Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, has published initial results from a groundbreaking study evaluating cannabidiol (CBD) use in dogs with epilepsy.
Based on her research, she found that 89 percent of dogs given CBD in a clinical study had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.
“Overall, what we found looks very promising,” she said.
16 dogs were included in the clinical study. Nine dogs were treated with CBD, which contains 0.3 percent or less of the psychoactive component of cannabis, THC. Seven dogs in a control group were treated with a placebo. The compound is not considered marijuana and can be used for research purposes based on the 2014 U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Bill.
McGrath initially decided to continue this line of research after receiving frequent calls from clients and other veterinarians with questions about CBD.
“People use CBD and are excited about its potential,” she explained. “It’s a topic that is gaining prominence in the media, but we really know very little about it from a scientific perspective.”
Questions to follow up
Among the questions she is pursuing, is CBD effective? What amount or dose is recommended for dog patients? How is it absorbed by the body? How does it affect things like metabolism? (The study of how a drug or medication is absorbed and metabolized in the body is called pharmacokinetic analysis.)
McGrath’s research team previously conducted a pharmacokinetics and safety study in 30 healthy dogs. This helped determine the approximate amount of CBD that should be used for clinical trials at the CSU.
Dogs enrolled in the study were randomly assigned to a treatment or placebo group. The study was double-blind, which means the vets and medical staff did not know which dogs were being treated with CBD until the research was complete.
McGrath presented the research at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s annual meeting in July 2018. She will publish additional results from this study, as well as a study of CBD in dogs with osteoarthritis, later this year.
“This pilot study is important and it appears that using CBD in dogs with epilepsy is having a positive effect,” said McGrath.
The CSU started a larger clinical study with CBD for dogs with epilepsy in January 2018. McGrath said the goal of this study, funded by the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation, is to enroll 60 dogs.
For more information on the CBD clinical trial, please visit the hospital website: http://col.st/VVAhc