The Benefits Of CBD Oil For Dogs
The good news is that it can help with many of your dog’s health issues from allergies to cancer. The bad news is that the CBD industry for pets is still unregulated. That means the majority of pet owners might be getting ripped off.
So today I want to talk about all the good things CBD oil can do for your dogs. Then I’ll show you how to find the best product for your dog and talk about how to give it.
What Does CBD Oil Do For Dogs?
There’s a messenger system in your dog’s body called the endocannabinoid system. It helps regulate sleep, appetite, pain, the immune system and more. CBD impacts the activity of the messengers in this system and stimulates the nervous, digestive and immune systems, as well as the brain. And it can do this because the endocannabinoids in CBD are very similar to the ones found in your dog’s body.
That’s why the benefits of CBD can be deep and significant. And why CBD oil is the fastest-growing healthy plant in the world!
6 Ways CBD Oil Can Help Your Dog
Let’s take a look at common conditions where CBD can help dogs. And after I’ll talk about which CBD oil you should buy and general dosing information.
1. Dogs With Joint Problems
If your dog has joint pain, your vet might prescribe NSAIDs or other pain meds like Gabapentin. But NSAIDs can cause deterioration in joints and soft tissues … and they can damage your dog’s liver. Gabapentin can also cause kidney damage. Plus, it’s not all that effective.
CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory that doesn’t carry the same risk of side effects as drugs. It works by binding to CB1 receptors in the brain. These receptors stimulate the immune system to reduce inflammation. CB1 receptors also change the way the brain responds to pain.
CBD also binds to CB2 receptors found in the nervous and immune systems. When this happens, the body may produce more cannabinoids naturally. This helps reduce inflammation even more and reduce the pain associated with it.
In fact, researchers at Cornell University found that dogs taking CBD for arthritis were more active and showed a decrease in pain.
Some of the common people buy CBD Oil for dogs as an anti-inflammatory for joint problems include:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Sprains and strains
- Torn ligaments (CCL)
2. Dogs With Cancer
Sadly, 50% of adult dogs will get cancer. Cancer is a massive health challenge for dogs, especially if they undergo chemotherapy or radiation.
Cancer researchers are always looking for new ways to treat cancer and release the pain and nausea that can go with it. And CBD has been extensively researched as a cancer-fighting substance.
A study in mice showed that CBD slowed the growth of mammary cancer cells. And in 2018, researchers found that CBD increased survival time in mice with pancreatic cancer. Other animal studies show CBD oil has cancer-fighting abilities and can slow the growth of tumors.
In another study, cancer cells became more sensitive to treatment with CBD. That means CBD can increase the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments.
CBD also kills cancer cells by blocking their ability to produce energy. And it can stimulate the immune system to produce killer cells that cause death in cancer cells.
Researchers also found that CBD blocks a cannabinoid receptor called GPR55. This is important because GPR55 increased the growth rate of cancer cells in mice.
CBD oil can also help with nausea associated with many cancer treatments. And studies have shown CBD can significantly reduce cancer-related pain.
3. Dogs With Seizures And Epilepsy
It’s estimated that about 5% of dogs suffer from seizures. They can be terrifying for both dogs and their humans … and they can cause anxiety.
Most vets treat epilepsy and seizures with antiepileptic drugs. Common options are phenobarbital or potassium bromide. But these drugs are extremely harmful to your dog’s liver and other organs. And even if the drugs don’t cause unmanageable side effects, they don’t always work …
So researchers at Colorado State University got excited when they studied CBD as a treatment for epilspsy in dogs. A whopping 89% of dogs that received the CBD had a reduction in seizures.
In human trials, CBD even worked in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. In one study, 7 out of 8 patients saw a marked improvement within 4 to 5 months.
CBD reduces the frequency and severity of seizures because of how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. It’s believed that abnormal electric charges of the neurons in the nervous system cause seizures. But CBD can bind to receptors in the brain … researchers speculate this can improve the functioning of the nervous system.
4. Dogs With Anxiety
Anxiety is a common reason dog owners turn to CBD. Anxiety can appear in different forms, including:
- Noise phobia
- Separation anxiety
Of course, there are anti-anxiety drugs available … but CBD is being studied for anxiety because it doesn’t carry dangerous side effects.
