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Can CBD Oil Help Dogs With Epilepsy? What The Research Says

Seizures are more common in dogs than you might think. 

Learn how CBD oil may help manage symptoms and reduce the frequency of seizures for your dog. 

Article By
Justin Cooke , last updated on April 15, 2021

According to The Veterinary Clinics of North America, seizures are the most common form of neurological disorder dogs experience. 

Common or not, seeing your beloved animal have a seizure can be extremely distressing. 

While it’s important to go to your vet immediately if your dog is having seizures, many people won’t get the answers they’re looking for. 

In this article, you’ll learn how CBD oil can help mitigate seizures in dogs, how to use it safely, and where to find the best CBD oils for dogs with seizures. 

  • Table of Contents

Best CBD Oils For Dogs With Epilepsy & Seizure Disorders

1. Royal CBD Pet Oil 

Royal CBD pet oils come in three different potencies — 125, 250, and 500 mg per bottle. 

They’re made with a premium full-spectrum hemp extract, rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and other therapeutic constituents. 

The high concentration of hemp-derived compounds in these oils makes it especially useful for supporting neurological disorders in dogs — including seizures and epilepsy. 

To top it off, each bottle comes with a dog-friendly bacon flavor — which is irresistible to dogs.

2. Honest Paws For Dogs (Calm)

Honest Paws is a specialty CBD brand for pets. They make three separate formulas for dogs based on symptoms — Calm (for neurological health), Relief (for joint health), and Mobility (for senior dogs).  

This Calm CBD pet oil is formulated with chamomile extract — which is rich in a compound called apigenin. 

Apigenin has been shown to offer anti-epileptic effects in several animal studies — especially when used in combination with other anti-epileptic substances. 

The only problem with this oil is that the highest concentration available it 4 mg/mL — which may not offer enough of a dose for dogs over 60 lbs. 

This is one of my favorite oils for small to medium-sized dogs for supporting seizure disorders. 

3. Austin & Kat (Bailey’s No More Wiggles)

$64.95
Austin & Kat

Austin & Kat Bailey’s No More Wiggles

4 / 5

Total CBD : 450 mg
Potency : 15 mg/mL
Cost per mg CBD: $0.14
Extract Type: Full-Spectrum

Austin & Kat is another CBD brand focusing purely on the pet market. They sell a variety of specific products for dogs, depending on their health conditions. 

The No More Wiggles formula contains ingredients including valerian, lavender, rosemary, and passionflower. Each of these ingredients offer powerful relaxing, and anticonvulsant effects on their own. 

When taken together with CBD oil, it may be useful for alleviating side effects associated with seizure disorders in dogs. 

4. Canna-Pet Advanced MaxCBD Liquid

$99.99
Canna-Pet

Canna-Pet Advanced MaxCBD Liquid 10 ml

2 / 5

Total CBD: 680 mg
Potency : 68 mg/mL
Cost per mg CBD: $0.15
Extract Type: Full-spectrum
THC Content: 0.0%

The Canna-Pet Advanced MaxCBD Liquid is a simple CBD pet oil consisting of high-potency full-spectrum hemp extract infused in an MCT carrier oil. 

This brand is well-known in the pet industry for its organic hemp, extensive third-party testing, and helpful blog content. 

This is a good all-purpose CBD oil for dogs, cats, and even horses. This oil’s high-potency makes it especially useful for conditions like epilepsy — which tend to require a higher dose of CBD than other health conditions. 

5. Lazarus Naturals Pet CBD Oil

$12.00 – $38.00
Lazarus Naturals

Lazarus Naturals Pet CBD Oil Tincture 15 – 60 mL

4.33 / 5

Total CBD: 225 – 900 mg
Potency: 15 mg/mL
Cost per mg of CBD: $0.04 – $0.05
Extract Type : Full-spectrum
THC Content: 0.0%

Lazarus Naturals is one of the largest CBD companies on the American market. They’re known for having an ideal balance between the cost and potency of their oils. 

This pet oil is no different — costing roughly 30% less than the industry average for CBD pet oils. 

This oil has a simple formula. It lacks the additional ingredients that make some of the other oils on this list especially useful for neurological conditions like epilepsy. 

This is an excellent low-cost option for pet owners with dogs suffering from mild to moderate epilepsy. 

The Benefits of CBD Oil For Dogs With Seizure Disorders

There are many different causes of seizures in dogs. The specific benefits CBD can offer will vary depending on what’s causing the seizures. 

There are a few core benefits CBD oils can offer that directly help mitigate the severity and frequency of seizures in dogs. 

