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How CBD May Help Your Dog with Arthritis

If your dog has joint pain or impaired mobility due to arthritis supplementing with CBD may be able to help. This post explores options available to help alleviate your four-legged friend’s discomfort and get them moving again!

Any pet parent that has a dog with joint pain associated with arthritis or aging knows their pooch’s suffering. Their mobility is reduced, which means less romping around, playing, and enjoying life. When pain slows your pup down and puts a damper on their fun, it can be heartbreaking for pets and parents alike. 

dog with arthritis in bed

Usually, your vet prescribes different medications to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and help with mobility. But these often come with side effects and using them long-term can sometimes do more harm than good.

Many pet owners are turning to CBD to help reduce many of the symptoms that arthritic dogs experience. The good news is that there is an increasing amount of research that shows how CBD may help alleviate the symptoms and potentially slow the progression of arthritis.

Arthritis & Its Symptoms

It is estimated that one in four of the 77.2 million pet dogs in the United States alone is currently living with some form of arthritis. There are roughly 100 different types, of which osteoarthritis is one.

Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes an individual or multiple joints to become stiff and painful. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is when the cartilage in the joint starts deteriorating. For this reason, it is also sometimes called Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD).

Because cartilage is the flexible tissue that sits in-between the joints and connects bones, they act as a natural shock absorber. When this cartilage begins deteriorating, it causes the joint to stiffen. But, as the bones become increasingly exposed, they start rubbing together. When this happens, it creates a lot of pain for your dog.

Although osteoarthritis tends to affect mostly older dogs, it doesn’t mean that younger dogs can’t suffer from it. In older dogs, osteoarthritis tends to be caused by general wear and tear, but in younger dogs, it’s usually due to an injury or infection that damages a specific joint.

There is a wide range of signs and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. Below is a list of the most common ones to keep a lookout for.

Common arthritis symptoms in dogs

  • Your dog starts limping
  • You notice stiffness or slowness when getting up or lying down
  • Your dog becomes reluctant or unable to jump
  • Your dog isn’t interested in or is resisting going on walks
  • You notice an overall reduction in mobility
  • Your dog pants excessively which can be an indicator of being in pain
  • Your dog is sleeping more than usual

Treating Dogs with Arthritis

The first thing your vet will do once he’s made his diagnosis is to suggest some lifestyle changes that will help improve your dog’s quality of life on a day-to-day basis. Your vet may suggest small changes like putting down new rugs on slippery floors and restricting access to things like stairs. 

However, one complication of arthritis is that your dog could quite possibly become overweight. As mobility decreases and they experience more pain, osteoarthritic dogs don’t move as much. And just as with humans who aren’t active, they can start putting on weight because they are burning fewer calories.

The biggest issue with this is that the extra weight will add more pressure on the already compromised joints, not only worsening the amount of pain they’re experiencing but also cause the disease to progress faster. That is why it’s essential to try to keep your dog as active as possible, but without causing them further pain. You can do this with a moderate exercise regime like slow walks or swimming. The latter is especially great for dogs with osteoarthritis as the water supports their weight while they move around.

Your vet is also likely to prescribe medications that will help reduce pain and inflammation. Of the analgesic and anti-inflammatories prescribed to dogs, the most popular ones are Metacam and Rimadyl, both of which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In more severe cases, your vet may prescribe corticosteroids and glucocorticosteroids. But as mentioned before, these are not without side effects, and some can be quite harmful to your pooch. 

Possible side effects of prescription analgesics

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Loss of appetite and unexpected weight loss
  • Vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Tarry, black or bloody stools
  • Jaundice because of liver inflammation
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Increased aggression
  • Skin irritations

The list is scary, so it is no small wonder that pet parents seek safer, more natural options to help with symptoms. Some examples of alternative treatment options include hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Many a pet owner also gives their dog supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine. These can help improve your dog’s joint health and get them up and moving more. Okoa Pet “Happy-Go-Puppy” joint chews combine CBD with green-lipped mussel and wild New Zealand roe oil – ingredients that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and glycosaminoglycans such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

CBD for Dogs with Arthritis

Another natural supplement pet owners with dogs suffering from joint pain and reduced mobility turn to is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has proven to have both anti-inflammatory as well as analgesic properties that can work together. As a result, supplementing with CBD may not only help to reduce pain but may also fight the inflammation that causes arthritis in the first place.

As mentioned, arthritis is a slow, progressive inflammatory disease that causes cartilage to deteriorate. When this happens, the cells within the damaged joints release cytokines, a type of immune cell that triggers the release of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins, in turn, are what cause the same inflammatory responses and oxidative stress that breaks down more cartilage. This ends up creating a vicious cycle in which the inflammatory response causes more inflammation, which in turn causes more damage, and so on.

CBD & Inflammation

CBD may help slow, potentially even stop this process by lessening the impact of inflammation and oxidative stress. It does this in a couple of ways, the first of which is that CBD can fight inflammation and its associated oxidative stress by exerting an immunosuppressive effect on the cells that play a role in inflammation and by suppressing the release of the cytokines responsible of prostaglandin release.  

However, CBD has also been shown to inhibit prostaglandin release directly.  Scientists found that CBD also inhibits the release of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) that is directly linked to the release of prostaglandins, much the same as NSAIDs such as Metacam and Rimadyl do.

CBD & Joint Pain

Just as CBD may help fight the inflammation that causes arthritis, it may also help relieve the pain that causes it. Your dog’s peripheral cannabinoid receptors that are part of your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) are located throughout its body. These play an important role in how your dog’s body controls and inhibits pain. So, when there aren’t enough or too many endocannabinoids in your dog’s body, pain signals can increase in severity. 

CBD has been shown to address these types of endocannabinoid imbalances. Specifically, that of anandamide, which is a natural feel-good molecule that plays a role in blocking pain signals. However, CBD’s analgesic properties are primarily because of its ability to suppress pain processing in these peripheral cannabinoids in two ways. 

First, it activates the CB1 receptors, which are responsible for suppressing pain signals; and two, by modulating the CB2 receptors responsible for stimulating the opioid receptors to release endorphins that act as natural painkillers.

Supplementing with CBD also works in other ways that may help your dog feel less pain. Glycine receptors (GlyRs) play an essential role in how the sensory nervous system reacts to pain. When these receptors are activated, they cause the sensation of pain. CBD may significantly reduce your dog’s discomfort by suppressing these GlyRs receptors.

Using CBD for Joint Pain in Arthritic Dogs

There are several ways you can give CBD supplements to your arthritic dog. One way is by applying it directly to the leg or joint that is bothering them. Several studies have shown that this can be quite an effective way of using CBD to help with pain due to arthritis.

But the easiest, and probably most efficient way of using CBD for dealing with the pain and inflammation your dog is experiencing is to give it to them orally – either using a CBD oil or a CBD treat specially formulated for dogs with joint health and mobility issues.

It is also essential to get the dosage right. One study found that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.

If you’re seeking an all-natural alternative to pharmaceuticals to help relieve your dog’s arthritis symptoms, consider “Happy-Go-Puppy” CBD-infused joint chews with green-lipped mussel and wild New Zealand roe oil.