Seizures are one of the most common neurological disorders in dogs, with The Kennel Club estimating that 1 in 130 dogs suffer from a seizure at some point during their lifetime.
Though any fits or funny turns are usually short lived, and the dog is usually unaware of the seizure when it occurs, it can be horribly worrying for dog owners to experience.
Trips to the vet to find a cause for the seizures can often leave pet owners with more questions than answers, so it’s no surprise that owners have started to look to natural therapies rather than relying on prescription medications.
One treatment that’s been growing in popularity is CBD oil.
But what is CBD oil? Is it safe to give to dogs? And can you really use CBD oil for seizures in dogs?
First, let’s take a closer look at what can cause seizures in dogs.
What Causes Seizures In Dogs?
Seizures in dogs can manifest in different ways.
Some dogs will merely twitch or stare into space, whereas others will drop to the floor and lose consciousness or shake uncontrollably for several minutes.
Dog seizures are commonly caused by a head injury, eating something poisonous, liver disease, or low blood sugar (for diabetic dogs). More rarely, they can be caused by a tumour.
However, if your dog is suffering from regular seizures then canine epilepsy – bursts of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain – is the most likely cause as it can be common in some dog breeds, particularly in younger dogs under the age of 6.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant.
The use of CBD does not create any kind of “high”, intoxicated feeling. Instead, CBD oil is frequently used as a food supplement in wellbeing programmes to support a healthy lifestyle by supporting the endocannabinoid system (ECS) inside the body.
Like humans, dogs also have an endocannabinoid system, and research has found that cannabidiol binds to the endocannabinoid receptors found throughout the nervous system, immune system and the brain and interact to change the way the body responds.
Does CBD Oil Reduce Seizures In Dogs?
One scientist in Colorado has described using CBD oil for dogs as “promising and exciting” for the management of seizures.
In their study, dogs were treated with CBD to help reduce the frequency of their seizures.
89% percent of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures, and there was a direct correlation between the amount of CBD oil administered and the frequency of the seizures.
Although the study was only conducted on a small scale, this is hugely positive news and potentially means that dogs could benefit from using the natural CBD oil instead of, or alongside, more traditional anticonvulsant medicines.
How Does CBD Oil Help With Seizures In Dogs?
Much like humans, dogs also have an endocannabinoid system that regulates the body and keeps it well balanced.
This endocannabinoid system has two main types of receptors – CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.
The CB2 receptors are more commonly found in the immune system, and CBD can help restore balance there by interacting with this receptor following injury or illness.
The CB1 receptors, on the other hand, are more common in the brain and nervous system. CBD binds with these receptors and interacts to help calm overactive neurons, which could be why it has been shown to help control seizures.
Is It Safe To Use CBD Oil For Seizures In Dogs?
According to the World Health Organization, CBD oil is deemed to be very safe for human consumption and side effects are rare – and typically mild if they do occur.
Research into CBD oil side effects for dogs is currently limited, but it is widely considered to be safe, and beneficial to use for seizures, as well as for other wider health problems such as anxiety, pain and digestive ailments.
Some pet parents have reported dry mouth and slight drowsiness following CBD treatment but again, these are rare and mild.
However, CBD oil isn’t just used for dog seizures.
Some dog owners use CBD oil as a supplement to reduce separation anxiety, which can cause dogs to howl when their owners leave the house; while others use it to help relieve the symptoms of joint pain and arthritis in older pets.
Because the CBD interacts with all the endocannabinoid receptors, it appears to be able to change the body’s response to all sorts of ailments, so there are many conditions that people try to treat with CBD products.
How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog?
If your dog is experiencing seizures of any kind we would always recommend speaking to your veterinarian so that the root cause of the problem can be found, and to discuss whether or not CBD oil might be a suitable treatment for your pet.
If you do decide to use CBD oil as a form of alternative therapy then start with a small dose and gradually build it up if seizures continue.
Be sure to consider the size of your dog, the ailment you are dealing with and the potency of the CBD product you have chosen.
Most reputable CBD product shops will be able to advise you on a starter dose, but be sure to keep a close eye on your dog after giving CBD oil. Look out for any side effects or changes in the dog’s behaviour, and stop immediately if you do notice any negative side effects.
It’s also wise to stick with CBD oil drops rather than CBD dog treats as you can more closely monitor the dosage you’re giving to your dog, and increase or decrease the dose more easily.
The Bottom Line
While studies have shown that CBD oil can be highly effective in treating seizures in dogs, owners still need to be responsible when giving CBD to their pets.
Do some research yourself, ensure your pet’s safety is always the priority, and if you do choose to give your dog CBD oil, pick a good quality, reputable product and start with a small dose.