Promising and exciting. With these words, Dr. Stephanie McGrath brings new insights from a groundbreaking pilot study evaluating cannabidiol (CBD) use in dogs with epilepsy.
McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, conducted a small study of 16 dogs to assess the short-term effects of CBD on seizure frequency.
Based on her research, McGrath found that 89 percent of the dogs given CBD in the clinical study had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. Nine dogs were treated with CBD while seven dogs in a control group were treated with a placebo.
The research took place from 2016 to 2017 and the results will be published in the June 1 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Idiopathic epilepsy, which occurs without a known cause, affects up to 5.7% of the dog population worldwide, making it the most common neurological disease in dogs.
Dogs enrolled in the clinical trial were randomly assigned to the treatment or placebo group. Those in the treatment group received CBD oil for 12 weeks. All dogs were required to take standard anticonvulsants such as phenobarbital and potassium bromide. The dog owners and CSU medical staff did not know whether the animal was receiving CBD or a placebo until the study was completed.
The CBD product used in the study was obtained from a hemp plant that contains 0.3 percent or less of the psychoactive component of cannabis, THC. The compound is not considered marijuana and can be used for research purposes based on the 2014 U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Bill.
The results highlight the effects of CBD oil on reducing dog seizures
In addition to the significant reduction in seizures in the group of dogs that received CBD oil, McGrath saw a significant association between the degree of reduction in seizures and the amount of CBD levels in the dog’s blood.
“We saw a correlation between the levels of CBD oil in these dogs and the large reduction in seizures,” said McGrath.
This finding prompted the neurologist to adjust the dose of CBD oil for dogs in a recent clinical trial that started in January 2018 and aims to enroll 60 dogs owned by clients with epilepsy.
McGrath described the ongoing research as exciting and important.
“It’s really exciting that maybe in the future we can look at CBD as an alternative to existing anticonvulsants,” she said.
The study was funded by Applied Basic Science Corporation, the company that made the CBD-infused oil evaluated in the study. McGrath has a 5% stake in the company.
The new clinical study is funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation.
McGrath hopes to start a new study later this year to better identify the optimal dose of CBD for treating epilepsy in dogs.
For more information on the ongoing trial, dog owners can contact Breonna Thomas at 970-305-0455 or by email.