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Can Older Dogs Benefit from CBD Oil?

Old Pitbull taking a rest in some green grass on a warm day

It’s no secret that as dog age, they may suffer from numerous health conditions. Some breeds may be more prone to age-related diseases and conditions like osteoarthritis, cancer, cataracts and vision loss, hypothyroidism, and even cognitive dysfunction. That said, like their pet parents, senior dogs will also suffer from general aches and pains related to aging. That’s why the use of a high-quality CBD natural supplement for dogs comes in handy for an array of health conditions in senior dogs.

What is CBD Oil?

Hemp refers to the cannabis varieties that are grown as an agricultural crop, and also contain low amounts of THC(tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is federally illegal in the US if it contains a higher amount than the 0.3% allowed for use, though it’s been approved for both recreational and medical use in Canada, and numerous US states.

For all CBD pet products to be legal, they need to have less than 0.3% THC. CBD is natural, safe, and is derived from hemp and cannabis. Most CBD dog products will use CBD from hemp. That said, there is no “high” and dogs will not consume THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, resulting in psychoactive effects with your dog getting “high”.

CBD is a non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid and yields therapeutic and medicinal purposes for dogs. To help you understand more about the benefits of CBD oil for older dogs dealing with pain, let’s look at some research.

The Endocannabinoid System

Old Chihuahua with a yellow background

When trying to understand how cannabinoids have a positive effect on dogs, you’ll first need to understand how the endocannabinoid system’s most important role in maintaining homeostasis works. Dogs have to maintain homeostasis by regulating internal bodily functions like the digestive system, immune system, respiratory system, cardiac system, and so forth. Reducing chronic inflammation which may result in chronic disease is the most important function of the endocannabinoid system. Keep in mind that it also helps keep anxiety and depression in check, as well as skin health and allergies.

Studies have also demonstrated that chronic stress affects the production of endocannabinoids. That said, the endocannabinoid system can also be stimulated by cannabinoids(CBD) without the THC.

Researchers have been studying the benefits of how one can stimulate the endocannabinoid system with CBD to treat a huge array of health conditions in dogs.

What Are CB1 Cannabinoid Receptors?

Cannabinoid receptors are on the outside of cells and monitor body conditions to the inside of the cell. This, in turn, triggers off an appropriate cellular response.CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain and central nervous system. They are also found throughout the body and are not responsible for regulating body functions like breathing or regulating heartbeats. CB1 and CB2 receptors bind with cannabinoids to help ease pain and reduce inflammation. So let’s focus on CB2 receptors for CBD oil use in aging dogs!

CB2 Cannabinoid Receptors and CBD

Old scraggly dog laying on a wood deck

In 1992 Dr. Ralph Mechoulam discovered the endocannabinoid system. He also discovered CB1 and CB2 receptors, and how powerful endocannabinoids bonded with both CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors will bond with THC, while CB2 receptors prefer CBD.

CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral tissue and the immune system in dogs and people. The spleen will have the highest amount of CB2 receptors. While CB1 is linked to THC and the “high” from it, CB1stimulation allows for no “high’ and is beneficial for medical use in pets. That said, targeting CB2 receptors only with the use of a high-quality, no-THC, CBD may be beneficial in treating numerous health conditions in dogs.

How CBD Oil Benefits Older Dogs?

Inflammation Reduction

Inflammation is the result of the body fighting against injury or infection. Inflammation has a job, in that it helps the body to fight off bacteria. Signs of inflammation in dogs are as follows:

  • Heat
  • Pain
  • Loss of function
  • Redness
  • Swelling

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Antihistamines are used to block off specific histamine receptors in the body known to cause itching and swelling, which is usually associated with skin disorders and hypersensitive allergic reactions.

Veterinarians will prescribe corticosteroids as anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the inflammation in your dog. Nonetheless, there are side effects with the use of corticosteroids which may include suppression of the immune response. This too will increase the risk of infection. The use of CBD may help ease allergies and inflammation in dogs.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for Inflammation

German Short hair graying around the muzzle

Otherwise known as NSAIDs, these anti-inflammatory drugs help with pain and inflammation and have no effect on the immune system. NSAIDs are used to treat musculoskeletal issues in dogs relating to inflammation, osteoarthritis, post-op pain, laminitis, and joint pain.

Numerous joint disorders in dogs like arthritis will affect the joint membranes. Similarly, canine joint conditions may also affect a senior dog’s cartilage, tendons, bursae, and joint fluid. Although some joint problems may be congenital, there are also those that present in old age. Some dogs also may have been subjected to stressful exercise and sports schedules from a young age.

Joint injuries, abnormal joint development, and even infections of the joint may contribute to a variety of mobility issues that need to be addressed by a veterinarian. The use of CBD oils for joint issues needs to be discussed with a veterinarian that is well-versed in CBD.

Tips on CBD Oil for Older Dogs with Joint Pain

Two Golden Retrievers playing in the woods in front of a cabin
  • Ask for proper and accurate labeling and dosage instructions most importantly on tinctures that are more potent.
  • Look at each CBD product and research what each CBD product does and does not contain.
  • Find out where and how it was manufactured.
  • Look at research, and find out more about the potential therapeutic effects
  • Find out more about the risks with the specific CBD product by understanding the exact composition. Just because others are purchasing it, does not mean it’s right for your dog. Consult with your vet first!
  • Look for misleading labels.
  • Look out for harmful contaminants that may be potentially deadly. (Know what to look for like glysophate)
  • Research the 3rd party labs associated with your CBD product.
  • Make sure that CBD dog products are used responsibly
  • Purchase a full spectrum CBD product
  • Hemp seeds are a nutritious superfood that when combined with high-quality cannabidiol may be beneficial for joint pain.

