Did you know that you and your pet have one thing in common? Both of you have an endocannabinoid system that affects your brain, eyes, skin, stomach, heart and even your mood. Likewise, your dog’s endocannabinoid system affects his or her entire body as well.
While this complex system is affected by cannabinoids, which are produced by our bodies (and the body of your fluffy friend), they also can be found in plant-based cannabinoids like Cannabidiol (CBD) to support vital functions and general wellness. Nowadays, using CBD oil for anxiety in dogs is a common thing, but how about some serious conditions such as arthritis, cancer and epilepsy? Let’s find out CBD health benefits and whether you should supplement your dog’s treatment with CBD oil.
Arthritis is an umbrella term covering all forms of chronic inflammation in joints. Joint pain leads to reduced movement, which in its turn leads to weight gain. The latter makes it even harder and painful to move. Arthritis is a progressive disease with symptoms that worsen over time. The first warning sign is when a dog starts to slow down, and becomes reluctant to play or go outside. Other common symptoms of arthritis include:
- Limping or lameness;
- Stiff gait;
- Wary of you touching the affected joints;
- Moaning when lying down or getting back up;
- Muscle wasting;
- Licking or chewing on areas that may be painful.
What causes arthritis:
- Injury to ligaments;
- Joint instability (e.g., hip dysplasia and patellar luxation);
- Joint infection;
- Cartilage issues;
- Autoimmune disorders.
CBD helps to relieve the symptoms of joint pain. It reduces swelling and inflammation in the affected joints. Reduced inflammation lessens pain making it easier to get joints loosened up.
CBD can also regulate your dog’s gut. It can suppress the feeling of nausea and increase appetite, which gives a boost of energy it needs to get out of bed.
Dogs are susceptible to cancer in the same way as humans. One in three dogs develops some form of cancer, and this disease is the primary cause of death in dogs over the age of two. The most common areas of the body affected by cancer are:
- Skin. Tumours on the skin are the most common tumours found in dogs. In some cases, they are cancerous. Fortunately, these tumours are mostly benign and, if discovered early, are successfully treated;
- Mammary gland. Female dogs are subjected to breast cancer. However, in about 50% of cancer cases, tumours are malignant;
- Testicles. The general incidence of testicular tumours in male dogs is relatively low because most dogs are castrated at a young age. However, it is common among older (more than ten years) intact dogs;
- Head and neck. The symptoms include abnormal cell growth in the gums bleeding, bad odour, panting and swelling on the face;
- Lymph nodes. You can notice the tumour when a dog’s lymph nodes are swollen and become 3 to 10 times larger than their standard size. This type of cancer is extremely aggressive as it easily spreads to other organs;
- Abdomen. Abdominal cancer is not easy to diagnose. Primary warning signs include vomiting, drooling, decreased activity and appetite, black stool, and weight loss;
- Bones. Most affected species are larger dog breeds and those who are more than seven years old. Usually, leg bones are affected most of all. The symptoms include joint or bone pain, anorexia, and inflammation;
- Bladder. The symptoms include urinary obstruction and bleeding. Such cancer develops slowly, and you may not see any signs or the symptoms for 3 to 6 months;
- Brain. Extreme behavioural changes and epileptic-like seizures are usually the only clinical symptoms of brain cancer. The size, location and severity of the tumour are determined by using CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scanning and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
As you understand, the signs of cancer vary depending on the particular organ affected by a tumour. However, there are a number of symptoms that should be immediately checked:
- Bumps and lumps underneath a dog’s skin;
- Unusual odours from the ears, mouth or any other part of the body;
- Sudden weight loss;
- Abnormal discharge from the eyes, ears, mouth or rectum;
- Non-healing sores or wounds;
- Changes in appetite (both increase and decrease);
- Coughing or panting;
- Lethargy or depression;
- Changes in bathroom habits;
- Evidence of pain.
CBD is not the primary treatment for cancer but it is considered a great supplement to relieve and manage various types of pain while undergoing treatment regimens.
- Manages symptoms caused by cancer. By stimulating the ECS system, CBD can manage inflammation, pain, and such gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and nausea;
- May inhibit the spread of cancer cells. Even though the research on cannabidiol for dogs is in its early days, the research by Michael Barnes, Honorary Professor of Neurological Rehabilitation, Newcastle University, suggests that CBD might even help to stop the growth of harmful cells in tumours.
Epilepsy is one of the most common life-long neurological disorders in dogs caused by environmental factors, genetics, and health issues like tumours, brain diseases and metabolic conditions.
If a dog has at least two unprovoked seizures less than 24 hours apart, it is a warning sign that the animal is suffering from epilepsy.
Seizures are caused by abnormal firing of neurons in the brain. They can be subtle, such as rapid eye movements or in the form of hyperventilation. Yet, very often they manifest in tremors, uncontrollable physical fits, and loss of consciousness. There are three primary characteristics of epileptic seizures:
- Convulsions (shaking movements, jerking and muscle twitching);
- Irregular attacks that start and finish suddenly;
- Attacks that have a repetitive clinical pattern.
Usually, regardless of the type, epileptic fits happen suddenly and last for a short period of time (from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes).
- Focal seizures. They occur in one part of the brain, within a particular region and manifest themselves in:
- Episodic movements, such as facial twitches, rhythmic blinking, repeated muscle contractions and head shaking;
- Autonomic signs, such as vomiting, excessive salivation, and dilated pupils;
- Behavioural signs, such as anxiety, frequent mood swings, and attention-seeking.
- Generalised seizures. These occur within both hemispheres of the brain, either independently or evolve from focal seizures. Generalised seizures also encompass several types:
- Tonic with an increase in muscle contraction;
- Clonic with involuntary rhythmic contractions;
- Tonic-Clonic, when a tonic phase is followed by a clonic phase;
- Myoclonic with sporadic jerks on both sides of the body.
Nowadays, CBD is considered to have strong anticonvulsant properties. American Epilepsy Society published a study testing the efficiency of CBD on children and young adults. As it turned out, CBD helped to reduce the frequency of seizures by 45%.
Although the studies are majorly conducted on human beings, dogs and other animals can benefit from CBD products as well. Remember, we all have the ECS, and CBD is regarded as a well-tolerated supplement for dogs.