Cannabis for Canines — CBD Treats. Are they Treating Their Pain and Stopping Seizures?
We have previously reviewed ‘Cannabis for Canines” but now we look at the latest research papers and sort out the myth (and financial interests) from the provable facts.
‘Cannabis for Canines’ is dangerously veering into snake oil territory once again. You might think that dog owners and vets would be more sensible than go headlong into something that promises more than it can deliver, but even the Victorian state premier in 2019 is backing its legislation for humans (in select medical areas), it seems to give freehold legitmacy for use everywhere, to some people.
Even if cannabis oil (CBD) turns out to provide ALL of the medical miracles it currently promises. You will never get decent dosage levels in commercial dog food or treats to make a measurable difference. Nor should you. For the case of CBD oil in treats, it would be far to expensive and DANGEROUS for your dogs to feed them this way. Either your dog needs major pain relief or it doesn’t, its not like feeding them a trace amount will make any difference. PS the same goes for most other specialty dog foods that claim to be for arthritis help etc.
Even for CBD oil products sold in the retail chain for MEDICAL USE on dogs, there is little regulation over dosage levels, and how appropriate they are for a given use. If it solves stage 4 cancer pain in dogs, and epilepsy, we are all for VETS regulating its usage, but again, dog treats and dog food are too unregulated to be trusted to this important MEDICAL dog issue.
What does Cannabis oil contain – and what does it promise to treat in dogs?
The marijuana flower contains trichomes, which are glands that have essential oils. Once the glands are removed. they can be processed and the chemist can then find the “ideal ratio” of cannabinoids for the specific medical requirement of the dog, You should note that Marijuana plants contain EIGHTY (80) different cannabinoids, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component) and CBD (cannabidiol, the medical component).
Before we look at the optimistic claims it is alleged cannabis oil (CBD oil) can solve, we should understand that there has only been very fledgling research into the right dosage levels of the chemicals, let alone how to consistently derive the exact chemicals required by a specific dog.
One recent research article says that Cannabis has been used in: “human medicine for both recreational and medicinal purposes. In human medicine, cannabis-based extracts have been used for the treatment of spasticity, central pain, lower urinary tract symptoms in multiple sclerosis, sleep disturbances, peripheral neuropathic pain, brachial plexus avulsion symptoms, nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, loss of appetite, rheumatoid arthritis, intractable cancer pain, spinal cord injuries, Tourette’s syndrome, psychoses, epilepsy, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, and dystonia .“
Although there are anecdotal success stories for treating many of the same diseases in pets, no scientific reports have been published to date” REF 1 (2018)
Their belief is that while the human trials have been growing momentum for pets and dog’s they believe that the main value MIGHT lie in assisting in: “chronic pain, neuropathic pain, epilepsy, appetite stimulation, and anxiety” REF 1
THE initial problems of canine dosage of CBD OIL
While it is extremely early days in genuine independent, peer reviewed trails for dogs one of the major issues encounter are:
- How to extract the specific cannabinoid and for treating which ailment
- How to administer the correct doses in dogs.
- How to assess toxicity in dogs and how that varies with size, age and breed type
You should understand at this point very basic limited trials with CBD oil and dogs began in 2018 and there have yet to be any definitive large scale positively trustworthy peer reviewed trials for dog.
And the MAJOR issue still remains that people profiteering off dogs are happy to just translate human trials and make assumptions on the possible benefits that CBD oil MIGHT make for dogs.
CBD dog dosing formulations
In one 2018 study they were using calculated concentrations of CBD in the various formulations were 142.0 mg/mL in the 150 mg/mL CBD-infused oil and came up with the RESULTS graphs below
It should be noted here the amazing differences in trials. While the above trial was using 75 and 150 mg per ml the “Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs” REF2 in 2018 was only using “2 and 8 mg/kg” in their tests.
