Can CBD Help Dogs with Seizures? [What Research Says]

If you’ve read about CBD’s benefits for epilepsy in people and you’re wondering if it might also be helpful for your dog, you’re in the right place. 

Lots of pet parents (many of our customers among them) have reported that CBD is helpful for their dogs’ seizures – but it’s not a perfect replacement for canine epilepsy medications or other treatments. And it may not work the same for every dog. 

Still, hemp-derived CBD may have serious therapeutic benefits in this area. In this article, we’ll take a look at the scientific and anecdotal evidence behind CBD for canine epilepsy, and we’ll cover other important points to help you best help your dog. 

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Based on the currently available research, it seems that CBD can likely provide benefits to dogs with epilepsy and/or seizures. CBD is currently FDA-approved as the drug Epidiolex for some forms of epileptic seizures in humans.
  • Scientific research and first-hand experience show that CBD is safe for dogs with seizures, and generally causes very few side effects, if any.
  • More research is needed on CBD for canine epilepsy and seizures before we know if it’s a viable long-term treatment.

dog rolling in grass with natural ways cbd bacon flavored cbd pet treats

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in the hemp plant. Hemp is a type of cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

While CBD is mainly used to address various conditions in people, it’s also become popular for its wide range of therapeutic uses for dogs, including with separation anxiety, aggression, inflammation, arthritis, skin conditions, seizures, and more. 

Causes of Seizures in Dogs

Seizures may occur just once in your dog, or they may happen in clusters. They can happen unpredictably, or they may be regular. Canine epilepsy refers to repeated episodes of seizures in dogs. 

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, one of the most common causes of seizure in dogs is idiopathic epilepsy, an inherited genetic disorder with no clear cause. Seizures may also occur if your dog is dealing with specific medical conditions, including:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Brain trauma
  • Toxin buildup
  • Brain tumors

Most types of seizures pose very little risk to your dog’s health in isolation, presuming they occur in a location where your dog won’t get hurt while they’re happening. The exception to this is status epilepticus, in which your dog’s seizure lasts for five or more minutes – your dog needs to seek immediate emergency care, or they may die or suffer irreversible brain damage.

Despite seizures themselves being more of a symptom than a large issue, they need to be treated so they don’t become more of a problem for your dog. Your veterinarian can help you determine what the best course of treatment is for your dog’s seizures. 

Symptoms of Seizures in Dogs

Seizures come in many forms, and dogs will display very different symptoms. According to MedVet, a leading pet emergency care provider, symptoms of seizures in dogs include:

  • Unnecessary chomping or biting motions
  • Having trouble walking or balancing
  • Collapsing or stiffening
  • Foaming at the mouth or drooling excessively
  • Looking dazed, then dropping to the floor
  • Losing consciousness
  • Losing control of bodily functions and urinating or defecating
  • Repeating odd behaviors
  • Jerking or twitching
  • Laying on their side and kicking their legs (as if they were swimming)

Seizures typically occur in three phases: the pre-ictal phase, the ictal phase, and the post-ictal phase. 

Without going into too much detail, the pre-ictal phase is a period of abnormal, nervous behavior that occurs before the seizure activity, the ictal phase is the seizure activity, when the above symptoms may occur, and the post-ictal phase is the period after the seizure activity that’s characterized by lethargy.

Can CBD Help With Seizures in Dogs?

Research on rodents, as well as clinical trials with dogs (which we’ll get into in a moment), indicates CBD may be beneficial for canine epilepsy and seizure. 

CBD is already used for seizures in humans. Not only do people use CBD as an alternative to medications like Keppra, but CBD is even FDA-approved for seizure treatment in the form of Epidiolex. Epidiolex is a prescription for specific forms of epilepsy that consists of CBD isolate. 

In addition to being potentially effective at treating seizures in dogs, CBD is safe for dogs and does not cause any significant side effects – in this respect, it may be a healthier option for your pup than some seizure medications. 

