CBD oil offers great potential as an alternative treatment for dog seizures, particularly those associated with epilepsy and which are resistant to anticonvulsant drugs. While evidence that supports this claim is still mostly anecdotal, scientists are starting to perform studies to better understand how CBD can be beneficial in treating seizures in dogs, as well as other illnesses.
CBD Oil 101
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second active component in the cannabis plant, or marijuana. Unlike its primary active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not have a psychoactive effect - or the high associated with cannabis. The CBD content of cannabis is partly responsible for the plant’s medicinal properties, such as providing relief from anxiety, nausea, and pain and acting as an anticonvulsant and calmative, among many others.
CBD is more abundant in the hemp plant, a cousin to cannabis. The hemp plant also contains THC, but only in trace amounts so that it does not cause any high. Hemp-derived cannabidiol, therefore, delivers the positive health effects with no risk of altering brain function and is the ideal choice for pet parents looking for a safe and effective alternative treatment for their dogs.
Seizures in dogs can manifest as anything from a twitch to uncontrollable shaking. They might be over quickly, or they might last for several minutes. Causes of seizures vary from dog to dog.
Seizures in Dogs
Dog seizures may be caused by any of the following:
- A reaction to topical flea and tick medication
- A reaction to vaccines
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Head injury
- An underlying health condition, such as cancer, kidney disease, or liver disease
- Exposure to or ingestion of chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides
Regular seizures are often attributed to idiopathic generalized epilepsies, which are a type of epilepsy that is not associated with any brain abnormalities. The seizures are caused by bursts of uncontrolled neural electricity. The condition has no cure; treatment for epilepsy most involves managing the symptoms, particularly the epileptic convulsions.
Idiopathic generalized epilepsy may be a genetic disorder and affects up to 5.7% of all pet dogs - this makes it the most common neurologic condition among domesticated canines. Common epileptic medications or anticonvulsants, such as phenobarbital, potassium bromide, and diazepam are not always effective in controlling seizures; in fact, about 30% of dogs do not respond to any anticonvulsive drugs at all and continue to experience seizures even while taking them. Additionally, these drugs often have serious side effects.
CBD Oil for Dog Seizures
Like humans, dogs have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is localized in the central and peripheral nervous systems and is responsible for the regulation of several physiological processes, such as appetite, memory, metabolism, mood, pain, stress, sleep, immune function, and reproductive function. The ECS acts as a signalling system: endocannabinoids are released in response to a trigger and attach to cannabinoid receptors to produce the associated response, such as pain in response to an injury.
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 receptors are found in the nervous system and CB2 receptors are located in the immune system. The CB1 receptors are those which are involved in seizures.
Cannabidiol acts similarly to endocannabinoids so that it has the ability to bind with cannabinoid receptors. According to one theory on how CBD helps control seizures, because the binding of endocannabinoids that trigger seizures with CB1 receptors are blocked by CBD, the seizure response is prevented.
One clinical study performed by veterinary neurologist at Colorado State University, Dr. Stephanie McGrath, looked at how CBD affects the frequency of seizures in dogs. Their initial findings showed that CBD oil resulted in a distinct reduction in seizures and that the amount of CBD concentration in the dog’s blood determines the degree of seizure reduction.
The science that supports the benefits of cannabidiol in veterinary medicine is still lacking, but the studies that have already looked into these benefits point to the potential of CBD as an effective anticonvulsant with zero to little side effects; mild drowsiness is the commonly reported side effect of CBD oil use in dogs.
Just as importantly, numerous anecdotal evidence of pet parents administering CBD oil to their canine companions with epilepsy has consistently shown that cannabidiol works in controlling seizures.
How much CBD should you give to your dog for his seizures?
The correct CBD dose to give to your dog will depend on his weight, but it’s always best to consult your vet for more accurate dosage instructions. CBD oil products made for dogs should also have dosage instructions on the product label.
In addition to CBD oil, cannabidiol is also available as chewable tablets and as treats. The oil can be used by mixing it with his food or favorite treat. Chewable tablets may be an acquired taste for your pet. CBD dog treats, on the other hand, often have a much lower CBD content as cannabidiol degrades when exposed to high temperatures during cooking.
For treatment of dog seizures, the best option is 100% pure CBD oil so that your furry friend can maximize the benefits of cannabidiol. Make sure the product you buy does not contain anything else other than cannabidiol and a carrier oil, which can be coconut, MCT, palm, olive, avocado, hemp seed, sesame, or grape seed oil.
CBD Oil for Dog Seizures - Final Thoughts
Several studies have looked at the positive health effects of CBD oil when used in animals and results have revealed a lot of promise for this chemical compound, especially when used as treatment for dog seizures.
Dog seizures associated with epilepsy sometimes do not respond well to anti-convulsive drugs, and even when they do work, these drugs have many serious side effects. Numerous anecdotal evidence and a number of studies have shown that CBD oil can be a safe and effective alternative treatment for seizures - and this is great news for dogs with epilepsy.
Talk to your veterinarian about exploring this treatment option for your pet if he suffers from seizures. Fido deserves the best treatment you can give him.