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What is Canine Epilepsy & How Can CBD Help?

Happy-Hounds-the-science-behind-hemp-for-seizures-and-epilepsy-in-pets-dog-laying-on-bed-blog-post 

The Benefits Of CBD Oil For Dogs With Seizures

By Rianna Young & Tess Marty

When your pet suffers from seizures, you may be left feeling helpless and stressed, but there are ways to take back control and have a normal, happy life with your pet. Seeing your dog or cat suffer from epileptic seizures or uncontrollable behaviors can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. In this blog, we’ll be discussing:

  • What is Epilespy?

  • What to do if your pet has a seizures?

  • How to treat epilepsy?

  • Connections between anxiety and seizures

  • Treatments and the benefits of CBD for seizures

Why are Canines Epileptic?

Epilepsy is the term used to describe chronic seizures. Any pet could experience a seizure brought on by an environmental factor and not have epilepsy. When seizures become recurring, the pet is considered epileptic, and this condition can affect purebreds or mixed breeds. According to the VCA, most epilepsy is hereditary, but seizures in pets can also be brought on by:

  • Epilepsy

  • Stress

  • Diet

  • Breed and Genetics 

  • Underlying kidney and liver conditions

  • Topical flea and tick products

  • Head trauma

  • Herbicides and Pesticides

  • Heat stroke

Are some Breeds prone to Epilepsy?

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Seizures in pets typically look like tremors or convulsions. It’s important to note that shaking isn’t always the sign of a seizure and to look for a cluster of signs or noticing muscle contractions and stiffness rather than general shakiness. Animals can also exhibit excessive drooling, incontinence, circling, unprovoked barking, and sometimes aggression. 

While researchers suspect both dogs and cats are prone to seizures, there are certain breeds that are more likely to have convulsions. Common breeds that have a higher rate of epilepsy include Beagles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Border Collies, Boxer Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, Irish Wolfhounds, Keeshonds, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, St. Bernards, Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Siberian Huskies, English Springer Spaniels, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and Wire-Haired Fox Terriers. 

 

What To Do if Your Pet has a Seizure?

First, if your pet is having a seizure, remain as calm as possible. It is very scary to see an animal seizing, but it’s important to note that it is generally not painful. You’ll want to give your pet space, and make sure anything that could be harmful is moved out of the way. It might be helpful to lay them on their side if it is safe to do so, to keep them from falling and injuring themselves.

This may be the last thing on your mind if your pet hasn’t experienced a seizure before, but try to take note of the time to mark the duration of the episode. If you can, take a video of the seizure to show to a veterinarian to further diagnose. Cooling them with a fan or lightly damp towel can be very helpful, after a seizure your pet may be disoriented and lethargic. 

If your pet experiences recurring seizures, you may be concerned about long-term health problems. In most cases, a pet with epilepsy will not have many long-term health detriments. It is possible for the pet to suffer from brain or organ damage. 

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How Do You Treat Epilepsy?

If your pet has recurring seizures, your vet may recommend an anticonvulsant. Unfortunately, these medications are often prescribed for the pet’s whole life. For many pet parents, prescribed medications have unacceptable side-effects or have no impact on their condition.

In fact, up to 30% of dogs do not respond to standard forms of care for seizures. You are not alone if medications or therapies are not reducing the impact or frequency of seizing. 


The Connection Between Anxiety & Seizures in Dogs 

Among the reasons canines become epileptic, stress is a major trigger, just as it is in humans. According to researchers at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary medicine, anxiety can play a major role.

In a study, it was noted that poor seizure control was connected to poor mood control, and noted that dogs with high levels of anxiety have more severe seizures. Stress is a huge trigger for dogs that are already predisposed to seizures. Mitigating stressors for your pet can help lower the chance or severity of an epileptic episode. 


Stress and anxiety can lead to increased neural excitability, making dogs more susceptible to seizures. This is where CBD can play a crucial role. CBD, known for its calming properties, can help reduce anxiety in dogs, potentially reducing the severity and frequency of seizures.

By interacting with the endocannabinoid system and modulating neurotransmitter activity, CBD can promote a sense of calm and relaxation in dogs, making them less prone to the stressors that can trigger seizures. 

 

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Benefits of CBD for Seizures

CBD is the non-psychotropic component of the Cannabis sativa plant, which has been shown to have anticonvulsant properties. Using CBD may help to naturally improve your dog's seizures without the harsh side-effects of traditional pharmaceuticals. Over 30% of dog’s seizures are unable to be controlled by current anti-epileptic drugs, and these drugs can come alongside unwanted side-effects and changes in appetite.

CBD may be worth exploring for pet parents looking for more holistic and impactful treatments for their dogs. Common anti-epileptic drugs can have side-effects like weight gain, liver dysfunction, vomiting and diarrhea, wobbliness, and in some cases, behavioral changes.

While these side effects are less scary in comparison to your pet experiencing seizures, many pet parents still want to try different methods to mitigate the intensity of seizures without sacrificing their pets’ overall personality. 

Your dog's endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, including seizure control. CBD interacts with the ECS by binding to receptors, potentially reducing seizure activity and providing relief. 

In a study produced by the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation, lead researcher Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a board-certified veterinary neurologist for the University of Colorado, stated, “we (sic) found a significant 33% reduction in epileptic seizure days (seizure days being defined as one or more events during the day to account for cluster seizures) in dogs administered CBD, compared to baseline reported seizure events.”

 

Adding minor cannabinoids like CBG and CBN to CBD increases the potency and produces an entourage effect which can improve the effectiveness of CBD oils. At Happy Hounds, all of our products are full-spectrum and contain CBD, CBG, and CBN to provide a range of benefits instead of just the benefits from CBD. These cannabinoids working together may help more than CBD oil alone for a pet with epilepsy. 

CBD shows promise as a natural supplement for managing seizures in dogs. Always consult your veterinarian before using CBD to calm your dogs seizures as to ensure there is no interference or interaction with their current medications and protocols. Depending on their regimen, your veterinarian may have specific instructions on when or how to provide CBD chews or oils for their specific needs. 

With the right approach, CBD may provide valuable support in improving the quality of life for epileptic pets, as well as keeping you feeling confident about managing your pet’s condition. 


Choosing the Right CBD for Your Pet

There are many CBD products available on the market, so how do you choose? Happy Hounds has both CBD treats and tinctures. For a dog suffering from seizures, a tincture offers higher potency and purity with a less intense rendering process. While CBD treats have their place, to ensure exact dosage and purity, tinctures administered directly into the mouth or onto your pet’s food or regular treats will likely show better results for an epileptic pet.

Learn more about how Happy Hounds can help here!

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