24webp
Wellness for your pet, the natural way.

Your pet deserves the best. Discover our collection of lab-tested CBD oil, treats, and bones for pets.

CBD for Dog Seizures: What Research Says

Although more research is needed on CBD before we know its reliability as a seizure treatment for dogs, preliminary studies are promising. 

One study tested CBD on rat and mouse models of epileptic seizure in dogs (i.e. simulations of seizures and CBD response based on medical data) and concluded that CBD is an effective antiseizure agent.

While this research is enlightening, what are the results of research that involved actual CBD clinical trials with dogs?

A study that tested CBD for seizures in dogs with genetic epilepsy yielded promising results: 6 of the 14 dogs showed a 50% reduction in epileptic activity after receiving a combination of CBD and CBDa (CBDa is the acidic form of CBD; it also has many benefits). A reduction of over 50% was not seen in any of the 14 dogs who did not take CBD – a clear indication that CBD can make things better.

The study concluded by saying “a CBD/CBDA-rich hemp extract can have benefits in reducing the incidence of epileptic seizures.”

Another clinical trial found that 89% of dogs who used CBD (the study also had a control group of dogs who were not given CBD) experienced a reduction in seizures. 

Based on the currently available research, there’s a good possibility that CBD has anti-seizure benefits, and there’s a reasonable chance it can help your dog if they’re dealing with seizures. 

Still, more research is needed to determine the extent of CBD’s efficacy for canine seizures, and scientists haven’t yet been able to provide specific CBD usage and dosage recommendations for dogs struggling with seizures – there’s still a lot we don’t know. 

How Does CBD Work in Dogs?

CBD works in dogs much similar to how it does in humans: by interacting with their endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

Humans, as well as most mammals, have an ECS, which is a receptor system that keeps the body in a state of homeostasis, or balance. Healthy ECS function is associated with normal health states in dogs. 

While researchers have yet to determine exactly how CBD interacts with the ECS in dogs, more studies suggest that by supporting ECS function, CBD can render various therapeutic benefits – including for seizures. 

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

Research in humans indicates CBD is well-tolerated in humans and has very few side effects, and scientists have made similar observations in dogs. 

In the 14-dog clinical trial referenced above, the researchers found that there was no difference in effects in the dogs who took CBD and those who did not. Another study, which looked at the effects of CBD on dogs over a six-month period, found that it was well-tolerated. 

Overall, science shows that CBD has the potential to reduce seizures for dogs while causing minimal or no adverse effects. 

When Is CBD Appropriate Instead of Seizure Medications? 

To learn more about seizure treatment for dogs, check out this resource from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. 

While we do not have veternary expertise, and therefore, we can’t tell you when it might be right to use CBD instead of seizure medications for your dog. But we can give you a few relevant words of caution. 

If your dog is already taking seizure medications prescribed by their veterinarian, do not attempt to also give them CBD in addition to, or in lieu of, their prescription, unless under the direction of your vet. 

The pausing of seizure medications can result is serious adverse effects, and your dog may experience more severe seizures than they did prior to starting treatment. 

Instead, only use CBD if your veterinarian approves it. In some situations, your dog’s vet may recommend supplementing (not replacing) your dog’s treatment with CBD, while in other cases, your vet may suggest you use CBD instead of prescriptions if your dog hasn’t begun taking them yet. 

But in either case, we do not recommend using CBD with your dog for seizures without first consulting a veterinary professional. Keep in mind that in some states, veternarians may not be able to discuss CBD with you, as it’s not a completely proven treatment. 

What to Do If Your Dog Has a Seizure

If your dog begins to have a seizure, stay calm – remember, it’s a sign of abnormal motor activity in the brain, not a disease in and of itself. 

