Hemp for Seizures in Pets

Daisy, a 16-year-old chihuahua rescue, came to me with a history of seizures (among other serious issues). I knew the signs of a seizure, but nothing can really prepare you for the moment your pet starts seizing. Even the calmest person might panic when you see the blank look in your sweet pup’s eyes as they convulse. It is something I would never wish on anyone.

Before I could help Daisy, I had to fully understand what happens during a seizure and what causes them. Thankfully, I found a natural solution to help stop Daisy’s seizures while they were happening, and which also helped prevent future seizures.

The Symptoms Of A Seizure

A seizure is a common neurological condition in dogs in which the brain’s function is involuntarily disrupted. Epilepsy is the term used to describe repeated episodes of seizures.

Symptoms that your dog is having a seizure include:

  • Collapsing
  • Jerking
  • Convulsing
  • Stiffening
  • Muscle twitching
  • Drooling
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chomping
  • Tongue-chewing
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Release of bowel or bladder

What Causes Seizures?

Individual seizures can be caused by a number of things, including eating poison, liver disease, fluctuating blood sugar, fever, strokes, brain cancer, anemia, electrolyte problems, or head injury.

Epilepsy is typically categorized in two ways: Idiopathic epilepsy, also called primary epilepsy and symptomatic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy has no identifiable cause and is often a genetic issue, while symptomatic epilepsy occurs when there is an identifiable underlying brain lesion or metabolic cause, like the ones mentioned above.

Idiopathic epilepsy can be inherited in many breeds, including Australian Shepherds, Belgian Tervuren, and German Shepherds, Beagles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Border Collies, Border Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dachshunds, English Springer Spaniels, Finnish Spitz, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Irish Wolfhounds, Lagotto Romagnolos, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens, Shetland Sheepdogs, Standard Poodles and Vizslas. However, it can occur in any breed and mixed breed, according to the American Kennel Club.

When It’s Happening

Seizures are caused by an excess of electrical energy in your dog or cat’s brain. CBD Dog Health’s chief veterinary officer, Dr. Zac Pilossoph uses the analogy of seizures as a ‘brain sneeze’.

The first thing to remember when your dog is having a seizure is to stay calm. Do not try to move the dog unless they are in an unsafe area (for example, if they are laying on the edge of a dock over water or are near a fire). If you must move the dog, try to move them from their hind legs or hips.

You can soothe or gently pet your dog while they are having a seizure but keep your hands away from their mouth as they may clamp down with their jaw.

A single seizure should not last more than 5 minutes. If it does, consult an emergency veterinarian. Typically, seizures only last a few minutes and the dog will resume their normal activity afterward.

How CBD Helps

CBD has been used by humans to treat seizures for years and has shown great success in both animals and people.In fact, in 2003, the U.S. government patented CBD as a neuroprotectant (despite the U.S. prohibition on cannabis). Because of the rise of hemp-derived CBD for pets, studies focusing on the effects of CBD on seizures in dogs is being studied now more than ever.

The body contains a system called the endocannabinoid system that includes neurotransmitters and receptors. This system is believed to help control the body’s functions, such as appetite, sleep, and pain, as well as your reaction to the immune system.

It is thought that by communicating with receptors in your endocannabinoid system, CBD can change these functions.

Animal research indicates that the antiseizure effects of CBD may result from reducing the excitability of neurons by acting on two receptor groups called GPR55 and TRPV1 receptors.

Research

In a recent study, neurologist Stephanie McGrath assessed the short-term effect of CBD on seizure frequency in 16 dogs. Dogs in the trial were randomly assigned a placebo or a hemp-derived CBD treatment for 12 weeks. Nine dogs received CBD while seven were given a placebo. All of the dogs in the study suffered from seizures. Through the study, McGrath found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. Additionally, McGrath saw a significant association between the degree of seizure reduction and the amount of CBD concentration in the dog’s blood.

