Updated: May 7, 2020
The cannabinoid CBD is a known anti-epileptic. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam’s research group in Israel was the first group to study and establish the anti-epileptic properties of CBD. In 2017 the FDA approved the use of a drug called Epidolex, a plant-based form of CBD, for the treatment of intractable epilepsy in humans.
However, there have been far less established research studies on the use of CBD to treat canine conditions like epilepsy, pain, and anxiety. Dr. Stephanie McGrath’s group at Colorado State University is one of the few groups that study the safety and efficacy of CBD as a treatment for epilepsy in dogs. She began studying CBD in dogs around 2013. Her preliminary study of the efficacy of CBD for dogs with seizures showed promise, which led her to conduct a pilot study further investigating the use of CBD in canines.
The results, published in a 2019 article of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, found, on average, that the number of seizures was reduced by 33% for the dogs give an oral form of CBD compared to the dogs given the placebo. This is exciting news, and not too surprising, since like humans, dogs also have an endocannabinoid system!
Dr. McGrath has a second larger study currently underway to learn more about the benefits, proper dosing, and side effects of CBD. McGrath's study, as well as another, found elevated levels of some liver enzymes like alkaline phosphatase and alanine transaminase in the serum of the dogs treated with CBD. It is not known whether this is harming the liver or if the elevated levels are due in part to the CBD being metabolized by the liver. Part of her next study aims to understand more about this observation in relation to safety and dosage.
You can read a full summary of the study completed by Dr. McGrath’s group here.