Scientists hope it could help 4-legged patients with arthritis, allergies and anxiety

Credit: Honest Paws

(Originally published by The learned magazine Written by Ula Chrobak)

Although the studies are still mixed and the products are inconsistent, many scientists are hopeful that cannabidiol can help dogs and other furry patients suffering from arthritis, allergies and even anxiety.

A 13 year old Norwich terrier, previously lame and stiff, able to enjoy walks again. An epileptic toy poodle finally free of seizures. In case reports, these and other dogs were relieved of their ailments with CBD cannabidiol after little success with conventional treatments.

Evidence is mounting that CBD, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, is potentially effective in treating a variety of ailments in pets, from pain and itching to seizures, says Chie Mogi, chief veterinarian of the Animal CBD Research Society of Japan, of who has reported such cases in veterinary publications.

The positive reports extend to more rigorous placebo trials. That was exciting to me because, frankly, I was worried that, despite the hype, it wouldn’t show a difference when studied more objectively, says veterinary neurologist Stephanie McGrath of Colorado State University, co-author of a review of CBD for dogs and cats. in the year 2023.Annual Review of Animal Biosciences.

Although the evidence for effectiveness is still mixed, and pet owners and researchers must contend with volatile compounds, many scientists are hopeful that CBD could expand therapeutic options for furry patients.

The CBD boom follows relaxed cannabis regulations over the past decade that opened the door for both the cannabis industry and research. In 2018, the US farm legalized hemp that contains 0.3 percent or less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid primarily responsible for marijuana’s high). Companies can now sell products in compliance with that guidance, including supplements containing CBD. Since then, hemp pet products have proliferated and the global market is expected to reach $3.05 billion by 2025.

Although CBD does not create a high, it interacts with multiple receptors in the brain, providing a rationale for its therapeutic effects. Plus, CBD is processed more slowly in dogs and cats than in humans, making any effects last longer, says Cornell University veterinarian Joseph Wakshlag, who also serves as chief medical officer for ElleVet Sciences, a pet CBD company. . Surveys suggest that many owners have tried treating pets with CBD, mostly for issues related to pain, sleep, anxiety and seizures.

Husky takes hemp extract oil Credit: R+R Medicinals

Only recently have some states passed laws that explicitly allow veterinarians to prescribe CBD products, leaving the prescription of hemp products a legal gray area in other parts of the country. Although many veterinarians remain skeptical, recent research has shown benefits for specific conditions.

Two 12-week clinical trials, with a total of 30 dogs, reported that CB eased the symptoms of epilepsy, taking the slack in cases where other drugs had not helped adequately. In both trials, dogs already taking anti-seizure medication were dosed twice daily with CBD, one study at 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, the other at 2.5 milligrams. Compared to placebo treatments in which the dogs only received the regular drug, the CBD-dosed dogs, on average, experienced about 30 percent fewer seizures over the course of the trial.

Some dogs and cats are very itchy, apparently allergic to the world, and sometimes even diets and veterinary medications do not have much effect. In a 2021 study, 24 shelter dogs were dosed with up to 4.5 milligrams (per kilogram of body weight) of CBD daily for three weeks. The dogs wore activity monitors on their collars that recorded how much time they spent walking, running, shaking their heads, scratching and resting. The study reported that dogs given CBD scratched up to 50 percent less, although some of the results did not reach statistical significance.

Another report documented reductions in skin rash and hair loss in eight dogs with atopic dermatitis, or chronic skin irritation. Cannabinoids may be able to protect against inflammatory reactions in the skin and thus itching, other studies have suggested.

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Some studies have reported a benefit in dogs with arthritis, although results are mixed. In one paper, 16 dogs with osteoarthritis were given CBD oil twice a day for four weeks. At two weeks and four weeks, owners answered surveys about their dogs’ pain and activity levels. Compared to a placebo treatment, owners reported greater reductions in their pets’ pain, along with increased activity, while receiving CBD. In one measurement, a subjective rating scale with a maximum score of 40, pain ratings decreased from an average of 21 to an average of 14. Dogs that jump back in the car, they climb the stairs, they jump on the bed all these things are what owners notice, says Wakshlag, a co-author on the paper.

But another pain study reported no improvement in arthritis in 23 dogs dosed with CBD. In this report, the researchers relied on veterinary assessments of mobility, which involved dogs walking on a treadmill-like device that measures the strength of their paws, making it possible to detect subtle changes in gait, such as a reduction in lameness. .

Credit: Enecta – cannabis extracts

Testing the effectiveness of CBDs in calming pets has also produced mixed results. In a 2020 study in which 16 dogs listened to an audio clip of fireworks, CBD showed no effect on signs of stress, such as blood cortisol levels and tail wagging. But in a more recent study, dogs receiving CBD showed fewer signs of stress on car rides, including decreased cortisol and less frequent lip licking and whining.

Conflicting results do not mean that CBD is ineffective. For one thing, every measurement method and protocol has limitations, says Pernille Holst, a veterinary oncologist at the University of Copenhagen. The doses used in the studies also vary greatly in the car ride study, for example, dogs received almost three times higher doses than dogs in the firework noise study.

Even the chemistry of the hemp product used can make a difference, says Wakshlag. Full-spectrum hemp extracts that contain cannabinoids in acidic forms may act differently than CBD isolates.

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More research may clarify these questions and also help complete the picture of CBD for cats, for which research is particularly scarce. But large-scale clinical trials aren’t cheap, and pet CBD companies don’t have the same resources as human pharmaceutical companies, says animal science researcher David Harmon of the University of Kentucky, who co-authored the noise study. fireworks. There is no large-capital conglomerate to make these things happen, he says.

Complicating matters for owners is the fact that pet cannabis companies have little oversight and sometimes produce questionable products. In a study of 29 hemp products, more than half were outside the advertised CBD range by 10 percent or more. In four products, the researchers detected heavy metal contamination. I wish there was more oversight and regulation to ensure labels match the product, but currently there isn’t, says McGrath.

A good bet for pet owners is to buy from companies that participate in voluntary programs like the National Pet Supplement Council, Wakshlag says. Some of them can be sold on Amazon.

Kris Paige, a retired veterinary technician, enrolled her dog Purdy in a Colorado State University clinical trial for CBD treatment after the Anatolian shepherd began having major seizures about every three weeks. During the six-month trial, Paige noticed that the frequency of Purdys seizures decreased, although not as much as hoped to an average of one every four weeks. These days, she no longer gives Purdy hemp oil every day, but only after a seizure, which seems to reduce the dogs’ confusion and anxiety.

Paige is pleased that Purdy participated in the research. While the results weren’t what we expected, she says, it added to the knowledge.

Knowable Magazine, a new digital magazine from Annual Reviews. (PRNewsfoto/Annual reviews)

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