To reduce arthritis inflammation, veterinarians recommend physical therapy, exercise, medication, and weight management. New research suggests that CBD oil, a non-psychoactive extract of hemp, can reduce arthritis inflammation in humans.
But does it work on dogs?
The cited study’s conclusion was, “The present study found associations between CBD use and improvements in patient’s arthritis symptoms and reductions in other medications.”
The majority of participants in the study reported improvements in pain and inflammation and a lesser need for medication.
With CBD and hemp research still in its infancy, there is much we do not know about, including the long-term effects of CBD exposure, a therapeutic dose for arthritis inflammation, and medication interaction.
Consequently, if you are considering administering CBD oil to a dog to reduce arthritis inflammation, consult a veterinarian.
What we do know is researchers have uncovered multiple benefits CBD offers for human and animal arthritis. Additionally, current studies indicate that CBD oil has an excellent safety profile when used topically or ingested.
That translates to a decreased need for potentially harmful pharmaceutical medication and improved life quality.
In general, CBD oil will not cure arthritis, but cannabidiol can help manage symptoms, including pain and inflammation.
Tip: Early signs of canine arthritis can easily be mistaken for laziness.
Table of Contents
Medical science describes arthritis as a degenerative, irreversible, and progressive joint disease that causes:
- Thickening and scarring of connective tissue.
- Loss of cartilage.
- Bony spurs.
Statistics indicate that about 60% of dogs in the US have it or are at risk of getting it.
What you need to know about canine arthritis is:
- Arthritis can happen at any age, but older dogs are at elevated risk.
- The condition can be a product of injury, aging, or lifestyle choices.
- Early diagnosis can slow progression.
- Currently, there is no cure for arthritis.
- Treatment, including CBD administration, focuses on symptom management.
Dogs that have dysplasia -abnormal cell development within tissue or organs- or have underlying joint or inflammation issues are at elevated risk of developing arthritis.
Larger breeds, including golden retrievers and German shepherds, are at elevated risk because of:
- Weight. If the dog gets too big, the added weight can create the risk of arthritis or worsen symptoms as the dog ages.
- Sport dogs. Dogs that experience repetitive injuries are at higher risk.
- Previous joint trauma.
What are the Clinical Signs of Arthritis?
During the early stages, it can be difficult to identify the signs of arthritis at home. Consequently, if you suspect that your dog may have or is developing the condition, get it diagnosed and begin treatment early.
Once the disease becomes “apparent,” you may notice arthritis symptoms such as:
- Stiffness when walking, moving, or rising.
- The dog may have difficulties standing, walking, or jumping.
The Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs.
- Reduced agility. Is the dog having difficulties with stairs, entering the car, and so on?
- Reduced activity. The dog may become less active because of pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
- Twitchiness and irritability when petted, touched, or stroked around the hips, legs, paws, or joints.
- Lack of movement.
Tip: some dogs will hide their pain to please their owners. Additionally, the dog may chew or lick joints more than usual, indicating pain or discomfort.
Some dogs become overly clingy.
The symptoms above may be related to another condition, or the dog may be exhibiting signs of laziness. Consequently, it is best to get the dog diagnosed by a professional.
As mentioned, there is no cure for arthritis, meaning treatment focuses on symptom management and progression prevention. To that end, a vet may recommend:
- Pain and inflammation medication. A vet may recommend oral or topical medications such as NSAIDS, muscle relaxers, or pain-relieving therapies such as acupuncture.
- Lifestyle modification. For sport or working dogs, a vet may recommend avoidance of specific activities such as jumping, running, or other activities that stress joints or cause inflammation.
- Muscle strengthening and joint preservation exercises.
- Nutritional management/weight management.
Surgery is also a viable option.
The treatment options above are not risk-free. There is the possibility of surgery-related pain, scarring, medication, side effects, and issues related to therapy and medication.
Because of that, we recommend using CBD oil to complement treatment for the reasons below.
Yes, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, CBD can reduce canine arthritis pain and inflammation.
The study’s findings claim that “CBD significantly attenuated the production of proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α while elevating levels of anti-inflammatory IL-10. In the veterinary study, CBD significantly decreased pain and increased mobility in a dose-dependent fashion among animals with an affirmative diagnosis of OA. Liposomal CBD (20 mg/day) was as effective as the highest dose of nonliposomal CBD (50 mg/day) in improving clinical outcomes.”
In other words, the benefits of CBD oil go beyond the reduction of arthritis inflammation. It also reduces pain.
