CBD Oil for Dogs with Arthritis and Other Mobility Issues
The fastest growing health trend for both humans and pets in 2021 is CBD oil. Perhaps you have seen it on the shelves of your local pet boutique or even at your vet’s office.
If you have a mobility impaired or senior dog struggling with conditions such as arthritis or hip dysplasia, you may be wondering if this is just another passing fad, or if there is any science to support its use. Of course, you want to do all you can for your pet. But you also don’t want to waste your money or risk your beloved pet’s health.
It turns out that CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol or hemp oil, has been extensively researched. This article will give you a basic primer on what CBD oil is, how it works, and what sorts of health benefits it may offer your dog with joint pain, arthritis, chronic inflammation, and other mobility issues.
Our hope is that if your dog has arthritis, hip dysplasia, or another condition that includes chronic pain and inflammation, that you will learn more about how CBD may be a good choice for your canine companion.
All CBD products are not the same. For example, full spectrum CBD oil may offer your dog more relief. If you decide to work with your vet to give it a try, we hope this article will also help you find the best CBD oil for dogs with arthritis and mobility issues.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is derived from a special strain of cannabis known as hemp. You may be thinking: “Wait. I thought marijuana was toxic to dogs.” You are right to have this concern. Strains of cannabis grown for recreational and medical use in humans usually contain high amounts of THC, a psychoactive compound that is toxic to dogs in large doses.
However, hemp is special. This strain of cannabis is regulated by law to contain less than 0.3% of THC, far too small an amount to harm your pet when hemp oil is properly dosed.
Hemp is high in another cannabinoid found in hemp: Cannabidiol. This compound is not psychoactive and it won’t get your dog high. But it does have several scientifically researched health benefits. This article will explore those most relevant for our senior and disabled canine companions, including those struggling with osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, and other conditions that can reduce mobility. Wondering if dog CBD is right for your pooch? Read on.
The Endocannabinoid System
The use of cannabis for its medicinal qualities goes back centuries. However, the scientific exploration of the healing qualities is much more recent. The last few decades in particular have been marked by a surge in laboratory studies on tissues, animals, and humans.
One of the biggest breakthroughs was the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in the early 1990’s. It turns out that this system acts with a series of receptors, transmitters, and specialized enzymes to regulate several bodily functions including: metabolism, immunity, digestion, skin health, allergic reaction, anxiety, and more.
Many people think that it sounds like a scam when they see that CBD oil may have so many health benefits, however, it is precisely because the Endocannabinoid System regulates so many other functions in the body that it can have a broad stabilizing effect on these same systems.
Your dog, like all mammals, has her own endocannabinoid system (ECS). In addition to producing her own endocannabinoids, her ECS responds to the introduction of cannabinoids such those found in hemp oil. These can be introduced via food, supplements, and applied topically.
Benefits of CBD Oil for Dogs
High quality CBD oil may play an important role in a vet approved plan for your dog’s health. CBD may be especially useful in canines who suffer from mobility issues, persistent pain and inflammation, or chronic conditions that often come with age such as arthritis or hip dysplasia.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the science:
For many disabled and senior dogs, pain management is a key component of treatment to maintain quality of life. Pain can be caused from injury, surgery, and chronic and progressive disease such as IVDD, hip dysplasia, and arthritis. Reducing pain is important for your special needs dog’s quality of life.
Generally, pain management will include prescription medications such as opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Although these medications are very effective, they also come with serious side effects. Side effects include chemical dependence, long term liver damage, and the potential for a lethal overdose. On the other hand, the natural supplement cannabidiol has demonstrated in multiple studies to be effective in reducing pain with minimal side effects.
Inflammation is a significant source of pain for many of our handicapped and older dogs suffering from chronic conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. Typically, these conditions are treated aggressively with NSAIDs.
Unfortunately, this class of drugs has come under recent controversy concerning the safety of their use, particularly for aging dogs and those experiencing organ dysfunction. This is particularly a concern for long term pain management. Long term NSAID use can have serious side effects on the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and kidneys. In fact, renal failure and death are possible risks of the long term use of this class of drugs. When choosing a treatment regimen for your pet, you and your veterinarian must always balance the risks and benefits of any medication to determine the best course of action for your pet.
