CBD Reduced Seizures in 89% of Dogs, New Study Finds

By Melena Gurganus
Alex Navarro, Unsplash

When we launched Remedy Review, no veterinarian would go on the record about CBD. Each referred us to guidelines that prohibited hemp in animal feed and said they were waiting for more information. One veterinarian referenced news about grain-free dog food and the negative consequences that can occur when marketing supersedes science. In the case of the dog food, dogs were experiencing heart issues on a carbohydrate-free diet—something television commercials promoted, as if dogs needed the South Beach diet.

But the science around CBD and dogs has evolved over the last year. One study in particular points to the potential cannabidiol has to help man’s best friends live their best life. 

Veterinary safety trial shows CBD presents minimal risk for dogs

A study sponsored by ABSC Organics at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences investigated the safety of specified combinations and delivery methods of hemp-hybrid oil extract in dogs. The intent of this research was to determine the potential adverse effects of administering cannabidiol to dogs.

  • Overall, the results showed that dogs tolerated clinical doses of CBD without serious adverse effects. 
  • All of the dogs in the study developed diarrhea at some point, although it’s unclear if this was caused by the CBD oil or by other factors (such as being in an unfamiliar location).
  • 36% of dogs in the 6-week long study showed the same bloodwork abnormality, which was characterized by an elevation of alkaline phosphatase enzyme (ALP), which affects the liver. However, more studies are necessary to determine the long-term effects of CBD on the canine liver.

Results were presented at the Institute of Cannabis Research Conference at CSU-Pueblo on April 29, 2017, and were published in the Fall 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.

How the study was conducted

A group of 30 healthy Beagle dogs were split into 3 separate groups containing 10 dogs in each. Each group was then randomly assigned to receive a CBD oil, transdermal topical, or microencapsulated oil beads (capsule) at a dose of 10 mg/kg/day or 20 mg/kg/day for 6 weeks. Complete blood counts, urinalysis, chemistry panels, and bile acids were performed at the beginning of the study, and in 2 week intervals until the conclusion of the clinical trial.

Phase 2 clinical trials for epilepsy and arthritis underway

Dr. Stephanie McGrath, who leads the CSU team, also completed a pilot epilepsy study in 2018, and the promising results of that study were published in the June 1 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. In total, 16 dogs were included in the analysis, with 9 dogs in the CBD group and 7 in the placebo group.

Snapshot of results

89% of the dogs in the small pilot study showed a reduction in seizure frequency.

Dr. McGrath expressed excitement over the findings and the potential of CBD as she noted, “We saw a correlation between how high the levels of CBD oil were in these dogs with how great the seizure reduction was.”

Additionally, the dogs in the CBD group reduced their seizure frequency significantly (median change of 33%), compared with the placebo group.

To extend upon these findings, a larger epilepsy study sponsored by the AKC Canine Health Foundation is ongoing at CSU, as is an arthritis study. Previous studies like the one performed on osteoarthritic dogs at Cornell University also display a favorable profile on the benefits of CBD for dogs with arthritic conditions.

CBD oil is most effective form of administration

Another study conducted by the CSU team found that CBD oil was the most effective administration method when it came to blood plasma levels of CBD in each dog. Essentially, this means that CBD was more easily absorbed by the body when given in a tincture format twice a day, in 12 hour intervals.

Topical cream application of CBD was the least effective, with notably lower plasma CBD levels than the other two application styles (tincture and capsules).

Note about study sponsorship

Some of these studies were sponsored by Applied Basic Science Corp, meaning only their CBD products were used in the clinical trials. While these studies are a step forward in understanding the all-encompassing effects of CBD on dogs, we are still in a space where brands are pushing the science forward. We’re anxious to hear the broader veterinary community weigh in, as more research is necessary to determine the long-term effects of CBD.

If you’re a pet owner who wants to try CBD for your pet, speak to a veterinarian about potential drug interactions or adverse effects.

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