A recent study from the Yamazaki University of Animal Health in Japan suggests that CBD, or cannabidiol, can help to reduce the occurrence of seizures in dogs with epilepsy. The full conference paper is published in Pet Behavior Science, an open access research journal.
The effects of CBD use in humans may be the same for dogs. A liquid CBD-containing drug called Epidiolex (the first CBD drug approved by the FDA) is used for treating two types of severe epilepsy in humans. The researchers sought to test the effects of CBD for dogs with seizures.
There were three dogs in the study, a young male Labrador and two older small breed male dogs, a Chihuahua and a Papillon. The researchers gave the dogs a full-spectrum hemp extract in coconut oil twice a day for eight weeks.
Two of the three dogs experienced reduced seizure frequencies. The Labrador Retriever barked less, slept longer, and had two seizures during the study period where he used to have one seizure per month. Five days after stopping CBD, he had another seizure. The Chihuahua experienced only one seizure while taking CBD, but the seizure was less intense and he became less aggressive towards people and children. The Papillon had eight seizures during the study period, even while on his regular anti-seizure medication, but his appetite improved and he became calmer.
The results of this study are promising, and they warrant further evaluation because the sample size (three dogs) is too small to extrapolate data across the board for all epileptic dogs.
Dr. Irish’s comments: Although this study has some limitations, it is an excellent step in the right direction. Even though the dogs in this study still had seizures, they were much calmer, and the seizure frequency was improved. Therefore, CBD indirectly affects seizures by decreasing anxiety. Calm behavior in dogs makes it more difficult for seizures to occur.
According to the authors of the study, CBD helps humans with epilepsy because it reduces anxiety, a common seizure trigger. Hopefully, continued research will help reveal exactly how CBD benefits the nervous system in humans and dogs.