Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, has revealed initial findings from a groundbreaking study to assess the use of cannabidiol, or CBD, for dogs with epilepsy.
Based on her research, she found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in a clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.
“Overall, what we found seems very promising,” she said.
Sixteen dogs were enrolled in the clinical trial. Nine dogs were treated with CBD, which has 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 United States Department of Agriculture Farm Bill.
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McGrath initially decided to pursue this line of research after receiving frequent calls from clients and other veterinarians with questions about CBD.
“People are using CBD and they are excited about its potential,” she explained. “It’s a topic that is gaining traction in the media, but we truly know very little about it from a scientific standpoint.”
Questions to pursue
Among the questions she is pursuing: Is CBD effective? What is the amount or dose to recommend for canine patients? How is it absorbed in the body? What effect does it have on things like metabolism? (Looking at how a drug or medication is absorbed in the body and metabolized is referred to a pharmacokinetic analysis.)
McGrath’s research team previously conducted a pharmacokinetic and safety study in 30 healthy dogs. This helped determine the approximate amount of CBD to use for the clinical trials at CSU.
Dogs enrolled in the study were randomly assigned to a treatment or placebo group. The study was double-blinded, which means the veterinarians and medical staff did not know which dogs were being treated with CBD until the research was concluded.
McGrath presented the research findings at the annual convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association in July 2018. She will share additional results from this trial, as well as a study of CBD for dogs with osteoarthritis, later this year.
“This pilot study is important and it does seem like there is a positive effect from the use of CBD for dogs with epilepsy,” said McGrath.
CSU launched a larger clinical trial with CBD for dogs with epilepsy in January 2018. McGrath said the aim of that study, which is funded by the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, is to enroll 60 dogs.
To learn more about the CBD clinical trial, visit the hospital’s website: http://col.st/VVAhc