main logo


a white dog with a vial of cbd

Can CBD Oil Help Dogs With Epilepsy?

Is it true that CBD oil can help dogs with epilepsy and seizures? No systematic research has verified these claims, but anecdotal evidence suggests maybe – CBD oil might be a treatment option for a variety of problems, including canine epilepsy.

Cannabidiol is a chemical component of cannabis (marijuana) that is extracted from the plant. CBD, unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), does not produce “high” feelings. Instead, it promotes pain relief and is the major component in many cannabis pet treatments.

The majority of recurring seizures in dogs are caused by canine epilepsy. Unfortunately, anticonvulsant medications such as phenobarbital, potassium bromide, diazepam, and other therapies can have significant negative effects in some dogs. Even with medical treatment, up to 30% of dogs with epilepsy continue to have seizures.

The AKC Canine Health Foundation (AKCCHF) has recently begun a major clinical trial to evaluate CBD as a treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs.To discover more, we spoke with Dr. Diane Brown, the CEO of the AKC Canine Health Foundation, and Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a veterinary neurologist at Colorado State University who is leading the AKCCHF research effort.

Breakthrough CBD Clinical Trial

The AKCCHF’s CBD research, which may be the first peer-reviewed study to look at the impact of CBD on canine seizure activity, could be the first. “This clinical trial is essential for a lot of reasons,” Dr. McGrath added. The medical literature is sparse on CBD’s efficacy in animals. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence, but just a few, if any, well-executed research trials.

The study regarding the efficacy of CBD in treating epileptic seizures was published in 2010. It is critical research since we are always looking for a successful anticonvulsant medication to treat epilepsy in dogs. The medicines we have now are often ineffective or cause severe adverse effects, making them unsuitable for controlling seizures. CBD, on the other hand, has shown promise in alleviating epileptic episodes. As a result, if CBD is found to be an effective anticonvulsant, it would affect thousands of dogs worldwide. “We’re conducting a trial on CBD in dogs with epilepsy in a controlled research environment. The dogs participating in the study are randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or CBD oil for 12 weeks and then, after a 4-week washout period, take the opposite drug for an additional 12 weeks. Researchers and the owners are kept in the dark as to which medication is provided in each half of the research.

The researchers will also look into any possible CBD side effects in this study. Every four weeks, the dogs are examined by the researchers, have their blood tested, and receive weekly questionnaires from their owners.

Why Studies on CBD & Dog Seizures Matter

Many of the CBD products on the market are unscreened and unregulated, according to studies and regulations. Dr. McGrath was asked if pet owners should be concerned about these items. “Yes, the lack of regulation is a cause for concern,” he said. THC’s toxicity to dogs is dependent on how much of it they ingest, so not knowing its components or quantities is frightening. Hopefully, this industry will mature in the future.

AKCCHF Epilepsy Initiative

The AKCCHF has funded other research as well. The foundation has sponsored several studies to assist us advance our knowledge of epilepsy. “The AKC Canine Health Foundation has established our most recent epilepsy research program in 2017 to meet the unmet health care needs of dogs with epilepsy,” Dr. Brown added. “CHF has already resulted in the identification of genes linked to epilepsy risk factors in dogs, as well as a new treatment for use in the emergency room for dog epileptic patients. Breeders will utilize tests for genetic testing when they become accessible for specific types of epilepsy so that they may breed away from it.”

“There’s still a lot to learn about epilepsy inheritance, genes and epigenetics, nutrition, gut bacteria changes, and other potential risk factors — we’re putting money into study in these areas. “While it’s too early to draw conclusions, you can already see the true need for additional study. CHF is dedicated to obtaining and funding the finest research possible in order to address this serious problem in dogs and seek for solutions beyond gene testing alone.”

Why some dogs continue to have seizures even after medication is a mystery. CBD’s preliminary in vitro research suggests anticonvulsant activity, and Dr. McGrath is hopeful that CBD will provide better seizure control with fewer side effects.

How Can Dog Owners Help Research on Epilepsy?

It can sometimes feel like we’re powerless to assist our dogs, especially when they are afflicted with illnesses such as epilepsy. That is part of what makes the AKCCHF studies so fascinating. Dr. Brown proposed two methods for dog owners and enthusiasts to help:

  1. Make a donation to the AKC Canine Health Foundation for epilepsy research through the AKCCHF Epilepsy Initiative. This can be done on the internet or by contacting AKCCHF about supporting this research.

Participate in active AKCCHF research. The CBD study, as well as other AKCCHF research projects that need participants, may be found on its website or by calling AKCCHF at 888-682-9696. “We can do so much more for our dogs if we work together,” said Dr. Brown.

“This research will be the first to offer genuine study data to strengthen our understanding of CBD’s use in treating epileptic dogs with drug-resistant epilepsy,” Dr. Brown added. “We’ll also learn more about a safe CBD dose for dogs and any potential CBD side effects in dogs. We anticipate learning whether CBD can be used to treat epileptic dogs that are resistant to other anti-epileptic drugs, and we hope to add a new and much-needed therapy option for epileptic dogs.”