CBD Oil for Dog Seizures and Epilepsy – How Cannabis Hemp Tincture Can Help
Because we love our pets, the pet industry is booming. Unaffected by economic problems and even times of struggle for all other industries, billions of dollars are spent on everything from new pets to food, toys and medications. In 2017, the industry brought in nearly $70 billion dollars in the US alone. The estimate for 2018 is even higher. Of that total, over $30 billion dollars is spent on medical care including veterinarian visits, prescription medications and over the counter drugs.
Healthy and happy pets are always the goal but sometimes that isn’t quite possible. There are a number of health conditions that are possible across all breeds as well as a few that are breed specific. Even if you do everything right, there may be conditions, diseases and injuries that happen. How you treat your pet may be the difference between a happy pet with a known condition or a pet with a known condition and new, med related conditions as well.
We choose to help our pets with seizures and epilepsy using Organic CBD Oil for Dogs. Using CBD oil for dog seizures and epilepsy is a newer holistic trend and some people have mixed feelings about giving their dog something that comes from the cannabis plant. So, we try and give you as much information as possible in this article so you can make an informed decision on the direction you want to take with your pet.
How Common are Seizures in Dogs?
The estimated number of dogs who have seizures, including those that have epilepsy is between 1% and 5%. There may be far more dogs who have seizures that are never noticed or witnessed by their owners. Absence seizures, which look like daydreaming or just blank stares can happen and never be registered as a seizure. Some seizures may last only a few seconds and not be caught by the owner. Some may happen while the owner is away from the home with little to no evidence left behind. Your dog could have a seizure and you would not know especially if you don’t know what to look for.
There are certain dog breeds that have a higher incidence of seizures of any kind. These include Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, St. Bernards, American Cocker Spaniels and Wirehaired Fox Terriers. A number of other dog breeds have a higher than normal rate of some types of seizure. Having a dog of any of those breeds may mean that you need to research seizures in dogs so that you are familiar with them but it doesn’t automatically mean your dog will have a seizure of any kind.
You should also learn what to do and what not to do during your dog’s seizure for everyone’s safety. It is especially important that children know what to do if the family dog has a seizure including to get an adult and to not touch the dog until an adult says that it is okay to do so. Children should be reassured that their dog is okay.
What are Seizures & Epilepsy in Dogs?
A seizure is caused by a problem in the messaging system in the brain. Nerves send rapid messages to control everything from heart rate to pain reception and more. Sometimes it is an overload in the system. Sometimes there is damage to the pathways in the brain. Sometimes it is caused by an outside cause. These are called “symptomatic seizures” and they are different than the seizures that you get with epilepsy.
Symptomatic Seizures can be caused by a disease, an injury or from poisoning. A high fever can cause one of these seizures. They are unique because they may happen a single time and never happen again or may become recurring depending on why they happened. For instance, a dog who is hit by a car may have a symptomatic seizure because he has a head injury. That injury could cause brain damage which may cause frequent seizures.
Idiopathic seizures, on the other hand are seizures that do not have an underlying cause or the cause is not immediately evident. It is typically called epilepsy when there is no known cause for seizures but there are several types of this condition as well.
Both types of seizures can differ in terms of length and severity. Some can last a second or two. Some can last much longer. Any seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes is considered to be a potentially life-threatening event and is referred to as “status epilepticus” If your dog is still seizing at 4 minutes, you should be making preparations to get him to a veterinarian for immediate medical attention which may include being given rescue medications. These are drugs that are meant to stop the seizure activity in seconds. Prolonged seizures can cause brain damage and even death.
Most seizures follow a pattern that is split into three separate periods. Each of these may last a few seconds to much longer. They are:
- The pre ictal period. (Ictal) is the medical term for seizures. This period may last a few minutes to a few hours. Your dog may act unusually and may either hide from you or want to be as close to you as possible. He may act restless or nervous. He may whine, shake or pace. He may have excessive drooling.
- The ictal (seizure) phase. This is where the dog has an actual seizure. Remember, these may look like he is just staring off into space (absence seizure) or he may fall down and shake all over. His eyes may be partially opened at this time but he is not aware of what is happening around him. This can be a dangerous period as the dog does not have full control of his behavior. He may also have incontinence of both bowel and bladder. He may have drooling which may look like he is foaming at the mouth. This does not mean your dog has rabies. He may bite his tongue during a seizure which may cause his drool to be pink or reddish in color. His head and neck may bend backwards. This looks uncomfortable but he is okay. Again, do not try to touch his head or face during this period.
