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Cannabidiol (CBD) & Dogs-What do We Know?

Over the last year, we have been asked many times, if we recommend Cannabidiol (CBD) for dogs. This has been a question mostly from pet parents with dogs that have anxiety, although CBDs are being used for a wide variety of ailments. We will always defer to the pet parent’s veterinarian for all medical questions but we also make an effort to educate ourselves; so we did some research and attended a veterinary science webinar by Vetvine titled, “An Update on the Science Behind CBD (Cannabidiol) Use for Pets to verify what is currently known”.

The facts are that there is very little research on the effects of CBD on dogs at this time and most of the studies are preliminary. The main reason for the paucity of research into CBD is due to the fact that it was illegal to research until just last year when its use was federally legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. There is, of course, lots of anecdotal information from individuals who state they have had good results or no results using CBDs in a variety of circumstances. Here is what we found in terms of actual studies on what it may help and about the contents of the various products on the market.

One of the preliminary studies was done at the Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Its primary purpose was to test the effectiveness of CBD on epileptic seizures and its results were promising, spurring a larger study into its effects. This study, to be published in June 2019 states there was less seizure frequency in epileptic dogs than a control group. During the study, they also did a peripheral study into the affects of CBDs on behavior (eg. anxiety, aggression etc.) and no significant changes were measured. However, the number of dogs in the study was very small.

CSU and Cornell both have conducted studies on osteoarthritis in dogs. The CSU study is not yet published but both studies had similar results. The research done at Cornell states, “This pharmacokinetic and clinical study suggests that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with OA” (osteoarthritis).

The are no other studies at this time that demonstrate CBD is helpful with any other clinical issues, although there are many who, anecdotally, believe it to be effective for a wide range of ailments.

One important consequence of CBD being made legal is that there seems to be many companies selling these products. Unfortunately, it is not a regulated industry. According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that 69% of CBD products were mislabeled as to the amounts of CBD in the product, even when allowing for a 10% variance (42.9% had less than labeled and 26.2% had more than labeled). They even found undisclosed THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that is dangerous to dogs, in 21.4% of samples tested.

The bottom line is that, while we are all very hopeful for a new treatment for our dogs, we should rely on the science and our veterinarians to direct us to which treatments should be applied. There are more questions than answers at this point. Also, just like in human medicine, it is a best practice to confer with your medical professional on any supplements and over the counter pharmaceuticals we are giving our pets as sometimes they can have unintended consequences.

References Frontiers in Veterinary Science: Gamble L-J, Boesch JM, Frye CW, Schwark WS, Mann S, Wolfe L, Brown H, Berthelsen ES and Wakshlag JJ (2018) Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Front. Vet. Sci. 5:165

Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708–1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909

It's the science that matters.

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