Channel 2 Investigates

New research shows CBD oil could help reduce life-threatening seizures in dogs

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Many Georgians, from children with severe epilepsy to veterans with PTSD, told us CBD extracted from cannabis changed their lives. It wasn’t long before people asked their vets: could CBD help my pet too?

When Alexa Ramfjord learned Colorado State University was accepting participants in a trial to test CBD in epileptic dogs, she was thrilled. Her dog Jigsaw had suffered seizures for two years.

“He'll fall over to his side and start convulsing and foam at the mouth,” Ramfjord said. “It's a very violent thing that they go through.”

Up to five percent of dogs have hereditary epilepsy. Those violent seizures, and the medication traditionally used to treat them, can be deadly for dogs.

“Oftentimes those dogs don’t live a normal life,” said Dr. Stephanie McGrath.


McGrath is testing CBD's effectiveness in epileptic dogs at CSU. She just completed a pilot study with 16 dogs that yielded promising results.

“About 90 percent of the dogs in the treatment group had a reduction in seizure activity, as compared to 43 percent in the control group," McGrath said.

Like humans, CBD works on brain receptors in dogs. It somehow alters brain chemistry to reduce the chance of a seizure. McGrath said scientists don’t know exactly how and why it works.

But Alexa said she knows it's helped jigsaw. Alexa and Jigsaw are now part of a second, bigger study conducted by McGrath at CSU.

“He hasn't had a seizure in a month and a half,” Alexa said. “that's a record for him, that's the longest he's gone ever since they started."

Here in Atlanta, Chelsea Mersh has done her own research on CBD for her dog Piper. Piper had severe anxiety. With the blessing of Piper’s veterinarian, Chelsea purchased CBD dog treats at a local pet store. She said the treats do the trick.

“[On] the Fourth of July, she can deal with fireworks now, the thunderstorms she sleeps through, I can take her to the dog park, and not worry about dog aggression," Chelsea said.

Government regulation on CBD for pets can be murky. A recent study on CBD extracts sold online revealed most products were mislabeled. Consumer websites suggest buyers look for an independent certificate of analysis to know how much CBD is in a product. Companies selling CBD for pets should also be transparent about their extraction process and ingredients.

CBD is also being tested on dogs with arthritis. Dr. McGrath said CBD is a promising drug.

“It has the potential of saving the lives of thousands of dogs,” Dr. McGrath said.