Most human users of CBD take it for pain, anxiety and depression. Over a third of these users report that CBD worked “very well by itself.” CBD has even helped manage anxiety and insomnia in children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And animal studies show its antidepressant effects aren’t just for people.
CBD can work quickly given directly by mouth when your dog gets stressed. It usually only takes 5 to 20 minutes to work. But CBD appears to be most beneficial for anxiety when given over a period of time. So if your dog is prone to stress, a daily dose might work best.
A 2012 study looked at stress in rats exposed to cats. The rats given repeated doses of CBD had less anxiety than those given a single dose.
Researchers aren’t certain how CBD relieves stress and anxiety, but it’s thought that it can help regulate serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates mood, social behavior, digestion, sleep and appetite.=
5. Dogs In Pain
Probably the most promising research on CBD is that done on pain. From nerve pain to arthritis, it works well … without the harmful side effects of pain medications.
CBD binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and nervous system and this helps change the way your dog’s brain perceives pain. Plus, CBD can help manage the other symptoms that accompany pain, such as sleeplessness and nausea.
CBD can also help manage acute pain from injuries.
6. Dogs With Allergies
Allergies are on the rise in dogs. And they’re difficult to treat … so, sadly, allergies are a common reason dogs are euthanized. Skin conditions in general are one of the most frequent reasons for vet visits.
The endocannabinoid system is also found in the skin … and that’s good news for dogs with allergies. It means CBD can help relieve dry and itchy skin. And it can promote the growth of new healthy skin cells.
You can give CBD internally for allergies, or use it externally for hot spots or interdigital cysts.
Now that you know a bit more about WHY you would give your dog CBD oil to your dog, let’s about HOW to choose a good quality product.
How To Choose The Best CBD Oil For Your Dog
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a naturally found substance in cannabis and hemp. Both deliver amazing health benefits … but there are differences.
Cannabis (marijuana) contains a relatively large amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is what causes the psychoactive activities of cannabis. It’s why marijuana can give a “high” or “buzz.”
CBD oil made from hemp contains much lower amounts of THC. To sell hemp legally, it must contain less than 0.3% THC. So while your dog can still enjoy the calmness and reduction in anxiety that CBD provides, he won’t get high. And that’s important … because you might enjoy the high, but your dog definitely doesn’t!
Your dog will also get the same pain-relieving and immune-supporting benefits from hemp CBD.
But not all hemp CBD products are the same …
1. Look For A Full Or Broad Spectrum Hemp
Check the label of your CBD product to make sure it’s full spectrum or broad spectrum.
This means your dog’s CBD oil contains not just CBD, but other important cannabinoids that occur naturally in full-spectrum hemp. This includes CBC (Cannabichromene) and CBG (Cannabigerol).
Researchers have looked at CBC for its …
- Cancer-fighting activities
- Ability to block pain and inflammation
- Positive effect on brain cells
CBG is also studied for its medicinal use. It can decrease inflammation in the digestive tract and it can protect nerve cells and the eyes. It also supports healthy bladder function and fights cancer cells.
A full-spectrum CBD oil will also contain terpenes such as limonene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene. These are also naturally occurring medicinal substances found in all hemp.
Together, cannabinoids and terpenes create the entourage effect. This happens when compounds in hemp oil work synergistically to boost the medicinal properties of hemp oil.
CBD extracted with CO2 (I’ll talk about this in a moment) pulverizes the terpenes. This will make them hard to detect in testing and they won’t show up on the Certificate Of Analysis …
… but they’ll still be there and will contribute to the CBD oil’s medicinal effects.
CBD extracted with solvents will better preserve the terpenes. So you will find them noted on the Certificate Of Analysis.
But I don’t recommend solvent extracted products, which leads me to my next point …
2. Make Sure Your Dog’s CBD Uses CO2 Extraction
There are two common ways to extract the CBD oil from the hemp plant:
As you’ve probably guessed, CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide to extract oil from the plant. Using a high-pressure chamber, CO2 puts pressure on the hemp. This breaks down the hemp and releases the oil.
This method of extraction creates oils with a higher concentration of CBD. That means your dog will get more from his supplement. Of course, that also makes the product more expensive … but it’s better than the alternative.