Petmd says that CBD oil is considered to have promise for treating “cancer, seizures, or anxiety, cannabis oil can serve as an alternative medication to help treat symptoms. “cannabis oil can be used to treat seizures, nausea, stress, anxiety, arthritis, back pain, symptoms of cancer, and gastrointestinal issues, among other health conditions in dogs.” REF 3
They say that the best Cannabis oil products for dogs are ones that DON’T contain any THC (the psychoactive alkaloid. And while that makes Hemp (rather than Marijuana) a more ideal source candidate, Hemp still can contain 0.3% THC. Their expert contends that “cannabis oil has no psychoactive effect on dogs when dosed properly. “ REF 3 but this assumes professional labs creating the product in the right dosage levels, and owners be aware of how much to administer, and for what specific ailment.
While some media (and social media in particular) like to confuse the legalisation and growing of hemp with legalising marijuana, the main difference between the plants is the THC level. Hemp is still a variety of “cannabis sativa” one of the popular strains of marijuana (marijuana version is grown for its high THC levels). However, the Hemp variety grown for its fibre (and replacement of wood products) typically only has 0.3% THC compared to Marijuana that is grown to contains up to 30% THC in its flower buds.
HOW CANNIBIS OIL WORKS IN DOGS
CBD OIL works on the endocannabinoid system, … “ it has effects on a series of receptors that run throughout the body with the cannabinoids interacting with the receptors in the body and modulate things like pain, anxiety, and nausea.” REF 3
So to be Clear, CBD OIL does NOT treat ANY of the causes of ANY dog illness. Nor do they PREVENT any of the illnesses. Just like pharmaceutical pain relief, they MASK pain – they prevent the pain receptors from registering pain and signalling that pain to the brain.
Supporters of CBD, say the great thing is that unlike pharmacy pain relief CBD is unlikely to damage the kidney, liver, or GI tract. But pharmaceutical pain relief is prescribed by qualified vets (who do years of organisation assessed study), and any symptoms or side effects can be duly dealt with.
You will also note that the source of pharmaceuticals is from pharmaceutical companies that go through rigorous trials and have rigorous standards that they have to adhere to, quality control in product of products etc
CBD OIL – what CAN GO WRONG WITH DOGS
“The most significant is THC toxicity, when an unregulated product accidently or purposely includes significant levels of THC or other psychoactive cannaboids in the mix. This means, essentially, they are high (when the product includes THC). “Depending on how significantly a pet has been overdosed, the effects of that can be quite long-lasting, even days.” During these episodes, a pet may not be able to stand or eat.” REF 3 ,
Some owners like to self-administer straight Marijuana to their pets, however “ingestion of large amounts of marijuana has been fatal in a number of dogs” REF 3, and that likewise “preventing overdoses with medical cannabis is still extremely important.”
Because any major drugs administered to dogs would be under the supervision of vets, it is possible that future medicines will include “synergistic benefits” between marijuana and traditional medications, “ REF 3 – And while CBD oil dosage and side effects have not been properly studied as yet, that means that interactions between traditional and CBD oil have not either.
In America (much more progressive for human legislation of Marijuana use – legalisation has only existed for the last few years. But even over there, there has still be NO legal mechanism for veterinarians to provide medical cannabis for dogs – suggesting that such a set up will still be a way off for dog owners in Australia.
As the guardian points out “cannabis advocates have associated it with numerous medicinal properties … (but only ) a fraction of which have been scientifically proven” REF 4
The good early news on minor clinical dog trials is that “clinically, canine brief pain inventory and Hudson activity scores showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity (p < 0.01) with CBD oil. No side effects were reported by owners, however, serum chemistry showed an increase in alkaline phosphatase during CBD treatment (p < 0.01).” REF 2 It is also noted that many of the dogs had significant diarrhea countering the claim that CBD should be used with dogs to assist in reducing diarrhea.
Another caution for products that include THC (since many of the companies creating products are not registered labs: “eating too many edibles can be a miserable experience for humans. The same thing can happen to dogs, and because they lack the awareness of what’s happening, they can hurt themselves. While the THC itself won’t kill a dog, its follow-on effects could.” REF 4
The also caution that “CBD dog treats can be purchased in some pet stores and online but there’s “no oversight of the quality of these products”. They’re also expensive; for a large dog, a month’s worth of CBD can easily cost $300-$400 USD.” REF 4
OTHER possible CBD side effects in dogs REF 5
- Dry mouth: from decrease the production of saliva. With potential to cause dehydration of increased thirst and possible overheating in hot environments.