- The post-ictal phase. During this period your dog may be nauseous. He may be excessively tired and may sleep for a few hours. He may still be confused and drooling. Your dog may also have some temporary vision issues.
If your dog is on the floor, make sure that he is not going to hit anything if he is jerking violently. Protect his head but do not try to hold it or otherwise get near his face because he may bite. If he is on furniture and you can safely get him to the floor, do so otherwise cushion the floor below him so if he falls he will not be injured.
Under no circumstances should you try to put something in your dog’s mouth. He is not going to swallow his tongue and you are in danger of not only being bitten but of injuring him in the process. Stay clear of the head and let the seizure end. Make sure that your dog is conscious and alert before you approach him. Remember, he is going to be very confused when the seizure ends and he may try to bite.
The Problem With Traditional Seizure Medications for Dogs
Typically, dogs with seizures are given either phenobarbital or potassium bromide. There are other medications that are given including a number that are used only as rescue meds. Both phenobarbital and potassium bromide have serious side effects and both can cause long-term liver damage. Unfortunately, these are meds for life meaning that once they are started, they must be continued or another substitute given. In addition to side effects including lethargy, increased appetite and weight gain, confusion, dizziness, increased thirst and urinary incontinence, these medications can cause more serious problems. Liver damage is only one of the more serious risks. The other is the interference with the bone marrow and its function. Dogs who are taking these medications may have fewer white blood cells which puts them at risk for life-threatening infections. They may also have fewer blood clotting cells which puts them at risk for serious bleeding even with a minor injury.
Because it affects the appetite, phenobarbital may also lose strength and effectiveness as the dog gains weight. Drugs are prescribed based on weight. Each pound gained may make a drug less effective. The weight also increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and joint damage.
What is CBD Oil and How Can it Help with Dog Seizures & Epilepsy?
CBD oil is an oil that has a concentrated compound called CBD suspended in it. The compound, Cannabidiol comes from the cannabis plant typically from the hemp plant. Both hemp and marijuana are related to one another but while the former is used for a variety of uses from clothing to medicine to industrial the latter is typically used for only medicine or recreation. It is important to note that CBD does not have THC which is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
The type of oil that the CBD is suspended in may vary as does the concentration or strength of the CBD itself. It is important to know what type of oil is used as well as whether it is organic or not. It is also important to know the concentrated strength of the CBD. Red krill oil is commonly used because it gives the added benefit of Omega 3 fatty acids.
How Does CBD Oil Help Dogs With Seizures?
CBD works by messaging directly to special receptors in the dog’s brain. It can send messages to the brain that help to calm electrical activity that triggers seizures. In addition, it can also help prevent some of the damage caused by more traditional medications by strengthening the immune system, helping to stabilize mood and may also prevent damage caused by inflammation related to those meds.
Studies have shown that CBD oil can help the immune system fight harder which may restore normal function and it is safe to use. It may also help boost the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters in the brain and its primary function is to boost the feelings of happiness.
How do Veterinarians Feel About CBD Oil for Dogs with Seizures?
Most vets only want what is best for the dogs that they treat but may be struggling with CBD oil because of a number of concerns. First, they might think that people who are giving this oil to their dogs will stop giving them other medicines or that they might stop coming for regular vet check-ups.
Second, the vet might be concerned that there is not enough information about CBD oil and how it works to feel confident in suggesting it. New studies are being completed all of the time and most of the information that is being released is positive in nature.
Third, some vets have a very tight relationship with medical companies and they may not want to lose that by suggesting something else.
Holistic vets are different. They believe in treating the dog as more than just a disease, condition or injury. For them, the treatment they suggest will keep in mind the best plan for the physical, mental and emotional health of each dog. More and more vets are turning to more holistic care plans and embracing the use of CBD oil not only for seizures but for other conditions as well. They may use these in tandem with traditional treatments or they may suggest using CBD oil alone.
The benefits of CBD oil are many and the risks are small. In fact, there is no upper limit for the compound so you are unlikely to overdose your dog even if he gets more than his usual amount. Most dogs benefit from daily treatment but some people choose to use it only as needed. Very few dogs have less than positive results and even fewer have zero change.
Even if your vet does not agree with the use of this oil, it is important that you let him know that you are proceeding with it anyway. Your dog is counting on you and his vet working together to come up with the best treatment for his condition, no matter what that might be.