UCSD Tests Psilocybin Therapy for Canine Depression

UCSD Tests Psilocybin Therapy for Canine Depression
UCSD

SAN DIEGO — December 9, 2023 at 9:00 am PST — The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine is excited to announce the commencement of pioneering clinical trials aimed at evaluating the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, a naturally occurring compound found in certain mushrooms, in treating depression in dogs. This groundbreaking research represents a significant step forward in the field of veterinary medicine and highlights UCSD’s commitment to advancing animal well-being.

Depression in dogs is a complex and often debilitating condition that affects millions of canine companions and their owners worldwide. While conventional treatments have provided relief to some, there remains a pressing need for more effective and innovative approaches to address this pervasive issue.

The UCSD Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine is at the forefront of this movement to explore alternative therapeutic options. The research team, led by Dr. Christina Sigurdson, a distinguished expert in veterinary medicine and psychopharmacology, believes that psilocybin may hold the key to unlocking new possibilities in the treatment of canine depression.

Psilocybin, the active compound in certain mushrooms commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms,” has gained significant attention in recent years for its potential in treating various mental health conditions in humans. Research has shown promise in alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among humans. Drawing from this knowledge, the UCSD Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine is embarking on a trailblazing journey to assess psilocybin’s potential as a treatment for canine depression.

Dr. Sigurdson expresses the significance of this research initiative: “The emotional well-being of animals, including dogs, is a matter of profound importance to their owners and our society as a whole. By exploring innovative treatments like psilocybin therapy, we aim to improve the lives of our canine companions and contribute to a deeper understanding of the human-animal bond.”

The clinical trials will follow rigorous ethical and scientific protocols, prioritizing the safety and welfare of the participating dogs. The research team will work closely with veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and experts in psychopharmacology to ensure the highest standards of care and scientific rigor throughout the study.

In collaboration with licensed veterinary clinics and dog owners who have volunteered their pets for the trials, the UCSD Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine will administer controlled doses of psilocybin to carefully selected canine participants. These trials will be conducted in a controlled and monitored environment, with round-the-clock care and attention to the dogs’ well-being.

The study aims to assess the effects of psilocybin on canine depression, including its potential to alleviate symptoms, enhance overall mood, and improve the quality of life for dogs suffering from this condition. The results of these trials have the potential to reshape our understanding of depression in animals and open doors to novel therapeutic options. Among dogs diagnosed with depression, it’s expected that large doses of psilocybin — enough to induce the classic hours-long psychedelic “trip” — can produce valuable insights for the animals and a greater sense of connection to the universe.

The UCSD Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine recognizes the significance of collaboration in advancing scientific knowledge and promoting animal welfare. Therefore, the research team will work closely with regulatory bodies, ethical review boards, and experts in both human and veterinary medicine to ensure the responsible and transparent conduct of these trials.

Dog helped by psilocybin therapy
Dogs have been shown to benefit from psilocybin therapy | UCSD

The UCSD Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine will also maintain open communication with the public and the global scientific community, providing updates on the progress of the trials and sharing findings as they become available. The center remains committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity, ethics, and animal welfare throughout this groundbreaking research endeavor.

This landmark initiative not only reflects UCSD’s dedication to advancing veterinary medicine but also underscores the importance of holistic approaches to animal health and well-being. As the trials progress, they may shed light on new avenues for addressing mental health concerns in animals and further strengthen the human-animal bond.

In a world where dogs are cherished companions to millions of individuals and families, the UCSD Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine’s research into psilocybin therapy for canine depression represents a significant step toward enhancing the lives of our four-legged friends.

For more information on this pioneering research initiative, please visit vetsciences.ucsd.edu.

About UCSD Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine

The UCSD Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine is dedicated to advancing veterinary medicine and enhancing the well-being of animals through cutting-edge research, education, and compassionate care. The center is at the forefront of innovative veterinary research aimed at improving the lives of animals and promoting responsible stewardship of the animal kingdom.