Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition in dogs and probably the scariest for pet owners to watch. In this article, we will focus on CBD for pets and it's use in dogs with seizure episodes. 

From decreased seizure frequency and intensity to enhanced efficacy of traditional anti-epileptic drugs – the use of CBD oil for dog seizure management shows promising results

Keep reading to learn more about dog seizures and get information on scientific papers and clinical trials on how CBD oil can help manage canine epilepsy.

How does CBD Oil Help With Seizures in Dogs?

CBD Oil for Dog Seizures

In dogs, CBD oil works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a regulatory system that promotes homeostasis – a state of overall health and balance. 

More specifically, CBD oil acts by binding with the endocannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors are scattered in several peripheral organs.   

On the other hand, a seizure is defined as a burst of uncontrolled electrical activity between brain cells (also called neurons or nerve cells). The hectic and abnormal distribution of signals results in inflammation of the neurons (neuroinflammation). 

Studies suggest that the ECS is closely linked with epilepsy and neuroinflammation. Considering that cannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol, has antiepileptic and anticonvulsant features as well as anti-inflammatory properties, it is safe to assume that CBD can be used in the management of seizures. 

To be more accurate, CBD oil contains two anti-epileptic (anti-seizure) compounds (cannabidiol – CBD and cannabidivarin – CBDV). Both of these compounds affect TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid 1). 

TRPV1 is a pain receptor located in brain areas (hippocampus) generally associated with seizure activities. The working theory is that cannabidiol and cannabidivarin can prevent epileptic seizures by inhibiting the TRPV1 located in the hippocampus. 

Similarly, another study showed that CBD could modulate neuron excitability by affecting not only the TRPV1 receptors but two other seizure-related receptors – the orphan G protein-coupled receptor-55 (GPR55) and the equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT-1).

Studies on CBD Oil & Dog Seizures

As a herbal remedy with antiepileptic and anticonvulsant features, CBD oil decreases the seizure frequency in both dogs and humans. In fact, a study showed that CBD decreases both the frequency and severity of seizures and is associated with fewer side effects than conventional treatments.

A study comparing the anticonvulsant effects of CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) discovered that CBD has a more defined anticonvulsant profile in animals which is in fact great news considering that THC is toxic to pets. 

Studies also suggest that cannabinoids can enhance the effects of clobazam and other traditionally used anti-epilepsy drugs. Interestingly, a recent study showed that even synthetic CBD oil versions are efficient in seizure management, decreasing both the frequency and intensity of seizure episodes.  

Studies have shown positive results in humans, stating that CBD shows anticonvulsant effects, acts as a neuroprotectant. Since humans and dogs share the same ECS, there's promising anecdotal evidence that CBD oil can help dog seizures in a similar way it does in humans. 

How to Treat Dog Seizures With CBD Oil

CBD for Dog Seizures

If you want to help your dog reduce the frequency and intensity of its seizures, you should administer CBD oil for dog seizures regularly. This can be done once or twice a day at mealtime. 

Adding CBD oil to your dog's seizure management plan starts with finding the right CBD product. CBD oil for dog seizures comes from the hemp plant rather than marijuana, so it does not contain the high-inducing compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. 

Sometimes labels can be confusing, though, so it is important to know the difference between hemp seed oil vs. CBD oil for dogs because they will not have the same benefits for your pet. 

It is also important to look from full-spectrum oil instead of broad-spectrum or isolate products. Finally, make sure you purchase CBD oil from a reputable manufacturer using only high-quality and organic ingredients. 

Does CBD Work for Seizures in Dogs?

There is a lot of potential for treating dog seizures with CBD oil. The AKC Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF) has recently commenced a clinical trial to analyze CBD oil for dogs to treat dog seizures. 

Running with two important figures in the veterinary field: Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a veterinary neurologist at Colorado State University, and Dr. Diane Brown, the CEO of the AKCCHF, this groundbreaking study is the foundation for proving CBD's efficacy in seizures management in dogs. 

Before this trial began, there was little research on CBD oil for dog seizures. All prior evidence has been mostly anecdotal. The AKCCHF's study is the first one that is well-executed and based on scientific findings.

The study began by administering CBD oil for dogs to nine canines and a placebo to seven others in a controlled research setting. Both the owners and researchers were unaware of which drug the dogs received. 

For the next 12 weeks, the researchers observed the dogs' seizures. After the initial 12 weeks were up, the dogs went through a 4-week washout period. Then, the dogs received whichever drug they didn't receive the first time around for an additional twelve weeks. 

All CBD used during this trial was from hemp-derived sources and contained less than 0.3% THC. Because it met these requirements, it was completely legal and ethical to use in research, according to the 2014 U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Bill. 

According to a report released by ScienceDaily, nearly 90% of dogs in this study who received the CBD experienced fewer seizures. This result was a significant finding, as no other strong evidence like it exists. 