- Lowered blood pressure: temporary drop in blood pressure. Which would be significant for dogs that already have low BP
- Drowsiness of dogs which could affect their judgement in jumping or walking causing head or body injuries
CBD Oil, once fully trialed on a variety of dogs, then prescribed by VETS may provide some great relief for dogs for such things as seizures and major neuropathic pain relief.
If your Australian vet as diagnosed your dog, and given you a product and dosage levels that work for your dogs condition, well done.
Currently online products don’t have rigorous control of CBD oil potency or if they contain THC or any of the other psychoactive alkaloids.
“cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which help maintain balance in the body and keep it in a normal healthy state.” REF 5 But due to the limited trials and seemingly neglect of any side effects, optimism in what works with humans for treatment of some ailments seems to be clouding proper assessment of CBD dosage levels and affects for dogs.
While genuine research has been small online sales of CBD products are taking off. Which still holds the clear ongoing issues that “we do not know what size dosage would be toxic.” REF 5
Some of the AKC recommendations of how to buy online seem dubious:
- “Look for organic. If the CBD oil is not organic, it at least should not contain pesticides, fungicides, or solvents.” Again, how would you know?
- Get the analysis. The manufacturer should provide a certificate that tells you the amount of CBD that is in the product. Many CBD products contain only small amounts of CBD. You’ll also want to make sure there is little or no THC in the product.” The question you should ask, is that even if you get analysis, do you trust the analysis or that the product you get is the same as the analysis suggests?
- “Don’t price shop.The higher the quality and purity, the higher the cost.” But of course since you are not consulting vets, and Australian vets are not refereeing to any legitimate studies or tables, you can be taking a very risky self experimentation option.
THE Bottom LINE
It appears from early human trials that CBD oil might have legitimate value for dogs with epilepsy and extreme neuropathic pain. For treatment of oncology patients etc.
However dulling a pain for an otherwise healthy dog, when dosages and CBD and THC levels can vary so much by batch, can be extremely risky. A dog that is ‘drugged’ with a psychoactive drug can become aggressive or highly anxious, as its reality is adjusted, without its permission. This is a very NON funny situation.
We would like to see many more trials held, with many more dogs, so that dosage levels and side effects, and conflict with other medications can be defined before the market is flooded with unregulated product. Many articles I have read are from retailers selling the product with only profit motive in mind.
We know of quite a few dog treat companies going the opposite direction. Instead of providing toxic levels they are using hemp seeds to give only a trace element of CBD oil, that is really only adding kilo joules to your dog’s diet, without any significant pain relief.
We also have concern that some people will be using CBD oil to pacify their dogs that are anxious because they have not been exercised, let alone enjoy the value of regular off lead walks. This is drugged existence for a dog is a very sad phenomena that seems to be gathering momentum. It should be criminal.
CBD oil might contain plenty of promise, but while it lives in the insufficiently tested (2019), unregulated, environment mostly commercial interests are gaining the benefits NOT the DOGS. Buyer beware.
As a side note, you might be interested in things like Shark cartilage and Green lipped mussels providing proven natural pain relief for arthritic dogs AND treating the source of the pain (helping rebuild cartilage and the liquid between joints) – they do far more than mask the cause. THEY PREVENT damage in the first place.
Even roo jerky and fish products contain significant amounts of Omega 3 that can reduce skin irritations, assist brain functions etc.
1 Pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol administered by 3 delivery methods at 2 different dosages to healthy dogs Lisa R. Bartner, Stephanie McGrath, Sangeeta Rao, Linda K. Hyatt, and Luke A. Wittenburg July 2018
2 Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Lauri-Jo Gamble1, Jordyn M. Boesch1, Christopher W. Frye1, Wayne S. Schwark2, Sabine Mann3, Lisa Wolfe4, Holly Brown5, Erin S. Berthelsen1 and Joseph J. Wakshlag1* July 2018
3 Cannabis Oil for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know PETMD online 2018
4 Why dog owners are giving their pets cannabis High time: a grownup’s guide to the cannabis revolution the guardian 2018
5 CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know. By Randa Kriss AKC Feb 05, 2019