. // Reply

    Hi … I’ve a little boarder that will be 5 in June , 4 months ago she had a full blown seizure and then nothing until saturday morning … The second one was very different to the first but she did wee and then was totally unable to get up , her bad end had totally gone . I took her to the vets on Monday and they did full bloods particularly on her liver … nothing all bloods normal but have recommend she starts the gluten free diet . My poor baby , am worried to bits and just want her right . Normally a very fit and active little girl

    1. // Reply

      Rachel, I’m ever so sorry to hear your baby is going through this, and you too with her 🙁 It’s a good thing that your vet took you down the route of a gluten free diet to start off with. Do you know why? I mean, did he explain what he’s thinking it may be? If you have read my articles on Cecs, also called Spike’s Disease, you will find that for many years vets thought it may be linked to a neurological disorder, whereas the latest theories think it may be nothing more than gluten intolerance. Either way, it is horrible to have to see your little one go through the horrendous seizures.
      Let us know how your baby girl is getting on once she has got used to the gluten free diet. I really hope she gets much better and, foremostly, seizure free ❤️

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