How Much CBD do I Give My Dog for Seizures?

CBD Oil vs. Other Seizure Medications

Finding the right dosage for your dog usually takes some trial and error. When you give your dog CBD oil for seizure control rather than general well-being, you will need to experiment with higher dosages to produce the intended effects.  

However, the general rule of thumb is to start with a smaller dosage and see how your pup reacts. The good news is a dog cannot overdose on CBD oil.  Your dog should not experience any adverse effects but monitor his reactions just in case. 

Your dog's body weight is the most important factor when calculating the correct CBD amount. Obviously, a 75-pound dog will need much more CBD oil than a 5-pound dog to experience seizure management. Dogs usually need between 1 and 5 mg of CBD per 10lbs of body weight.

As you start to get into a routine with your pup, you can follow the dosage instructions on your product's packaging more closely. At Honest Paws, we have a CBD oil for dogs dose calculator that factors in your dog's size and weight for the perfect dosage amount.

Risks & Side Effects of CBD Oil for Dogs With Seizures

Treat Your Dog's Seizures with CBD Oil

The use of CBD oil is rarely associated with side effects. However, at the beginning of the treatment, some dogs might experience mild and transient side effects in the form of:

However, CBD may interact with certain medications – in terms of enhancing or decreasing their effects. Therefore, before starting your dog on CBD, you must talk with your trusted vet. The veterinarian will monitor the CBD effects and modify the doses if necessary. 

Can CBD Oil Make Seizures Worse?

Studies in humans suggest that some patients may experience increased seizure activity after starting CBD treatment.  However, this issue is usually associated with particularly high doses and in patients taking other drugs with which the CBD oil is expected to interact. 

Increased seizure activity can also occur after abrupt discontinuation of the CBD treatment. If you plan on taking off your dog from CBD, do the transition gradually by slowly tapering down the dosage. 

Common Types of Dog Seizures

Seizures are defined as uncontrolled electricity outbursts in the brain. According to Ernest Ward, DVM, the most common cause of seizures in dogs is idiopathic epilepsy. 

Idiopathic epilepsy is an inherited condition with an unknown cause. Certain breeds like Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, and German Shepherds have a higher than average risk of developing this type of seizure.  

The Different Seizure Types 

Psychomotor Seizures

Psychomotor seizures cause dogs to exhibit abnormal behavior like excessively chasing their tails or biting imaginary objects. A psychomotor seizure will not cause your dog to fall to the floor.

Focal Seizures

A focal seizure only occurs on one side of the body. Focal seizures can develop into the next type.

Grand Mal Seizures

These are generalized, all-over seizures resulting from abnormal electrical activity in the brain. A grand mal seizure will make your dog fall to the floor. 

Potential Causes of Seizures

Some other potential causes of seizures include:

  • Inflammatory brain diseases like encephalitis

  • Brain tumors

  • Infectious diseases

  • Metabolic derangements

  • Strokes

  • Anemia

  • Electrolyte imbalances

  • Kidney or liver disease

  • Poisoning

Dog Seizure Symptoms

Sometimes the symptoms of seizures in dogs are subtle – in the form of a slight facial tremor or a pattern of unusual barking. Other times they are accompanied by the following signs and symptoms: 

  • Foaming at the mouth

  • Drooling

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Collapsing to the floor

  • Muscle twitching

  • Jerking

  • Whole-body stiffening

  • Chomping

  • Paddling motion with legs (if your dog has fallen on his side)

  • Incontinence (urinary or fecal)

Watching your dog experience a seizure can be scary, especially since the jerky movements look painful. However, as horrifying as a dog seizure looks, this event is not typically painful.

The only time your dog might feel pain is if it hits the floor or an object too hard while convulsing. However, the seizure activity is not painful on its own. 

What can I Give My Dog for Seizures?

There are several registered anti-epileptic drugs (AED). The most popular AED choices include phenobarbital, potassium bromide, levetiracetam, and zonisamide. However, the use of these medications is associated with several caveats:   

  • High risk of severe side effects (ataxia, sedation, vomiting, increased or absent appetite, cytopenia (decreased blood cells numbers), and liver toxicity)

  • Possible tolerance development

  • Not 100% efficient in all seizure patients

On the other hand, the benefits of CBD oil as a natural remedy are scientifically-backed, and its use is associated with fewer and lesser side effects. 

Plus, CBD products are available in various forms (CBD oils, CBD dog treats, and CBD capsules), thus making their implementation straightforward. 

CBD Oil for Dog Seizures: Our Final Thoughts

pet owner with happy puppy

CBD oil is a natural way to treat seizures. Many owners opt for CBD oil for dogs instead of traditional medications because of its proven efficacy and safety. 

Honest Paws CBD products for pets are made with care and 100% all-natural ingredients – because your dog deserves the best. Don't just take our word for it though, read through our CBD for dogs reviews to learn more about CBD for your pet.