Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition in dogs that affects up to 25 percent of all canines during their lifetime. If your pooch has lost some of the spring in her crotch, appears to have more stiffness after regular activity, or shows reluctance to do things she used to enjoy, OA may be the cause.
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis – also known as arthritis – is a progressive disease and it is important that a veterinarian examines your dog at the first sign of pain or changes in mobility. Developing an early treatment plan is critical to doing everything possible to slow the damage this degenerative condition can do to your dog’s joints as they age.
This article delves into the role that CBD oil can play in a veterinarian-approved treatment plan for OA, as well as the scientific research supporting the great promise of this natural supplement for relieving associated pain and inflammation.
If you are curious about whether CBD oil can help your dog with arthritis, we hope this article will help you make an informed decision and provide a starting point for you to talk to your veterinarian about safe treatment options for your furry friend.
Traditional Treatments for Arthritis in Dogs
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are the most commonly prescribed drugs for dogs experiencing inflammatory pain, including osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, this class of drugs can have serious, even fatal, side effects.
A 2015 study suggests that the number of side effects from NSAIDs reported to the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine is higher than any other veterinary drug currently prescribed. As this study notes, the possibility of kidney damage and / or failure as a result of the use of NSAIDs is of particular concern in chronic conditions.
A systematic review, reported in 2013, looked at the results of 35 studies and 29 clinical trials examining the use of NSAIDs in dogs. It was found that up to 55 percent of the studies reported significant negative side effects from this class of drugs. It can be worse for dogs with OA; As the authors found, most of the dogs used in the research they examined came from a young and healthy population. Because NSAIDs are known to be more likely to be a problem for older dogs, this gives older dog owners enough reason to pause and consider their options before embarking directly on long-term NSAID therapy for their pets.
In fact, the FDA describes the veterinary use of NSAIDs with the following words of caution: “Owners and veterinarians should carefully consider the potential benefits and risks of using an NSAID and other treatment options before deciding whether to use an NSAID. Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration that suits the individual response. “
Given that veterinarians already know that long-term use of NSAIDs, especially in older dogs or dogs with impaired liver or kidney function, is potentially dangerous – even fatal – finding safe treatment for pain and inflammation with the veterinarian has one major priority medicine.
Research on CBD Oil and Arthritis
CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol, has been studied extensively in humans and, more recently, dogs. It goes without saying that it has both anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. With OA encompassing both pain and inflammation, it is not surprising that CBD has been a major focus of research into treatment alternatives without the disadvantages of NSAIDs.
And there is more. It turns out that the endocannabinoid system, which is present in both dogs and humans, can play an important role in the progression of osteoarthritis.
Cannabinoid receptors are not only found throughout healthy joint tissue, but also in surprising concentrations in degenerated chondrocytes (joint cells) in human OA patients. Researchers believe these cells might respond to cannabinoid treatment.
In fact, some recent studies, including this one, have shown that cannabidiol may even play a role in preventing joint degeneration and the progression of pain associated with OA. This is big news for those with osteoarthritis, be it in humans or in dogs.
Research on CBD oil for dogs with arthritis
Pet veterinary research is often behind the curve when it comes to the latest and greatest. Part of this has to do with the money it takes to develop new drugs, which in many cases can only be found with pharmaceutical giants who primarily deal with human markets.
Veterinary research on CBD oil for dogs with arthritis has also been hampered by the evolving legal status of hemp and other cannabis species, which has made it difficult to obtain legal samples for study. Recent changes to hemp laws could soon remove that barrier to research into the benefits of this natural plant for the health of our pets.
One of the most relevant studies that owners of dogs with arthritis should know about was conducted by Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2018. The researchers administered a full-spectrum CBD oil to dogs with OA at an oral dosage of either 2 mg or 8 mg per pound twice a day.
The dogs in the study were examined before the start of the experiment and two and four weeks after the start of treatment. The researchers found that the 2 mg per pound dose was effective in reducing the dogs’ visible signs of pain and significantly improving their activity and mobility.
Is CBD Safe For Dogs With Osteoarthritis?
Significantly, in the study cited above, no treatment side effects were observed at any dose. There was also no evidence of psychoactive effects, although the full-spectrum CBD oil used by the researchers contained traces of THC. This builds on other research showing the safety of appropriately calibrated cannabinoids for dogs.
What about full-spectrum CBD oil for dog OA?
Another question many dog owners have about using hemp or CBD oil is about the safety of a full-spectrum CBD oil for their dog. As can be deduced from the term, full-spectrum oils contain the full range of trace compounds (known as cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes) found in source hemp, including trace amounts of THC (0.3 percent or less, required by law).
Many pet owners believe that a full spectrum product may not be safe as dogs are known to be sensitive to high levels of THC.
However, this is not the case. By law, hemp contains extremely low levels of THC, well below what is known to be safe for dogs. As long as you buy a full-spectrum CBD oil that is made only for pets and follow the dosage guidelines, it will be completely safe for your dog.
In fact, many pet owners report that a full-spectrum CBD oil was more effective than CBD oils made with an isolated form of CBD.
This is supported by research. Scientists refer to this phenomenon as the “entourage effect”. Dozens of studies of cannabis-based medicines have shown that the traces of THC and other cannabinoids found in full-spectrum CBD oils can enhance the pain and inflammation relieving properties of these natural compounds.
Talk to your veterinarian
If you have a dog suffering from arthritis, it may be time to speak to your veterinarian about the option of adding a full-spectrum CBD dog oil like LolaHemp to your companion’s daily supplements to keep the pain and inflammation associated with it safe to relieve osteoarthritis in dogs.
CBD can help you and your veterinarian devise a treatment plan that will reduce the use of potentially dangerous NSAIDs, and in some cases eliminate them entirely. However, because cannabidiol can interact with other medications, it is important that you speak to your veterinarian before using this strategy – so that your dog’s overall health needs come first.
One final word of caution: although CBD is available without a prescription, it’s important to make sure the product you are using is specifically designed for dogs. CBD products for humans can sometimes contain high amounts of THC or other additives (such as artificial sweeteners) that can be toxic to dogs.