Vet Says CBD for Dogs Is Best Used on a Daily Basis
My name is Dr. Kelly Fishman. I am a veterinarian specializing in the area of physical rehabilitation, sports medicine, and integrative medicine. I help dogs and cats improve mobility and lameness, manage chronic pain conditions like joint pain, and assist animals in regaining strength and movement after neurologic and orthopedic surgery. I take an integrative approach to patient care with a myriad of tools that support my #1 goal: to increase the healthspan, not just lifespan, of animals.
The use of CBD is new to veterinary medicine. As one of the beneficial cannabinoids, it has potential to be effective in managing multiple conditions in animals.
In my practice, I encounter pets in pain on a daily basis--cats who can no longer jump, senior dogs slowing down on their walks, post-surgery animals, and the list continues. Unfortunately, identifying pain in animals is not easy. Dogs and cats enter exam rooms with mixtures of fear and joy, which make it difficult to identify lameness and pain. Because animals are non-verbal communicators, we have to look for changes in behavior as opposed to the obvious limp or yelp to assess pain; and so begins the challenge of pain assessment and treatment by veterinarians and caretakers.
Chronic pain conditions, like joint pain and disk disease, are particularly tough cases since animals do best with daily pain management. However, long-term use of pharmaceutical pain medication, like NSAIDs, comes with risk. In addition, there is recent evidence that the majority of pain medication available to vets may not be the most effective in treating chronic pain. Tramadol, a mainstay of arthritis treatment, has now been shown to be as effective as a placebo in treating arthritic pain in dogs. We all need better options. With few effective options for treating chronic pain, and with effective options involving side effects, my profession has realized the need to look at alternative ways to manage pain.
Since the development of effective, high quality, animal specific and safe cannabinoid products, I have started to incorporate CBD into my treatments. These products are a great alternative since they can work on both acute and chronic pain pathways and on different types of pain such as visceral (originating from the inner organs) or somatic (originating from the skin, muscles, joints). In my experience, these products work best when given on a consistent, daily basis and at the onset of pain signs.
A great majority of my patients are senior animals dealing with health issues. One of the noble goals that vets take in their approach to health issues is to minimize both the side effects of the illness itself and the treatment in order to prolong the quality of life. A big factor in the quality of life for these animals is to maintain their appetite and keep them eating. Animals with health problems require higher levels of nutrients when fighting the issue. Incorporating CBD into the treatment plan is helpful since it can reduce nausea, help lessen their nervousness and fear, and manage visceral and somatic pain. In some cases, the use of CBD may be more practical, safe and predictable than pharmaceuticals in achieving these goals. While direct destruction of bad cells in animals is in an active research state, there is potential for cannabinoids to become part of the treatment approach in a variety of health issues in the near future.
Involuntary convulsion disorders are another area where we have new research on the use of CBD. Involuntary convulsions (a common condition pet parents may have encountered) are managed with medication that has side effects, and unfortunately, some experience involuntary convulsions even while on medication. Results of recent studies suggest that adding daily, high quality, phytocannabinoid blends that include CBD makes involutary convulsion medication work better and results in lower doses of medication. Fewer side effects and better convulsion control may improve the quality of life of the dog or cat.
CBD and other cannabinoids offer promise to help our pets. However, it is important for pet parents to do their research and make sure they are giving their animals safe, effective, high-quality CBD productsapproved for animal use only. As noted above and important to reiterate, CBD and other cannabinoids are best used on a daily, consistent basis when supporting any health issues in your pet.
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