M. C. Jones, H. A. Volk, R. M. A. Packer
- Epilepsy causes anxiety, fear, cognitive impairment and reduces life expectancy in dogs
- Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological condition among dogs
- CBD treatment is in the top 3 of highest potential positive impact on epilepsy management in dogs, among nondrug therapies
- 77% of responders reported that CBD had a positive impact in controlling epilepsy
OBJECTIVES & HYPOTHESIS → Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disease in dogs and dogs with idiopatic (unknown origin) epilepsy (IE) exhibit anxiety, fear and cognitive impairments particularly related to learning and memory. Seizure freedom is rare and anti-seizure drugs cause adverse effects including ataxia, lethargy and polyphagia, which impair quality of life. In response to these limitations, nondrug management options have been developed in recent years. This study aims to compare the future research priorities for IE in dogs between owners, veterinary neurologists and general practice veterinarians and to investigate perceptions of the impacts of emerging nondrug therapies.
METHODS → An online survey was designed to compare the rating and ranking of 18 areas of IE research. Later on, increase in studies regarding nondrug therapies for IE led to the inclusion of an additional question in 2020 - respondents were asked to report the potential for 10 nondrug therapies to positively impact upon the management of IE in dogs, on a scale of 0 (no impact), 1 (little impact), 2 (some impact), 3 (great impact) and 4 (major impact). The therapies explored were: cannabidiol (CBD) oil, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, raw food diet, hypoallergenic diet, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), deep brain stimulation (DBS), gene editing, behavioral management, seizure trigger avoidance, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and epilepsy surgery.
RESULTS → There were 414 respondents in 2016 (n=302 owners, n=84 general practice (GP) vets, n=28 neurologists) and in 2020 (n=273 owners, n=68 GP vets, n=73 neurologists). The survey showed that the research areas with the highest perceived importance were: improving existing drug management of IE, development of new antiepileptic medication, and ways to improve the education of vets regarding IE. When the respondents ranked research areas from 1 to 18, research areas ranked highest were development of new antiepileptic medication, identifying the genetic causes of IE and nondrug management of IE. Finally, of 10 nondrug therapies, the 5 rated to have the highest potential positive impact on IE management were: behavioral management, gene editing, CBD oil supplementation, MCT oil supplementation, and epilepsy surgery, in this order. In fact, 37% of responders reported that CBD had a great or even major impact in controlling epilepsy, while 40% said it had some impact.