Epilepsy is the number one neurological problem in dogs
Dr. Diane Brown and the Canine Health Foundation are doing battle with neurological disease, specifically epilepsy, in an effort to improve the lives all dogs, and their people.
“Epilepsy is a complex disease,” Brown said. “It presents in different ways. It is present in all dogs, mixed breed and purebred, and in people.”
Epilepsy is a catch all term applying to different breeds, different ages, different causes of seizures. “Idiopathic epilepsy” in layman’s terms means, “we don’t know why your dog is having seizures, but we’re calling it epilepsy.”
Brown notes that seizures can be caused by clearly genetic cases, toxicity, structural defects, inflammatory diseases, brain tumors and other underlying issues. Even more terrifying, up to one-third of epilepsy cases are noted to be resistant to current medication
“We really wanted to make a concerted, multi-year effort trying to address epilepsy in dogs,” Brown said. She added that the research effort is focused on two broad areas: genetics and developing new therapies for the disease.
Break throughs and new studies
A CHF funded grant has already identified a new dosing option for dogs with seizures causing an emergency situation.
“It’s been 20 years since a new drug was identified that can be used in an emergency situation,” Brown said.
Alternatives to standard therapies are also being studied. Brown highlighted a study into the effects of treatment with CBD oil in a large clinical trial with rigorous scientific standards. The research is the first of its kind in the country, and CHF was the first to invest in this exciting effort.
As other studies investigate gene identification, the most recent breakthrough was identifying a form of epilepsy in juvenile Rhodesian Ridgebacks that is directly related to pediatric epilepsy in humans.
While the goal is to develop a DNA test for epilepsy, Brown notes that genetics are complicated and it’s rarely as simple as identifying one gene to breed out of a population.
An even more fascinating study is examining the role of the intestinal tract, the so-called gut-brain axis, that may have influence on neurological health
“We are for the health of ALL dogs. It can create a false impression that purebred dogs are less healthy, but the reality is, they are the ones who contributed to the funding to solve the problem,” Brown said.
CHF Epilepsy Research Initiative, includes grants, research publications, webinars, other resources
Epilepsy white paper:
CHF-funded research study on CBD for drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs
Webinar with veterinary neurologist, Dr. Karen Munana:
CHF press release
Pure Dog Talk‘s interview with Liz Hansen on epilepsy research.
Research shows growing problem with ticks
Ticks are creepy crawly creatures we all love to hate. But they are also dangerous disease vectors transmitting deadly organisms. Dr. Diane Brown, CEO of the AKC Canine Health Foundation, shared incredibly
valuable information about what her organization is doing to lead the fight against these diseases.
CHF funded research has identified a class of tick-borne organisms, called Bartonella. Bartonella invades the host’s blood vessels and can cause inflammation in the heart.
“What if that (bartonella infection) is the early trigger that leads to chronic inflammation in the blood vessels,” Brown posits, “potentially leading to the development of cancer.”
Current CHF funded research is looking at bartonella in association with hemangiosarcoma, literally cancer of the blood vessels.
“It’s a little controversial,” Brown said “but there’s a lot of impetus driving the research in this direction.”
Tick-borne organisms associated with deadly disease
The Foundation’s research also has shown immune mediated hemolytic anemia can be associated with tick borne disease.
“It’s critical to test these dogs for an underlying tick borne infection before treating them with steroids that can just exacerbate the problem,” Brown said.
The CHF initiatives are working on broad spectrum of vectors that impact the health of dogs, Brown noted. She added that new tick species and diseases are discovered every year.
“Tick preventives are key to keeping your dog healthy,” Brown said. With the rising number of “co-infections” she noted that testing for more than one disease is imperative.
CHF has a three-prong approach to this burgeoning crisis. The non-profit funds research focused on diagnosis, new therapies for treatment and prevention.
Hear more on this topic with CHF Board Member Susan Hamil:
Additional Resources from CHF:
CHF Tick-Borne Disease Research Initiative landing page; includes grants, research publications, webinars, podcast, news, other resources
Lyme Disease Fact Sheet:
Ticks and Zoonotic Disease Webinar with Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt:
Diane Brown, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVP, is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer for the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF). She joined CHF in August 2015, and oversees operations and scientific programs from its Raleigh, NC headquarters. Her role is to cultivate and execute the Foundation’s research and education strategy in collaboration with its Board of Directors, Scientific Review Committee, external collaborators, principal investigators and staff to ensure strategic, responsible, and innovative application of donor funds to uphold the Foundation’s Mission to advance canine health.
Dr. Brown is a board-certified veterinary clinical pathologist who holds a DVM and PhD in pathology from Colorado State University. As an independent investigator and comparative pathologist, Dr. Brown served as a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School, as director of the Comparative Clinical Pathology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, and as consulting pathologist at the University of Colorado. She previously served as Chief Scientific Officer for Morris Animal Foundation, and currently holds an affiliate faculty position in the Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She has held prior affiliate faculty appointments in the veterinary schools at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado State University and Purdue University.