FORT COLLINS, Colo (CBS4) – Parents of children who suffer seizures swear by cannabinoid. They say it curbs the number and severity of the seizures that their children endure. Now, researchers at Colorado State University are studying whether it has the same effect in dogs with epilepsy.
“We’re really kind of looking for the ideal treatment,” said Dr. Stephanie McGrath, an assistant professor and veterinarian at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
McGrath specializes in neurology and neurosurgery. Right now, she and other veterinarians have two or three good drugs for treating epilepsy, but they come with strong side effects that can sometimes be debilitating.
“The two drugs we most commonly use are phenobarbital and potassium bromide as first line drugs,” McGrath explained.
As parents talked publicly about how cannabinoids helped their children with seizures, it was natural to wondering if the same might be true for dogs with epilepsy.
“Well, if it’s potentially working for pediatric epilepsy, why not try it for canine epilepsy,” McGrath told CBS4.
Now, she’s at the forefront of research into the effects of hemp-based cannabinoids on epileptic dogs.
“There certainly is a lot of interest with pet owners, with local vets, with family vets, and a lot of specialists across the county,” McGrath said.
The CBD oil used in the study is made by a Colorado company called Applied Basic Science. It is offered for sale to the public with general guidelines for how to dose your pet. Part of the research that McGrath is doing is figuring out what the proper dosing is for animals.
“He has about 2 to3 seizures a day,” said Pam Uhlenkamp.
Uhlenkamp’s precious pooch, Ferguson, suffers from epilepsy. She said that Ferguson would seize for 5 minutes at a time, and then it would take nearly an hour to recover.
“It was really scary because you think your dog is in total pain,” she told CBS4.
Uhlenkamp enrolled Ferguson in McGrath’s study as soon as she heard about it. Ferguson underwent an MRI, and a spinal tap, he took cannabinoid and a placebo, and Uhlenkamp kept a daily log of his progress.
“First of all, his seizures went down. It took about two weeks, maybe three, to like fully effect, and they went to about 2 to 3 a week,” Uhlenkamp said.
McGrath is now in her second study of CBD in dogs with epilepsy. She’s currently enrolling 60 dogs into the new study. And while, she can’t draw any definite conclusions about CBD oil right now, she is hopeful.
“We haven’t seen anything that’s been adversely affecting our dogs,” she said.
Uhlenkamp is already a believer.
“I just think it could help a lot of dogs.”