Then, Healthcare Provider MedVet suggests you follow the STAR method:

  • S — Secure the area. Move your pet away from anything that may cause harm to them, like stairs, bodies of water, and sharp or blunt objects. If they are on a hard surface like concrete or wooden floor, consider cushioning their head. 
  • T — Time and track episodes. Time the seizure(s) and track how often they occur. If you can, use your phone to record a video of the incident. This will help your veternarian decide what’s going on with your pup and what should be done about it. 
  • A — Avoid their mouth. There is a misconception that dogs swallow their tongues while seizing, and as such, you should try to reach into their mouth. This does not happen; instead, you need to avoid your dog’s mouth so you don’t get injured, as chomping and biting are common side effects of seizures. 
  • R — Reach out to your veterinarian. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your dog is experiencing a prolonged seizure or a cluster of seizures, seek emergency medical care immediately. 

How to Give Your Dog CBD for Seizures

If you and your veterinarian have decided that CBD is the right option for your dog, here’s some information about different CBD delivery methods. 

CBD Pet Oils

Oils are a versatile CBD delivery method for dogs because you can customize their dose down to the drop via the metered dropper. Oils also come in a wide variety of strengths, so you’ll have many options in terms of potency.

CBD oil can either be mixed into your dog’s food or given to them directly. However, if you choose the direct route, you might have to pry your dog’s mouth open to administer the CBD oil — depending on the dog, this can be a bit difficult.

CBD Pet Treats

Most dogs love the taste of CBD-infused pet treats, so this delivery method is often the easiest option. Treats are fixed-dose (each piece will contain the same amount of CBD) — this can be an upside or a downside, depending on the dose your dog needs.

Additionally, treats aren’t as messy as oils can be, making them a great option if your dog needs CBD on the go.

CBD Dog Bones

CBD dog bones are great for keeping your dog occupied and delivering a little bit of relaxation, but they aren’t the most effective CBD delivery method.

Most bones don’t contain enough CBD to render major therapeutic benefits, and it’s hard to gauge how much CBD your dog is getting from a bone each time they chew on it.

For therapeutic uses, oil or treats are a better choice. 

What Type of CBD Is Best for Dog Seizures?

There are three main types of CBD extract. 

  • Full-spectrum CBD – Contains small amounts of other cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBN, and THC, as well as terpenes, in addition to CBD. This extract is the natural form in which CBD is found in hemp. 
  • Broad-spectrum CBD – This extract is the same as full-spectrum CBD, minus the THC. 
  • CBD isolate – Consists only of CBD. 

Generally, products made with full-spectrum CBD extract are the most beneficial for dogs, due to the range of other cannabinoids and compounds they contain. 

The compounds that naturally occur in the hemp plant work together to create stronger therapeutic benefits than cannabinoids can give in isolation – this is known as the entourage effect. And the trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum products won’t adversely affect your pup – in fact, it may contribute to the benefits of CBD for epilepsy. 

When Should You Give Your Dog CBD for Seizures?

Ultimately, you should time your dog’s CBD doses based on what your veterinarian says. But CBD is best thought of as a general preventive, rather than something that can instantly reduce seizures. 

Based on this, aim to give your dog daily doses of CBD to help their bodily systems keep themselves in balance. 

CBD Dosage for Dog Seizures

As with timing, you should consult your veterinarian about how much CBD to give your dog for seizures. 

But to get a good idea of your dog’s dose beforehand, you can use the following formula for a medium-strength dose of CBD:

(your dog’s body weight in lbs.) x (0.2) = your dog’s daily dose of CBD in mg. 

Learn More: CBD Dosage Calculator, Chart, and Guide for Dogs

Once your dog has used their dose a few times, you’ll likely need to adjust it up or down depending on how it’s working for the, and what your vet recommends. 

Conclusion: Is CBD A Natural Alternative to Address Seizures in Dogs?

Hemp-derived CBD is best thought of as a supplement for seizures and epilepsy in dogs, rather than a bulletproof treatment. Research, while promising, is still ongoing, and there’s a lot we don’t know about CBD – especially about how it compares to traditional seizure treatment methods.

If CBD is the right option for your dog, though, be sure to use it carefully: this will ensure your furry friend gets the care they need while staying safe.