The cheapest way to extract oil from the hemp plant is with solvents, such as …
- Petroleum products
But residue from these solvents will be in the product and they can be toxic to your dog.
Some CBD extraction uses natural solvents, such as ethanol or olive oil. This is much safer for your dog but these oils can destroy the hemp plant’s waxes and the resulting oil isn’t as beneficial.
3. Look For A Certificate Of Analysis
If your dog’s CBD oil doesn’t have a certificate of analysis (COA), run away!
A certificate of analysis is a document that shows the amount and type of cannabinoids in the CBD product. And it usually comes from a third-party laboratory,
COAs protect your dog from poor quality products and the manufacturer should have one for each batch of hemp. If there isn’t a COA on the company’s website, you’ll want to ask for one before you buy any CBD oil.
When looking at the COA, there are 5 important things to look for.
CBD Is The Same As Advertised
This is more common than you would think … in fact, we were once tricked by this!
What you might see is something like “500 mg CBD” on the product label. But don’t take the label at face value! Make sure the COA says the same amount as the label does.
Some lab tests express the CBD content in mg/g. So to calculate the amount of CBD, you need to know how many grams are in the bottle of CBD.
For example, let’s say the COA shows 16.9 mg/g CBD. To calculate how much CBD is in the product, multiply the number of mg/g by the number of grams the bottle weighs. (A typical 1-ounce dropper bottle of CBD will weigh 30 grams.) This will give you the total mg of CBD in the bottle. In this example, it’s 507 mg (16.9 mg/g x 30 gram bottle).
CBD Is Really Full Spectrum
Again, never take the label at face value! Some CBD is from isolate, which means it won’t have other important cannabinoids and terpenes.
Remember the entourage effect? You won’t get this extra boost with CBD isolate. So how do you find out if your dog’s CBD is from isolate? The COA will show that the product only contains CBD and no other cannabinoids. Stay away from these products.
There’s Not Too Much (Or Too Little) THC
If your dog’s CBD contains more than 0.03% THC, it’s probably marijuana and not hemp. It’s not legal and your dog won’t enjoy the psychoactive effects.
You also want to avoid products with zero THC. If there’s none, then your dog’s CBD is from isolate … and the health benefits will be fewer.
A Third-Party Did The Tests
Once again, never take the manufacturer’s word that the product is high quality. Make sure the product was properly tested by a third party lab. Unfortunately, the CBD industry isn’t regulated, which leaves you vulnerable to poor products.
There’s No Contaminants
You need to know where and how the hemp that’s used to make the CBD oil is grown. This plays a huge role in those test results you see in the COA.
Always look for an organic product to reduce any environmental toxin risks. You want to know that the soil and water it’s grown in is as clean as possible. That’s because hemp plants are really good sponges and can absorb contaminants as they grow. And it’s why heavy metal toxicity can be a concern when looking at CBD oils.
So be sure that you check the COA for any contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals and solvent residues.
Cost Shouldn’t Be A Priority
It can be hard to compare products and some people give up and look at costs only …
… but this is not the best approach!
You want a high-quality and safe product for your dog. Extracting CBD from hemp requires a lot of plant material as well as careful monitoring.
If the product you’re considering has a price that’s significantly lower than the competition, there’s probably a reason for that …
But the most expensive doesn’t mean it’s the best CBD oil for dogs …
Instead, consider what we’ve reviewed …
- How was the CBD oil extracted? (CO2 is best.)
- Is the CBD concentration different than advertised? (CBD on COA should match the bottle.)
- Is it full-spectrum? (The product should have other cannabinoids, not just CBD.)
- Is the THC content worrisome? (THC should be less than 0.3% but higher than 0%.)
- Is it organic? (Hemp is a sponge for contaminants.)
- Was it third party tested? (If you can’t find a COA online, ask the manufacturer for one.)
These variables are what you need to look for when determining the quality of a product. The cost is never a sure sign of a product’s quality.
Side Effects Of CBD Oil For Dogs
The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association surveyed dog owners. They wanted to see what, if any, side effects they noticed. And the great news is that there weren’t any major effects reported.
