Preventative Maintenance Series #1: Inflammation
As animals age, inflammation is a common response in the body as pets start to feel aches and pains associated with mobility, digestion, or the beginning stages of disease (Richter, 2019). Of all of the cannabis research in animals and humans that currently exists, analgesic studies are the most prominently documented to this date (Richter, 2019). Inflammation can be an underlying factor that may cause pain in your animal’s body (Hannon et al., 2020). Chronic pain associated from inflammation may be difficult to treat because there are not many treatment options available that are safe for the body to consume over extended periods of time (Philpott et al., 2017). The typical treatment plan for chronic pain includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) but when used regularly, their overall effect is reduced as a tolerance is built up to the medication and can be harmful to the gastrointestinal or cardiovascular system (Philpott et al., 2017). Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have been analyzed and determined to contain anti-inflammatory properties (Pellati et al., 2018). Hemp containing higher amounts of CBD is a much more plausible treatment option for animals as opposed to Marijuana because the THC content in Hemp is under 0.3%. This indicates that the psychoactive component of the plant should not be observed in the utilization of any CBD or hemp products (Pellati et al., 2018).
Chronic inflammation over lengthened periods of time may cause damage at the cellular level and promote tumor growth leading to cancer or disease in animals (Pellati et al., 2018). There is a myriad of ways that cancer can be caused however there is a strong correlation of cancer evolving from inflammation, chronic irritation, or infection (Pellati et al., 2018). “The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age, probably due to the decreased efficacy of cellular repair mechanisms” (Pellati et al., 2018). Animals who have been diagnosed from a veterinarian with inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), food-responsive diarrhea (FRD), or arthritis as well as cancer may benefit from taking hemp that contains CBD as a treatment option (Pellati et al., 2018).
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and Inflammation
The endocannabinoid system is incorporated in the process of tissue inflammation (Philpott et al., 2017). Cannabinoids have the potential to become engaged in the inflammatory process leading to a decrease in the amount of pain that animals are feeling when experiencing inflammation in their body (Philpott et al., 2017). Cannabinoids bind to Cannabinoid-2 Receptors (CB2 receptors) which are present in the body and are automatically altered and increased in the presence of inflammatory cell activation (Pellati et al., 2018). Activated CB2 receptors have the capability to decrease inflammation through stopping the manufacturing of proinflammatory cytokines, monocytes, and macrophages which are cells involved in the inflammatory response (Pellati et al., 2018). Over time, the production of inflammatory cells may lead to “Low-level inflammation contributes to degenerative changes that affect the entire joint leading to the development of peripheral sensitization and nociceptive pain” in animals who are experiencing arthritis (Philpott et al., 2017). Medications that target and activate the endocannabinoid system such as CBD have the potential to treat chronic inflammation such as chronic arthritis, IBD, and FRD in animals (Philpott et al., 2017 and Cerquetella et al., 2010 ).
IBD in Dogs
Dogs can exhibit signs of IBD through the aging process with signs of mucosal inflammation in the stomach, small intestine and/or large intestine (Cerquetella et al., 2010). Symptoms that can be seen in dogs that have been diagnosed with IBD include lingering weight loss, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (Cerquetella et al., 2010). If IBD goes untreated, it can lead to complications such as abdominal swelling, fluid accumulation, or gastrointestinal bleeding (Cerquetella et al., 2010). Compared to healthy dogs, dogs that were diagnosed with IBD demonstrated contrasting small intestinal bacteria suggesting that there may be a connection between microflora and IBD (Cerquetella et al., 2010). Some breeds are more prone to becoming diagnosed with IBD including Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, Boxers, French Bulldog, Doberman Pinscher, Mastiff, and Alaskan Malamute (Cerquetella et al., 2010). Dogs can also be diagnosed with FRD associated with gut inflammation when dogs ingest food that they are not supposed to be eating or just have an upset stomach (Cerquetella et al., 2010). When the stomach is inflamed, CBD can help calm the inflammatory process leading to muscle relaxation as well as help prevent unevenness in the gut microbiome which may agitate the stomach even more (Pellati et al., 2018). Possible treatment options for FRD or early stages of IBD in dogs include changing their diet to include hydrolysed proteins which can be formulated out of hemp seed meal protein hydrolysate (Girgih et al., 2014 and Cerquetella et al., 2010). If IBD goes untreated and there are internal complications, owners of animals should seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Integrative Veterinary Medicine and Chronic Inflammation
Integrative veterinary medicine combining holistic medicine and westernized medicine may be the best approach when dealing with chronic inflammation in diagnoses including chronic arthritis, cancer, or IBD in pets. Further testing may be necessary such as blood work, stool samples, or physical examinations by a veterinarian to confirm inflammation is present in the body. When giving CBD to your pets as a preventative measure for inflammation, always consult with your veterinarian on dosage, efficacy, and product information. It is incumbent that veterinarians are educated on the endocannabinoid system and CBD products to provide adequate medical knowledge to their patients. Further research is needed on animal’s taking CBD as a supplement or hemp hydrolysed protein feed as a diet option for preventative maintenance throughout their entire life span to analyze if there are any adverse side effects with these products.
Cannabinoid-2 Receptor- CB2 Receptor
Inflammatory Bowel Disease- IBD
Food Responsive Diarrhea- FRD
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAIDs)
1. Richter, G. (2019, May 1). CBD & CANNABIS FOR PETS IN PAIN A veterinarian’s advice on how to use cannabis to treat pain and inflammation in your four-legged companion. Project CBD. https://www.projectcbd.org/medicine/cbd-cannabis-pets-pain?utm_campaign=later-linkinbio-project_cbd&utm_content=later-9768450&utm_medium=social&utm_source=instagram
2. Hannon, M. B., Deabold, K. A., Talsma, B. N., Lyubimov, A., Iqbal, A., Zakharov, A., Gamble, L. J., & Wakshlag, J. J. (2020). Serum cannabidiol, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and their native acid derivatives after transdermal application of a low-THC Cannabis sativa extract in beagles. Journal of veterinary pharmacology and therapeutics, 10.1111/jvp.12896. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvp.12896
3. Pellati, F., Borgonetti, V., Brighenti, V., Biagi, M., Benvenuti, S., & Corsi, L. (2018). Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer. BioMed research international, 2018, 1691428. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1691428
4. Cerquetella, M., Spaterna, A., Laus, F., Tesei, B., Rossi, G., Antonelli, E., Villanacci, V., & Bassotti, G. (2010). Inflammatory bowel disease in the dog: differences and similarities with humans. World journal of gastroenterology, 16(9), 1050–1056. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v16.i9.1050
5. Girgih, A. T., Alashi, A. M., He, R., Malomo, S. A., Raj, P., Netticadan, T., & Aluko, R. E. (2014). A novel hemp seed meal protein hydrolysate reduces oxidative stress factors in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Nutrients, 6(12), 5652–5666. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6125652
6. Philpott, H. T., OʼBrien, M., & McDougall, J. J. (2017). Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain, 158(12), 2442–2451. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052