If you’ve read about CBD’s benefits for epilepsy in people and you’re wondering if it might also be helpful for your dog, you’re in the right place. 

Lots of pet parents (many of our customers among them) have reported that CBD is helpful for their dogs’ seizures – but it’s not a perfect replacement for canine epilepsy medications or other treatments. And it may not work the same for every dog. 

Still, hemp-derived CBD may have serious therapeutic benefits in this area. In this article, we’ll take a look at the scientific and anecdotal evidence behind CBD for canine epilepsy, and we’ll cover other important points to help you best help your dog. 

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Based on the currently available research, it seems that CBD can likely provide benefits to dogs with epilepsy and/or seizures. CBD is currently FDA-approved as the drug Epidiolex for some forms of epileptic seizures in humans.
  • Scientific research and first-hand experience show that CBD is safe for dogs with seizures, and generally causes very few side effects, if any.
  • More research is needed on CBD for canine epilepsy and seizures before we know if it’s a viable long-term treatment.

dog rolling in grass with natural ways cbd bacon flavored cbd pet treats

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in the hemp plant. Hemp is a type of cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

While CBD is mainly used to address various conditions in people, it’s also become popular for its wide range of therapeutic uses for dogs, including with separation anxiety, aggression, inflammation, arthritis, skin conditions, seizures, and more. 

Causes of Seizures in Dogs

Seizures may occur just once in your dog, or they may happen in clusters. They can happen unpredictably, or they may be regular. Canine epilepsy refers to repeated episodes of seizures in dogs. 

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, one of the most common causes of seizure in dogs is idiopathic epilepsy, an inherited genetic disorder with no clear cause. Seizures may also occur if your dog is dealing with specific medical conditions, including:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Brain trauma
  • Toxin buildup
  • Brain tumors

Most types of seizures pose very little risk to your dog’s health in isolation, presuming they occur in a location where your dog won’t get hurt while they’re happening. The exception to this is status epilepticus, in which your dog’s seizure lasts for five or more minutes – your dog needs to seek immediate emergency care, or they may die or suffer irreversible brain damage.

Despite seizures themselves being more of a symptom than a large issue, they need to be treated so they don’t become more of a problem for your dog. Your veterinarian can help you determine what the best course of treatment is for your dog’s seizures. 

Symptoms of Seizures in Dogs

Seizures come in many forms, and dogs will display very different symptoms. According to MedVet, a leading pet emergency care provider, symptoms of seizures in dogs include:

  • Unnecessary chomping or biting motions
  • Having trouble walking or balancing
  • Collapsing or stiffening
  • Foaming at the mouth or drooling excessively
  • Looking dazed, then dropping to the floor
  • Losing consciousness
  • Losing control of bodily functions and urinating or defecating
  • Repeating odd behaviors
  • Jerking or twitching
  • Laying on their side and kicking their legs (as if they were swimming)

Seizures typically occur in three phases: the pre-ictal phase, the ictal phase, and the post-ictal phase. 

Without going into too much detail, the pre-ictal phase is a period of abnormal, nervous behavior that occurs before the seizure activity, the ictal phase is the seizure activity, when the above symptoms may occur, and the post-ictal phase is the period after the seizure activity that’s characterized by lethargy.

Can CBD Help With Seizures in Dogs?

Research on rodents, as well as clinical trials with dogs (which we’ll get into in a moment), indicates CBD may be beneficial for canine epilepsy and seizure. 

CBD is already used for seizures in humans. Not only do people use CBD as an alternative to medications like Keppra, but CBD is even FDA-approved for seizure treatment in the form of Epidiolex. Epidiolex is a prescription for specific forms of epilepsy that consists of CBD isolate. 

In addition to being potentially effective at treating seizures in dogs, CBD is safe for dogs and does not cause any significant side effects – in this respect, it may be a healthier option for your pup than some seizure medications. 

24webp
Wellness for your pet, the natural way.