The most consistent side effects noticed were:
- Sedation 19%
- Overactive appetite 5%
- Lack of energy 4%
- Panic reactions 2.7%
- Dry mouth/excessive drinking 2.3%
- Nausea 1.7%
- Vomiting 1.7%
- Increased seizures 0.69%
- Impaired mental functioning 0.68%
This means the most likely side effect you may see is that your dog gets sleepy. And that isn’t a bad thing. Especially if your dog suffers from seizures, anxiety, or has any pain, and you’d like to give CBD oil a try …
… but some CBD oils will have other additives and may not be safe.
Caution With CBD Oil Additives
You want to be sure there are no chemical additives or preservatives in the product you buy. These will cancel out the health benefits, even if the hemp is grown organically.
Also be aware of companies who have added essential oils (EOs) to their CBD oil. Even though they’re “natural,” EOs can affect animals profoundly.
If your holistic vet has recommended using a CBD oil with an EO, then follow her dosing recommendations. She’ll know what’s best for your dog’s unique health needs.
Some will recommend using CBD with frankincense as it’s good for tumor reduction in cancer patients. But always check with your holistic vet or herbalist first.
Dogs Taking Other Medications Or Supplements
If your dog is taking any other medications or supplements you will want to check with your holistic vet as well. CBD oil has many health benefits but it can change how your dog metabolizes some medications or supplements.
Researchers have looked at how CBD oil changes metabolism in humans. It can be similar to grapefruit, which causes significant reactions. So if your dog is taking any of the following medications you’ll need to ask your vet about dose changes:
- Allergy medications
- Liver or kidney medications
- Heart medications
- Anxiety medications
Hopefully, your holistic vet has helped you find alternatives to the medications above. But even then … CBD can affect herbs and natural supplements.
This doesn’t mean you can’t give your CBD oil if he uses other supplements or medications. You may just need to make adjustments. CBD changes the metabolism of other things but sometimes for the better! Meaning you can use less of another product or skip on the medications altogether.
And less is often more.
CBD Oil Dosage For Dogs
Each bottle of CBD has a specific concentration expressed in milligrams (mg). Most dogs are okay with the taste, so you can just put it on your dog’s food.
Dr Robert Silver recommends giving your dog 0.05 to 0.25 mg/pound of body weight, twice daily. He also suggests starting with a lower dose and working your way up. If 0.05 mg/pound is enough, stay at that dose. There’s no need to increase unless the lower dose stops working. If that happens, increase the dose to 0.125 mg/pound, twice daily and only continue to increase if your dog needs it.
For anxiety or health prevention, you’ll usually find that the lower doses work well. But if your dog is dealing with pain or immune issues, you’ll probably need a larger amount.
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CBD oil for dogs is a natural, safe remedy that can help your dogs with pain, anxiety, caner, seizures and more.
McAllister SD, Christian RT, Horowitz MP, Garcia A, Desprez PY. Cannabidiol as a novel inhibitor of Id-1 gene expression in aggressive breast cancer cells. Mol Cancer Ther. 2007 Nov;6(11):2921-7.
Corroon J, Phillips JA. A cross-sectional study of cannabidiol users. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2018;3(1).
Aviello G, Romano B, Borrelli F, Capasso R, Gallo L, Piscitelli F, Di Marzo V, Izzo AA. Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer. J Mol Med (Berl). 2012 Aug;90(8):925-34.
CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know
As with any pet wellness trend, when it comes to CBD oil for dogs, there’s a lot of information floating around the internet, and it’s difficult to know what’s accurate and what’s exaggeration. Of course, you want to do what’s best for your pup, which leads to the question: What do I need to know about CBD oil for dogs?
The AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, explains what CBD oil is, what it does for dogs, and its safety concerns and potential side effects.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in cannabis and hemp. Dr. Klein says it is essential to note that in most cases, CBD oil does not contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. In fact, most CBD products are derived from hemp and not from marijuana.
How Does CBD Affect Dogs?
Currently, there has been no formal study on how CBD affects dogs. What scientists do know is that cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which help maintain balance in the body and keep it in a normal healthy state.
What Dog Health Problems Can CBD Oil Treat?
