CHF Announces Funding for Clinical Trial to Study Cannabidiol to Treat Drug Resistant Epilepsy in Dogs


RALEIGH, NC (September 6, 2017) - Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder of dogs, and will affect dogs of pure- and mixed breeds. The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) with the support of its many donors has funded more than $2 million for epilepsy research. In 2017, CHF launched an epilepsy initiative to further advance this area of research for canine health. Improved treatments are desperately needed especially for dogs with drug-resistant epilepsy or where side effects of currently available drugs are not tolerated. Additional understanding of genetics and the influence of diet are also current targets of CHF-funded research.

CHF announces a major clinical trial to study the use of cannabidiol to treat drug resistant epilepsy in dogs. Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a board-certified veterinary neurologist at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, will lead this CHF-funded study entitled, “Efficacy of Cannabidiol (CBD) for the Treatment of Canine Epilepsy”. According to Dr. McGrath, up to 30% of dogs receiving standard anti-epileptic therapy remain uncontrolled for their seizures, and the side effects of the antiepileptic drugs are often unacceptable. CBD is a non-psychotropic component of the Cannabis sativa plant, which has been shown to have anti-convulsant properties. This randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover clinical trial study will be utilized to prove its effectiveness. "The timeliness and importance of research into the role of Cannabis in veterinary medicine cannot be emphasized enough,” stated Dr. McGrath. “With the changing public perception of Cannabis, it is time that we put science behind the stories and claims. We need to know if this drug is safe and if it works. If CBD is effective for treating epilepsy, it has the potential to save the lives of dogs around the world."

Dr. Mary Smith, a member of the CHF Board of Directors and the Chairman of CHF’s Scientific Review Committee, states, “This study has the potential to provide a much-needed new tool for veterinarians to treat dogs with epilepsy. A study of this scope is required to prove the efficacy of this plant-based therapy for dogs, and CHF is proud to take the lead on this research effort.”

In other ongoing CHF-funded epilepsy research, several important research outcomes and publications this year by Dr. Hannes Lohi’s team have identified genes that play a role in canine, and potentially, human epilepsy, and also resulted in a genetic test for canine myoclonic epilepsy (Myoclonic epilepsy: Generalized myoclonic epilepsy with photosensitivity in juvenile dogs caused by a defective DIRAS family GTPase 1 (2017), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences); ADAM23: ADAM23 is a common risk gene for canine idiopathic epilepsy (2017), BMC genetics).

During 2017, the AKC is generously matching all donations up to $250,000 through the CHF Epilepsy Initiative. Visit the CHF Epilepsy Initiative donation page to make a contribution.

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About CHF Since 1995, the Raleigh, NC-based AKC Canine Health Foundation has leveraged the power of science and research to improve the lives of dogs. The Foundation works to prevent, treat and cure diseases that impact all dogs, while providing professional information and resources for a new breed of dog owner. Take action because you care; find out more online at

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