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How CBD may help reduce seizures in dogs

I’ve been very fortunate that, for most of my life, I have owned healthy dogs who have suffered from no serious health issues. However, for many dog owners that simply isn’t the case. I work pet owners on a daily basis, addressing their pets’ health and behavior issues. This allows me to see first-hand the challenges some people face, tackling difficult and confusing health issues like canine epilepsy.

Epilepsy in Dogs

Until recently, I was unaware that epilepsy is the most common neurological condition in dogs. I also did not know that almost one-third of dogs gain little relief from standard anticonvulsant medications.

The two most common medications veterinarians currently prescribe for canine epilepsy are potassium bromide and phenobarbital. Although these drugs can help some dogs with uncontrolled seizures, many pet owners find that neither option helps. Furthermore, the dogs who do experience a lower in frequency of seizures generally suffer from many side effects. These can markedly reduce their quality of life.

For instance, some of the side effects of potassium bromide include:

–  Sedation

–   Ataxia (loss of coordination in the hind area)

–   Increased hunger and thirst

–   Irritability and restlessness

–   Stomach upset with nausea and vomiting

Phenobarbital has an even longer list of warnings and contraindications, but the side effects are similar and include:

–   Increased hunger and thirst

–   Excessive urination

–   Weight gain

–   Ataxia

–   Depression

–   Lethargy

–   Anemia

–   Vomiting

–   The risk of developing serious liver issues

 On top of all that, missing a scheduled dose of either the above medications may trigger further seizures.

CBD for Seizures

There is some good news. Recent studies looking into the effects of CBD (cannabidiol) show promise for dogs with with epilepsy who are either on the above medications and dealing with the side effects. These studies also suggest that CBD may be effective for dogs who see no improvement with any of the available prescription drugs.


The First Study: Delivery Methods of CBD

One study, called “Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol administered by 3 different delivery methods at two different dosages to healthy dogs,” appeared in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research. It looked at both how dogs tolerated CBD and the most effective ways to administer the supplement.

The study involved giving dogs CBD two times a day in the form a capsule, an oil tincture, or a transdermal cream. The two doses were either 5 milligrams per kilogram of weight or 10 milligrams per kilogram. For reference, most of the pets I work with take 0.5 to 1 milligram per kilogram (or 2 to 5 milligrams per 10 pounds).

Oil tincture had the highest absorption rate and the CBD remained in the dog’s bloodstream for longer than the other two delivery methods. The second most successful was the capsule and the least effective was the transdermal cream. The study also discovered that oral administration led to a relatively short half life of 4.2 hours.

There were no negative side effects associated with taking CBD, although the dogs’ levels of ALP liver enzymes did rise. Nevertheless, bile acid tests were normal and there were no signs of reduced liver function or toxicity. Long term tolerance tests have not been completed at this stage.

The Second Study: Effectiveness of CBD

Whereas the first study showed how best to administer CBD, as well as the dogs’ tolerance of the substance, it didn’t measure effectiveness of CBD on untreatable seizure disorders. An epilepsy pilot study from the Colorado State University, however, examined the effectiveness of a daily CBD regimen for dogs who were already taking traditional medications for intractable uncontrolled seizures.

In this study, dogs received a full spectrum CBD oil similar to our formula at a dosage of 2.5 milligrams per kilogram of weight (or 1 milligram per 1 pound) twice a day.

The average reduction in seizures for dogs taking the CBD twice a day was 33 percent. The majority saw more than a 40-percent reduction in seizures. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that dogs taking a higher concentration of CBD saw the greatest reduction in seizure frequency.

All the dogs in this second study were previously taking potassium bromide or phenobarbital. None had any adverse reactions when they received CBD. Again, ALP liver enzymes were elevated but without reduced liver function. The dogs did not exhibit an increase in any negative behaviors, such as aggression, anxiety, excitability, or rivalry, nor did they have reduced energy levels.

The Takeaway

Full spectrum CBD oil reduced the frequency of seizures in almost all of the dogs in both of the studies.  The lack of side effects through these studies is very encouraging but an ideal dose for any specific product still needs to be established.  Although we need more studies be confirm the efficacy of CBD for long-term in for treating seizure disorders, it does seem like CBD could be a viable option for reducing seizure frequency. It also appears that the supplement is generally safe to administer along with these commonly-prescribed anticonvulsants. It is advisable to include your veterinarian in any consideration of adding CBD products to their diet .

*Nothing contained in our articles or content is or should be considered, or used as a substitute for veterinary medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Articles are designed to educate consumers on veterinary health care, behavioral and medical issues that may affect their pet’s or animal’s daily lives. Client testimonials are one person’s experience and are not a guarantee, promise, or reflection of the feeling of every user.*

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