The only study on cannabidiol (CBD oil) as a treatment for epilepsy in dogs was recently published in the Journal of American Veterinarian Medicine.
Of importance to veterinarians and pets is that these researchers believe that CBD oil can be of benefit to dogs that have not received adequate seizure control when administered conventional anti-epilepsy medications. (Cats were not included in the study although they can be afflicted with seizures as well.)
This study, although very small, concluded that although only a couple of participants decreased their seizure activity by greater than 50%, the overall decrease in frequency of seizures by the group was enough to be considered significant.
These positive findings raise as many questions as they answer, though, as CBD oil is consistently touted as a cure-all with very little research to back up those claims. And research can be difficult when starting with a limited — if not zero — body of evidence to begin testing.
For example, in this study the researchers had to determine a starting dose of CBD oil based on human recommendations knowing that tremendous differences exist in metabolizing drugs among species. For example, THC — the psychotropic brother of CBD primarily derived from marijuana — is considered toxic to dogs. Other examples of species differences include the toxicity felines have to Tylenol and the potential kidney disease that ingesting raisins and grapes can cause in dogs.
Pets in this study also were receiving other medications in an attempt to control their seizure disorders. If CBD oil would work by itself, its proper dose, administration frequency and long-term effects are still to be answered.
The promise of positive benefits is a little stronger with this very limited study. But it emphasizes the many unknowns we have with CBD and the long road ahead as legal roadblocks that have prevented good science in the past get lifted. For the many unproven claims that currently exist, patience and good research will hopefully prove the benefits, and even cures, that CBD oil promises.