Adding CBD to your pet’s treatment plan may be beneficial with minimal risk to your pet. Several studies have shown that cannabidiol has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, both when taken orally or when applied to the skin. One study showed CBD to be effective against inflammation caused by osteoarthritis, that it slowed the progression of this degenerative disease by preventing the nerve damage caused by inflammation! And, with fewer and less severe known side effects than many approved NSAID drugs commonly prescribed to senior pets.
Reduce the Use of Pain Medications with CBD Oil
CBD oil is thought to enhance the activity of opioids and NSAIDS, making it possible to reduce the dose of these drugs without compromising on pain control.
This is great news for dog owners looking to avoid complications from long term use of these drug classes. It certainly warrants a conversation with your veterinarian!
As our dogs age, they begin to show less interest in activities they once enjoyed. Daily walks, a swim in the pond – may become too much for a dog in pain to handle. It is heartbreaking to watch the process unfold and we all want to prolong our pet’s mobility as long as we can.
Because it can address both pain and inflammation, CBD oil may help to improve your aging dog’s mobility. One study on dogs showed that 2 mg of CBD administered twice daily improved mobility for dogs affected with osteoarthritis.
CBD Oil for Dogs with Arthritis
Arthritis is a common condition in dogs, especially seniors and large breeds. Symptoms of arthritis in dogs can include:
- Joint pain
- Decreased mobility
- Difficulty jumping or using stairs
- Reluctance to engage in activities
- Irritability or aggression
Arthritis pain can sadly have a significant impact on the quality of life of many senior dogs. CBD oil for arthritis is a relatively new treatment that has shown some benefit for dogs with arthritis pain.
Is there any veterinary research on CBD oil for dogs with arthritis? Great question!
Veterinary medicine tends to follow trends in human medicine, often lagging by years from testing to approval of veterinary drugs. The FDA has not approved a veterinary drug to treat arthritis based on CBD or hemp based compounds.
However, that is not to say that there is no research to support the use of CBD for arthritis. There are several promising studies that demonstrate that cannabidiol is effective at reducing inflammation in rat models of arthritis. One study showed that CBD was effective at reducing inflammation and slowed the progression of degeneration in rats.
Medical researchers are investigating how some cannabinoid receptors, such as the GPR55 receptor, may be directly implicated in the progression of joint problems in arthritis. One study showed that CBD interacts with this receptor in a way that seems to slow down the progression.
Although there is less research to be found specifically on CBD and dogs with arthritis, one study conducted by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2018 showed that 2 mg of CBD administered twice daily to dogs with arthritis resulted in decreased pain and increased activity levels. The dogs in the study also had no reported side effects from the treatment.
The Arthritis Foundation released a report giving some guidelines on the safe use of CBD for people suffering from arthritis. They note that: “Animal studies have suggested that CBD has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, but these effects have not been validated in quality studies in humans.
Although large clinical trials have not yet taken place, it is also fair to say that early research on the use of natural CBD for dogs with arthritis is promising. For dogs with arthritis, CBD may be another treatment option in addition to traditional arthritis medications and supplements.
CBD Oil for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is another common joint issue that begins during puppyhood. And, like arthritis, hip dysplasia is a condition that involves joint pain and inflammation.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that occurs due to uneven growth of the hip joints. This results in arthritis of the hips, often at a young age. Just like dogs with arthritis, dogs with hip dysplasia experience joint pain, loss of mobility, and chronic inflammation. Other symptoms of hip dysplasia are also similar to those in dogs with arthritis, including:
- Reluctance to rise from sitting or laying down
- Difficulty with jumping or using stairs
- Lameness in the hind legs
- Decreased range of motion in the hips
- Loss of muscle mass in the rear limbs
We know that CBD products can help with pain and inflammation. Many vets and pet owners are using CBD oil for dogs to help alleviate symptoms of hip dysplasia. This is giving our pets a better quality of life with less discomfort and more mobility.
Talk to Your Veterinarian About CBD Oil
Canine CBD oil is available ‘over the counter’, but always talk to your vet before adding a medication or supplement. This is especially important since CBD oil can interfere with the metabolism of other drugs your canine may need for proper treatment.
