Can CBD oil for dogs & cats help with seizures?
Not everyone may know that dogs and cats are capable of having seizures just like humans. This can be a particularly frightening experience for the pet in question, having no comprehension whatsoever of what’s happening to it, and for its human who might not know how to handle the situation.
A seizure is defined as a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain that is out of the ordinary. Ordinary electrical activity occurs when the brain cells and neurons communicate through electrical signals. Seizures are when these signals go haywire serving no apparent function.
During a seizure, a pet could fall over on their side, salivate, or urinate or defecate themselves. Depending on how severe the seizure is, it could last for a few seconds up to several minutes, and only one thing is certain—it’s a distressing experience for both pet and human.
Seizures in Dogs and Cats
Like human seizures, afflicted pets convulse and thrash wildly, which could sometimes be accompanied by yelping or whimpering. It’s safe to say that a seizure merits immediate veterinary attention.
In fact, ignoring seizures could be fatal since they can be taken as signs of an underlying condition. Such examples include brain tumors, epilepsy, trauma, and other metabolic concerns in the body like low blood sugar, high blood pressure, and others.
Determining a cause is a whole other story on its own, and a problem that both human and vet must tackle together.
Signs of a Possible Oncoming Seizure
There are many signs that may precede a seizure. One sign is the aura or focal onset, which is a mental state where the animal appears dazed, scared, worried, or stressed. Some may hide from their human while others try to get attention as a means to seek help.
A more physical manifestation would be limb or muscle contractions. It’s easy to spot when a pet is moving abnormally, either more stiffly or more sporadically than usual.
Others could also find difficulty in controlling bowel movements or urination prior to a seizure. This is because of the oncoming burst of electrical activity already affecting bodily functions.
However, majority of seizures happen while an animal is resting, usually late at night or early in the morning. This is the same for humans.
It could also be frustrating to find that by the time you get to the vet, the dog or cat has already recovered and the vet will no longer have any seizure-like behavior to observe or examine. This is why it’s important to take note of everything that’s happening to the animal during seizures so that this could be reported to the vet later.
Types of Seizures
A seizure could either affect the entire body or just a part. These are the two, basic types of seizures—
- the grand mal seizure and
- the partial seizure.
Grand Mal Seizure
The grand mal seizure, also known as a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, is the most common type to occur in both humans and pets. This type affects the two sides of the brain and therefore the entire body.
It’s quite easy to spot, since the pet usually falls on their side and goes stiff, sometimes even losing consciousness. Depending on severity, they could be helplessly paralyzed or involuntarily twitching. In a desperate attempt to regain control of their bodies, pets under a seizure may be able to paddle their legs a bit, although it might look like they’re just jerking their limbs.
On the other hand, a partial seizure only affects a small part of the brain, manifesting in a single part being able to move, often the head or the mouth or a limb or half the body. Pets could still lose consciousness, though.
Unfortunately, there’s also a high chance that animals who initially have partial seizures would later go on to have grand mal seizures. As previously mentioned, it all depends on how severe the condition is.
Scientific Research On CBD For Seizure Care
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a particular chemical compound that makes up 40% of the hemp plant’s extract. As a component of hemp, CBD oil has been studied and used for medical purposes, including the treatment of seizures.
This is mainly because cannabinoids are substances that are able to affect brain cells. Aside from CBD, the other cannabinoid used for medicinal purposes is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the component that induces the high associated with marijuana.
In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Epidiolex (1), which is a plant-based CBD formulation used in treating seizures for people 2 years old and older with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. These syndromes are variants of epilepsy.
However, since federal regulations and access have only been recently loosened, there are few studies and reports showing CBD’s effectivity in controlling seizures. Still, the existing research has shown benefits in using CBD to treat people with epilepsy.
The downside is that there are side effects, which include fatigue, sleepiness, and a lower appetite. A plant-based CBD product also cannot interact with other seizure medicines and must be the sole treatment.
Overall, it’s in its early stages of use and requires some moderation and monitoring from a doctor.
Can CBD Oil Help Dogs and Cats with Seizures?
Scientists observed that 89% of the nine dogs who received CBD in a small study had a reduction in seizure frequency (2).
The study, according to Dr. Stephanie McGrath who headed it, deemed the results promising and exciting for the future of CBD use in treating dogs and cats with epilepsy. After all, there was a proven correlation between the intake of CBD and the reduction of seizures in the dog.
McGrath, a practicing neurologist, was able to adjust CBD dose for dogs in a clinical trial that she was conducting in January 2018, which enrolled 60 dogs with epilepsy.
How Much CBD Oil Should a Dog or Cat Have?
That leads to the concern—what exactly is the recommended CBD Oil dosage for a dog or cat? Currently, there are no industry standard dosing guidelines set in place as different products and companies provides different concentration of CBD. Fortunately, there is an extensive vet-approved dosage guide that will show you the exact amount of CBD oil you should give to your dog or cat. Check out my CBD dosing chart for dogs.
The Verdict on CBD Oil for Dogs and Cats
Everyone can agree that seizures in pets like dogs and cats are quite frightening. The use of CBD oil, which is relatively new with the FDA only approving it in 2018, has been proven effective through studies on both humans and pets.
We recommend that a veterinarian is involved in choosing a therapeutic CBD brand, preferably one with low THC to prevent the pet getting high.
Documenting your pets progress is recommended at this stage to closely monitor your pet’s seizures.
Cannabidiol has been widely used as an alternative treatment, often recommended by veterinarians, to be a helpful option in managing your pets epilepsy.
- https://www.epilepsy.com/node/2089801. Accessed July 30th 2019
- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190521101450.htm. Accessed July 30th 2019
- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1059131116000054 accessed Aug 6th 2019