With CBD now a mainstream treatment for humans with seizures, scientists have studied whether it can work for dogs.

Key point:

  • While more research is needed for a definitive answer, recent studies on dogs show that adding full-spectrum CBD oil to existing treatment plans can decrease the number of seizures that dogs experience.


CBD is wowing researchers and humans with epilepsy for the way it can reduce the intensity and frequency of seizures.

Because of CBD’s safety and mild side effect profile, it’s now commonly used in treating epilepsy in children.

Which has scientists and dog owners wondering: does CBD work for dogs with seizures?

Epilepsy is the most common neurologic condition in dogs, but current treatments aren’t always effective.

Drugs like phenobarbital and potassium bromide fail to reduce seizures in as many as 30% of dogs and can come with nasty side effects.

To see if CBD can improve current canine treatment plans, scientists from Florida and Colorado’s Colleges of Veterinary Medicine ran clinical studies on real-life pups.

Let’s look at what they found out!

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Does CBD work for dogs with seizures?

According to two recently published studies, adding CBD to dogs’ existing treatment plans can reduce the number of seizures they have.

In one study, scientists gave 14 dogs diagnosed with epilepsy a twice-daily 2 mg/kg dose of full-spectrum CBD oil for 24 weeks.

After analyzing the dogs’ blood and monitoring their symptoms and behavior throughout the study, the scientists found that dogs taking CBD had a greater reduction in symptoms than those taking a placebo:

“The number of dogs with a 50% reduction in epileptic activity while on treatment were 6/14, whereas 0/14 had reductions of 50% or greater while on the placebo.”

In a second study, researchers tested CBD on 16 dogs of various ages and breeds who were taking anti-convulsant drugs like phenobarbital, potassium bromide, and levetiracetam.

Characteristics of dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy table following CBD treatment study

(image source: https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/254/11/javma.254.11.1301.xml)

Table 1. Characteristics of dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy table following CBD treatment study

All of the dogs previously experienced at least two seizures per month. Some had generalized seizures and others suffered from focal seizures.

After taking 2.5 mg/kg of CBD twice daily for 12 weeks, the researchers found that dogs had a median reduction in seizures of 33%.

This is encouraging evidence that making CBD part of dogs’ daily epilepsy treatment can improve outcomes.

How does CBD reduce seizures in dogs?

CBD’s anti-convulsive powers aren’t due to any sedating or intoxicating effect. In fact, CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabis compound that doesn’t change dogs’ mental states or activity levels.

Instead, researchers believe that CBD inhibits neuron signaling activity associated with convulsions. Recent studies suggest that CBD blocks signals carried by a molecule called lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI).

During seizures, LPI molecules can incorrectly strengthen certain nerve signals that contribute to seizures and weaken others that counter them.

By blocking the effects of LPI, CBD helps prevent this unwanted neuron activity and keeps brain signals in balance, reducing the chance of a convulsion.

What type of CBD is best for dogs with seizures?

CBD extracts: Always choose full spectrum

In both of the studies above, scientists used full-spectrum CBD extracts infused into high-fat oils. See our list of the best CBD oils for dogs with seizures in our 2023 review.

“Full spectrum” is the term used by CBD experts for whole-plant hemp extracts, where all of the anti-inflammatory compounds contained in the original plant are present in the final product.

That means lots of CBD, plus other natural cannabinoids like CBD-A, CBG, and CBC – and soothing micro-compounds called terpenes (which are also found in essential oils).

Other types of CBD products, known as broad-spectrum or isolate CBD, undergo further processing to remove these additional beneficial ingredients. This is usually done as part of industrial manufacturing practices, or to comply with stricter cannabis laws in other countries, and lowers the overall quality and potency of CBD extracts.

Because full-spectrum CBD is less processed and contains a richer variety of hemp compounds, we always recommend that dog owners look for products that contain pet-safe full-spectrum hemp extracts.

CBD oils vs treats and creams

There are several types of CBD products for dogs, from oils and treats to creams, balms, and capsules.

Both of the studies in this article used oil-based CBD products, for a good reason.

When consumed alongside CBD, high-fat oils like hemp-seed oil, MCT oil, sesame oil, or olive oil increase CBD absorption. That means less CBD is lost during digestion and dogs get more benefit from the same-sized dose.

How much CBD should I give my dog for seizures?

Dogs with seizures benefit from a moderate-to-high dose of CBD oil.

So, while we often recommend a general dosage of 1 – 2 mg of CBD per kg of a dog’s body weight, we think a 2.5 mg/kg dose of CBD is a good place for owners of dogs with seizures to start.

