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It is likely that your dog has been prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) to control the seizure, but, is there anything else you could do to help control epilepsy? Cannabidiol (CBD) is an extract of the cannabis plant. CBD is associated with pain relief and seizure control in human studies and it is the main ingredient in many cannabis pet products.

Whether CBD supplementation significantly reduces seizures in epileptic dogs is yet to be proven; however scientific studies suggest that it may be helpful in certain cases.

A recent study evaluated cbd oil for pets derived from a hemp plant that contains less than 0.3% of the psychoactive component THC. Epileptic dogs in this study were divided in 2 groups, one group receiving 2.5mg per kilogram of CBD oil twice a day, and the other group receiving placebo (no CBD). Dogs were evaluated for 12 weeks in a double-blinded cross-over study. Dogs’ owners in the CBD group reported an average of 33% reduction in seizure frequency, compared with the placebo group. However, the proportion of dogs considered responders to treatment (≥ 50% decrease in seizure activity) was similar between groups. Another interesting finding is that higher blood concentrations of CBD correlated with higher seizure control.

Side effects reported were incoordination in 2 dogs, but no behavioural changes were observed, and the CBD oil was very well tolerated at the provided doses. A larger study is ongoing to determine the optimal dose of CBD oil for dogs and what effect that would have on seizure reduction.

When using cbd oil for pets, care should be taken, due to the lack of regulation in CBD products marketed for dogs: CBD can be toxic at high doses, and not knowing the exact constituents and quantities of those constituents in a particular product is dangerous.

With the publication of new studies, it is hoped that a safe and effective dose of CBD could be determined for dogs with epilepsy. CBD may be particularly useful to treat dogs that are resistant to other anti-epileptic medications, providing another step towards the successful treatment of canine epilepsy.

Canine epilepsy is the most common cause of recurrent seizures in dogs. Unfortunately, the medications used to treat epilepsy, such as phenobarbital, potassium bromide, diazepam, and other anticonvulsant drugs, can cause serious side effects in some dogs. Even with medication, up to 30 percent of dogs with epilepsy continue to experience seizures.

The AKC Canine Health Foundation (AKCCHF) recently announced a major clinical trial to study CBD as a treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs. We talked with Dr. Diane Brown, the chief executive officer of the AKC Canine Health Foundation, and Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a veterinary neurologist at Colorado State University and the principal investigator for the AKCCHF research project, to find out more.

Breakthrough CBD Clinical Trial

The AKCCHF’s CBD study could be the first published, large-scale study to examine the effects of CBD on seizure activity in dogs. “This clinical trial is important for several reasons. Generally speaking, the science supporting CBD use in veterinary medicine is lacking. There is abundant anecdotal evidence, but very few, if any, well-executed research studies.

Regarding the epilepsy study specifically, it is important to work because we are constantly searching for an effective anticonvulsant drug to treat epilepsy in dogs. The drugs we currently have available frequently cause intolerable side effects or do not work well enough to control seizures. Therefore, if CBD does prove to be an effective anticonvulsant, this would affect thousands of dogs worldwide.”

Why Studies on CBD & Dog Seizures Matter

Without studies and regulations, many of the CBD products on the market are untested and unregulated. When asked if pet owners should be wary of these products “Yes, the lack of regulation is of great concern. Not knowing the exact constituents and quantities of those constituents in a particular product is scary, especially with the knowledge that at certain doses, THC can be toxic to dogs. Hopefully, this market will change in the future.”

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