While there’s no definitive scientific data on using CBD to treat dogs, there’s anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggesting it can treat pain, especially neuropathic pain, as well as helping to control seizures.
According to Dr. Klein, CBD is also used because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, anti-anxiety impact, and for possible anti-cancer benefits, although there’s no conclusive data on this use.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) is sponsoring a study through the Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to evaluate the use of CBD in treatment-resistant epileptic dogs. The CHF hopes that this will be the first study to gain scientific data on the use of CBD in dogs with this condition.
Possible Side Effects of CBD in Dogs
While there’s no scientific data on the side effects of CBD usage for dogs, there are potential side effects based on how CBD affects humans. To minimize any potential side effects, make sure you are following the proper dosage.
- Dry mouth: Research has shown that CBD can decrease the production of saliva. For dogs, this would manifest as an increased thirst.
- Lowered blood pressure: High doses of CBD have been known to cause a temporary drop in blood pressure. Even though the drop is small, it might create a brief feeling of light-headedness.
- Drowsiness: Dog owners have used CBD to treat anxiety. The calming effect of CBD can also cause slight drowsiness, especially when using higher doses.
Risks of Using CBD Oil for Dogs
The safety and risks of using CBD for dogs have not yet been researched. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD and has not issued a dosing chart. Therefore, we do not know what size dosage would be toxic. Any medication or supplement carries the risk of a reaction. It is always advisable, when giving your dog something new, to start out with small amounts and then closely monitor the effects. And always check with your veterinarian first.
CBD Products on the Market
If you and your veterinarian decide that you should try CBD as a treatment for your dog, there are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing CBD oil. Not all oils are the same; you’ll want high-quality CBD oil to have a better chance of it working.
- Look for organic. If the CBD oil is not organic, it at least should not contain pesticides, fungicides, or solvents.
- Don’t only shop based on price. Higher quality and purity are usually associated with a higher cost. A cheaper option could contain toxic substances such as pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals. Make sure your CBD oil is free of additives.
- Get the analysis. The manufacturer should provide a certificate that certifies the amount of CBD that is in the product. Many CBD products contain only small amounts of CBD. You’ll also want to make sure there is little or no THC in the product.
- Buy CBD as a liquid. You can buy dog treats containing CBD, but the best form to administer is an oil or tincture. This way, you can adjust your dog’s dose drop by drop.
The CBD Wellness Trend
Why are we hearing so much about CBD oil now? Dr. Klein points to the legalization of marijuana in many places, which has triggered interest in potential health benefits of marijuana-related products. “We are likely to see continued interest in CBD and an increase in research about its uses and efficacy in the coming years,” he says.
Learn more about the CBD study funded by the Canine Health Foundation.
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Unraveling the use of CBD in veterinary medicine
It was about the 3rd week into Bastion’s recovery from his TPLO surgery and he was already having a rough time. Bastion was a gregarious yellow Labrador who had his injured stifle about 25 days ago. Fortunately, his family elected for him to have his stifle surgically reconstructed. Initially, he had recovered well from surgery. But one day in particular, he presented to the hospital because he had a brief setback. He was limping far more severely than what would be normally expected at this stage of recovery.
Related: Get our Surgical Insights Guide
The osteotomy from his surgery had not yet completely healed and he was still in the middle of his prescribed 5 weeks of exercise strict restriction. His family was trying their best but Bastion wasn’t having it. He was too active at home and his humans were growing frustrated. Anti-anxiety medications had been dispensed but they were not given. Instead, his family had decided to give him CBD oil at home. When I asked why the prescribed medications had not been given, the client responded, “I found CBD oil at the local farmer’s market and I figured it would work just as well.”
Like Bastion, an increasing number of pets are receiving cannabidiol (CBD) supplements. The popularity of CBD continues to rise and many clients are incorporating CBD as part of the medication protocol for their pets, either as an adjunct or, as alternative treatment option.
Perhaps the initial interest in the benefits of CBD can be traced back to 1998, or possibly earlier, when scientists at the National Institutes of Health discovered that CBD could protect cells from oxidative stress. These findings fueled interest in the human medical field and, in large part, that appeal has been transmuted into veterinary medicine. The regard for this molecule has risen to such levels that in many homes, CBD is being used as the sole treatment option for a variety of medical conditions.