Although CBD’s mechanism of action on pain and inflammation is still under investigation, researchers theorize that CBD’s effects are a product of interactions with the endocannabinoid system. A system of enzymes, receptors, and endogenous cannabinoids whose functions are to influence synaptic communication, resulting in the regulation of biological functions such as:
- Growth and development.
- Learning and memory.
- Stress, depression, anxiety.
- Control pain and inflammatory/immune response.
CBD’s Mechanism of Action in Inflammation.
According to a recent study, CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects result from CBD modulating the immune system cell function and “exerts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and its anti-inflammatory effects can be attributed to the NF-κB and the interferon beta (IFN-β) pathways.”
Translated what that means is:
- CBD may improve mobility by decreasing pain and inflammation.
- Additionally, there is evidence that CBD may increase fluid mobility in joints, by dilating veins.
- Stress, depression, and anxiety management. Stress can exacerbate pain perception and increase inflammation by weakening the immune system. CBD has anxiolytic qualities and, as a bronchodilator, may improve breathing, lowering the effects of stress.
The CBD market is not as regulated as the pharmaceutical market, and the FDA, state law and other authorities may not allow veterinarians to administer or recommend CBD products. Remember, the long-term side effects of administering CBD to pets are still under investigation.
On the legal front, 2018’s Farm Bill made it legal to possess and use CBD oil and industrial hemp extracts. However, state laws vary.
What to remember when choosing CBD products for dogs:
- THC contamination can happen. We thus recommend only using extracts of hemp because the hemp plant produces below 0.3% THC. Not enough to cause intoxication or toxicity.
- The hemp plant produces at least one hundred cannabinoids, including CBD and THC.
- Full-spectrum hemp extracts provide the most benefit because they contain all cannabinoids, depending on the extraction method.
- The “entourage effect theory” hypothesizes that you get the most benefit for arthritis and other conditions if cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabis/hemp extracts are used synergistically.
To reduce arthritis inflammation in dogs, you need a CBD product that:
- Is safety tested.
- Comes with clear instructions on dosage and use.
To reduce arthritis inflammation in dogs, we recommend a mix of topical and ingestible CBD products. When used topically, CBD and hemp extracts will not cause irritation, inflammation, or related issues.
Some human users report a minor rash, but that could be related to added ingredients. Because of that, if your dog is prone to allergies, it is best to stick to pure versions or isolates.
The debate on how much CBD oil is suitable for dogs is still ongoing. However, the majority of vets recommend one to five milligrams for every ten pounds of body weight. You may administer orally once or twice per day.
What to remember.
- Depending on the concentration, CBD effects should kick in within fifteen minutes to an hour and last up to eight hours.
- At higher doses, CBD has a sedating effect.
- If you do not notice any changes in symptoms, increase the dosage (CBD experience is not uniform).
Before administering CBD oil to reduce arthritis inflammation, consult a vet to assess the risk of CBD and medication interaction.
You want to avoid administering CBD oil if the dog has low blood pressure or is on blood-thinning medication.
Potential Side Effects.
As mentioned, CBD oil has an excellent safety profile, but overuse may result in vomiting, diarrhea, or fatigue.
CBD oil holds a lot of promise as a treatment for arthritis inflammation in dogs. However, it is crucial to approach use with caution. Remember, arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in the US.
The cited studies indicate positive outcomes, but due to hemp and marijuana long held status as controlled substances, there is much we do not know.
In summary, CBD is not a cure for canine arthritis, but it can be valuable in managing symptoms. Utilize cannabidiol to manage stress, reduce reliance on harmful painkillers, and enhance your best friend’s quality of life.
You should also maintain a close professional relationship with a vet if your dog has arthritis.
- Frane N, Stapleton E, Iturriaga C, Ganz M, Rasquinha V, Duarte R. Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study. J Cannabis Res. 2022 Aug 24;4(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s42238-022-00154-9. PMID: 35999581; PMCID: PMC9400326.
- Naya, N. M., Kelly, J., Corna, G., Golino, M., Abbate, A., & Toldo, S. (2023). Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Action of Cannabidiol. Molecules, 28(16). https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules28165980
- Verrico CD, Wesson S, Konduri V, Hofferek CJ, Vazquez-Perez J, Blair E, Dunner K Jr, Salimpour P, Decker WK, Halpert MM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of daily cannabidiol for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis pain. Pain. 2020 Sep 1;161(9):2191-2202. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001896. PMID: 32345916; PMCID: PMC7584779.
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