Dr. Ilo Leppik, a pharmacy professor at University of Minnesota, has dedicated his career to finding a successful treatment for the seizures that trouble those with epilepsy. He played a key role in getting Minnesota’s medical marijuana law passed in 2014. He is now asking: “Can cannabinoids cure seizures in dogs too?”
Can cannabinoids cure seizures in dogs too?
The Star Tribune looks into Dr. Leppik’s latest passion. He spent his life finding a treatment for patients who suffer debilitating, and in some cases, life-threatening uncontrolled seizures. It has led him to believe in the healing power of cannabis for epilepsy. Many of his patients take a cannabis pill to manage the symptoms related to epilepsy.
Lately, Dr. Leppik is wondering if cannabis could cure epilepsy in pets too. He says dogs have a higher rate of epilepsy than humans, and he believes cannabis pills could treat dogs successfully too.
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Legalize medical marijuana for pets
The thought of legalizing medical marijuana for pets is novel. Many in veterinary circles don’t agree though. Dr. Ahna Brutlag, is hesitant. She says that since many states allowed for medical marijuana over the last six years, there has been an 448 percent increase in cases of pets overdosing on marijuana-based products.
Animals who made a feast of the cookie stash or other “medibles” go wobbly on their legs, glassy eyed and dazed, in a mild case. Cannabis overdose in animals could trigger tremors or seizures. It could also cause the animal’s heart rate and blood pressure to drop to dangerously low levels, says Brutlag.
She says research will have to be done to determine the benefits of compounds in cannabis for animals at the right dose.
Some are hesitant
Dr. Tim Krienke says he won’t rule out the possibility that there might be beneficial cannabis treatments for animals with seizures or other ailments. More collaboration is starting to take place between veterinarians and medical doctors because there is a lot of common ground. He also says he would be wary at this stage though.
One convinced patient
One of Dr. Leppik’s patients who is entirely convinced of the healing power of cannabis after she suffered repeated, uncontrolled seizures which kept her awake at night, is Dawn Swanson. She was on 20 different medications to manage her spasms and severe pain, but nothing helped.
She finally went to see Dr. Leppik, and he thought she was a good candidate for medicinal marijuana. Today she takes a single cannabis pill three times a day and hasn’t had a seizure for years. The cannabis also takes the edge off her pain and makes it bearable. She can now sleep a sound six hours a night, whereas before she got two hours if she was lucky. She says. “It changes your life to be able to sleep.”
Can cannabinoids cure her dog’s seizures?
Her dog has epilepsy. When he has seizures and start shaking, it is heartbreaking how he tries to crawl onto her lap. Dawn says he is on medication, which helps, but has side effects. She would definitely consider giving him cannabis if it was legal, as she would much rather be giving him something natural.
“Personally, after everything I’ve been through, I can’t see a reason why they shouldn’t open it up to more things.” She says.
Animals believed not to be averse to CBD
THC has caused several cannabis overdoses in pets, but several people have reported that CBD causes no adverse reactions. Further research will be needed. Can cannabinoids cure seizures? Recent trials indicate that they may. However, animals will have to wait for their medical cannabis until research has been done.