Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide or substitute for any medical advice. If you believe your pet has a health condition that CBD could help with, please consult your veterinarian before administering any CBD product or before replacing any vet-prescribed medication for CBD.
If your dog has seizures, you know how powerless you can feel. You want to help, but can only comfort your dog until the event has passed. Between 0.05% and 5% of dogs can suffer from seizure disorders, including epilepsy and related conditions.
What Causes Canine Seizures?
Epilepsy is the most common condition that causes recurring canine seizures. Idiopathic epilepsy may be an inherited condition that is present from birth, but the underlying reason that some dogs are born with epilepsy is still unknown. Breeds that have higher incidences of idiopathic epilepsy include Labrador retrievers, border collies, Australian shepherds, beagles, German shepherds, standard poodles, and several others, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Epilepsy that occurs later in life can result from cancer or benign tumors, kidney or liver disease, head trauma, or degenerative brain disorders. Some seizure disorders can have environmental causes, such as exposure to toxins or pollutants, including pesticides and herbicides. Dog owners have reported seizures following vaccines, and infections that cause fever can lead to seizures. Out-of-balance electrolytes due to dehydration can also cause seizures of various types.
What Types of Seizures Do Dogs Have?
Veterinarians use the term “epilepsy” to refer to repeated seizures. Common terms used for seizures include “fits” or “convulsions.”
A seizure is a disturbance in the central nervous system. Canine nervous systems are similar to those of humans, but are not identical. When a dog has a seizure, the electrical signals in its brain are disturbed or disrupted, which leads to uncontrollable muscle activity. Veterinarians refer to the actual seizure as an “ictus.”
Canine seizures can last for less than a minute up to several minutes long. A severe seizure that lasts longer than five minutes is called a status epilepticus. This is a medical emergency, and if your dog suffers from a status epilepticus, you must seek veterinary attention immediately. Irreversible brain damage or even death can result from this condition.
Like people, dogs can have generalized grand mal seizures, where their entire body is involved. Other symptoms include loss of consciousness, drooling, falling over and making paddling movements, and loss of bowel and bladder control.
When the abnormal electrical activity occurs on only one side of a dog’s brain, called a focal seizure, unusual movements occur on only one side of its body. These seizures can last for just a few seconds, but can also get worse and include both sides of the brain and body.
Psychomotor seizures involve unusual behavior, like chasing an imaginary animal or attacking an invisible object. You can tell if your dog is having a psychomotor seizure if it repeats movements and vocalizations and the actions don’t fit the environment or situation.
Can CBD Help with Canine Seizures?
Veterinarians are currently prohibited from recommending CBD to owners for dog seizures, but they can legally direct owners to resources providing information about dog seizures and CBD. Epidiolex is a human medication that can help children with severe seizure disorders. It is the first cannabis-derived medication that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and, as of June 2018, it’s legal via prescription in all 50 states. The medication was approved following extensive scientific testing and verification of the its effectiveness and safety.
Many owners and holistic veterinarians have reported positive results for CBD in dogs with seizures, including those with severe disorders. The AKC is funding the first large-scale study of CBD’s benefits for canine seizures because of extensive owner and veterinarian reports of success with CBD. At least 30% of dogs with seizures don’t respond to traditional veterinary prescriptions for epilepsy, and many of these prescribed medications have undesirable side effects. According to the AKC, preliminary studies of CBD are “promising.” Study director Dr. Stephanie McGrath reported that 89% of dogs in the initial phase of the study had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.
Is CBD Safe for Dogs?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 100 cannabinoids or active compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is bioactive—not psychoactive—which means CBD doesn’t produce a high in pets or humans. As long as the CBD you’re giving your pet has been third-party tested to ensure it’s free of THC, your pet cannot get high. While THC can potentially be harmful to dogs, there are no records of CBD causing any harm to dogs.
When looking for a CBD oil for your pet, make sure it’s made from industrial hemp, a form of the cannabis plant with fibers that contain less than 0.03% THC. Curaleaf Hemp-Derived CBD Pet Drops are made from hemp, and are independently tested to ensure they’re completely free of THC.
The AKC–sponsored project that’s studying CBD’s potential benefits for dogs with epilepsy has so far uncovered no harmful side effects. Researchers are testing whether dogs can benefit from CBD for seizures because dogs have endocannabinoid systems just like humans do.
If you choose to give your dog a CBD, it’s important to understand that the way CBD binds to the receptors in the canine endocannabinoid system means that higher doses won’t necessarily produce greater effects. A safe dose of CBD for dogs starts at about 1 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight. Using this dose formula, a 22-pound dog would have a starting dose of about 10 mg of CBD. Extensive tests of CBD on lab animals show that it has only minor side effects at very high doses, including reduced appetite and reduced interest in sweet or sugary foods.
How Do You Give CBD Oil to a Dog for Seizures?
If your dog will take medication orally, the best way to ensure it’s receiving CBD into its body is to give it measured drops of a pet CBD tincture, like our Hemp-Derived CBD Pet Drops. You can provide the tincture orally or mix it into its food, or drop it into dog treats. Owners who’ve given CBD to their dogs report that their dogs don’t mind the taste. Another option could be burying pet CBD capsules in your dog’s favorite food. Try dividing the dose into halves and giving your dog half in the morning and half in the evening.
“More” doesn’t always equal “more results” with CBD, either. To discover the right dose for your dog, begin with an initial recommended dose of about 1 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight, and if needed, increase by 1 mg every few days. CBD does not work instantly, so patience is important. Instead, its beneficial effects tend to grow over time.