Daisy, a 16-year-old chihuahua rescue, came to me with a history of seizures (among other serious issues). I knew the signs of a seizure, but nothing can really prepare you for the moment your pet starts seizing. Even the calmest person might panic when you see the blank look in your sweet pup’s eyes as they convulse. It is something I would never wish on anyone.

When Daisy started seizing, I remained calm, but my heart was breaking for her. She had powered through so many other issues and her happy, curious spirit remained – but the seizures were pulling her away from spending her twilight years playing and resting peacefully.

Before I could help Daisy, I had to fully understand what happens during a seizure and what causes them. Thankfully, I found a natural solution to help stop Daisy’s seizures while they were happening, and which also helped prevent future seizures.

What are symptoms of a seizure?

A seizure is a common neurological condition in dogs which the brain is function is involuntarily disrupted. Epilepsy is the term used to describe repeated episodes of seizures.

Symptoms that your dog is having a seizure include:

  • Collapsing
  • Jerking
  • Convulsing
  • Stiffening
  • Muscle twitching
  • Drooling
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chomping
  • Tongue-chewing
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Release of bowel or bladder

What causes seizures?

Individual seizures can be caused by a number of things, including: eating poison, liver disease, fluctuating blood sugar, fever, strokes, brain cancer, anemia, electrolyte problems, or head injury.

Epilepsy is typically categorized in two ways: Idiopathic epilepsy, also called primary epilepsy, and symptomatic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy has no identifiable cause and is often a genetic issue, while symptomatic epilepsy occurs when there is an identifiable underlying brain lesion or metabolic cause, like the ones mentioned above.

Idiopathic epilepsy can be inherited in many breeds, including Australian ShepherdsBelgian Tervuren, and German ShepherdsBeaglesBernese Mountain DogsBorder ColliesBorder TerriersCavalier King Charles SpanielsDachshundsEnglish Springer SpanielsFinnish SpitzGolden and Labrador RetrieversIrish WolfhoundsLagotto RomagnolosPetit Basset Griffon VendeensShetland Sheepdogs, Standard Poodles and Vizslas. However, it can occur in any breed and mixed breed, according to the American Kennel Club.

What do I do if my dog is having a seizure?

The first thing to remember when your dog is having a seizure is to stay calm. Do not try to move the dog unless they are in an unsafe area (for example, if they are laying on the edge of a dock over water or are near fire). If you must move the dog, try to move them from their hind legs or hips.

You can soothe or gently pet your dog while they are having a seizure but keep your hands away from their mouth as they may clamp down with their jaw. You should also administer full spectrum hemp extract (like HEAL 1100 mg Full Spectrum Hemp Extract) to their gums during the seizure to shorten the duration.

A single seizure should not last more than 5 minutes. If it does, consult an emergency veterinarian. Typically, seizures only last a few minutes and the dog will resume their normal activity afterward.

How do you stop seizures naturally?

It is important to make sure your pet is eating a healthy, raw diet to prevent the types of liver disease, fluctuating blood sugar, anemia, and electrolyte issues that can cause seizures. By preventing the issue that causes the seizures, you can often avoid them altogether.

If your dog is prone to seizures, your veterinarian may prescribe phenobarbital (PB) and potassium bromide (KBr or K-BroVet Potassium Bromide). However, these medications may have negative side effects and can cause further liver damage, which is why many pet parents are turning to full spectrum hemp extract (CBD).

CBD has been used by humans to treat seizures for years. In fact, in 2003, the U.S. government patented CBD as a neuroprotectant (despite the U.S. prohibition on cannabis). Because of the rise of hemp-derived CBD for pets, studies focusing on the effects of CBD on seizures in dogs is being studied now more than ever.

In a 2017 double-blind study conducted by Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, neurologist Stephanie McGrath assessed the short-term effect of CBD on seizure frequency in 16 dogs. Dogs in the trial were randomly assigned a placebo or a hemp-derived CBD treatment for 12 weeks. Nine dogs received CBD while seven were given a placebo. All of the dogs in the study suffered from seizures. Through the study, McGrath found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. Additionally, McGrath saw a significant association between the degree of seizure reduction and the amount of CBD concentration in the dog’s blood.

This was not the only study to find CBD to be a successful anti-epileptic supplement for pets. Yamazaki University of Animal Health Technology in Japan conducted a similar experiment wherein three dogs who suffered epileptic seizures were given hemp-derived CBD for eight weeks. Researchers found a decrease in seizure intervals in two of the three dogs studied. The dogs were given varying amounts of CBD, and the dog who received the lowest number of mg of active CBD showed little to no improvement, while the dog who was administered 1700 mg showed the highest level of improvement. Of note: the same study’s findings show that the dogs showed a decrease in barking even when other dogs nearby were excitable.

How much CBD should I give my dog to stop seizure activity?

Despite common misconceptions, dosing has very little to do with your dog’s size or weight. Finding the right dosage depends on your specific dog, their specific ailment, and how sensitive their endocannabinoid system. Based on research and from our experience, we recommend starting with 35 – 50 mg of HEAL 1100 mg Full Spectrum Hemp Extract (CBD) daily and during seizure activity. The HEAL tincture contains 37 mg full spectrum hemp extract (CBD) per 1 mL dropper, which means it is best to start with about 1 – 1.5 mL droppers full. However, make sure to consult your holistic veterinarian if your pet is on phenobarbital before weaning.

For fastest and most thorough absorption, lift the lip and apply dose directly onto the gums, as the most direct way into the bloodstream. If added to food, the medicine may not be as effective and can take significantly longer (30-45 min.) to reach the bloodstream as it works its way through the gastrointestinal system.