CBD found to reduce frequency of dog seizures in CSU study

Charlotte Lang

Recent studies at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, overseen by Dr. Stephanie McGrath, have found the use of cannabidiol to be beneficial for dogs with epilepsy.

A smiling check checks a large St. Bernard in her office
Atticus, a 3-year old St. Bernard, is enrolled in a CBD oil clinical trial at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Atticus is in for a recheck by Dr. Stephanie McGrath, Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences, and Breona Thomas, Clinical Trials Coordinator. April 11, 2018 (Photo courtesy of John Eisele | CSU Photography)

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been used in treatments for anxiety and chronic pain, among other conditions. Many people using it for their own ailments called McGrath and other doctors, wondering if it could have the same effect on pets.

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In an email to The Collegian, McGrath wrote this question became a popular one at her office after cannabis was legalized in Colorado.

“The more I checked into the research, I realized that there were no scientific studies to support, or dispute, its use in animals,” McGrath wrote. “I started thinking about the prospect of doing the research here at CSU. Once I was able to get the funding in place and get approval from the University, we were able to get the research going.”

McGrath’s trials so far have been focused on pharmacokinetic studies in dogs, meaning the doctors test the absorption of CBD in a dog’s bloodstream, McGrath wrote.

The team has also completed two clinical trials in epilepsy and osteoarthritis, with both results currently in the process of being analyzed.

Though there are no results available yet for the arthritis study, McGrath wrote the epilepsy results so far have been promising, with 89 percent of dogs in clinical trials showing a reduction in the frequency of seizures.

There is so much more to learn about CBD and we are at the very beginning.”

Dr. Stephanie McGrath, neurologist

Currently, McGrath’s team has started a new, larger epilepsy study with funding by the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation. McGrath wrote this is a study they are actively recruiting cases for.

“It is a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study so we do not have results yet,” McGrath wrote.

McGrath wrote her team is also working on writing grants in hope of gaining more funding to continue the research. 

“I think we have a long way to go to get the answers we all want,” McGrath wrote. “Studying the effect of CBD on other canine diseases are necessary to understand what the full potential of this drug is … There is so much more to learn about CBD and we are at the very beginning.”

Breonna Thomas, the clinical trials coordinator for the study, echoed McGrath’s sentiments, saying the team hopes to expand their current recruitment to benefit both dogs with epilepsy and their owners. 

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“We’re definitely hoping to recruit several more cases,” Thomas said. “It’s fairly difficult to qualify for this study since we’re looking for uncontrolled idiopathic epileptic dogs, and that’s such a hard disease for owners to go through with their pets.”

Though the research is scheduled for three years, Thomas said they may reach the end sooner if they recruit enough cases. Her goal is for half the cases to be recruited by the end of the year. The task, she said, is finding dogs who qualify.

The preliminary findings for this study were first presented by McGrath at the annual convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association in July. They will be presented again at a meeting of the Colorado Veterinary Association in Loveland on Sept. 23.

McGrath and Thomas encouraged parties interested in signing up for the study to learn more about how to properly do so on the Veterinary Teaching Hospital website.

Charlotte Lang can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChartrickWrites.