A Colorado State University pilot study found that CBD was related to seizure reduction in dogs.
As many as 5.7 percent of dogs(1) have canine epilepsy. It is the most common neurological condition in dogs. However, it’s somewhat untreatable, because the medications used to treat human epilepsy are dangerous for dogs. What few medications are available to dogs end up being largely ineffective. As such, the need for an effective and harmless treatment for canine epilepsy is urgent.
Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is an extract that comes from the cannabis plant(2). CBD has gained popularity in recent years because, unlike its cousin THC, another naturally-occurring chemical found in cannabis, it does not cause people to feel “high.” Furthermore, both anecdotal and mounting clinical evidence suggests CBD has medicinal properties in humans. Now, many dog owners are wondering if CBD could also be used to treat the same ailments in dogs.
While large-scale, in-depth research has yet to be done on the uses of CBD for dogs, one small study(3) out of Colorado State University found promising evidence for the use of CBD in treating canine epilepsy. The study was led by Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at the university’s veterinary teaching hospital and used a CBD product derived from hemp, which categorically has less than 0.3 percent of THC.
The controlled clinical trial included 16 pet dogs and specifically looked into how CBD impacted seizure frequency in the short-term. The results(4) of the study, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, showed that 89 percent of dogs being treated with CBD in the trial had reduced seizure frequency. McGrath told FOX 31 that this was “a significant reduction in seizure activity.”
Over 12 weeks from 2016 to 2017, nine of the dogs in the trial were treated with CBD, while the other seven were the control group receiving a placebo. At the same time, they were also given standard canine anticonvulsant drugs. Neither the research staff nor the dogs’ owners knew which dogs had been given CBD and which had been given a placebo.
The results also showed that CBD did not only reduce seizure frequency, but the concentration of CBD in a dog’s blood was associated with the level of seizure reduction experienced. In other words, the higher the CBD concentration, the more effective it was in reducing dogs’ seizures. McGrath calls these results, “Promising, and exciting.” Finally, an effective treatment for canine epilepsy could come into fruition in the near future.
Still, even with those promising results, more research is needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of using CBD to treat canine epilepsy. As of 2018, a new study was launched in which McGrath has adjusted the dosage of CBD used. The new trial also includes 60 pet dogs with epilepsy, a much larger sample size that can give more conclusive results. This research is ongoing, but McGrath and others are hopeful about the results.
In the meantime, knowing that CBD’s effectiveness as a treatment for dog epilepsy is not yet definitive, McGrath’s suggestion to owners of dogs with epilepsy regarding CBD is this:
“If you want to try it, it probably won’t hurt. But do we know it will help? We don’t.”
FDA Disclaimer – These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or prior to using any CBD products.