The study, while small, is another indication that medical cannabis has veterinary uses.
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A new study involving a small number of animals in Japan has found that cannabidiol (CBD) may offer potential treatment to lessen the severity of epileptic seizures in dogs.
Researchers from the Yamazaki University of Animal Health in Japan conducted the study. The journal Pet Behavior Science published the report. The study found that dogs can respond to CBD in much the same way that humans do.
A CBD-infused oral drug, Epidiolex, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this year for treatment of seizures in humans associated with two severe and rare forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
Knowing the potential for CBD with humans, the study in Japan set out to “investigate the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of CBD” when used as a treatment for dogs suffering from epileptic seizures.
How they conducted the study.
The researchers gave CBD oil to three dogs over a period of eight weeks. Each of the dogs had routinely experienced epileptic seizures. As the report notes, epilepsy is the “most common chronic neurological disorder” found in dogs.
A reduction is seizure intervals was found in two of the dogs. In the third dog, there was no difference.
The three dogs, all males, were:
- A three-year-old Labrador Retriever who had been suffering seizures since he was about six months old
- An 11-year-old Papillon who had first started having seizures when he was almost four years old
- A 10-year-old Chihuahua who first started having seizures when he was three years old
Each was given a “plant-derived formulation” of CBD-containing hemp extract in organic coconut oil. The oil was given twice a day on an empty stomach. The dogs were assessed every two weeks during the eight-week testing period.
The Labrador Retriever had only two seizures during the eight weeks. He also had one five days after the treatment was stopped at the end of the eight weeks. He slept more during the day and barked less “even when other dogs were excited,” the owner told researchers.
The Chihuahua had just one seizure during the treatment period. The owner also reported that the Chihuahua showed less “seizure-like behavior” during the attack and showed “less aggression” toward familiar people.
Both the Chihuahua and Labrador Retriever owners felt both dogs showed improvement with CBD treatment.
The Papillon’s owner felt there was no improvement. The dog had eight seizures during the treatment period. The owner did note that the dog ate more willingly and “settled down and slept longer during the day.”
The researchers said that given the small number of dogs, more research is needed. But they write that, “In this study, the seizure frequency improved considerably, and owners reported a positive impression.”
They also noted that CBD is effective in humans because it lessens anxiety that can trigger an epileptic seizure. Whether that is the case with dogs is unknown, according to the report, and “further research is needed for better understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of CBD.”