Have you been wondering about using CBD for dogs with arthritis?
There’s a lot of buzz around using CBD as a treatment for arthritis in dogs. However, it’s important to separate the rumors from real science and anecdotal owner experiences.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common claims surrounding CBD for canine arthritis, and whether there’s evidence to back them up.
First, what exactly is CBD?
CBD is the non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant. Once extracted, CBD is often infused into oils, balms, or treats to help deliver the extract to the body.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is one of many cannabis compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds are known to have soothing and therapeutic effects. In fact, a majority of CBD products actually contain several cannabinoids, with CBD being the primary ingredient. Other popular cannabinoids include CBC, CBG, and CBN.
CLAIM: CBD can make dogs high – No
In the pet industry, all CBD is extracted from hemp plants, not marijuana. This helps guarantee that CBD products for dogs cannot cause a high. To remain federally legal, the hemp plants themselves must contain less than 0.3% THC, which is the cannabinoid primarily responsible for creating a psychoactive effect when inhaled or eaten.
CLAIM: CBD for dogs is illegal – No
Since amendments to the Federal Farm Bill in 2018, hemp containing less than 0.3% THC (otherwise known as Industrial Hemp), can be legally grown, sold, and possessed. This allows both humans and dogs to safely experience the benefits of hemp-made CBD products.
At a state level, there are a few specific additions or alterations to CBD laws. For example, in Idaho, CBD products must contain 0% THC and not 0.3%. Ask your veterinarian about specific laws in your state that they might be aware of.
CLAIM: CBD can oil cure canine arthritis – NO
First, it’s important to note that there is no cure for arthritis – there are just different treatment options to help manage pain and inflammation and keep dogs active.
The increased popularity of pet CBD has led to an influx of rave reviews and social media posts from owners who have tried CBD with their dogs. Among these, perhaps the most common observation is that taking CBD has helped their pup to improve their mobility and reduce joint pain.
While these reports are highly encouraging, it’s important to remember that they usually describe CBD’s effects on symptoms, not arthritis itself. Some studies have reported beneficial effects lasting for a short while after CBD treatment is stopped (see below).
If you are considering using CBD for your dog, please tell your veterinarian and always inform them about how much and how often your dog takes it, along with all other medications or supplements your dog takes.
CLAIM: CBD is anti-inflammatory – There is some evidence to suggest there are anti-inflammatory benefits.
Indications are that CBD does have an anti-inflammatory effect on many dogs. It’s able to do this by interacting with receptors (called CB1 and CB2 receptors) in a part of dogs’ bodies called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is found in almost all mammals, including humans. Scientists believe the ECS is responsible for maintaining balance inside the body, releasing hormones, and stimulating responses to modulate how organs respond to external stimuli. The ECS is known to modulate pain signals and the activation of inflammation.
Through the CB receptors, CBD affects how the ECS activates pain and inflammatory responses, helping dogs to experience reduced pain and swelling.
CLAIM: CBD can help alleviate common symptoms of canine arthritis – Yes, for some pets
Because the major types of canine arthritis are inflammatory conditions, CBD might be able to help reduce associated pain, swelling, and mobility issues in many dogs.
While studies on CBD’s ability to treat symptoms of arthritis in animals are very limited – and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is advocating for more well-controlled clinical research and for manufacturers to seek approval from the FDA to assure safety and quality – there are some encouraging signs.
For example, in 2018, a study by Cornell University tested CBD’s effects on dogs with osteoarthritis and found it clearly improved levels of comfort and mobility when compared to a placebo.
In 2020, a similar study found that CBD was associated with reduced joint pain and quality of life in dogs, while a veterinary study published in the journal Pain also found CBD decreases canine pain while increasing mobility.
The bottom line
With so many dogs developing mobility issues, joint pain, and arthritic conditions as they age, the demand for treatments is growing. Managing canine arthritis is best accomplished by taking a multi-pronged approach that includes:
- Regular pain management, including NSAIDs
- Regular, low-impact exercise like walking or underwater treadmill use
- Therapeutic exercises to build strength
- Maintaining an ideal weight and body condition
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Supplements that include anti-inflammatory properties such as CBD can be a part of a comprehensive treatment plan but they are not intended to be the only or even primary approach to managing arthritis.
While research into CBD benefits in animals is relatively limited, there is starting to be evidence that CBD products can provide arthritis relief by reducing inflammation and pain in dogs with joint issues, resulting in increased mobility.
When considering CBD for their dog, owners should look for pet-specific products made from Industrial Hemp. Always talk to your veterinary team whenever starting any new treatment, supplement, or medication with your dog.