CBD Oil for Dogs with Seizures
Seeing your beloved dog have a seizure can be a frightening experience. Seizures can be subtle, indicated by staring, a dazed appearance, whining, twitching, jerkiness, heavy breathing, or unusually rapid eye movements. They can also be distressingly severe, resulting in uncontrollable fits, tremors, and even loss of consciousness.
Seizures are basically caused by the abnormal firing of neurons in the brain. If your dog has seizures, whether mild or severe, you should visit your veterinarian to determine the cause.
If you want to supplement your dog’s treatment with a natural remedy, CBD oil should be your first option. Cannabidiol (CBD), is a non-psychotropic component of the Cannabis sativa plant, which has been shown to have anticonvulsant properties. Extracted from industrial hemp (not marijuana) and legal in all states, CBD won’t make animals high and there are no known side effects.
How does CBD work to reduce seizures?
All mammals have an endocannabinoid system, a network of numerous receptors that regulates body functions. Endocannabinoids are synthesized on demand by the body to maintain homeostasis – a stable internal environment. When a condition such as epilepsy interferes with homeostasis, these internal mechanisms lag behind the body’s needs. Supplementing with the phytocannabinoids found abundantly in hemp can help restore balance.
Two types of endocannabinoid receptors have been identified: CB1 receptors, found predominantly in the brain, nervous system, glands and organs; and CB2 receptors, existing mainly in the regulatory cells of the immune system. While CBD supplements benefit both types, their ability to calm overactive neurons and control seizures comes from the interactions with CB1 receptors. When the nervous system has been impacted by an illness or injury, CBD supplements can restore homeostasis.
How effective is CBD at treating seizures in dogs?
Anecdotal feedback is highly encouraging. There are countless testimonials and endorsements from pet parents sharing how CBD has helped their furry friends overcome dog seizures, including cases where conventional medications haven’t helped. Regular use has shown to decrease both the frequency and severity of seizures.
Preliminary research is so highly promising that the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation is currently conducting research on CBD’s effectiveness at treating seizures in dogs https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/alternative-medicine/cbd-oil-for-dog-seizures/ through Colorado State University https://cvmbs.source.colostate.edu/preliminary-data-from-cbd-clinical-trials-promising/ Initial research found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.
Additionally, the National Institute of Health has published CBD research demonstrating strong reductions in epileptic seizures in rodents and shows CBD to be an effective therapeutic anti-convulsant. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22520455
How do you treat dogs’ seizures with CBD?
To reduce the severity and frequency of seizures, give your pet CBD regularly. Typically, relief will be best achieved by dosing twice a day. Dosage amounts can vary quite a bit from one situation to the next, so it may be necessary to experiment to find the right amount, and how often to give. Keep in mind that you cannot overdose and there is no toxicity associated with CBD.
CBD for dogs is available in many convenient forms. Extracts can be given from a dropper bottle directly into the mouth, added to food, dropped on a treat, rubbed into bare skin or inside the ears, or dropped on an animal’s paw so they will lick it off. You can also find hemp CBD biscuits, hemp CBD capsules, honey with CBD, and topical hemp CBD ointments. Make sure the CBD product you choose is lab tested so you can be sure you’re giving your pup the best opportunity for natural relief with hemp CBD.
CBD can provide multiple additional benefits.
We cannot provide veterinary advice
Please note, we cannot provide health recommendations for individual animals and we are not veterinarians. Please contact your dog or cat’s veterinarian with any health concerns you may have.
Can CBD Oil Help Dogs With Epilepsy?
Can CBD oil help dogs with epilepsy and seizures? Anecdotal evidence suggests maybe — CBD oil may offer a treatment alternative for several illnesses, including canine epilepsy, but no in-depth studies have verified these claims.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an extract of the cannabis plant (marijuana). Unlike the major active ingredient of the plant, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not cause “high” sensations. Instead, it is associated with pain relief and is the main ingredient in many cannabis pet products.
Canine epilepsy is the most common cause of recurrent seizures in dogs. Unfortunately, the medications used to treat epilepsy, such as phenobarbital, potassium bromide, diazepam, and other anticonvulsant drugs, can cause serious side effects in some dogs. Even with medication, up to 30 percent of dogs with epilepsy continue to experience seizures.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation (AKCCHF) recently announced a major clinical trial to study CBD as a treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs. We talked with Dr. Diane Brown, the chief executive officer of the AKC Canine Health Foundation, and Dr. Stephanie McGrath, veterinary neurologist at Colorado State University and the principal investigator for the AKCCHF research project, to find out more.