Your pet deserves the best. Discover our collection of lab-tested CBD oil, treats, and bones for pets.

CBD for Dog Seizures: What Research Says

Although more research is needed on CBD before we know its reliability as a seizure treatment for dogs, preliminary studies are promising. 

One study tested CBD on rat and mouse models of epileptic seizure in dogs (i.e. simulations of seizures and CBD response based on medical data) and concluded that CBD is an effective antiseizure agent.

While this research is enlightening, what are the results of research that involved actual CBD clinical trials with dogs?

A study that tested CBD for seizures in dogs with genetic epilepsy yielded promising results: 6 of the 14 dogs showed a 50% reduction in epileptic activity after receiving a combination of CBD and CBDa (CBDa is the acidic form of CBD; it also has many benefits). A reduction of over 50% was not seen in any of the 14 dogs who did not take CBD – a clear indication that CBD can make things better.

The study concluded by saying “a CBD/CBDA-rich hemp extract can have benefits in reducing the incidence of epileptic seizures.”

Another clinical trial found that 89% of dogs who used CBD (the study also had a control group of dogs who were not given CBD) experienced a reduction in seizures. 

Based on the currently available research, there’s a good possibility that CBD has anti-seizure benefits, and there’s a reasonable chance it can help your dog if they’re dealing with seizures. 

Still, more research is needed to determine the extent of CBD’s efficacy for canine seizures, and scientists haven’t yet been able to provide specific CBD usage and dosage recommendations for dogs struggling with seizures – there’s still a lot we don’t know. 

How Does CBD Work in Dogs?

CBD works in dogs much similar to how it does in humans: by interacting with their endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

Humans, as well as most mammals, have an ECS, which is a receptor system that keeps the body in a state of homeostasis, or balance. Healthy ECS function is associated with normal health states in dogs. 

While researchers have yet to determine exactly how CBD interacts with the ECS in dogs, more studies suggest that by supporting ECS function, CBD can render various therapeutic benefits – including for seizures. 

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

Research in humans indicates CBD is well-tolerated in humans and has very few side effects, and scientists have made similar observations in dogs. 

In the 14-dog clinical trial referenced above, the researchers found that there was no difference in effects in the dogs who took CBD and those who did not. Another study, which looked at the effects of CBD on dogs over a six-month period, found that it was well-tolerated. 

Overall, science shows that CBD has the potential to reduce seizures for dogs while causing minimal or no adverse effects. 

When Is CBD Appropriate Instead of Seizure Medications? 

To learn more about seizure treatment for dogs, check out this resource from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. 

While we do not have veternary expertise, and therefore, we can’t tell you when it might be right to use CBD instead of seizure medications for your dog. But we can give you a few relevant words of caution. 

If your dog is already taking seizure medications prescribed by their veterinarian, do not attempt to also give them CBD in addition to, or in lieu of, their prescription, unless under the direction of your vet. 

The pausing of seizure medications can result is serious adverse effects, and your dog may experience more severe seizures than they did prior to starting treatment. 

Instead, only use CBD if your veterinarian approves it. In some situations, your dog’s vet may recommend supplementing (not replacing) your dog’s treatment with CBD, while in other cases, your vet may suggest you use CBD instead of prescriptions if your dog hasn’t begun taking them yet. 

But in either case, we do not recommend using CBD with your dog for seizures without first consulting a veterinary professional. Keep in mind that in some states, veternarians may not be able to discuss CBD with you, as it’s not a completely proven treatment. 

What to Do If Your Dog Has a Seizure

If your dog begins to have a seizure, stay calm – remember, it’s a sign of abnormal motor activity in the brain, not a disease in and of itself. 

