Treating Osteoarthritis in Animals

Treating Osteoarthritis in Animals

Osteoarthritis causes pain, stiffness and increasing loss of mobility in animals, just as it doesn in humans. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms, detect any suffering your animal may be experiencing and then find the best solution to relieve pain and improve mobility 

What is osteoarthritis? 

Osteoarthritis is when protective cells which are present in the cartilage surrounding bone, called Chondrocytes, become damaged. 

Together with inflammation in the fluid surrounding the joint, bone remodelling occurs as the body attempts to heal and preserve the affected area. This creates structures that are progressively painful, leading to immobility.

Osteoarthritis in dogs

Dogs are the most common animals to suffer from Osteoarthritis especially in their later years and if they are a larger breed, however cats and other animals can also be affected. 

Osteoarthritis

Researchers judge the prevalence of osteoarthritis to be up to 20% in dogs over the age of one. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include dog’s age, size and gender – with males being more susceptible. 

Other factors influencing a dog’s likelihood of developing an arthritic condition include previous musculoskeletal injury, joint surgery and genetic predisposition. Larger breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors and German Shepherds also have an increased chance of developing osteoarthritis.

Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs

Initial signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis can easily pass unnoticed. They are often subtle and could be put down to having played too hard or pulled a muscle.

In younger dogs, symptoms can be transient, making it hard to diagnose. However, small signs in young pets can help identify risk factors early, allowing for initiation of supportive and preventative measures before pain or dysfunction gets to critical levels.

Signs of osteoarthritis in dogs are varying and can include:

  • Frequently changing body positions while resting

  • Shifting weight when standing 

  • Trouble sitting or getting up

  • Hopping or hitches during normal movement

  • Limping, stiffness or lameness

  • Reluctance to walk 

  • Physical or vocal examples of pain when being pet or during certain movements

Treating osteoarthritis symptoms with CBD Oil

Witnessing your pets mobility and quality of life decline due to arthritis is a distressing experience. While conventional treatments can offer relief, novel cannabinoid therapies, specifically CBD oil, present potential for effectively alleviating pain, reducing inflammation and improving the quality of life of dogs with osteoarthritis. 

The cannabinoid (CBD) in medical cannabis is considered an anti-inflammatory agent and may help chronic pain. Following research into using CBD for chronic pain in humans, its potential benefits for dogs with painful arthritic conditions is being considered.

Research studies on using CBD Oil for dogs with osteoarthritis

In the past few years, three key studies have investigated the safety and therapeutic potential of CBD oil for dogs with osteoarthritis.

A recent study evaluating different doses and formulation of CBD in dogs showed it could potentially have positive benefits for osteoarthritis. Across 4 weeks, 20 large dogs took part in a randomised placebo-controlled study, the most respected form of research methodology. 

The dogs received either a placebo, 20mg CBD(0.5mg/kg/d), 50mg CBD (1.2mg/kg/d) or 20mg of liposomal encapsulated CBD. The latter being a way of delivering medicines that allow for increased bioavailability or absorption.

Dogs were evaluated before and after the study by the prescribing vet and their owners, measuring signs and factors associated with pain and mobility. Neither vets nor pet owners were aware of which treatment the animals were receiving as to not distort any of the data. 

The placebo and low CBD showed no significant changes. Yet those dogs taking liposomal CBD or the higher dose of CBD exhibited significant improvement both to their mobility and quality of life. 

Not only that but when assessed two weeks after the CBD dose was ceased, these same positive benefits appeared to be maintained. Researchers attribute this to the CBD treatment not only being symptomatic but also addressing underlying inflammation at the root of the osteoarthritis.

Another study analysing the safety and efficacy of CBD alongside conventional treatments such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, fish oil or glucosamine showed 2mg doses every twelve hours, progressively reduced osteoarthritis symptoms over 4 weeks, as measured by veterinary assessment and owner surveys.

Safety trials have shown CBD oil to be safe and tolerable in dogs in doses as high as 10-20mg/kg body weight/day. To receive medicinal benefits from CBD oil for pets the dose doesn’t usually have to be so high, though it is a good indication of the safety profile.

Potential side effects of CBD Oil for dogs

The most common side effects from CBD observed in dogs are gastrointestinal changes, such as mild diarrhea and reddening around the ears. Side effects depend on the delivery route and are often mitigated by careful dosing regimes monitored by your vet.

Also be aware that dogs have a higher number of receptors for psychoactive cannabinoids in their brains than humans, which means THC may not be safe. To avoid accidental ingestion of THC and ensure the safety of your pet, getting cannabis treatments from black market sources should be avoided. Black market products are often untested and may not contain what is stated on the bottle.

The wrap-up

Animals with osteoarthritis, in particular dogs, may find relief of joint pain, and as a result improved mobility, from CBD oil. 

If you would like to learn more, please reach out to our friendly team at CBD Vets Australia on (02) 8294 9303 to see if CBD medication is suitable for your pet.

By Jessica Kindynis

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