Researchers in Texas have found that cannabidiol (CBD) – the main non-psychoactive component of cannabis – is highly effective in treating pain in dogs with OA.
The study – by Matthew Halpert’s group at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston – also showed that presenting the drug within a lecithin-based liposome improved bioavailability, allowing the use of a much lower dose, reducing the likely cost and potential risks of long-term treatment.
Dr Halpert’s study recruited 20 dogs owned by clients of Sunset Animal Hospital in Houston to receive either 20mg/day or 50mg/day of pure CBD, or the liposomal CBD at 20mg/day in a four-week placebo-controlled, double-blind trial.
Saying the results were encouraging, he added: “Nine of the 10 dogs in the high CBD dose and liposomal CBD groups showed benefits that remained for two weeks after the treatment stopped.”
No detectable changes occurred in either the low dose “naked” CBD or the control group.
The improvements were detected by team vet Shonda Wesson in her assessment of signs of pain when the dogs were walking, running and lying down.
Her findings showed good agreement with the owners’ evaluation using the Helsinki Chronic Pain Index – a validated quality of life tool for measuring treatment response in dogs with OA.
The dogs’ blood cell count and indicators of liver and kidney function were evaluated at the beginning and end of the trial.
Dr Halpert said: “We did not detect alterations in the blood markers we measured, suggesting that, under the conditions of our study, the treatment seems to be safe.”
Interest in CBD as a medical treatment in the US has been growing since Congress passed the 2018 Hemp Farming Act, which “descheduled” CBD.
This meant the compound was no longer considered a narcotic, provided it was extracted from the hemp plant and contained no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component in marijuana.
Under the new rules, US pet owners can obtain CBD legally and no restriction exists on ordering it online or in preventing consignments from crossing state borders.
So, those owners whose pets have responded so positively in the Baylor study will be able to continue providing pain relief for the dogs, Dr Halpert said.
June 12, 2020