There’s nothing more heartbreaking than watching your beloved pup struggle with arthritis and joint pain as they age. While you can’t take away the condition, there are steps you can take to help them feel better. For example, along with a healthy diet, exercise, and plenty of love, many pet parents are turning to plant-based supplements. CBD, the popular hemp plant extract, is one of the natural products people are using to improve their dog’s quality of life.
Arthritis & Dogs
Much like humans, arthritis and joint problems are a part of aging. You only get so many miles per body, and some areas decline sooner than others. As you may imagine, the joints get much use throughout the lifetime for both you and your pup.
Additionally, some dog breeds are more prone to arthritis and joint issues than others. This list includes many large canine breeds, such as,
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepard
- Alaskan Malamute
- Golden Retriever
- Saint Bernard
- Bulldogs and Pit Bulls
The most common symptoms dogs experience, include,
- Redness around the joints
- Whimpering (signs of pain)
- Trouble getting up and lying down
- Inability or reluctance to go up or downstairs
This list isn’t extensive. For questions about your dog’s symptoms, contact your veterinarian.
Natural Arthritis Treatments for Dogs with Arthritis
After speaking with your vet, you may wonder if there’s anything else you can do to help your pup feel like their old self again. The traditional treatment is NSAIDs, weight management, and regular exercise. There are side effects of NSAIDs. These medications can cause nausea, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and reduced appetite. In addition, they may lead to ulcers, kidney toxicity, and liver damage. Dogs with existing liver, kidney, or gastrointestinal issues might be advised to use an alternative treatment.
However, there are natural supplements that might provide relief, such as CBD, and there are studies to back up consumer claims.
Researchers from the Department of Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, conducted a randomized placebo-controlled, blinded-cross over study in 2017 to see if CBD was an effective treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs. They used two different CBD-enriched doses, 2 and 8mg/kg every 12 hours for four weeks.
The results were amazing.
“Pharmacokinetics revealed an elimination half-life of 4.2 h at both doses and no observable side effects. Clinically, canine brief pain inventory and Hudson activity scores showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity with CBD oil. Veterinary assessment showed decreased pain during CBD treatment. No side effects were reported by owners; however, serum chemistry showed an increase in alkaline phosphatase during CBD treatment.”
Unfortunately, the studies end here.
Exercising Dogs with Arthritis
Another natural step you can take to help your pup with arthritis is to go for regular walks. Although you may be concerned about it, causing more pain, the opposite is true. It’s essential to keep them moving to prevent stiffness and reduce pain.
To make it easier on your dog, take two or three brief walks daily rather than one long walk in the morning or at the end of the day. Also, don’t skip playtime. Your baby may be getting older and slowing down, but they still need to play and interact.
By adding a dose of CBD to your pet’s day, you might make these walks easier and help them enjoy them more.
Can Vets Recommend CBD for Dogs?
CBD for pets is a gray area. Most vets can discuss CBD with patients and go over any interactions that may occur with certain medicines their pet is already taking. When you go to see your veterinarian, you need to approach the subject. They can’t make a recommendation for you to use CBD or for specific uses, products, or doses.
Until more studies are available, it’s unlikely that veterinary practitioners will move forward on recommendations. Researchers need to conduct several substantial clinical studies involving canines of various ages, with additional conditions, and different deterioration levels. These trials must use placebos and compare the results with traditional treatments.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes—There is no indication that hemp extracts aren’t safe for pets. Only a few side effects are known, and they are all mild. Adverse reactions include drowsiness, excessive thirst, and possibly upset stomach. Additionally, high doses may cause a temporary drop in blood pressure.
In 2018, Veterinarian Patty Khuly wrote about her experience recommending CBD (against the wishes of the government) in Veterinary Practice News,
“For my part, I’ve chosen to flout federal law in favor of patient care. Most of the patients I’ve medicated with CBD oil have thrived. After recommending it to hundreds of patients (I carry it in-house now), I’ve not yet observed an adverse reaction. Sure, some patients have balked at its delivery, but that’s about it for negatives.”
