Epilepsy is a serious disorder that causes abnormalities in the brain’s activities and central nervous system, oftentimes in the form of debilitating seizures. While many are aware that epilepsy affects males and females of all ages around the globe, few are aware that epilepsy can also affect our furry friends.
Epilepsy Prevalence in Canines
A 2014 study of 665,249 dogs published by the Institute of Canine Biology showed that 5,013 of them had epilepsy. That equates to .75 percent of dogs, which is in-line with epilepsy prevalence for humans. With over 43 million American households owning one or more dogs as pets, there could be over 300,000 epileptic dogs in the United States alone. Dogs with epilepsy live shorter lives, and that's the last thing a pet owner wants.
What Dog Owners Can Do
As it currently stands, most dogs with epileptic seizures are prescribed phenobarbital to control the amount and severity of seizures. According to the American Kennel Club, "this drug works by decreasing and stabilizing neuron activity in the brain." Another negative side effect of the phenobarbital is that it also "decreases the neurotransmitter Glutamate, which causes nerve stimulation."
A quick look over the side effects would turn any dog owner away. "Because Phenobarbital may also decrease other neurotransmitters, common side effects may include lethargy and loss of coordination."
There must be a better way!
With anthropomorphism on the rise in the US, more and more pet owners are treating their dogs like human children. As a part of this trend, pet owners are spending more time and money to ensure that their pets are happy and healthy. This has led to a rise in demand for all natural foods and treats, as well as all natural day-to-day solutions for more serious pet ailments like epilepsy.
Given this phenomenon, many dog owners are turning to naturally-derived cannabidiol, AKA CBD, to help treat their dogs’ epilepsy.
Pot for Pups!?
Don't get cannabidiol confused with its psychoactive counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol. Cannabidiol, AKA CBD, doesn't get pets (or humans) high like THC does, but rather, it's a naturally-occurring compound found in marijuana and hemp plants that can provide much-needed relief for inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, epilepsy, and more.
Pot for pups isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Both Colorado State University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine are testing CBD for pets with epilepsy and more.
Available in many different forms and flavors, hemp-derived CBD for dogs is quickly becoming one of the most popular canine nutritional supplements, thanks to its noteworthy (albeit anecdotal) results.
While the FDA prohibits brands like Therpet from making claims related to diseases or medical conditions in conjunction with their products, there’s nothing stopping pet owners from sharing their own experiences.
Jason, a New York resident, has been dealing with his chihuahua’s epilepsy for three years. After feeding Pixie phenobarbital for over two years with no noticeable results other than lethargy, Jason sought other options in hopes to bring his furry friend back to life. “Pixie was no longer the dog I had adopted. After a handful of increasingly severe seizures, Pixie’s vet upped her dose of Solfoton to that which a human would take,” Jason continued. “At this point I had to seek safer options.”
It was only once The New York Times published a story on “the newest customer base for medical marijuana” that Jason felt optimistic about Pixie’s epilepsy treatment regimen. “I thought, if other pet owners are finding CBD to be a safe, all-natural solution to their pets’ ailments, why not give it a try?”
“Starting small, I decided to incorporate a beef-flavored CBD tincture into Pixie’s breakfast.” Since then, Jason has noticed a significant reduction in both frequency and severity of Pixie’s seizures.
While Jason and Pixie’s experience is just one of many, CBD is not to be ignored when it comes to treating epilepsy. The naturally derived compound is already proving to help humans with epilepsy, so it’s no wonder that research has already begun with pets. As the health of your furry friend is of utmost concern, be sure to consult your veterinary physician before making any decisions.