Exploring a recent study on the potential of CBD in canine atopic dermatitis

Canine atopic dermatitis (cAD) is a challenging condition for both veterinarians and pet owners, often requiring a personalised, multifaceted treatment approach. Recent studies have explored the potential benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) in alleviating symptoms associated with cAD. In this blog, we take a look at a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study that investigated the effectiveness of CBD/CBDA as a therapy for cAD in dogs – highlighting the promising role that this therapy holds  in helping dogs suffering from itching and skin irritation. 

Study overview

There were 32 dogs with cAD enrolled into the study – 17 in the treatment group, 13 placebo. They were randomly assigned to receive either 2 mg/kg of an equal mix of CBD/CBDA (twice daily with a meal) or a placebo for a duration of four weeks. 

The study product was an equal mix of CBD/CBDA in a sesame oil vehicle (Ellevet) with third‐party analysis of the product showing that it contained approximately 30 mg/ml CBD, 31 mg/ml CBDA, 1.2 mg Δ9‐THC and 1.3 mg/ml THCA provided in gelatin capsules in 5, 10, 20 and 30 mg/ml CBD/CBDA increments for dosing. 

Here at CBD Vets Australia, we can provide sesame oil as the carrier vehicle but MCT oil is believed to give the best bioavailability so that’s what we usually recommend to use

The primary outcomes were assessed using the Canine Atopic Dermatitis Extent and Severity Index, 4th iteration (CADESI-04) and the pruritus Visual Analog Scale (pVAS). Additionally, blood tests and cytokine bioassays were performed to evaluate the immunomodulatory effects of CBD/CBDA.

Results and implications

The study’s findings revealed that CBD/CBDA, as an adjunct therapy, demonstrated a significant decrease in pruritus (itch) but did not affect skin lesions associated with cAD. Notably, the pruritus reduction was observed at both the two-week and four-week marks. 

A positive trend in pruritus reduction was observed at both time points, but the significant difference between the treatment and placebo groups was seen at two weeks only. The authors suggest potential factors such as tolerance development over time, desensitisation of receptor systems, and interactions with concurrent therapies that could influence the results. Future studies with larger sample sizes and longer durations are recommended to explore these possibilities further. At CBD Vets Australia, we always recommend a titrated approach to CBD therapy until the optimal dose is reached. This is also known as the “start low and go slow” approach. 

Adverse events and safety

The study also examined adverse events associated with CBD/CBDA. Elevated alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels were observed in four dogs in the treatment group, which is consistent with findings in previous canine studies using CBD. These elevations were considered mild and reversible, suggesting a degree of adaptability to prolonged CBD exposure.

Overall the results of the study were very encouraging for the management of cAD with CBD/CBDA. While there were some potential adverse events identified, they were mild. Importantly, the majority of owners in the treatment group said they would be willing to use the product again. This contrasts with the placebo group, where a significant number of owners were not inclined to continue the use of the product.  

In summary

This study provides valuable insights into the use of CBD/CBDA as an adjunct therapy for canine atopic dermatitis. The positive impact on pruritus, combined with no effect on lesion severity,, suggests a need for further exploration of CBD’s mechanism of action and potential long-term effects. The study also highlights the importance of monitoring serum concentrations, considering potential interactions with concomitant medications, and conducting more extended studies to assess the sustained efficacy of CBD/CBDA in managing cAD. Emerging research like this will help drive informed decisions and provide the best possible care for our canine patients with cAD. 

Here at CBD Vets Australia, we’re here to support veterinarians and pet owners alike in managing a variety of health issues, including skin conditions, so please feel free to reach out to our team today on [email protected] or (02) 8294 9303.

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