CBD and Seizures in Dogs

CBD and Seizures in Dogs

Posted by Nicole Wanner, D.V.M. on

CBD and Seizures in Dogs

Dogs are cherished members of our families. When our dogs experience seizures, the episodes can be stressful and frightening. 

For this reason, pet owners are increasingly interested in CBD for seizure control in dogs. A CBD product, Epidiolex, has been approved to treat a genetic form of epilepsy in children (1). However, CBD has not been approved by the FDA to treat any disease in animals.

In this article, we'll explore the biology of seizures in dogs, traditional medications used to treat seizures, the potential benefits and risks of CBD oil for seizures in dogs, and other info dog owners should know. 

Remember: epilepsy is a serious medical condition. Consult your veterinarian to manage seizures in pets; do not use CBD to replace prescription seizure medication.

About Seizures in Dogs

Seizures in dogs are neurological events, also called a convulsions or fits (2). Seizures are marked by abnormal brain activity, uncontrollable movements, loss of awareness, and other temporary changes. 

A seizure is generally not painful for your dog, but they may accidentally injure themselves or others during the event. There is also a dangerous type of seizure called status epilepticus, which is a seizure episode lasting longer than 5 minutes (3). Status epilepticus is an emergency.

It's also important to mention the difference between a seizure and epilepsy in dogs. A seizure is one event, while epilepsy is a medical condition characterized by repeated seizure episodes.

Seizures in dogs can have many causes, including liver problems, kidney problems, a brain or head injury, brain tumors, ingested toxic plants or chemicals, and more. Reactive seizures occur during shifts in brain activity, such as excitement, mealtime, or periods of falling asleep or waking up. 

Epilepsy in dogs usually has no clear cause (referred to as idiopathic epilepsy). However, researchers believe that many cases of epilepsy in dogs are genetic (4).

Regardless of the cause, dogs can appear completely normal between seizures.

dog sniffing a bug & plant

Traditional Medications for Seizures in Dogs

Dogs with mild or infrequent seizures may not require medication. However, having your pup evaluated by a veterinarian is still essential. Treatment can potentially cure seizures in dogs with underlying conditions such as kidney problems.

Dogs with epilepsy may need long-term medication to reduce seizure frequency. While this scenario is not ideal, uncontrolled seizures can be dangerous and even fatal. Anticonvulsant medication can reduce the frequency and severity of attacks and improve your dog's quality of life. 

Prescription Seizure Medications

Phenobarbital and potassium bromide are the most common epilepsy drugs in dogs. These medications slow down brain activity, reducing the likelihood of abnormal electrical signals that lead to seizures. 

For some dogs, traditional seizure drugs have side effects that limit or prevent their use. Fortunately, there are new, safer epilepsy medications on the market with fewer side effects (5). 

How Do You Treat Dogs' Seizures With CBD?

Always consult your veterinarian first. Do not attempt to treat your dog's seizures with CBD at home. Dogs having seizures may require medical treatment and should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

Still, if you're reading this article, you've likely heard about research into CBD and seizures in dogs. A few studies have been performed so far, but research is ongoing (6). 

dog sniffing bottle of cbd oil

Research on CBD for Dog Seizures

One clinical trial at Colorado State University found that epileptic dogs who took CBD alongside their usual seizure medication had fewer episodes (7). However, the study size was small (16 dogs).

Another trial with 14 epileptic dogs found that 6 had 50% fewer seizures when CBD was added to their traditional medications (8). 

Lastly, a case study of 3 dogs found that two showed improvement in their symptoms while taking CBD, while the third dog did not improve. But, each dog took a different dose, and there was no placebo group for comparison (9).

Talk to your veterinarian to initiate treatment for your dog's seizures. They'll perform tests to discover the cause of your dog's episodes and work with you to build a management plan. 

Bring up CBD to your vet if you want to add it to your dog's seizure management regimen, and they'll help you decide on an appropriate dose. You should also ask them about hemp oil vs cbd oil for dog seizures, as they can be different products with similar names.

How Can Dog Owners Help with Research on Epilepsy?

As a dog owner, you play an essential role in advancing research on epilepsy and the development of new treatment options. 

Here are some ways you can help veterinary researchers understand and manage epilepsy in dogs:

  • Participate in Clinical Trials: Clinical trials are designed to test new medications to find out how well they work. By participating, your dog can benefit from cutting-edge treatments and move epilepsy research forward. Most clinical trials for dogs are run by University veterinary hospitals.
  • Share Your Dog's Medical History: If you can't commit to a clinical trial, sharing your dog's medical history with researchers can help them understand the development and progression of epilepsy over time. This type of research is called a retrospective study.
  • Support Canine Epilepsy Research Organizations: Several organizations are dedicated to canine epilepsy research, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC). By donating, you can help fund critical research projects and improve the lives of dogs with epilepsy.

High-Quality CBD Oil for Dogs: What to Look For

Because CBD oil for pets isn't strictly regulated, you need to know how to spot high-quality products. The following are quality indicators to look for when choosing the best CBD oil for your dog:

1. Independent Lab Testing

Reputable CBD companies will provide independent laboratory test results for each batch of CBD oil. This information confirms the concentration and purity of the product and verifies that it meets legal requirements.

2. Comprehensive Ingredient Lists

Check that the product label lists the amount of CBD in milligrams and any other ingredients that are included. This transparency lets you stay informed about what you're giving your dog. A clear label will also help you spot allergens or ingredients harmful to dogs, such as the artificial sweetener xylitol.

3. Commitment to Animal Welfare

Finally, choose a company demonstrating its commitment to animal health and welfare. Potential means of support include donating proceeds to animal rescue organizations and conducting cruelty-free testing.

qualities of a great cbd oil for pets

So, What’s The Final Verdict?

Seizures in dogs can be frightening, but there are steps you can take to treat and manage them.

The best first step is to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian. Your vet will check for underlying conditions that could be causing the attacks and treat them. If your dog is diagnosed with epilepsy, they'll help you build a management plan to improve your dog's quality of life.

If you're interested in CBD, you can also bring up CBD oil with your vet. Remember, CBD works best alongside traditional medications. Your vet will determine whether CBD is safe for your pup and help you choose an appropriate dose. 


  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/drugs/epidiolex#ask-your-doctor
  2. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/seizures-general-for-dogs
  3. https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/neurology/todays-technician-epileptic-emergencies-status-epilepticus-canine-patiens/
  4. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/epilepsy-in-dogs
  5. https://bluepearlvet.com/medical-articles-for-pet-owners/anticonvulsant-medications/
  6. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-animal-081122-070236https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/254/11/javma.254.11.1301.xml
  7. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2022.939966/full
  8. https://www.uco.es/ucopress/ojs/index.php/pet/article/view/11800

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Dr. Nicole Wanner graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 2018. Currently, she is an academic research veterinarian studying CBD and DNA. Her research has been published in trusted international research journals. Dr. Wanner is passionate about pet wellness and has professional interests in genetics, behavior, and healthy aging. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and reading sci-fi novels. She shares her home with her husband Evan and their two mischievous rescue cats, Sylvie and Nemo.

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