An oil made from hemp flower called cannabidiol, or CBD for short, contains almost no THC and is currently used to treat epilepsy in children. The drug epidiolex was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 2018.
Now a pilot study conducted at Colorado State University, suggests CBD may do the same for dogs suffering from seizures.
The study included 16 dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. The condition has no known cause but affects up to 5.7% of the pet dog population worldwide, making it the most common canine neurologic condition. Of the 16 animals, 89% of those that received CBD (others received a placebo) saw a reduction in the number of seizures.
The study was led by Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a researcher at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences at CSU.
“It’s very promising data,” McGrath said. “However, we do need larger studies in order to really prove whether this will really be a replacement for some of the anticonvulsants that we have available right now.”
Other drugs available on the market are less effective or bring a host of unpleasant side effects, she said.
CBD-infused pet treats are already widely available and although CBD appears to be safe for dogs, McGrath cautioned pet owners about buying them.
“Consumers really should be careful with what they’re buying and know that it’s not necessarily what it says it is,” she said.
The hemp industry is still largely unregulated; what ingredients these products actually contain is not guaranteed by a federal agency. McGrath recommended only purchasing CBD products that include a Certificate of Analysis, which verifies a product meets specifications.