Following right behind human health trends, CBD oil for dogs
is one of the fastest growing markets in the pet health niche. You may have
seen bottles of cannabidiol on the shelves at your local pet boutique, or maybe
you heard about it from a friend.
Either way, this article will give you a quick primer on a
few things to think about before you try CBD with your own furry friend.
Research on CBD for Dogs
The potential health
benefits of CBD are not
without scientific support. The list is long and familiar to anyone following
cannabis medical news: Pain management, anti-inflammation, anti-seizure,
anxiety reduction, skin health, and even anti-tumor effects. There is copious
research on all of these properties of CBD extracts. However, most of this
research has been done on laboratory animals and humans.
There are some exceptions.
- We know that dogs indeed have an endocannabinoid
system, and that it is implicated in some disorders, such as
inflammatory central nervous system dysfunctions.
- There have been a few studies
demonstrating the safety of CBD for dogs.
- At least one clinical
trial has demonstrated significant improvement in mobility for dogs
In addition, veterinary researchers are starting to do
canine specific studies on the potential therapeutic value of cannabidiol. For
example, the AKC
Canine Health Foundation is currently underway on a major clinical
trial to assess the use of CBD for epilepsy in dogs.
There is nothing unusual about this state of affairs.
Generally speaking, medical science moves through a progression of tissue and
lab animal tests (usually mice and rats) to human clinical trials. Veterinary
medicine often follows suit after human medications have been approved to
determine the safety, efficacy, and dosing appropriate for our companion
animals as well as livestock.
And, also typical, there is not a huge profit motive in conducting
expensive studies on nutraceuticals, a fact holistic veterinarians have been
grappling with for decades. In practice, many veterinarians make decisions
about so-called home remedies and medicinal herbs based on experiences with
their own furry patients and the rather large sample of patients from other
clinicians that practice holistic care in both human and animal practices.
Balancing Risk and Reward
For many dog owners, and an increasing number of
veterinarians, decisions about natural products such as CBD oil made from hemp
are made with the understanding that even pharmaceuticals approved for use in
animals come with risks.
Take for example the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs). Long one of the most commonly prescribed
pharmaceuticals for canine pain, the overuse of NSAIDs have become a bit of a
controversy in dog circles. And, the concerns are not unfounded.
of the clinical trials on NSAIDs in dogs found that 55 percent of the studies
that met their qualification criteria reported significant adverse events, most
commonly affecting the digestive system. They also found that most of the
studies were not well designed to test the safety of this class of drugs. Worse,
they found that none of the studies looked at the safety profile of NSAIDs in
those dogs particularly at risk of serious side effects including renal
failure and death, that is, senior canines.
On the other hand, CBD is known to interact with the
endocannabinoid system to reduce both pain and
inflammation. Researchers have repeatedly identified it as having
the potential to reduce the amount of NSAIDs and opioids for effective pain management.
And, it has a strong safety profile with few known side effects, none as
serious as those known to occur with chronic use of NSAIDs and opioids.
Talk to Your Vet First
If you have done your own research and have decided that CBD
oil might be right for your dog, it is important to talk to you veterinarian
First and foremost, CBD oil is known to interact with other
medications. Much like the enzymes found in grapefruit, CBD can temporarily deactivate
cytochrome P450 enzymes which are critical in the metabolism of many common
medications. In other cases it may enhance the effect of certain drugs. Your
veterinarian can help make sure that drug interactions do not pose a health
threat for your canine.
Second, it is never a good idea to try to diagnose and treat
any medical condition on your own. Symptoms can be a sign of a seemingly
unrelated but serious problem that could need prompt treatment. Unless your vet
is aware of everything going on with your dog, including any supplements you
are giving him, you are undermining their ability to use their expertise to
help your canine companion live a long and healthy life.
Resistance in the Veterinary Community
There are many veterinarians that are following cannabis
based medicine and are open to using it in their practice. For example,
California recently passed a law
allowing veterinarians to discuss cannabis based medicine with their clients
after a strong advocacy push by the California Veterinary Association.
On the other hand, much like has been the case with some
doctors and cannabis based medicine, the stigma of cannabis keeps some vets
from feeling comfortable being associated with CBD. Legal changes in the status
of hemp as well as medical cannabis are starting to change that common
misconception, but resistance remains.
Some vets may default to the “we don’t have the research to
support the use of CBD for dogs” position, but the same vets already have
research available to them as to the significant risks of NSAIDs for chronic
One possible route to consider is to talk to a holistic
veterinarian in your area to get a full assessment of your canine companion’s
health situation. In addition to all of the same medical training that regular
vets get, these specialized veterinarians also receive training in alternative
healing such as acupuncture and herbal medicine. They tend to be more open to
natural remedies and may have more experience using CBD oil in their practice.
Is CBD Oil Right for Your Dog?
Many pet owners are using CBD oil for their dogs, and many
are finding it to be helpful for problems ranging from separation anxiety to
skin problems and pain management. However, this is a decision that you should
make with your veterinarian.
CBD oil is available online and at many pet boutiques. However, be sure you are buying a quality product. Look for CBD made from organic hemp. You should be able to view the full lab results to assure the quality and concentration of the product before you buy. And, be sure to get CBD oil made specifically for dogs since flavorings used in CBD products made for people can sometimes cause problems for your pet.