Breakthrough CBD Clinical Trial
The AKCCHF’s CBD study could be the first published, large-scale study to examine the effects of CBD on seizure activity in dogs. “This clinical trial is important for several reasons,” Dr. McGrath shared. “Generally speaking, the science supporting CBD use in veterinary medicine is lacking. There is abundant anecdotal evidence, but very few, if any, well-executed research studies.
Regarding the epilepsy study specifically, it is important work because we are constantly searching for an effective anticonvulsant drug to treat epilepsy in dogs. The drugs we currently have available frequently cause intolerable side effects or do not work well enough to control the seizures. Therefore, if CBD does prove to be an effective anticonvulsant, this would affect thousands of dogs worldwide.”
She explained, “The study is testing CBD on dogs with epilepsy in a controlled research setting. The dogs enrolled in the study are randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or the CBD oil for 12 weeks and then, after a 4-week washout period, receive the opposite drug for an additional 12 weeks. The researchers and the owners are blinded as to which drug is given in each half of the study.”
The study will also explore any possible side effects associated with CBD. According to Dr. McGrath, the researchers examine the dogs in the study every four weeks, perform regular blood work, and provide the owners with weekly questionnaires.
Why Studies on CBD & Dog Seizures Matter
Without studies and regulations, many of the CBD products on the market are untested and unregulated. When asked if pet owners should be wary of these products, Dr. McGrath said, “Yes, the lack of regulation is of great concern. Not knowing the exact constituents and quantities of those constituents in a particular product is scary, especially with the knowledge that at certain doses, THC can be toxic to dogs. Hopefully, this market will change in the future.”
AKCCHF Epilepsy Initiative
The CBD trial is not the only research the AKCCHF has sponsored to study canine epilepsy. The foundation has funded multiple studies to help advance our understanding of the disease.
“AKC Canine Health Foundation launched our most recent epilepsy research initiative in 2017 to address the unmet health needs for dogs with epilepsy,” Dr. Brown explained. “Grants awarded by CHF have already resulted in the identification of genes associated with risk factors for epilepsy in dogs, as well as a new treatment for use in the emergency room for canine epileptic patients. When a genetic test becomes available for specific forms of epilepsy, then breeders will use that test to breed away from that mutation.”
She continued, “There is still so much to learn about inheritance of epilepsy, the influence of genes and epigenetics, the role of nutrition, the role of changes in the bacterial population of the intestinal tract, and other potential risk factors — we are investing in research in these areas. So, in some ways, while it is too soon to tell outcomes, you see the real need for more research. CHF is committed to finding and funding the best research available to address this important disease in dogs and looking for answers beyond genetics alone.”
Researchers don’t yet understand why some dogs continue to experience seizures despite medication. Preliminary in vitro studies of CBD show anticonvulsant effects, and researchers like Dr. McGrath hope that CBD will offer better control of epilepsy with fewer side effects.
How Can Dog Owners Help Research on Epilepsy?
It can sometimes feel like there is nothing we can do to help our dogs, especially with diseases like epilepsy. That is part of what makes the AKCCHF studies so exciting. Dr. Brown suggested two ways owners and enthusiasts can help:
- Support the AKC Canine Health Foundation for epilepsy research with a tax-deductible donation to the AKCCHF Epilepsy Initiative. This can be done online or by contacting AKCCHF about supporting this research.
- Participate in active AKCCHF research studies. All AKCCHF research projects that need study participants, including the CBD study, can be found on its website or by contacting AKCCHF at 888-682-9696. “Working together, we can accomplish so much more for our dogs,” said Dr. Brown.
“This study will be the first to provide real research data to further understanding of the use of CBD to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs,” Dr. Brown concluded. “Equally as important, we will learn more about a safe dosage of CBD for dogs and potential side effects on dogs taking CBD. We expect to learn whether CBD can be used to treat dogs that are resistant to other anti-epileptic medications, and hope to add a new and much-needed treatment option for dogs with epilepsy.”
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