Grants Given to Fight Canine Epilepsy, Hypothyroidism

Research into epilepsy and hypothyroidism gets significant funding from the AKC Canine Health Foundation.

Up to 4 percent of all dogs are afflicted with epilepsy, according to the Canine Epilepsy Project.

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University researchers in the United States, Australia and the Netherlands have been awarded nearly $269,000 to study epilepsy and hypothyroidism in dogs.

Two of the grant winners—Ned Patterson, DVM, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota and Sam Long, MVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ECVN, of the University of Melbourne—will work to understand the underlying mechanisms that predispose dogs to epilepsy and search for new drugs.

Drs. Patterson and Long received $104,781 and $116,000, respectively.

The money was awarded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation, a Raleigh, N.C., organization that manages research donations from individuals, dog clubs, foundations and corporations.

The other grant, valued at $48,195, went to Jan A. Mol, Ph.D., of the University of Utrecht. Mol will investigate three methods that may provide a more accurate diagnosis for hypothyroidism, the foundation reported.

The research findings could assist both dogs and people. About 7 in every 1,000 Americans have epilepsy and about 4.6 percent of Americans have hypothyroidism.

“By helping our dogs, we potentially unlock better treatments for ourselves as well,” said the foundation’s chief scientific officer, Shila Nordone, MS, Ph.D.

The two diseases are among the Canine Health Foundation’s research priorities. Current drug therapies are of little use to about 30 percent of epileptic dogs, the foundation stated in announcing the grants Thursday.

“With input from breed clubs, dog owners and experts in veterinary medicine, canine epilepsy and hypothyroidism were identified as major health concerns that required further study,” Nordone said.

“One Health is an important criterion for the research funding we award,” she added. “These health concerns not only impact our dogs, but they impact many dog owners as well.”

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