My 5-pound Yorkie, Buster, had 3 leg surgeries before he was a year old. After the first surgery, the doctor discovered that the problem wasn’t merely luxating patellas, a common issue with smaller breeds. His tibia bones were abnormally thin and rotated outward, and there were no grooves for his kneecaps. The first doctor thought he fixed his knees and closed him up. But soon, Buster could barely walk.
It took another surgeon with an ability to think outside the box to fix my dog’s legs. The tibias were unattached, repositioned, and reattached using nylon fishing line. Yes, my dog’s legs are literally knitted together. And it worked.
As he got older, I began to notice that Buster was sometimes hopping again, and if I touched his lower back in the wrong place, he would jump a foot in the air. I was guessing it was arthritis, as many dogs with previous joint surgery develop it later in life. Our vet prescribed Metacam, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that is used to relieve pain, inflammation and stiffness. It worked. Buster had a new lease on life.
But after a while, I became concerned about possible side-effects. Like any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Metacam can tax the gastrointestinal tract. It can cause nausea. It can make dogs tired, stress the kidneys, cause dry mouth and a long list of other potential problems. Since Buster’s joint pain is a chronic problem, it meant I would have to give him a daily dose of his pain medicine.
I began to research other remedies. Natural ones that didn’t have long-term side effects. And that’s how I found out about cannabidiol oil, a non-psychedelic compound found in hemp and marijuana plants, that treats various conditions, including arthritis.
After a week of daily CBD drops, Buster is running and playing in the park like he’s a puppy — and he just turned 11.
Benefits of CBD Oil
Pain relief and Inflammation. For many, CBD oil is very effective in reducing pain. It can treat joint, nerve and chronic pain, and it decreases inflammation.
“It can be a great option for chronic pain, especially with arthritic animals and neuropathic pain for animals with back or neck injuries,” says Dr. Tim Shu, DVM and CEO of VETCBD, a company creating veterinary formulated CBD products for pets.
Anxiety. CBD oil can treat chronic anxiety, separation anxiety, and PTSD (yes, dogs can get post-traumatic stress disorder). Dr. Shu notes, “Cannabis, especially CBD, has anti-anxiety properties, and many pets use it for separation anxiety — and noise anxiety, especially around July 4 and other holidays associated with fireworks.”
Seizures and epilepsy. “Cannabis can also help reduce seizure frequency and/or intensity in animals suffering from seizure disorders such as epilepsy,” says Dr. Shu. It has also been shown to work well on drug-resistant epilepsy.
Gastrointestinal and inflammatory bowel disease. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD oil can relieve (or even prevent) diseases like colitis and IBD. It helps alleviate intestinal spasms and paralysis, which cause constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and other problems.
“Excessive inflammation is a major component of many diseases, such as degenerative joint disease, IBD, IBS, and allergies,” Dr. Shu explains. “Cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties which can help decrease the amount of excessive inflammation in these conditions.”
Increases appetite. For a dog that’s losing weight because of nausea or a general loss of appetite, the “munchies” is a blessing. “Nausea is a major component of conditions such as kidney, liver, or GI disease and cannabinoids such as CBD help suppress nausea,” says Dr. Shu agrees. It also helps dogs eat when they have cancer or are undergoing chemotherapy.
Fights cancer. CBD oil can help the immune system kill cancer cells. It’s been shown to stop tumor cells from growing and increase tumor cell death. For these reasons, it helps aid the efficiency of traditional cancer therapies.
Heart health. It can help keep blood vessels healthy and reduce blood pressure and heart rate. It helps relax arterial walls, which protects the artery from inflammation. It can also reduce the ability of plaque to adhere to arterial walls.
Phobias. CBD oil may also help calm a dog with specific phobias. Common phobias include loud, unexpected noises like fireworks, thunder, and the vacuum cleaner; the dreaded vet visit; riding in cars; children; stairs and separation anxiety.
The Drawbacks of CBD Oil
Not all veterinarians are sold on CBD products. CBD oil for dogs is in its infancy stage, so there isn’t a lot of research — with many of the benefits coming from anecdotal reports. Plus, there is not a lot of information out there, including dosage directions, regulations or knowing what exactly is in the product.
Also, it is important to never give your dog active THC products (the psychoactive compound that causes people to get “high”). Dogs’ bodies cannot metabolize it. In high doses, it can cause coma. In lower doses, a loss of balance, nausea, and noise sensitivity. If you happen to be hangin’ with a bunch of stoned friends, and your dog starts to stagger and stumble, get him to the vet or animal hospital as soon as possible. It’s not a laughing matter.
The other issue is proper dosing. For example, the smallest dog takes 1 to 3 drops, while dogs 120 pounds and over can take up to 50 drops.
“Dosing and formulation are key when it comes to any kind of medicine, including cannabinoid therapy,” says Dr. Shu. “Formulation should be done by veterinary professionals familiar with animal physiology and diseases.”