Fort Collins, Colorado – With CBD slowly gaining mainstream acceptance, with it’s touted benefits including reducing anxiety, and possibly even combating seizures in humans, many pet owners have begun asking: can CBD help my pooch out too?
In 2017, a Colorado State University study begun accepting patients in a trial to test CBD in epileptic dogs. As many as 5% of dogs are born with hereditary epilepsy, and currently there aren’t many treatments that aren’t potentially deadly for these dogs.
The clinical trial involved 16 dogs, with 9 of them treated with CBD, while the other 6 were treated with a placebo. The researcher, Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital initially decided upon her research in response to frequent questions from clients and other vets about CBD.
Currently, there is minimal research on CBD and dogs. A 1988 study measured the bioavailability of CBD in dogs, with two IV doses, and one oral dose. Of the 6 dogs studied, 3 showed no signs of CBD in the blood plasma, while the others had oral bioavailability between 13-19%. This would seem to indicate that CBD is of little benefit to dogs, as low oral bioavailability means less CBD is present to pass the blood-brain barrier and deliver results.
However, McGrath’s research struck a different tone. The dogs in the experiment were randomly assigned to either the placebo group, or the treatment group. The study was conducted double-blinded, to avoid unconscious bias, as the research staff did not know which dogs were treated with CBD and which were treated with the placebo.
The results were promising, with 90% of the dogs in the treatment group experiencing a reduction in seizure activity, while only 43% in the control group experienced a reduction. The mechanism by which CBD achieves this is still unknown. However, the promising results have led McGrath to start a second study at CSU with 60 dogs that is currently underway.
McGrath is also testing CBD on dogs with osteoarthritis, which anecdotal evidence suggests CBD may help.
One of the dogs in the study, Jigsaw hasn’t experienced a seizure in over a month and a half, which is the longest time he’s gone without a seizure since they began.
McGrath, for her part was impressed and hopeful for the future of CBD treatment with dogs.
“It has the potential of saving thousands of dogs” she said.
Dosing your dog with CBD is a trial and error science. McGrath herself considers that one of the primary questions of her follow up study, along with how CBD is absorbed in the body. Her research, in partnership with the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation will seek to answer these questions and many more.