Current Pet Joint Pain Management
Currently, there are not any drugs on the market that can alter the physiology behind the progressive debilitating disease of arthritis in dogs (Richardson et al., 2008). Current non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) that are utilized for pain management and inflammation may implement negative side effects in pets (Richardson et al., 2008). Cannabis has been utilized as a holistic treatment for thousands of years to treat joint pain in humans and animals (Miller and Miller, 2017). In the last decade, cannabis has become more available in the United States for recreational or medicinal purposes than ever before (Miller and Miller, 2017). There has also been a growing demand and market expansion for the utilization of hemp products (“Canadian Association,” 2019). Hemp products contain Cannabidiol (CBD) which does not contain any psychotropic effects and can activate the endocannabinoid system that has proven to have diverse pharmacological effects on the body (Miller and Miller, 2017). Animal studies that have been completed utilizing cannabinoids have proven that cannabinoid receptors can be utilized for pain management and inflammation in the cutaneous skin level and in joints (Richardson et al., 2008).
CB1 and CB2 Receptors in Pets
CBD binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors which are natural cannabinoid receptors already present in the body (Miller and Miller, 2017). CBD is classified as a Phytocannabinoid which contains anti-inflammatory properties and can aid in fighting joint pain (Miller and Miller, 2017). In western medicine, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are typically given to combat joint pain in dogs. However, NSAIDs have the potential to have side effects that target the kidney and gastrointestinal system which can be problematic, especially for senior dogs (Gamble et al., 2018). Cannabinoid receptors have been found in synovial joints of arthritic patients that grant easy access for the endocannabinoid system to activate itself through the ingestion of cannabinoids (Richardson et al., 2008). There were no cannabinoid receptors present in patients who were not having any type of joint pain symptoms (Richardson et al., 2008). Due to the presence of cannabinoid receptors in the synovium of animals with joint pain, cannabinoids have great potential to serve as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic treatment for animals combatting joint pain (Richardson et al., 2008).
CBD Clinical Study for Dogs with Osteoarthritis
In a clinical study examining CBD as a potential therapeutic agent for osteoarthritis in dogs, CBD was analyzed when mixed with an olive oil base of 10 mg/ml (Gamble et al., 2018). Each dog was given 2 mg/kg and 8 mg/kg of CBD or a placebo with a similar taste of CBD every 12 hours orally for four weeks with a two-week period in between each study to clean out the dogs system (Gamble et al., 2018). Each animal that was involved in this study had already been diagnosed with lameness due to joint pain from Osteoarthritis that was proven on radiographs, owner’s testament, and manual palpation where lameness could be seen during the visual gait assessment (Gamble et al., 2018). The results in this study demonstrated that the half-life of CBD elimination median was measured at 4.2 hours in both the 2mg/kg dose and the 8mg/kg dose (Gamble et al., 2018). Neither doses of 2mg/kg and 8mg/kg caused any psychoactive properties or activity observed during the period of the trial (Gamble et al., 2018). At week two and four of the trial, the dogs that were administered CBD exhibited a significant decrease in pain and an increase in activity (Gamble et al., 2018). At each visit, a chemistry analysis and a complete blood count was measured and there were not any significant abnormal changes over the four week period when taking CBD as well as the placebo (Gamble et al., 2018). Further research is needed to study the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid receptors combatting joint pain over longer periods of time in dogs and cats to analyze whether CBD can be considered a treatment option for chronic joint pain.
CBD Education for Veterinarians
Education for veterinarians and pet owners regarding the utilization of CBD products for pets is crucial to pet’s safety, health, and overall well being (“Canadian Association,” 2019). The market of hemp is developing rapidly with over 20,000 studies reported in humans and animals on the potential benefits of full spectrum hemp including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids (“Canadian Association,” 2019). There is not enough information provided to veterinarians on standards of cannabinoids, product dosing, side effects, and potential drug interactions that could have the potential to harm animals (“Canadian Association,” 2019). Veterinarians must be able to advise their clients on cannabinoid utilization instead of owners trying to guess for themselves (“Canadian Association,” 2019). Pets deserve the best care and that includes their doctors being educated to implement integrative treatment options that focus on the animal’s overall wellbeing and longevity when being diagnosed with joint pain (Gamble et al., 2018 and “Canadian Association,” 2019).
- Miller, R. J., & Miller, R. E. (2017). Is cannabis an effective treatment for joint pain?. Clinical and experimental rheumatology, 35 Suppl 107(5), 59–67.
- Gamble, L. J., Boesch, J. M., Frye, C. W., Schwark, W. S., Mann, S., Wolfe, L., Brown, H., Berthelsen, E. S., & Wakshlag, J. J. (2018). Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Frontiers in veterinary science, 5, 165. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165
- Richardson, D., Pearson, R. G., Kurian, N., Latif, M. L., Garle, M. J., Barrett, D. A., Kendall, D. A., Scammell, B. E., Reeve, A. J., & Chapman, V. (2008). Characterisation of the cannabinoid receptor system in synovial tissue and fluid in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis research & therapy, 10(2), R43. https://doi.org/10.1186/ar2401
- Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine (2019). January Veterinary Medical Ethics – Cannabinoids to treat dogs and cats. The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne, 60(4), 345.