Summary: Dogs with epilepsy who received cannabidiol as part of a clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.
Source: Colorado State University
Promising and exciting. Those are the words used by Dr. Stephanie McGrath to describe findings from a pilot study to assess the use of cannabidiol, or CBD, for dogs with epilepsy.
McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, led a small study with 16 pet dogs to assess the short-term effect of CBD on seizure frequency.
Based on her research, McGrath found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. Nine dogs were treated with CBD, while seven in a control group were treated with a placebo.
The research took place from 2016 to 2017, and results are published in the June 1 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Idiopathic epilepsy, which occurs with no known cause, affects up to 5.7% of the pet dog population worldwide, making it the most common canine neurologic condition.
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 of the dogs were required to stay on standard anticonvulsant drugs, including phenobarbital and potassium bromide. The dogs’ owners and CSU medical staff did not know if the animal received CBD or a placebo until the study was complete.
The CBD product used in the study was derived from a hemp plant, which has 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 United States Department of Agriculture Farm Bill.
Findings highlight effect of CBD oil on seizure reduction
In addition to the distinct reduction of seizures in the group of dogs that received CBD oil, McGrath saw a significant association between the degree of seizure reduction and the amount of CBD concentration in the dog’s blood.
“We saw a correlation between how high the levels of CBD were in these dogs with how great the seizure reduction was,” McGrath said.
This finding led the neurologist to adjust the dose of CBD oil for dogs in a current clinical trial, which was launched in January 2018 and aims to enrol 60 client-owned dogs with epilepsy.
McGrath described the ongoing research as exciting and important.
“It’s really exciting that perhaps we can start looking at CBD in the future as an alternative to existing anticonvulsive drugs,” she said.
he published study was funded by Applied Basic Science Corporation, the company that produced the CBD-infused oil evaluated in the study. McGrath has a 5% ownership in the company.
Funding: The new clinical trial is funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation.
McGrath hopes to launch another study later this year to better zero in on the optimal dose of CBD to treat epilepsy in dogs.
About this neuroscience research article
Colorado State University
Mary Guiden – Colorado State University
The image is credited to John Eisele/Colorado State University.
Original Research: Closed access
“Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy”. Stephanie McGrath DVM, MS; Lisa R. Bartner DVM, MS; Sangeeta Rao BVSc, PhD; Rebecca A. Packer DVM, MSand Daniel L. Gustafson PhD.
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. doi:10.2460/javma.254.11.1301
Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy
To assess the effect of oral cannabidiol (CBD) administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy.
Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial.
26 client-owned dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy.
Dogs were randomly assigned to a CBD (n = 12) or placebo (14) group. The CBD group received CBD-infused oil (2.5 mg/kg [1.1 mg/lb], PO) twice daily for 12 weeks in addition to existing antiepileptic treatments, and the placebo group received noninfused oil under the same conditions. Seizure activity, adverse effects, and plasma CBD concentrations were compared between groups.
2 dogs in the CBD group developed ataxia and were withdrawn from the study. After other exclusions, 9 dogs in the CBD group and 7 in the placebo group were included in the analysis. Dogs in the CBD group had a significant (median change, 33%) reduction in seizure frequency, compared with the placebo group. However, the proportion of dogs considered responders to treatment (≥ 50% decrease in seizure activity) was similar between groups. Plasma CBD concentrations were correlated with reduction in seizure frequency. Dogs in the CBD group had a significant increase in serum alkaline phosphatase activity. No adverse behavioral effects were reported by owners.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Although a significant reduction in seizure frequency was achieved for dogs in the CBD group, the proportion of responders was similar between groups. Given the correlation between plasma CBD concentration and seizure frequency, additional research is warranted to determine whether a higher dosage of CBD would be effective in reducing seizure activity by ≥ 50%.
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