Cornell University Research Turns Up Great News for Arthritic Dogs

Cornell University Research Turns Up Great News for Arthritic Dogs

Much has been written, talked about, and speculated in the conversation of using CBD (Cannabidiol) to treat dogs for a variety of illnesses. The biggest “gap” in finding a definitive stance on the compound’s effectiveness often seems to exist within one statement, and that statement typically starts with, “However, more research is needed…” 

From stress relief to seizures, arthritis symptoms, as an antiemetic, and more, it’s believed the non-psychoactive compound within hemp can aid in treating a number of complications. At least one expert, Dr. Joe Wakshlag of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, has now contributed to the growing body of recent research and the results support the argument that CBD is, in fact, effective in alleviating dogs of painful arthritis symptoms. 

Wakshlag conducted a double-blind placebo trial of 16 dogs suffering from osteoarthritis and multi-joint pain, having their owners administer oil treatments ever 12 hours. One group received CBD oil (2 mg/kg), while the other received placebo for four weeks along with a two-week “washout” period. A baseline assessment was made by vets and questionnaires and surveys were conducted with owners before treatment started. Surveys and assessments were conducted again at the two-week midway point as well as after week four, while vets conducted hematology, serum chemistry, and physical examinations. 

“Clinically, canine brief pain inventory and Hudson activity scores showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity (p < 0.01) with CBD oil,” the results published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science reads. “Veterinary assessment showed decreased pain during CBD treatment (p < 0.02). No side effects were reported by owners, however, serum chemistry showed an increase in alkaline phosphatase during CBD treatment (p < 0.01). This pharmacokinetic and clinical study suggests that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with OA.” 

Specifically, more than 80 percent of the dogs given the true CBD treatment showed “significant improvement in pain levels and quality of life,” and perhaps just as if not more importantly without any discernible negative side effects. 

While the results of this particular study support the use of CBD for dogs with arthritis and joint pain, the relatively small sample size will really just make this a drop in the bucket of growing research, something researchers at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences  apparently plans to continue, according to Dr. Larry Smart. Smart says the university plans to create a long-term industrial hemp breeding program specifically for research purposes. 

Of course, even with this latest news, according to a 2018 report by Forbes, laws concerning CBDs are “murky” in some places in the United States. So it’s smart to learn what’s a viable and allowable treatment wherever you happen to live. The American Kennel Club says about one in every five adult dogs will suffer from the degenerative joint disease osteoarthritis. And while aging tends to be the top contributing factor to developing arthritis, old injuries and even metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity can contribute as well. Extra bony growths known as spurs can develop as the cartilage in your dog’s joints begins to thin. Where that cartilage once served to cushion the movement in joints, an arthritic dog’s bones are now left rubbing together as he or she walks and moves with pain. Whether it’s the hips, elbows, knees, wrists, shoulders, ankles, or lower back, any joint in a dog’s body can be affected by osteoarthritis, and you’ll notice a significant change in their gait, in their energy, and even their temperament. The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs are: 

-Avoiding exercise like running or a reluctance to go up stairs.

-He or she doesn’t play as much as they used to.

-They’re lethargic, they tire easily and now sleep more as well. 

-He or she has problems jumping; for example, struggling to get on the couch or into the car.

-They move with stiffness, a limp, or have difficulty moving altogether. 

-You notice they’ve gained weight or experienced changes in their appetite.

-They’re irritable when petted or touched by people. 

-He or she exhibits changes in personality, like depression or grouchiness.

-He or she has accidents in the house. 

It’s good to know that many of the treatments assigned to humans with osteoarthritis are often also applicable to treating dogs, which is actually another link of CBD treatment for both. There’s no known cure for arthritis in either humans or dogs, but in 2018, engineers at MIT reported they had designed a new material that could allow them to administer drugs directly to the damaged cartilage of arthritis patients. Meanwhile, other treatments today include the use of cortisone or steroids for combatting inflammation, a route that could lead to other negative side effects after extensive use. But for the dog owner and lover hoping to take a more natural path to treatment, CBD is a popular choice. Other natural remedies include acupuncture or herbal remedies or even just giving more attention to offering pets a healthy diet and better food. There are even joint health formulas designed specifically for arthritic dogs, containing glucosamine and chondroitin, the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and antioxidants like vitamin E. 

If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis or you suspect they may be developing the illness, you will likely notice that steroids, NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and other pain relievers are the first suggested treatments you’ll come across online. But what else can be done? Around the home, you can help minimize your dog’s painful symptoms with things like providing more padding in places they tend to walk or lay. This could be anything from laying padded carpet on previously bare ramps, floors, and steps, to slippery surfaces. Even muscle massages are a good way to alleviate your pet’s pain and give them a little bit of TLC. There are actually even professional massage therapists that specialize in techniques that can help dogs. And you can always help your dog by trying your best to get them extra exercise. It will be painful for them and tough for you, but over time, the benefits can offer better mobility and a better quality of life to your pet. 

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