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CBD Reduces Pain in the Nerve Endings

CBD is a natural supplement that helps with nerve ending pain. Chronic and debilitating pain may result from a nerve injury, disease or a reaction to toxicity. With CBD having anti-inflammatory properties, it may be beneficial in treating chronic pain in dogs. Neuropathic pain in dogs stem from either injury to the spinal cord or the body’s nerves, and how these nerves function after injury or disease.

CBD Oil Dosage

Old pug hiding under a soft blue blanket

Numerous CBD oils will need to begin at 0.5mg/kg twice daily over a period of three days. This is increased to 1mg/kg twice daily over three days. Your veterinarian will be able to help you calculate the correct CBD dose and to convert your dog’s weight in pounds or kilograms. The dose needs to get multiplied by the number of kilograms to get the dose in milligrams. Always consult with your veterinarian prior to using CBD on your senior dog.

Symptoms of Tissue or Nerve Damage in Dogs

  • Lameness
  • Skin twitching
  • Dragging of affected limb(s)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vocalizing pain by whimpering when moving or lying down
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Licking or chewing the affected area
  • Excessive or problematic urination or defecation

Neuropathic pain in dogs may also be caused by diseases affecting the spinal cord which will result in different parts of the body being in pain.CBD helps to naturally reduce inflammation and pain in dogs without the side effects of pharmaceuticals. Consult with a holistic veterinarian to find a perfect CBD product for your aging dog.

CBD will help ease joint pain resulting from worn down cartilage and allows for your senior dog to have a normal life with walks and trips to the dog beach. CBD may also be beneficial in helping power- up the immune system for faster healing. This is good for post-op dogs that are recovering from surgery or illness.

Although CBD will not cure arthritis, there are numerous health benefits for arthritic dogs.

Recent CBD studies for Joint Pain in Dogs

Old black and brown dog laying on a wooden porch

A recent 2018 study on CBD and canine arthritis at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Joe Wakshlag tested to see whether pain from osteoarthritis and multi joint pain could be eliminated with CBD oil. The CBD oil was made from industrial hemp or placebo hemp and dogs received every 12 hours for 4 weeks. Cornell worked together with Sciences that created soft CBD Mobility chews, which are hemp based. The chews also contained chondroitin and glucosamine which are two natural compounds that help with movement in arthritic dogs.

The results of this study demonstrated that over 80% of the participating dogs that used the chews had significant improvement in mobility. The product was referred to by veterinarians in the study as “a game changer that will change the face of veterinary medicine,” via Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

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CBD Will Not Cure Arthritis, But Will Ease Pain

Another study from the European Journal of Pain adds that CBD can be added to the skin to reduce pain and inflammation stemming from arthritis. Similarly, there have been numerous other studies demonstrating how CBD may be used to lessen inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.

“Outcomes of this study indicate that topical application of CBD gel is an effective treatment for reduction in inflammation and hypersensitivity associated with the rodent adjuvant-induced monoarthritis model.” The results were in relation to the absence of psychoactive behaviors.

“CBD is a known non-psychoactive cannabinoid, and due to its low affinity for the CB1 receptor it would be expected that exploratory behavioral activity would be similar among treatment groups compared to negative side-effects associated with THC. These studies demonstrate transdermal administration of CBD has long-lasting therapeutic effects without psychoactive side-effects. Thus, use of topical CBD has potential as effective treatment of arthritic symptomatology,” via NCBI. That said, CBD is a great alternative for dogs in pain.

With all the CBD research still taking place, CBD does seem to be effective in pain management in dogs. As with all chronic conditions relating to your senior dog, it’s best to always consult with your veterinarian, first for an accurate diagnosis, and then for tips on how to combine CBD with traditional pharmaceuticals.

CBD for Increased Mobility with Decreased Pain

Old Border Collie Looking off on a warm day

We love our senior dogs, and there’s nothing nicer than being able to go for a long walk on the beach together. That’s said, CBD research has demonstrated that cannabidiol oil that is 100% free of THC is effective in pain relief.

CBD Works for Nausea Suppression

CBD oil may be effective for anxiety, pain, as an appetite stimulant, to help prevent tumor growth, as well as to reduce chemotherapy and radiation side effects in dogs of all ages. CBD can also be used for separation anxiety, depression, and to help with all the behavioral changes that take place as your dog ages. It is beneficial when moving home, or during travel to help your pooch adjust to new surroundings.

With the boom in the CBD industry right now, it’s important for pet parents to put their pet’s safety first. That entails learning all you can about tinctures, capsules, oils, and supplements with CBD for pets. Compare CBD dosing between brands, and always opt for veterinarian approved

CBD products to ensure pet safety comes first. Consult with your veterinarian for the best advice when it comes to choosing the right dosage for your dog. Keep in mind that CBD may have the potential to enhance opioids and NSAIDs. That said, always discuss your dog’s current medication and health condition with a CBD trained veterinarian.

CBD for older dogs By: Claudia Bensimoun

Claudia Bensimoun

Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance journalist and author, and specializes in veterinary content, and eBooks. She's a long-time feature writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. In addition, Bensimoun has written for numerous pet websites, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/ humanitarian relief, veterinary research, and veganism.

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