This was not the only study to find CBD to be a successful anti-epileptic supplement for pets. Another group of researchers conducted a similar experiment where three dogs who suffered epileptic seizures were given hemp-derived CBD for eight weeks. Researchers found a decrease in seizure intervals in two of the three dogs studied. The dogs were given varying amounts of CBD, and the dog who received the lowest number of mg of active CBD showed little to no improvement, while the dog who was administered 1700 mg showed the highest level of improvement. More isn’t always better, but in this case, the level necessary for optimal results proved to be 1700 mg (side note: the same study’s findings show that the dogs showed a decrease in barking even when other dogs nearby were excitable).

Dosage 

The first thing to do is spend some time determining the dosage that will be most effective for your pet. Despite common misconceptions, dosing CBD has very little to do with your dog’s size and weight. Dosage is most effectively determined with consideration for each animal’s unique physiological condition.

During the first few weeks, we recommend a trial and error method as you monitor your animal’s response and determine optimal dose. According to our Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Zac Pilossoph, “It’s all about low and slow. It’s about the gradual introduction of CBD and continuous monitoring over time. When you’re switching therapy options, whether it’s pharmaceutical to pharmaceutical, or pharmaceutical over to nutraceutical, it doesn’t matter. The process should be gradual. The process could range from weeks to months. Keep a journal so you have a daily log of what’s going on to show your veterinarian.”

Based on our experience, we have seen success with 35 – 50 mg of HEAL 1100 mg Full Spectrum Hemp Extract (CBD) daily. Break the volume of mg in small amounts during the day (micro-dosing) for best absorption and to maintain it in the bloodstream. The medicine reaches a peak at 2 hours and is absent around 4 to 6 hours. Microdosing is recommended to assist in the prevention of seizures, however, CBD can also be utilized situationally when your dog is experiencing an episode.

For Best Absorption 

For the fastest and most thorough absorption, lift the lip and apply the dose directly onto the gums, as the most direct way into the bloodstream. If added to food, the medicine may not be as effective and can take significantly longer (30-45 min.) to reach the bloodstream as it works its way through the gastrointestinal system. 

Alternatives

It is important to make sure your pet is eating a healthy, species-appropriate diet to prevent the types of liver disease, fluctuating blood sugar, anemia, and electrolyte issues that can cause seizures. We recommend a fresh/raw diet that has all the macro and micronutrients they will need, in the right proportions. By preventing some of the deficiencies that cause seizures, you can often avoid them altogether.

If your dog is prone to seizures, your veterinarian may prescribe phenobarbital (PB) and potassium bromide (KBr or K-BroVet Potassium Bromide). However, these medications may have negative side effects and can cause further liver damage, which is why many pet parents are turning to full spectrum hemp extract (CBD oil).

Case Study: Daisie

Daisy, a 16-year-old chihuahua rescue, came to me with a history of seizures (among other serious issues). I knew the signs of a seizure, but nothing can really prepare you for the moment your pet starts seizing. Even the calmest person might panic when you see the blank look in your sweet pup’s eyes as they convulse. It is something I would never wish on anyone.

When Daisy started seizing, I remained calm, but my heart was breaking for her. She had powered through so many other issues and her happy, curious spirit remained – but the seizures were pulling her away from spending her twilight years playing and resting peacefully.

Before I could help Daisy, I had to fully understand what happens during a seizure and what causes them. Thankfully, I found a natural solution to help stop Daisy’s seizures while they were happening, and which also helped prevent future seizures.

Seizures Are Frightening

Seizures are scary; we know. We have seen them firsthand. The ability to shorten a seizure, and therefore reduce the damage from a seizure, is an incredible finding in scientific research. We also understand the uncertainty here. To discuss this further, you can book a consultation with Angela Ardolino, our cannabis expert, and Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Zac Pilossoph, by clicking here.

About Angela Ardolino

Angela Ardolino Schnauzer OdieAngela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of  Beautify the Beast a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded Hemp Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.