Veterinarians are becoming more fluent in the fascinating pharmacology regarding the use of this phytocannabinoid. A recent survey indicated that most veterinarians (61.5%) felt comfortable discussing the use of CBD with their colleagues, but only 45.5% felt comfortable discussing this topic with clients.1 Furthermore, veterinarians and clients in states with legalized recreational marijuana were more likely to talk about the use of CBD products to treat canine ailments than those in other states.2 Lastly, CBD was most frequently discussed as a potential treatment for pain management, anxiety and seizures.1 At first glance, the use of CBD has tangential or limited relevance in the world of veterinary surgery. However, as one takes a closer look at the putative, and proven benefits, it is clear that we are just scratching the surface of its therapeutic benefits. This article takes a brief dive into the world of CBD and its promise in the field of veterinary surgery.
Whether you perform surgery within a specialty discipline (oncology, orthopedics, neurology, soft tissue surgery, mixed animal, oral/dental, etc), or surgery is only a small part of your general practice, every veterinarian endeavors to aggressively manage pain. The first choice for pain relief among many clinicians are the medications that have been more extensively studied including, but not limited to, anti-inflammatories, gabapentinoids, opioids, local anesthetics, and other analgesics (acetaminophen, amantadine, cerenia etc). These medications or a combination thereof, have been prescribed to treat pain from orthopedic surgery, soft tissue surgery, surgical neuropathic conditions, pain from intestinal surgery, to name just a few. In the most basic schema, pain is divided into four categories: nociceptive pain (a response to damaged tissue), neuropathic pain (a response to directly-damaged sensory or spinal nerves), centralized pain (the result of pain signals being improperly amplified), and inflammatory pain.1 Cannabinoids may have a role to play in mediating all four of these types of pain states. When tissue is damaged, histamine, serotonin, TNF-alpha, IL-1-beta, IL-6, and Il -17 6, and interleukin 17 are released.2 Cannabinoids bind to the CB1 receptors and attenuate the pain signal by slowing down the release of those neurotransmitters.3 This process can take place locally or in the central nervous system.3 Cannabinoids have also been shown to inhibit the release of GABA, a well known neurotransmitter associated with pain.3 Although there is a paucity of clinical research on the use of CBD to treat postoperative pain in the veterinary medical setting, there has been heartening research conducted in humans. Indeed, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that there is, “substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.”
Opioids have long been the go to option, or cornerstone of pain management, however, the potential for the adverse events associated with the use of opioids in veterinary patients is universally accepted.38 I have seen how distressing it can be for a family to see their pet experiencing any of the unpleasurable side effects of opioids including urine retention, delayed bowel movements, whining, panting, disorientation, or other manifestations of dysphoria. Those are just some of the challenges that clinicians face when using opioids for chronic pain management. Considering the ongoing consequences of the opioid epidemic, there is a search for pain management solutions that are innovative, prone to less adverse events, and are more effective. As the scientific community begins to evaluate the evidence for use of CBD , it is clear that more research is needed.
Anecdotal reports of CBD’s efficacy as a pain reliever are ubiquitous but more are turning to scientific data for evidence of CBD’s efficacy. A study in 2020 evaluating effects of CBD hemp extract on opioid use and quality of life indicators in chronic pain patients found that over half of chronic pain patients (53%) reduced or eliminated their opioids within 8 weeks after adding CBD-rich hemp extract to their regimens.5 Almost all CBD users (94%) reported quality of life improvements.5 And in a recent study evaluating orally consumed cannabinoids for long-lasting relief of allodynia in a mouse model, found that cannabinoids reduced hyperalgesia and a similar effect was not found with morphine.4 Mouse vocalizations were recorded throughout the experiment, and mice showed a large increase in ultrasonic, broadband clicks after sciatic nerve injury, which was reversed by THC, CBD, and morphine.4 The study demonstrated that cannabinoids provide long-term relief of chronic pain states.4 If research shows that use of cannabinoids in animals, specifically, CBD, can help to decrease the use of opioids for pain management, that would help make more animals comfortable and potentially help to fight the tragic epidemic of human prescription opioid abuse. Further research is needed in a variety of species, specifically, both the canine and feline species.