You may have been told, or heard not to eat grapefruit at the same time you take medications. The chemicals in grapefruit can temporarily inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver which are critical for metabolizing these medications. Cannabidiol can have a similar inhibiting mechanism so timing your dosing may be very important.
Some dogs experience mild side effects from the use of CBD oil products. These may include symptoms such as mild sedation, seeming drowsy or “out of it”, vomiting, or diarrhea when first starting the product. If these side effects occur, or if you have any other questions or concerns about CBD oil for dogs, stop giving the product and contact your veterinarian for further advice.
If you do decide to give your dog CBD oil for arthritis or mobility issues, make sure you show the product you’ve chosen to your veterinarian first. Your vet will want to make sure the product is third-party lab tested, contains an appropriate dose of CBD, and is THC-free. Some CBD pet products do not meet these safety and clinical efficacy standards. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations to help you choose the best CBD products, or check out our guidelines below.
Best CBD for Dogs with Arthritis
If you want the best CBD oil for dogs for arthritis, be sure that you know what to look for.
Unfortunately, thanks to all the recent science on this supplement, demand is high and supply is still trying to catch up. This makes the market ripe for fake and low-quality products, a situation the FDA has warned pet owners about.
To choose the best CBD oil for dogs with arthritis, be sure to buy a safe product from a trusted company that makes high-quality CBD oil for dogs specifically, such as LolaHemp. If you decide to do your own research on a brand to try, be sure it checks off all of these important quality considerations:
Quality Considerations when selecting a CBD Oil
Made just for dogs: Avoid CBD oil products made for people which can include flavorings and other ingredients that can be harmful to canines. Dog owners should also be aware that many CBD oils made for people can also contain high levels of THC, which can be fatal to pets. The best CBD oil will be one made specifically for dogs.
Organic sourcing: Refined hemp oil can contain harmful pesticides and herbicides routinely used in industrial hemp farming. Pet owners should look for full-spectrum CBD oil products made from organically sourced hemp, such as LolaHemp products.
Third-Party Lab Tested: You should verify the quality and concentration of any hemp oil before you buy. Look for a product that has recently been third-party lab tested to be sure you are getting a high-quality CBD product tested for purity and concentration. The label should specify the mg of CBD and the product should be THC-free.
Full Spectrum: Full-spectrum CBD oil is the best CBD oil for dogs with arthritis, and it is considered superior to CBD isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oil – sometimes referred to as broad-spectrum CBD oil – contains all of the vital compounds found in the whole hemp plant. Even in trace amounts, these compounds improve the overall healing qualities of hemp, known as the “Entourage Effect.”
MCT Coconut Oil: Widely believed to boost the ability to metabolize CBD oils, an MCT coconut oil carrier oil is a sign of high quality. Look for a broad-spectrum CBD or full-spectrum CBD oil with an MCT carrier made specifically for dogs to ensure you’re getting a quality product.
Commitment to Animal Welfare
Put your money where your heart is. Support companies that make animal welfare a priority through service and donations to rescue pets in need. The best CBD oil for dogs with arthritis also helps other pets, too!
Dr. Elizabeth Racine, DVM
Elizabeth Racine, DVM is a small animal veterinarian with a passion for improving the lives of pets. She has worked in the veterinary field in various roles for more than a decade. Dr. Racine’s professional interests in behavior, nutrition, and palliative care. As a writer, her work has been featured by several world-renowned pet health and wellness brands. Dr. Racine shares her home with her dog Dasher – a beagle with his own storied career training new veterinary students – and her trouble-making orange cat named Julius.
Joey DiFrancesco is an animal lover, rescue advocate and entrepreneur. He is the founder of natural pet products brand Lolahemp, as well as online pet novelty shop, Lolawawa’s. Both brands are heavily active within the rescue community and contribute a portion of proceeds to animal rescue efforts.
CBD Oil for Dogs with Arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common ailment in dogs, affecting as many as 25 percent of all canines over the course of their lives. If your pooch has lost some of the spring in her step, seems to have more stiffness after regular activity or shows a reluctance to do things she used to enjoy, OA may be the cause.
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis—aka arthritis—is a progressive disease, and it is important to have a veterinarian assess your dog at the first signs of pain or changes in mobility. Developing an early treatment plan is critical to doing all you can to slow the damage this degenerative condition can do to your dog’s joints as she ages.
