Riley the Canine: “CBD works!!”

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Riley is a three year old, 135-pound Newfoundland dog that is one of a few dozen canines participating in history. A group from Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins is conducting the first scientific clinical trial assessing how well CBD works on pets with certain ailments. Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a CSU veterinary neurologist began receiving questions about CBD in 2012 regarding sore hips, seizures, and anxiety caused by fireworks or thunderstorms according to this article.

This clinical trial began in 2016 with the lead of Dr. McGrath. Their first step was to ensure the safety, toxicity, and pharmacokinetics of CBD in healthy dogs to demonstrate the compound was not only measurable in the blood, but also safe enough to warrant studies in a clinical population. 30 research beagles were given capsules, tincture (oil), and transdermal cream - the tincture was the most promising for safety and measurement in the blood, according to McGrath.

No dogs were removed from the study after these administration, which garnished approval for clinical trials from CSU. Clinical trials began to measure the effectiveness in treating osteoarthritis and epilepsy.

In this epilepsy based double-blind study conducted by Dr. McGrath, the stakes were high because of the 30% of dogs using conventional anti-convulsant therapies that continue to have uncontrolled seizures, or a poor quality of life due to side effects – some even end up being euthanized. During the 12-week trial, owners recorded how many seizures per day their dogs had, in addition to monthly blood tests.

Dr. Felix Duerr, a CSU veterinary surgeon conducted the double-blind study regarding arthritis. In this study, dogs received either a placebo or CBD treatment for six weeks. Then, they would receive the opposite treatment for the following six weeks. Each dog was required to walk 15 minutes per day, wearing a collar that measures vitals and activity, in addition to lab work every two weeks.

This is where Riley enters the picture, as she was one of the test subjects with arthritis. She’s had previous surgeries, can’t play for long before needing to rest, she cries at night because of the pain, and even lies down to eat. “I’ll try whatever I can to help her. She needs to have a life,” said Riley’s owner Astonna McCoy.

Riley received stem cell research from CSU previously and it worked well for a few months. However, overnight, the treatment wore off and the arthritis returned with all of its side effects.

Riley established a baseline measurement before receiving CBD by running on a pressure mat, which measured her movements – and also showed forelimb lameness and a weight shift to accommodate her bad right elbow.

After just four weeks, Riley was doing remarkably better on some days, but still had bad ones as well. However, she was now signaling for walks and wanting to play with her 95-pound Golden Labrador Retriever brother named Tank.

CBD appears to be working well for the canines in the study, but results won’t be conclusive for another 12-18 months according to Dr. McGrath and Duerr. As for Riley, she seems to be regaining some of her life that she had previously lost.


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