What are the benefits of using CBD for your Dog?
On September 14, 2018, Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in the UK published a statement on medicinal products containing Cannabidiol. According to the report, veterinary products containing CBD are medicines and should be regulated as such.
In this article, we decided to shed some light on CBD usage for animals: treatment of health conditions, dosage, and the effects of various product forms.
What is CBD?
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a derivative from the plant Cannabis Sativa. Unlike another derivative THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD has no psychoactive effects on the human or animal body and doesn’t cause a substantial impact on cognitive brain activity. Instead, this naturally occurring chemical compound can promote stress relief and relaxation effect on the brain and body. That’s why it is used in CBD oils and edibles.
CBD and THC have the same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. Yet, there is a slight difference in how the atoms are arranged which determines the effect on the brain.
CBD can be extracted from two cannabis species: marijuana and hemp. Hemp plants contain less than 0.3% THC, hence why they are the sources of CBD products for animals.
Why Does CBD oil work for animals?
Every living being with a spinal column has the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which evolved 600 million years ago. The system was discovered in the 1990s and initially considered to be present only in the brain and nerves. In 2008, the scientists from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington discovered cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, including our skin, immune cells, fat tissue, bone, liver, pancreas, skeletal muscle, kidneys, heart, blood vessels, and gastrointestinal tract.
Endocannabinoids are one of the most versatile signalling molecules known to this day. The ECS creates homeostasis within the body as it is involved in a wide range of processes, including pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, metabolism, sleep, immune and reproductive functions. When the system is dysfunctional or damaged, it triggers a whole spectrum of disorders and diseases — for example, anxiety, stress, inflammation, nausea, arthritis, epilepsy, and cancer.
CBD and THC have a chemical structure similar to your body’s own ECS, which allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors.
How CBD helps in animal treatment
The list of conditions that can be alleviated by the inclusion of CBD into the treatment process is not definitive yet. In this article, we will focus on the most investigated health problems.
CBD for Anxiety in dogs
You may notice that your pet is terrified of toys, gets nervous when you leave, or hides from everyone in the house. If this behaviour is typical, it’s a clear sign of anxiety.
We can distinguish situational and behavioural anxieties.
Situational anxiety occurs when your pet reacts to immediate triggers like strangers, another dog’s barking or fireworks.
Behavioural anxiety is triggered by past experiences. For example, an animal can remember separation from the previous owner or cruel treatment. This type of anxiety is more complex and includes several subtypes: separation, rescue/ former shelter, illness-induced, and general (generalised) anxiety.
- Separation anxiety. Symptoms may occur when the people an animal is attached to leave him or her for some time. Such animals become upset and often agitated as they don’t know if that person will return.
- Rescue/ former shelter anxiety happens when petshave memories of being abandoned and spending time in shelters.
- Illness-induced anxiety is caused by a range of conditions. They include thyrotoxicosis, hypothyroidism, encephalitis, pre-diabetes, and vision or hearing loss.
- General anxiety encompasses the cases when the cause for anxiety can’t be clearly determined. Symptoms can be subtle and treated as normal behaviour.
Anxiety manifests itself through body language and unusual or destructive behaviour. Here are some examples of anxiety signals.
Shaking or trembling
The animal body can react by shaking in different situations, from being cold to having a kidney disease. Yet, tense muscles and, as a result, shaking can well be also attributed to separation anxiety.
Reluctance to go outdoors
If your pet doesn’t want to go outdoors, it means something has happened that caused unpleasant emotions or fear. For example, it was attacked by another animal or stepped on something sharp, which caused pain.
Urination or defecation in inappropriate places
Episodes of anxiety can be followed by bouts of diarrhoea or urination. It is especially evident if your pet is well-trained and always does its business in appropriate places.
Whining or barking
When your pet whines or barks a lot, it can be treated as a signal of inability to relax and calm down. It often happens when animals are bored or feel lonely.
Excessive licking or salivating
Too much stimulation leads to excessive production of saliva. This often happens when animals are in a panic or feel like they are in a harmful situation.
Traditional pain management for acute and chronic pain involves a range of medications, such as NSAIDs, steroids, opioids, and antihistamines. All these chemicals have a bunch of side effects which have to be treated by other medicines. Here are the most common side effects:
- Diarrhoea, vomiting, intestinal bleeding, ulcers, lethargy, liver and kidney failures.
- Steroids: thirst and urination, urinary tract infections, vomiting, increased hunger, panting, skin problems, muscle weakness, and decreased overall immunity.
- Opioids: pain sensitivity, respiratory problems, constipation, and confusion.
- Antihistamines: diarrhoea, loss of appetite, vomiting, confusion, lethargy, irregular heartbeat, hyperactivity.
CBD is considered as an alternative to traditional medications. The “magic” of CBD is that it can upregulate and downregulate neural transmissions. Thus, body homeostasis moves towards a healthy state. CBD effect is often compared to that of acupuncture.
A few studies showcasing CBD effectiveness in pain management:
- In 2016, Colorado State University completed a clinical trial which demonstrated the safety of CBD for healthy dogs.
- In 2018 Cornell University conducted a study on dogs suffering from chronic pain. The scientists concluded that 2 mg/kg of CBD given twice daily reduces osteoarthritis pain in dogs.
- Another placebo-controlled clinical research by Liberty Leaf also demonstrated effective pain-management abilities of CBD. Dogs with osteoarthritis that received 0.3 mg per kg of a CBD treatment during four weeks daily experienced reduction of pain and improved functional performance.