From there, carefully observe your pup for any effects and increase the dose if needed. CBD dosages can be safely increased in increments up to 4 mg/kg.

For the best results, CBD should be given to dogs twice daily. That schedule keeps CBD circulating in dogs’ bodies for the entire day and night.

Read our full dosage guide for a comprehensive look at how to give your dog CBD oil.

CBD dog seizure studies in detail

Study One: Does CBD improve treatment plans for dogs with epilepsy?

Scientists from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University wanted to know if a twice-daily dose of full-spectrum CBD oil would reduce the number of seizures that dogs with epilepsy experienced.

What dogs took part in this study?

16 dogs of various ages and breeds who were already on Epilepsy treatment plans signed up for the study. The dogs were taking standard anti-convulsant drugs like phenobarbital, potassium bromide, levetiracetam, and zonisamide.

All the dogs in the study were submitted by their owners and met the “tier II confidence level for diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy.” That means they all experienced at least two seizures per month. Some of the dogs had generalized seizures and others suffered from focal seizures.

Dogs were between 2 and 12 years old and included mixed breeds and Golden Retrievers, plus a Pug, Newfoundland, Griffon, Vizsla, and Sheepdogs.

How did the study work?

During the study, dogs had their blood analyzed every four weeks. Owners kept a daily log that included observations about their dog’s “number of seizures, seizure type, and seizure duration.”

Researchers set the definition for “responding to treatment” as a “50% [or greater] reduction in mean monthly seizure frequency.”

The study also included a 100-question owner survey about changes to their dog’s behavior before and after the study, including any effects of CBD on dogs’ anxiety.

What type of CBD did this study use?

The CBD used in this study was a full-spectrum extract infused in hemp seed oil and was given to dogs orally.

What were the results of this study?

After analyzing owner surveys, researchers didn’t find any differences in behavior – things like anxiety and energy levels – between dogs in the CBD and placebo groups.

But they did observe a “significant reduction in seizure frequency.”

That suggests CBD can improve outcomes when added to dogs’ epilepsy treatment plants.

However, the researchers also pointed out that their study only included a very small number of dogs.

Moreover, when the results from the CBD and placebo groups were compared in terms of the study’s definition of “responding to treatment,” researchers were not able to find a statistically significant difference in seizure reductions.

The researchers concluded that the CBD dose used in the study may have been too low for “the intractable nature” of the dogs’ epilepsy, and recommended a future study with larger doses.

Study Two: Does CBD work for dogs with seizures in the same way as humans?

Scientists from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine studied whether the anti-convulsant properties of the natural hemp compounds CBD and CBD-A shown in humans could be demonstrated in dogs.

What dogs took part in this study?

A range of breeds took part in the study, with dogs aged between two and nine years old.

All the dogs in the study had been diagnosed with epilepsy for at least one year. They had at least one seizure per month and didn’t find that the “common highest tolerable doses” of standard canine epilepsy medications were working for them.

The dogs were already taking anti-seizure medications like potassium bromide, zonisamide, phenobarbital, and levetiracetam.

At the beginning of the study, researchers carefully assessed all the dogs, giving them MRI scans and analyzing their blood and spinal fluid for any prior health issues aside from epilepsy.

How did the study work?

To track the dogs’ responses to CBD, their owners kept a “seizure diary” and filled out a survey to record any side effects.

Researchers defined clinically successful treatment as “a reduction of 50% in seizure activity.”

What type of CBD did this study use?

The CBD used in this study was a full-spectrum extract with high levels of the secondary cannabinoid CBD-A (approximately 1:1 CBD to CBD-A).

The CBD was given orally in the form of capsules that contained a sesame-seed oil carrier.

Scientists gave the dogs 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily for a period of 24 weeks.

What were the results of this study?

Based on the owner’s diaries, dogs who were taking CBD had a “statistically significant” reduction in seizure frequency and had fewer days when seizures occurred.

All the dogs also tolerated CBD oil well with no adverse side effects.

However, the researchers were quick to point out the small size of their study, plus the fact that the CBD/CBDA blend they used is not widely available to consumers.


The recent studies showing CBD’s potential to reduce seizures in dogs are extremely promising. The results indicate that adding full-spectrum CBD oil to existing treatment plans could significantly decrease seizure frequency for many dogs.

While larger clinical trials are still needed, the evidence so far suggests CBD may become a new tool to help control difficult-to-treat epilepsy in canines. For dog owners whose pets continue experiencing seizures despite medications, talking to your vet about adding CBD is worthwhile.

Start with a moderate dose administered twice daily, ideally using a full-spectrum hemp oil formula. Then monitor your dog closely and adjust the dosage as needed. With CBD’s safety profile, it’s likely worth a try.