The main benefits of CBD oil for seizures in dogs include:

  • Reduces muscle convulsions
  • Alleviates negative side-effects of seizures
  • Protects the health of the neurons
  • Promotes GABA activity in the brain
  • Regulates the vanilloid receptors

1. Reduces Muscle Convulsions

Alleviating muscle contractions and convulsions is one of the primary treatments aimed for seizure disorders in both humans and animals. 

Animal studies have shown high-dose CBD extracts are effective for inhibiting muscle contractions experienced during seizures [2]. 

2. Alleviates Negative Side-Effects of Seizures

Seizures come with a variety of other negative side effects alongside the condition. Common side effects in dogs include anxiety, depression, chronic pain, inflammation, neurodegenerative disorders, and various sleep disorders. 

CBD oils may offer support for these underlying side effects. 

This benefit is useful for improving the quality of life for your animal but won’t stop the seizures from happening to begin with. 

3. Protects Neuronal Health

During a seizure episode, convulsions can damage the neurons in the brain. Hyperexcitability of the neurons creates a build-up of metabolites around the neurons — resulting in oxidative damage, inflammation, and nerve cell death. 

CBD protects the neurons by preventing inflammation and regulating protective mechanisms in the brain, such as glial cell formation and antioxidant protection. 

4. Promotes GABA Activity

GABA is the primary neuro-inhibitory molecule in your dog’s brain. This neurotransmitter directly opposes the stimulating effects of another compound — called glutamate — which is heavily involved with neurostimulation and seizures. 

By boosting the effects of GABA and inhibiting the effects of glutamate, CBD is thought to reduce the severity of seizures. Through this effect, CBD is thought to be able to reduce the number of seizure attacks overall. 

5. CBD Regulates Vanilloid Receptors (Controls Electrical Activity)

The vanilloid receptors (TRPV1) are responsible for regulating electrical activity in the neurons. Studies have shown that activating the vanilloid receptors can lead to seizures. 

CBD regulates this receptor, which is thought to be one of the primary mechanisms this compound uses to reduce seizure frequency [3]. 

How to Use CBD Oil With Dogs

Giving CBD oil to dogs is simple. The easiest method is to add a dose of CBD-rich oil to their food. 

Most dogs will eat their hemp-infused meal without any fuss — especially if you find a quality CBD pet oil that uses dog-friendly flavors to mask the herby taste of hemp. 

Some dogs are much pickier and may turn their nose up at the meal either way. 

If this happens, the other method of using CBD oils with dogs involves squirting a dose directly into their mouth and holding their snout shut for a few seconds. This won’t hurt your dog but may annoy them. This is the standard method vets use to give oral medications to dogs. 

Related: Best CBD Oils For Dogs With Arthritis

What’s the Dose of CBD Pet Oil For Seizures?

The dose of CBD oil for dogs can vary a lot depending on size and breed. 

A recent study (2019) exploring the effects of CBD oil for dogs with epileptic seizures found a dose of 2.5 mg/kg reduced the severity of seizures by more than 50% and the frequency by 33% [4]. 

Using this as our basis for the effective dose of CBD, here are some recommendations for the dose of CBD depending on the weight of your animal. 

Note that the dose for seizures is higher than the recommended dose for most other applications of CBD oil for dogs. 

It’s important to start with a lower dose at first and increase slowly over time until you reach the target dose. 

CBD Dosage Chart For Dogs With Epilepsy & Seizures

Dog Size & WeightDosage RangeRecommended CBD Oil Potency
Very Small Dogs (2-15 lbs)2.5 – 17 mg150 mg CBD Oil
Small Dogs (15-30 lbs)17 – 35 mg300 – 600 mg CBD Oil
Medium Dogs (30-60 lbs)35 – 68 mg600 – 1200 mg CBD Oil
Large Dogs (60-150 lbs)68 – 170 mg600 – 1500 mg CBD Oil

Is CBD Oil Safe For Dogs?

CBD is very safe for dogs. Several large-scale studies have shown CBD extracts are safe for use with dogs and other animals, even in very high doses. 

With that said, there are a few side-effects that could occur. The doses used to manage seizure activity in dogs is higher than average, so the chances of side effects are slightly higher when managing this condition. 

The most common side effects to watch out for when using CBD oil with dogs include: 

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness

Seizures In Dogs: Signs & Conventional Treatments

Dogs may experience seizures due to several underlying medical conditions, traumatic injuries, or nutritional deficiencies. 

The most common diagnosis for dogs experiencing seizures is idiopathic epilepsy. This is a term used to describe an epileptic disorder that has no known cause. 

Finding the source of epilepsy poses some significant challenges. It can take months of testing and trial and error in the form of treatments to understand what’s causing the condition. This testing can cost upwards of ten thousand dollars, so most pet owners never actually find out what’s causing their dog’s condition. 

