The research base on the clinical use of CBD oil is rapidly expanding, and so is our understanding of the role that the endocannabinoid system plays in the progression of osteoarthritis in dogs.
While the conventional treatments for canine osteoarthritis do work well in many cases, the symptoms of osteoarthritis inevitably worsen as a dog gets older. Eventually, there comes a time when these treatments don’t always provide enough relief – and this is when CBD oil may help.
When administered appropriately as an adjunct therapy, CBD oil can benefit dogs with osteoarthritis. Not only can CBD reduce inflammation and pain levels, it can also improve mobility.
How to prescribe CBD oil for osteoarthritis
We at CBD Vets Australia recommend that a pre-treatment checkup and baseline blood test are performed before starting treatment with CBD oil.
In the trial described below, dogs with osteoarthritis were administered a full-spectrum CBD oil at an oral dosage of either 2 mg or 8 mg per kilogram of bodyweight 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 kilogram of bodyweight dose was effective in reducing the dogs’ visible signs of pain and significantly improving their activity and mobility. However, investigations in dogs have shown CBD to be safe in doses as high as 10-20mg/kg/day.
To achieve medicinal benefits from CBD oil for pets, the dose doesn’t usually have to be so high, though it is a good indication of the safety profile. Generally, it’s recommended that vets prescribe CBD oil for osteoarthritis on a ‘start low and go slow’ protocol.
Research on the clinical efficacy of CBD oil
The 2018 trial saw single-dose pharmacokinetics performed using two different doses of CBD enriched (2 and 8 mg/kg) oil. Thereafter, a randomized placebo-controlled, owner blinded study was conducted. Dogs received one of two treatments: CBD oil (2 mg/kg) or placebo oil every 12 h. Each treatment lasted for 4 weeks with a 2-week washout period.
Clinically, the researchers found that canine brief pain inventory and Hudson activity scores demonstrated a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity with CBD oil. Veterinary assessment showed decreased pain during CBD treatment. The study concluded that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with OA.
Another study explored the therapeutic potential of both naked and liposomally encapsulated CBD in a 4-week, randomized placebo-controlled, double-blinded study. The researchers found that CBD significantly decreased pain and increased mobility in a dose-dependent fashion among animals with osteoarthritis. Liposomal CBD (20 mg/day) was as effective as the highest dose of non liposomal CBD (50 mg/day) in improving clinical outcomes.
Even two weeks after the dogs stopped taking the CBD, those in the higher dose groups were still showing improvement. This indicated that CBD was in fact addressing the underlying inflammatory issues – not simply masking the pain. No significant detrimental impact of CBD oil was observed in the study period.
Potential side effects of CBD oil for dogs
The most common side effects from CBD observed in dogs are gastrointestinal changes, such as mild diarrhea and reddening around the ears. Side effects depend on the delivery route and are often mitigated by careful, monitored dosing regimens.
Also, it’s important to be aware that dogs have a higher number of receptors for psychoactive cannabinoids in their brains than humans, which means THC may not be safe. To avoid accidental ingestion of THC and ensure the safety of pets, it’s paramount that owners avoid acquiring cannabis treatments from black market sources, which are often untested and may not contain what is stated on the bottle.