Both general veterinary practitioners and veterinary surgeons commonly diagnose and treat fractures. A large retrospective study of fracture incidence in dogs in North America has not been published since 1994; however, the findings from that study are still informative regarding the frequency of bone injuries. That study demonstrated that approximately 24% of all patients in the population studied over a 10 year period were affected by a disorder of the musculoskeletal system, with fractures contributing the largest proportion (over 29%) of all of the diagnosis of the appendicular skeletal system.7 Although that research is dated, the conclusions from this study – at the very least, indicate that fractures are commonplace in the clinical veterinary setting.7 Fracture repair has gradually become more straightforward due to improvements in technology. Because of these innovations, speciality surgeons and general practitioners who repair fractures have begun to see better surgical outcomes. So whether you primarily stabilize fractures with implants, or if external coaptation of fractures with the intention to refer (or perhaps as the primary means of fixation) is your treatment of choice, all veterinary practitioners aim to help fractured bones heal quickly. Despite these technological improvements, bone healing can be protracted or non existent with some fractures. There are a variety of options at a veterinarian’s disposal to kick-start the healing process but perhaps in the near future, CBD may be added to that armamentarium. The effect of CBD in fracture healing has been investigated evaluating bone callus formation in femur fractures in a rat model.8 The findings demonstrated enhanced biomechanical properties of healing fractures in those given CBD compared with a control group.8 This effect was not found in those only given Δ9-THC. Moreover, the bone forming effects (osteogenic) of CBD were weakened when test subjects were given equal amounts of CBD and Δ9-THC.6 Another in vivo research study indicated that when CBD is incorporated into a surface that promotes bone growth (osteoconductive scaffold) it can stimulate stem cell migration and osteogenic differentiation.9 Further studies are needed to better evaluate the role of CBD in healing and bone metabolism of companion animals so that these findings can be applied in the clinical setting.
Additionally, cannabis has been shown to be a useful addition in treatment plans optimized to improve bone health in laboratory studies. A study endeavored to more closely understand the role of CB2 receptors in maintaining bone health. CB2 receptors in bone cells have been linked to maintaining bone density and stimulating growth, and may therefore have a part in reversing the effects of osteoporosis.10 One study evaluating role of CB2 receptors, found that in mice whose genes had been altered to remove the CB1 or CB2 receptors, those that developed signs of bone weakness that were far more pronounced than those in the control group.12 Another study in 2009, investigated the relationship between CB2 expression and bone disease in humans. The study found that people with dysfunctional CB2 receptors to have significantly weaker hand bones.11
Osteoarthritis (OA) affects many dogs, large and small. Most often, OA is the consequence of a developmental orthopedic disease that often affects a single joint or a pair of joints, and, less often, affects multiple joints. It is axiomatic that ‘Mother Nature likes symmetry’ thus developmental orthopedic diseases frequently affect both left and right joints. For example, hip dysplasia is reportedly bilateral in >60% of affected dog,s13 and elbow dysplasia is bilateral in approximately 50% of affected dogs.14 Osteoarthritis occurs secondary to a myriad of primary orthopedic conditions that affect a variety of joints including: the hip (most common causes of OA in the hip: hip dysplasia, Perthes disease); stifle (patellar luxation, cranial cruciate ligament disease, osteochondritis dissecans [OCD]); elbow (elbow dysplasia, elbow OCD, fragmentation of the medial coronoid process, incomplete ossification of the humeral condyle); shoulder (shoulder OCD, developmental shoulder subluxation); tarsus (OCD of the talus), and carpus (carpal laxity, carpal subluxation secondary to chondrodystrophy); and metacarpophalangeal (MCP) and metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint degenerative osteoarthritis (digital osteoarthritis) .