However, some seizure disorders do have a clear cause. Knowing what’s causing the condition can make it easier to treat the disorder.

What Causes Seizures in Dogs? 

  1. Underlying conditions (liver or kidney disease)
  2. Electrolyte problems
  3. Traumatic injuries (head injuries)
  4. Tick-borne illnesses
  5. Exposure to toxic substances (pesticides or herbicides)
  6. Side effects from vaccines

Certain Dog Breeds Are More At-Risk For Seizures: 

Any dog can experience a seizure, but there are a few breeds that have are especially susceptible: 

  • Australian shepherds
  • Beagles
  • Belgian Tervurens
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Border Collies
  • Collies
  • German Shepherds
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Poodles
  • Keeshonds
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • St. Bernards
  • Vizslas

Signs of Seizures in Dogs

Most pet owners can tell right away when their dog is having a seizure. Sudden jerking movements, stiffening, or loss of consciousness are all easy to spot. However, other symptoms are much more subtle. 

You may notice your dog begins drooling suddenly, loses consciousness while already lying down, or defecates in the house. 

Here are the main signs of seizure disorders in dogs to watch out for: 

  • Sudden jerking body movements
  • Muscle twitching or spasms
  • Stiffening of the legs and body
  • Tongue chewing
  • Sudden uncontrollable drooling
  • Involuntary urination or defecation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Staring off into space

What To Do If Your Dog Is Having A Seizure

Seeing your dog go status-epilepticus can be extremely stressful — but it’s important to remain calm and take a few steps to reduce the risk of harm to your animal: 

  1. Remove anything near your dog that could hurt them during the seizure
  2. Never go anywhere near your dog’s mouth while they’re having a seizure 
  3. If you can, move your dog (carefully) away from any stairs or furniture
  4. Never try and stop the jerking movements, but try and cushion their head and limbs from hitting the ground, walls, or furniture
  5. Try to comfort your dog by speaking in a gentle and loving tone
  6. If you can, time the seizure — this will be helpful information for your vet later
  7. Once the seizure is over, sit with your dog and try to comfort them, they will be confused for a few minutes
  8. If this is the first seizure you’ve noticed, visit a vet as soon as possible to get checked out

How Are Seizures in Dogs Treated? 

Sporadic or mild seizures usually aren’t treated by vets. If the seizures are severe, frequent (more than once a month), or last more than 60 seconds at a time, your vet may prescribe medications to help manage the condition. 

The most common treatment for seizure disorders in dogs is anticonvulsant medications. There are many different options, each with their own level of risk and side effects. 

Medications used for seizure disorders in dogs: 

  • Felbamate
  • Gabapentin
  • Keppra® (levetiracetam)
  • Phenobarbital
  • Potassium Bromide
  • Valproic Acid
  • Zonisamide

Anticonvulsant medications won’t cure epilepsy and most will need to be used for the rest of your dog’s life. 

Side effects are common, often leading to dependency, anxiety, depression, and alterations in behavior and sleep patterns. 

Key Takeaways: Best CBD Oils For Dogs With Seizures

There’s a lot of evidence available for the treatment of epilepsy with CBD oil. Studies have repeatedly shown that high-quality CBD extracts can reduce the severity of seizures and may be able to decrease the frequency of episodes. 

The best CBD oils for dogs with seizures contain a relatively high concentration of CBD and use organic, full-spectrum hemp extract as the base. 

You should always seek guidance from a vet before using CBD oils to treat your dog’s seizures to make sure there aren’t any underlying health conditions first. Your vet will be able to do a checkup on your pet and may order some tests to help rule out other conditions that could be causing the condition. 

References Cited in This Article

  1. Podell, M. (1996). Seizures in dogs. The Veterinary clinics of North America. Small animal practice, 26(4), 779-809.
  2. Jones, N. A., Hill, A. J., Smith, I., Bevan, S. A., Williams, C. M., Whalley, B. J., & Stephens, G. J. (2010). Cannabidiol displays antiepileptiform and antiseizure properties in vitro and in vivo. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 332(2), 569-577.
  3. Iannotti, F. A., Hill, C. L., Leo, A., Alhusaini, A., Soubrane, C., Mazzarella, E., … & Stephens, G. J. (2014). Non Psychotropic plant cannabinoids, cannabidivarin (CBDV), and cannabidiol (CBD) activate and desensitize transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channels in vitro: potential for the treatment of neuronal hyperexcitability. ACS chemical neuroscience, 5(11), 1131-1141.
  4. McGrath, S., Bartner, L. R., Rao, S., Packer, R. A., & Gustafson, D. L. (2019). Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 254(11), 1301-1308.

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