You may have concerns about the .3% of THC in all full-spectrum CBD products. This insignificant amount of the psychoactive component isn’t enough to make your pet high or cause any euphoric effects. A full-spectrum oil contains 545 phytochemicals, including CBD and THC.
The biggest concern dog owners face with CBD is oversight. Hemp supplements items don’t go through an independent testing process on the state or federal level. That’s not to say there’s no review process. Nearly all brands claim to send their products to independent labs for third-party testing. There are steps you can take to ensure you purchase safe products.
- Always read the label
- Ask for the certificate of analysis (COA)
- Only purchase from brands that grow their hemp in the U.S.
- Have an independent lab test the product to verify the accuracy of the label
Dogs, CBD, and its Effects on the Liver
There is some concern about dogs, CBD, and the liver. However, this is only a problem with large doses or dogs with existing liver conditions. Dr. Jerry Klein, the AKC Chief Veterinary Officer, mentions the decrease in liver enzymes as a potential adverse effect in a 2018 interview. The publication recommends that pet owners always speak with their veterinarian about possible interactions between CBD and prescription medications.
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Your Dog
There are many CBD options for people and pets. You can choose infused dog treats that take the guesswork out of dosing or trying to get your dog to take the oil. But the oil is the better option. The sublingual tincture will absorb through the gums into the bloodstream to provide the most effective dose. You can mix each dose with their favorite treat or meal to make it more appealing. For example, combine it with a spoonful of peanut butter.
Are all CBD Oils Organic?
It would be great if all CBD products were organic, GMO-, pesticide-, herbicide-, and fungicide-free. And many hemp extracts are all of the above. Hemp farming has exploded since the U.S. Congress passed the 2018 farm bill. According to Forbes, from 2018 to 2019, hemp cultivation grew by 455%.
There are small and large companies across the country growing hemp and making their own CBD products. Many of these farms specialize in organic products. You should be able to find a quality, natural hemp extracts for your dog.
How Much CBD Should You Give Your Dog?
CBD dosing for humans and animals isn’t an exact science because of the different variables. “How Much” depends on the condition, animals’ weight, any medications they’re taking, and the CBD oil’s potency.
Again, similar to humans, start with a low dose and go slow. An excellent starting amount is 2mg/kg and increasing it by 2mg every week until you reach the treatment that offers the most benefit with the least adverse effects.
As mentioned, CBD oil comes in different strengths. Here are some common formula strengths from the Canine Journal to help you with CBD dosing for dogs.
- 300mg formula = 10mg of CBD per ml of oil
- 600mg formula = 20mg of CBD per ml of oil
- 900mg formula = 30mg of CBD per ml of oil
- 1200mg formula =40mg of CBD per ml of oil
The higher the potency, the less oil you need to give your dog. By using the more potent formula, you can reduce potential side effects.
As always, be sure to check with your veterinarian before using.
Is CBD Oil for Humans Different than CBD for Dogs?
There are no differences between standard CBD oil labeled for people and the CBD oil labeled for pets. But some hemp extract products for humans contain additives to improve the flavor. Unless you know the extra ingredients are safe for animals, it’s best to stay clear.
Some common essential oils that are also found in CBD products for people include,
- Sweet Birch
- Tea Tree (Melaleuca)
- Ylang Ylang
Can Dogs Overdose on CBD Oil?
Giving one’s dog CBD oil designed for humans, despite the weight difference, has not been known to lead to overdose. The same applies to adults and children ages two and older taking Epidiolex, a form of CBD.
Also known by the cannabinoids given name, the FDA allows cannabidiol for patients with rare and severe forms of epilepsy. More studies are necessary to understand how CBD helps dogs with arthritis and painful joints. However, there’s enough anecdotal evidence to see that it’s making significant changes for many pets and their owners.
Together, a nutritious diet, daily exercise, and CBD may improve your dog’s quality of life.