Friday August 30, 2019

By Andrew Ward

CBD, Senior Dogs, and End of Life Care Health/Science

As we age, our body begins to experience an increasing amount of potentially debilitating conditions. The same goes for our pets, especially senior dogs. That’s why some have turned to CBD to treat their dog just as they would themselves. Today, scores of pet owners advocate for CBD to help their dogs. However, a lack of data and rules in place leave the science and medical community uncertain. Despite the lack of research, many people claim CBD to be beneficial in helping senior dogs during their later stages of life.

How CBD Helps All Dogs

A 2018 study on the effects of cannabis on dogs noted several potential conditions CBD can help a canine with. They include:

Conditions CBD Might Help Dogs With:

  • Allergies 
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Arthritis and other mobility issues 
  • Cancer and tumors 
  • Digestive problems 
  • Epilepsy 
  • Glaucoma 
  • Inflammation 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Seizures 
  • Skin issues 
  • Spasms 

CBD’s potential to help dogs with these conditions is believed to be due to the dog's endocannabinoid system (ECS). As the report describes it, "The ECS is a network of cellular activators and receptors in the body that regulate physiological processes, including pain, mood, inflammation, stress, and more." Like humans, CBD binds to several receptors in a dog's body. Combined, they regulate a canine's pain, temperature, anxiety, mood and more.

While additional analysis is required to conclude CBD's efficacy on dogs, a 2016 test of 30 beagles found that CBD consumption was safe for dogs. Additionally, it found that the oil tinctures provided the highest and most stable bloodstream absorption rates. Most authorities on dogs seem to believe that CBD can help dogs, but a lack of scientific evidence does underscores it validity. The American Kennel Club gave no specific risks for CBD and noted similar possible side effects that a human may experience, such as dry mouth, lowered blood pressure and drowsiness.

Studies on CBD and Dogs

To get some answers for itself, the AKC's Canine Health Foundation launched a clinical trial in 2018 to study CBD as an epilepsy treatment for dogs. Scores of pet owners have warmed to the idea of giving their older dogs CBD thanks to its potential to heal and stave off health woes. It is believed that CBD can ease the areas mentioned above as well as several others.

Many pet owners are turning to CBD to help their dogs. photo credit

One of the more areas of intrigue is cancer prevention. Breeds like Rottweilers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, German Shepherds and many others run higher percentages of developing cancer. Some studies have shown that CBD, when combined with chemotherapy, tripled the survivor rates for mice with pancreatic cancer. In addition to cancer-fighting properties, some pet owners note that their senior dog's mental health has not diminished like some dogs experience with aging. 

How to Give CBD to Your Dog

Tinctures may be the best way to ensure your dog absorbs its CBD. However, it is far from the only option a pet owner has to choose from. Oils come in a variety of options. Full spectrum CBD oil offers .3% or less THC as well as the whole plant. Isolate is 99% or more pure CBD; a top choice for those seeking cannabinoid purity. Other isolates can feature other cannabinoids as well as CBD. 

Feeding CBD to your dog depends on how your pet reacts. Some dogs are not fond of any change, especially their diets.

In this case, a classic method like mixing oil into their meal may backfire. Some find that mixing oil or distillate in with a treat of a favorite human food, like peanut butter, does the trick. Meanwhile, a straightforward method such as feeding the oil to the dog from your hand can work as well.

A straightforward method is giving the dog the oil straight from the dropper. This is a massive no-no for some pets. But, for pet owners of chill, docile animals, they may be able just to tilt their canine’s head back a bit and drip the oil under their tongue. Overall, the primary objective is to find a method that is effective without scaring the dog. Even if the CBD helps them, a routine application that gives them anxiety or discomfort is not going to benefit the dog or you. 

Can You Talk to Your Vet About CBD?

Like human physicians, the law prevented Veterinarians from what they could say about CBD to patients. In a 2018 interview with the AKC, Dr. Jerry Klein pointed towards rules from the American Veterinary Medical Association that bars the administration, dispensing, prescription or recommendation of any cannabis products. However, state laws in California and the 2018 Farm Bill have opened the doors. Though, some doctors remain reluctant to discuss CBD for one reason or another.

The 2018 Farm Bill has opened some doors for vets to talk about CBD. photo credit

For now, patients should be prepared to do the legwork themselves. "Dog owners looking for more information on CBD oil should do extensive research. Be sure that your information comes from multiple, reputable sources. Look to publications that are peer reviewed,” explained Dr. Klein. Depending on the physician, patients may still get some answers from the doctors. Like humans have come to experience, certain doctors who support cannabis as an option do tend to offer as much help and insight as they legally can. 

Should I Get CBD for My Senior Dog?

Scientifically, the jury is out on CBD’s efficacy on dogs of any age, much less seniors. However, the response from scores of consumers mirrors the same scenario other sectors of cannabis face. Just because research lags does not mean that there is at least some shred proof the CBD does work on senior dogs. 

That said, a lack of lab-conclusive evidence should give owners a pause for concern. Though it appears CBD is safe, it could have adverse effects in some cases. In others, the owner may be given false hope if CBD is determined not to provide relief in a particular type of medical condition. What’s most important is starting slow and seeing what works for your dog. Like the rest of cannabis, it appears that CBD for senior dogs may be beneficial, but we’ll have to wait for some time to receive any conclusive answers.

Do you have any experience with CBD and senior dogs? Share your thoughts, tips and stories in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Max Pixel (license)

Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.


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