Cannabinoids were found to treat pain secondary to inflammation in a variety of studies on humans. Some of the most compelling research has shown that cannabis can reduce the inflammation in the joint caused in human patients diagnosed with immune mediated arthritis.15 One study found that cannabinoids could simultaneously reduce the secretion of cytokines involved in inflammation from one type of TH immune cells, which were being under-produced, while also increasing their numbers to correct their scarcity.15 Furthermore in a study in 2003, researchers found that plant-based cannabinoids could suppress the expression of interleukin-1beta—one of the most prominent markers for inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis—by as much as 50%.16 And finally, in 2006, transdermal applications of CBD were shown to decrease biomarkers that can contribute to neurogenic inflammation in a sample of arthritic rats. 17
A report published in the journal of PAIN, lead by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine revealed the results of a large, double blinded, placebo controlled study on the positive effects CBD had in the fight against osteoarthritis.18 The study was designed with two main goals: The first portion of the research studied the effect CBD had on the inflammatory molecules and cells in mice.18 The second portion of the study, investigated whether CBD improved the quality of life in dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis. In lab tests and in mouse models, CBD significantly decreased the production of natural chemicals that promote inflammation and it increased the natural chemicals that fight inflammation.18 Essentially, what they saw was a drop in proinflammatory cytokines and an increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines. 18 For dogs with osteoarthritis, CBD significantly decreased pain and increased mobility in a dose-dependent fashion. Importantly, A lower dose of liposomal CBD was as effective as the highest dose of nonliposomal CBD, indicating that the effect of CBD was quicker and more effective when CBD was delivered encapsulated in liposomes than without.18 Blood samples indicated no significant harmful side effects, or adverse events, over the 4-week analysis period.18 Although this study is very promising and it supports the safety and therapeutic potential of hemp-derived CBD for relieving arthritic pain in dogs, it is important to consult with your pet’s veterinarian before giving any supplement or medication.
In the veterinary population, use of cannabidiol and other alternative treatments may have the potential to obviate the need for other medications, and thus spare patients from adverse effects associated with their use. More likely, the use of cannabinoids could be additive or synergistic in a multimodal treatment strategy and could increase quality-of-life issues associated with painful arthritic conditions.
Intervertebral Disk Disease
As our patients age, discs in the spine also undergo degenerative changes. Thus, degeneration of intervertebral discs is evitable. This process of degeneration is multifactorial process and it involves hypoxia, inflammation, neoinnervation, accelerated catabolism, and reduction in water and glycosaminoglycan content.39 The magnitude and severity of disc degeneration can vary widely between patients. The most common locations of clinically relevant disc disease are located in the cervical spine, thoracolumbar spine, and the lumbosacral spine.40 Although there are various manifestations of disc disease, broad classifications of Hansen Type I and Type II are typically used to describe the condition. In short, disc material may either extrude (acute herniations) or protrude (chronic herniations), both of which compress the spinal cord which ultimately can cause pain, paresis, paralysis and other neurological deficits.40 The prevalence of thoracolumbar disc disease dogs has been estimated at 3.5%.40 Depending on the neurologic examination, diagnosis, severity, prognosis, and other factors, surgery may be recommended to decompress the spinal cord.
After surgical decompression, there are a host of challenges that the the patient, the family, and the surgeon, may have to work through including a potentially protracted recovery, recurrence of neurological signs, post surgical pain, spinal instability, urinary disorders, (cystitis, urinary tract infection, urinary retention, micturition disorders), ascending myelomalacia, and others.41 Could CBD play a part in helping to improve those affected by disc disease pre-, intra-, or post-operatively and what types of spinal disorders could benefit from CBD? A study conducted on the use of CBD in mice with degenerative disc disease showed promise in mitigating the effect of disc damage and wear.19 Instead of being ingested orally, CBD was injected at the site of the disc. Researchers investigated the effects of cannabidiol intradiscal injection using a combination of MRI and histological analyses.19 A puncture was created in the disc and then CBD was injected into the disc (30, 60 or 120 nmol) shortly after.19 The effects of intradiscal injection of cannabidiol were analyzed within 2 days by MRI.17 Fifteen days later, the group that received cannabidiol 120 nmol was resubmitted to MRI examination and then to histological analyses after the cannabidiol injection.19 What they found was that cannabidiol significantly decreased the effects of disc injury induced by the needle puncture.19 These results suggest that this compound could be useful in the treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration perhaps using a novel route of administration.
Unfortunately, the exact mechanism for how CBD oil helped protect disc damage is still being investigated. The hope is that the neuroprotective properties of cannabidiol can also be found in the study of canine and feline disc disease to ultimately improve functional recovery.
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