Then, Healthcare Provider MedVet suggests you follow the STAR method:

  • S — Secure the area. Move your pet away from anything that may cause harm to them, like stairs, bodies of water, and sharp or blunt objects. If they are on a hard surface like concrete or wooden floor, consider cushioning their head. 
  • T — Time and track episodes. Time the seizure(s) and track how often they occur. If you can, use your phone to record a video of the incident. This will help your veternarian decide what’s going on with your pup and what should be done about it. 
  • A — Avoid their mouth. There is a misconception that dogs swallow their tongues while seizing, and as such, you should try to reach into their mouth. This does not happen; instead, you need to avoid your dog’s mouth so you don’t get injured, as chomping and biting are common side effects of seizures. 
  • R — Reach out to your veterinarian. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your dog is experiencing a prolonged seizure or a cluster of seizures, seek emergency medical care immediately. 

How to Give Your Dog CBD for Seizures

If you and your veterinarian have decided that CBD is the right option for your dog, here’s some information about different CBD delivery methods. 

CBD Pet Oils

Oils are a versatile CBD delivery method for dogs because you can customize their dose down to the drop via the metered dropper. Oils also come in a wide variety of strengths, so you’ll have many options in terms of potency.

CBD oil can either be mixed into your dog’s food or given to them directly. However, if you choose the direct route, you might have to pry your dog’s mouth open to administer the CBD oil — depending on the dog, this can be a bit difficult.

CBD Pet Treats

Most dogs love the taste of CBD-infused pet treats, so this delivery method is often the easiest option. Treats are fixed-dose (each piece will contain the same amount of CBD) — this can be an upside or a downside, depending on the dose your dog needs.

Additionally, treats aren’t as messy as oils can be, making them a great option if your dog needs CBD on the go.

CBD Dog Bones

CBD dog bones are great for keeping your dog occupied and delivering a little bit of relaxation, but they aren’t the most effective CBD delivery method.

Most bones don’t contain enough CBD to render major therapeutic benefits, and it’s hard to gauge how much CBD your dog is getting from a bone each time they chew on it.

For therapeutic uses, oil or treats are a better choice. 

What Type of CBD Is Best for Dog Seizures?

There are three main types of CBD extract. 

  • Full-spectrum CBD – Contains small amounts of other cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBN, and THC, as well as terpenes, in addition to CBD. This extract is the natural form in which CBD is found in hemp. 
  • Broad-spectrum CBD – This extract is the same as full-spectrum CBD, minus the THC. 
  • CBD isolate – Consists only of CBD. 

Generally, products made with full-spectrum CBD extract are the most beneficial for dogs, due to the range of other cannabinoids and compounds they contain. 

The compounds that naturally occur in the hemp plant work together to create stronger therapeutic benefits than cannabinoids can give in isolation – this is known as the entourage effect. And the trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum products won’t adversely affect your pup – in fact, it may contribute to the benefits of CBD for epilepsy. 

When Should You Give Your Dog CBD for Seizures?

Ultimately, you should time your dog’s CBD doses based on what your veterinarian says. But CBD is best thought of as a general preventive, rather than something that can instantly reduce seizures. 

Based on this, aim to give your dog daily doses of CBD to help their bodily systems keep themselves in balance. 

CBD Dosage for Dog Seizures

As with timing, you should consult your veterinarian about how much CBD to give your dog for seizures. 

But to get a good idea of your dog’s dose beforehand, you can use the following formula for a medium-strength dose of CBD:

(your dog’s body weight in lbs.) x (0.2) = your dog’s daily dose of CBD in mg. 

Learn More: CBD Dosage Calculator, Chart, and Guide for Dogs

Once your dog has used their dose a few times, you’ll likely need to adjust it up or down depending on how it’s working for the, and what your vet recommends. 

Conclusion: Is CBD A Natural Alternative to Address Seizures in Dogs?

Hemp-derived CBD is best thought of as a supplement for seizures and epilepsy in dogs, rather than a bulletproof treatment. Research, while promising, is still ongoing, and there’s a lot we don’t know about CBD – especially about how it compares to traditional seizure treatment methods.

If CBD is the right option for your dog, though, be sure to use it carefully: this will ensure your furry friend gets the care they need while staying safe.

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