Identifying chronic pain in animals and the role of CBD

Cbd oil for chronic pain in dogs

Chronic pain is a progressive, persistent pain that is not always noticeable at first. It is a complex experience with emotional and cognitive components that can have a substantial impact on your pet’s quality of life. It can be caused by pre-existing conditions and is commonly exacerbated by the subconscious habits of your pet.

Difference Between Acute Pain and Chronic Pain in Animals

Acute pain is usually plainly visible to both vets and owners. Symptoms of acute pain can be anything from heightened vocalisation to an obvious shift in mobility, such as a limp. This kind of pain usually originates from a mild injury or a surgery.

Chronic pain is a whole different ball game. The pain’s lack of obvious symptoms allows for it to develop insidiously. Pets often tolerate a long period of chronic pain before their owner recognises the signs.

How to Identify Chronic Pain in Your Pets

It is important to identify chronic pain in your pet quickly; prolonged non-diagnosis will cause the pain to entrench itself further and cause distress. There are 3 elements to consider when trying to recognise and quantify chronic pain:

  1. The intensity and location of pain (i.e. where is the pain and how much of it is occurring).
  2. The emotional component of pain (i.e. what causes the suffering associated with chronic pain).
  3. The cognitive aspect of pain (i.e. changes in activity and behaviour such as chronic scratching and licking or hiding away from owners).

Studies in dogs with osteoarthritis have shown that, because of the intimate relationship they share, owners are the most qualified individuals to quantify pain in their animals (Hielm-Bjorkman et al, 2003). They are also, in most cases, the best candidate to evaluate the emotional impact of pain in their pet.

Read on to learn more about chronic pain and the preventative measures that can be taken to improve the well-being of your beloved pet.

Your Pet and Behavioural Change

However, owner education may be required in some cases. It is important that veterinarians utilise the correct vernacular so that owners can effectively communicate behavioural changes in their pets. This is especially true for geriatric patients, whose owners frequently misinterpret signs of chronic pain as changes associated with ageing. Behavioural changes can be subtle, but it is important to be conscious of these changes as – in the case of chronic pain – inattentiveness can decrease your pet’s quality of life.

What Solutions do Vets Have for Chronic Pain?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to chronic pain, as the disease can be caused by dozens of other conditions. Nonetheless, a treatment sequence for chronic pain in pets can be recommended by vets. A sequence using conventional medications may be followed in the following approximate order:

  1. Anti-inflammatory medications: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or corticosteroid.
  2. Treatment of underlying disease or aggravating comorbidities.
  3. Neuromodulatory analgesic drugs, such as gabapentin, tramadol, and amitriptyline.
  4. Weight optimisation.
CBD oil for chronic pain in cats

Why People Choose CBD Oil for Their Pets

Although there is no cure for this progressive condition, CBD for animals has been used as a supplementary treatment for chronic pain in pets. Pet owners may like to seek alternative treatment options where conventional medications have either not worked, or are not desired, and CBD oil may present an option.

For example, the anti-inflammatory properties in CBD oil have been used to treat painful arthritic conditions in dogs.

A study at Cornell University looked at how CBD could help people with arthritis manage their pain, using a topical gel containing CBD that was applied for four days. They noticed a significant drop in inflammation and signs of pain, without additional side effects. Using CBD oil for arthritis may also relieve animals of their pain, but more studies need to be done to confirm this.

The same study examined CBD use for general chronic pain. The researchers concluded that there is substantial evidence for cannabis as an effective treatment for chronic pain in animals, and that CBD may also reduce inflammation.

The study additionally found that those taking CBD were unlikely to build up a tolerance to its effects, so would not need to continually increase doses.

CBD oil and Side Effects for Pets

Besides helping with pain caused by inflammation, there is evidence to suggest that CBD oil can be used to alleviate general aches and pains. Unlike some traditional pain medicine for dogs, CBD has no life-threatening side effects when taken in the correct prescribed dose for your pet. Importantly though, only legal CBD such as prescribed by CBD Vets Australia can be guaranteed to contain what it says it contains. Buying CBD online without prescription can carry risks for your pet.

Chronic scratching can lead to microdermabrasion and deterioration of your fur baby’s skin barrier. CBD oil has antioxidant properties that can be utilised as a remedy for these skin issues. CBD oil helps reduce both skin inflammation and stress, which can help prevent your dog from scratching and unintentionally causing greater trauma to sensitive areas.

If you are considering CBD Oil for your dog, email [email protected] or contact your local vet and refer them to CBD Vets Australia. Prescribing online for vets is simple! 


REFERENCE Brown, D. C., Boston, R. C., Coyne, J. C. et al (2008) Ability of the Canine Brief Inventory to detect response to treatment in dogs with osteoarthritis. J Am Vet Med Assoc 233 (8): 1,278- 1,283.
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