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CBD Oil in Dogs with IE: The Pros, the Cons, and What You Need to Know

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a hot topic in the canine world. In 2021, a survey of veterinary specialists, general practitioners and owners rated further investigation into CBD oil, medium-chain triglycerides, behavioural therapy, gene editing and epilepsy surgery as the 5 most important non-anti-epileptic drug-related areas to be investigated for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy in veterinary medicine. Some dog owners swear by it for treating canine seizures, while others believe that CBD oil could do more harm than good. So, what's the truth? In this blog post, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of CBD oil for dogs, as well as what you need to know before giving your pup this supplement.




What is CBD oil?

CBD oil is short for cannabidiol oil. It is derived from the cannabis plant but does not contain THC, the psychoactive compound that gets you high. CBD oil has been shown to have a variety of health benefits in humans, including reducing anxiety and pain (Kumar et al., 2022, Skelley et al., 2020). CBD oil is thought to work in a similar way in dogs. Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil may be helpful in treating canine idiopathic epilepsy, with some owners reporting a reduction in seizure frequency and severity (McGrath et al., 2019), however, what is clear is that more research is needed in this area.


Does CBD oil reduce seizures in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy?

To date, there is minimal evidence to support this claim and more research is needed to determine if CBD oil is an effective treatment for canine epilepsy. A 2019 study looked into the effects of CBD oil on seizure frequency in a small population of dogs with refractory epilepsy as an add-on therapy to their anti-epileptic medication (McGrath et al., 2019). A significant reduction in seizure frequency was reported in both the CBD oil group and the control group of dogs (McGrath et al., 2019). Although this initial study does show some promise, further research into this area is warranted before CBD is used routinely for dogs with IE.


Are there risks associated with giving CBD oil to dogs?

One of the major concerns associated with the use of CBD oil though is the poor regulations around its production and therefore, poor control over the quality of CBD oil on the market.


Why is CBD oil not regulated?

CBD oil is not currently a registered veterinary medicine in Australia and as such, there are no guidelines around its manufacture or sale. This means that the quality of CBD oil on the market can vary greatly. It also means that we don't really know what dosage to give dogs, as this can vary depending on the product.


What are the side effects of CBD oil for dogs?

The side effects of CBD oil in dogs are relatively minor but can include diarrhea, changes in appetite, ataxia (wobbliness) and lethargy. More serious side effects are rare but can include vomiting, increased seizure frequency, and changes in behaviour. It is important to consult with your veterinarian before starting your dog on CBD oil to ensure that it is the right treatment for them and that the dose is correct.


Does CBD oil interfere with other anti-epileptic medication in dogs?

Interference of CBD oil with zonisamide has been reported in people. This same finding was not reported in dogs (McGrath et al., 2019).


What should I look for when purchasing CBD oil?

When looking for quality CBD oil, always purchase from a reputable source. The CBD market is not currently regulated so there are many companies out there selling products



Take home points

  • At this point, there is minimal evidence in the scientific literature to show that CBD oil reduces seizure frequency, however, the studies that have been performed have shed some light and hope that it will help a subset of dogs with IE.

  • There is a portion of dogs that may benefit from CBD oil and overall, CBD oil has been reported as a relatively safe supplement in dogs.

  • CBD oil is available as a supplement, not a medication. It is not regulated by the FDA so it is important to do your research if you are considering it for your dog. Talk to your veterinarian, do some research and always purchase CBD oil from a reputable source.


Thanks for reading! As always, please consult with your veterinarian before starting your dog on any new medication or supplement.


References

Kumar, P., Mpofu, C., & Wepa, D. (2022). Analysing the perspectives of health professionals and legal cannabis users on the treatment of chronic pain with cannabidiol (CBD): A scoping review. (preprint). https://doi.org/10.2196/preprints.37697

Skelley, J. W., Deas, C. M., Curren, Z., & Ennis, J. (2020). Use of cannabidiol in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 60(1), 253–261. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japh.2019.11.008


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. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.254.11.1301



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