Arthritis and chronic pain afflict many dogs and cats, especially as they get older. CBD could become an important tool for managing their discomfort.
As dogs and cats age, arthritis and other problems can cause them a lot of discomfort and erode their quality of life. CBD is showing promise as a way to manage pain in these animals.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of more than 120 compounds called cannabinoids. Unlike other cannabinoids — such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — CBD does not produce a euphoric “high” or psychoactive effect. This is because it does not affect the same receptors THC does.
The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that receives and translates signals from cannabinoids. It produces some cannabinoids of its own, called endocannabinoids. The ECS helps regulate functions such as sleep, immune system responses, and pain.
How does it work?
CBD influences the body to use its own endocannabinoids more effectively. According to one study, this is because CBD does very little to the ECS; instead, it activates or inhibits other compounds in the endocannabinoid system.
For example, CBD stops the body from absorbing anandamide, a compound associated with regulating pain. Increased levels of anandamide in the bloodstream may reduce the amount of pain an individual feels. CBD may also limit inflammation in the brain and nervous system, which may benefit those experiencing pain, insomnia, and certain immune system responses.
What is CBD oil?
Different levels of compounds are found in the natural hemp or cannabis plant. How people breed the plant affects its CBD levels. Most CBD oil comes from industrial hemp, which usually has a higher CBD content than marijuana.
Makers of CBD oil use different methods to extract the compound, then add it to a carrier oil.
Benefits of CBD for pain management
A study at Cornell University looked at how CBD could help people with arthritis manage their pain, using a topical gel containing CBD that was applied for four days. They noticed a significant drop in inflammation and signs of pain, without additional side effects. Using CBD oil for arthritis may also relieve animals of their pain, but more studies need to be done to confirm this.
The same study examined CBD use for general chronic pain. The researchers concluded that there is substantial evidence for cannabis as an effective treatment for chronic pain in animals, and that CBD may also reduce inflammation.
The study additionally found that those taking CBD were unlikely to build up a tolerance to its effects, so would not need to continually increase doses.
While many studies suggest that CBD oil is helpful for pain, more research is necessary. However, it does show a lot of potential for pain relief. Anecdotal evidence suggests it can be used in many cases to help manage chronic pain.
CBD oil is especially promising for its lack of intoxicating effects, and its possibly lower potential for side effects than other pain medications. Discuss CBD oil with your veterinarian if you are considering if for your own dog or cat.