This article takes a close look at the role CBD oil may play in a veterinarian-approved treatment plan for OA, as well as at the scientific research that demonstrates the great promise this natural supplement offers for relief from both the pain and inflammation associated with it.
If you want to know if CBD oil can help your dog with arthritis, we hope this article will assist you in making an informed decision as well as give you a starting point for a conversation with your vet about safe treatment options for your furry friend.
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2015 study points out that the number of adverse side effects from NSAIDs reported to the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine is higher than for any other veterinary drug currently prescribed. Of particular concern, as this study notes, is the possibility of renal damage and/or failure as a result of using NSAIDs for chronic conditions.
A systematic review reported on in 2013 looked at the results of 35 studies and 29 clinical trials that investigated the use of NSAIDs in dogs. It found that as many as 55 percent of the studies reported significant negative side effects with this class of drugs. It may be worse for dogs with OA; as its authors noted, most of the dogs used in the research they looked at were from a young and healthy population. Since it is known that NSAIDs are more likely to be a problem for older dogs, this gives owners of senior dogs plenty of reason to pause and consider their options before jumping right into 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 to use an NSAID. Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration consistent with individual response.”
Given that veterinarians already know that long-term use of NSAIDs, particularly in older dogs or those with compromised liver or kidney function, is potentially dangerous—even deadly—the search for a safe treatment for pain and inflammation has been a significant priority in vet medicine.
Not only are cannabinoid receptors found throughout healthy joint tissue, they are also found in surprising concentrations in degenerated chondrocytes (joint cells) in human OA patients. Researchers believe that these cells may respond to treatment with cannabinoids.
In fact, a few recent studies, including this one, have shown that cannabidiol may even play a role in preventing the degeneration of joints and progression of pain associated with OA. This is big news for sufferers of osteoarthritis, be they human or canine.
changes to the laws regarding hemp may soon remove that barrier to researching the benefits this natural plant may have for our pets’ health.
One of the most relevant studies that owners of dogs with arthritis should be aware of was conducted by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in 2018. Researchers administered a full-spectrum CBD oil to dogs with OA at an oral dosage of either 2 mg or 8 mg per kg twice daily.
The dogs in the study were assessed before the trial began, as well as at two and four weeks into treatment. The researchers found that the 2 mg-per-pound dose effectively reduced the dogs’ visible signs of pain and significantly improved their activity and mobility.
Is CBD Safe for Dogs with Osteoarthritis?
Significantly, in the study cited above, no side effects of treatment were observed at either dose. Also, there were no indications of any psychoactive effects, despite the fact that the full-spectrum CBD oil the researchers used contained trace amounts of THC. This builds on other research demonstrating the safety of appropriately calibrated cannabinoids for dogs.
What About Full-Spectrum CBD Oil for Canine OA?
One other question many dog owners have about the use of hemp or CBD oil has to do with the safety of a full-spectrum CBD oil for their dog. As might be inferred from the term, full-spectrum oils contain the full range of trace compounds (known as cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes) found in the source hemp, including trace amounts of THC (.3 percent or less, by law).
Many pet owners think that since dogs are known to be sensitive to high levels of THC, a full-spectrum product may not be safe.
However, this is not the case. By law, hemp contains extremely low amounts of THC, well under the threshold known to be safe for dogs. As long as you purchase a full-spectrum CBD oil made just for pets and follow dosing guidelines, it is perfectly 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 backed up by research. Scientists refer to this phenomenon as the “entourage effect.” Dozens of studies on cannabis-based medicines have shown that the trace amounts of THC and other cannabinoids found in full spectrum CBD oils may well enhance the pain- and inflammation-relieving properties of these natural compounds.
LolaHemp, to your companion’s daily supplements to help safely ease the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in dogs.
CBD may help you and your vet work out a treatment plan that reduces the use of potentially dangerous NSAIDs, and in some cases, eliminates them altogether. However, since cannabidiol can interact with other medications, it is important to have the conversation with your vet before adopting this strategy—to put your dog’s whole health needs first.
A final word of caution: Even though CBD is available without a prescription, it is critical to make sure that whatever product you use, it is formulated specifically for dogs. CBD products made for people can sometimes have high amounts of THC or other additives (such as artificial sweeteners) that can be toxic to dogs.