The antiseptic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD oil also promote healing in the body. Animals can suffer from wounds of different nature:
- Abrasion injuries result from friction applied approximately parallel to the skin’s external surface. In animal practice, these wounds are commonly seen as a result of road traffic accidents. For example, where the animal has become trapped between the road surface and a moving vehicle. Abrasion wounds also can be seen as a result of poorly fitting casts and bandages.
- Degloving wounds are caused when the skin is torn from the underlying tissues, usually from a limb. Mechanical degloving occurs in a road traffic accident. Physiological degloving happens when the skin is sheared from the subcutaneous tissues, resulting in damage to the local blood supply and causing ischemia.
- Avulsion injuries refer to the forcible separation of tissues from their underlying attachments. These injuries occur following dog bite wounds or road traffic accidents, where the skin and subcutaneous tissue is avulsed from the mandible, resulting in exposure of the underlying bone.
- Shearing injuries represent a combination of degloving and abrasion injuries and are frequently seen following road traffic accidents, with the wounds usually located on the patient’s distal limb.
- Incision wounds are most commonly presented in practice as intentional surgical wounds, but they can also be caused by trauma from a sharp object moving in a plane parallel to the surface of the skin. These wounds typically have clean, regular edges.
- Puncture wounds are caused by a sharp object, for example, a stick or metal railing, moving in a plane perpendicular to the skin surface. Penetrating wounds refer to those that have an entrance wound only, whereas perforating injuries refer to those with both an entrance and an exit wound.
- Burns are classified according to the depth and the surface area of the skin affected. First degree — epidermis only. Second degree — epidermis and a portion of the dermis. Third degree — epidermis, dermis and variable proportion of the hypodermis.
- Firearminjuries are complex. The basic wound is a perforating or penetrating injury, but extensive damage is done to the underlying tissue as the projectile moves on its trajectory.
CBD for Cancer in Dogs
Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells found in animals as well as humans. There are many different types of animal cancer, and the symptoms are often similar to those in people (e.g. abnormal swelling, weight loss, lethargy/reluctance to exercise, etc.). Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in companion animals such as cats and dogs, with the latter being more susceptible to the disease. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), cancer causes almost 50% of deaths in pets over the age of 10. Here are the most common body areas affected by cancer:
- Skin. Tumours on the skin are common but, fortunately, they are mostly benign and, if discovered early, are successfully treated.
- Mammary gland. Female animals can suffer from breast cancer. However, in about 50% of cases, tumours are malignant.
- Testicles. The overall incidence of testicular tumours in male pets is low because most pets are castrated at a young age. However, it is common among intact pets and older (more than ten years) animals.
- Head and neck. Symptoms of such cancers include abnormal growth of cells in the gums, bad odour, bleeding, panting and swelling on the face.
- Brain. The only clinical symptoms of brain cancer are extreme behavioural changes and epileptic-like seizures. The location, size and severity of the tumour is determined by CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scanning and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
- Lymph nodes. You can notice the tumour when your pet’s lymph nodes are swollen and become 3 to 10 times larger than their standard size. This type of cancer is highly aggressive as it quickly spreads to other organs.
- Bones. Most affected species are larger breeds and those who are more than seven years old. Usually, leg bones suffer most of all. The symptoms include bone or joint pain, anorexia, and inflammation.
- Abdomen. Abdominal cancer is not easy to diagnose. Primary warning signs include drooling, vomiting, decreased activity and appetite, black stool, and weight loss.
- Bladder. The symptoms include bleeding and urinary obstruction. Pay attention to the fact that this cancer develops slowly, and you may not see the symptoms for 3 to 6 months.
Symptoms of cancer
The signs of the disease vary depending on the organ affected by a tumour. Yet, there is a range of symptoms that should be immediately screened by your veterinarian:
- Lumps and bumps underneath a dog’s skin
- Abnormal odours from the mouth, ears or any other part of the body
- Abnormal discharge from the eyes, mouth, ears or rectum
- Non-healing wounds or sores
- Abdominal swelling
- Change in appetite (both increase and decrease)
- Sudden weight loss
- Coughing or panting
- Lethargy or depression
- Changes in bathroom habits
- Evidence of pain
How can CBD help cancer treatment in dogs
CBD is a great tool to ease and manage different types of pain for dogs while undergoing treatment regimens.
- It can manage symptoms caused by cancer. Stimulating the ECS system, CBD can reduce inflammation, pain, and such gastrointestinal symptoms as vomiting and nausea.
- It may curb the spread of cancer cells. Although the research on CBD for dogs is in its early days, the researchby Michael P. Barnes, Honorary Professor of Neurological Rehabilitation in Newcastle University, shows that CBD can even help to stop harmful cell growth in tumours.
How Much CBD Should You Give You Dog?
In general, CBD oils are always administered in drops and the easiest way to give you dog CBD. The exact dosage needed for a dose can vary from one product to another, but generally consist of 2-4 drops taken 2-4 times daily.
You can also adjust the dosage given the size of your dog and depending on their condition as mentioned above.
CBD capsules, on the other hand, usually contain 25mg of CBD each. Again, the exact number of capsules needed for a dose for you pet will vary from one pet product to another, but generally consist of roughly 1 tablet taken 1-2 times per day.
Unlike oils and capsules, CBD dog treats can contain varying concentrations of CBD, and should be given to your pet as per the package instructions.
Whenever using any kind of CBD, I recommend following the dosing instructions that came with the product, seeing how your dog responds, and adjusting the dose as needed.