CBD for Dogs: What you need to know

CBD oil is the biggest health supplement trend for both people and dogs right now. It's not surprising why: Research continues to demonstrate that this natural product has several health benefits for both humans and our furry friends.

This is due in large part to the fact that the Endocannabinoid System is active in regulating a large number of biological processes including pain, inflammation, digestion, skin health, sleep cycles, and appetite.

What many people do not realize is that cannabidiol can interact with other drugs in important ways. Although some of these interactions can interfere with the metabolism of some pharmaceuticals, it can enhance the effect of others. This article will explore some of the known interactions emphasizing why it is important to talk about CBD for your dog with your vet, particularly if they are taking other medications.

CBD Temporarily Inhibits P450 Enzymes

Most prescription medications are metabolized in the liver by way of specific enzymes produced in this vital organ. One of the most important families of these metabolizing enzymes are known as the cytochrome P450 enzymes. In fact, these enzymes are critical in the metabolization of as much as 60% of pharmaceutical medications prescribed to people.

Scientists have long understood that some natural foods and supplements can inhibit the production of these important enzymes. The result is that levels of certain drugs can build up in the blood, or in other cases, loose their effectiveness because they cannot be properly broken down. The most well-known example is grapefruit.

In fact, the FDA warns that the following medications (among others) can have interactions with grapefruit:
Cholesterol lowering drugs known as statins
Drugs to lower high blood pressure
Certain kinds of anxiety inhibiting drugs as well as other psychotropics
Some antihistamines
Certain corticosteroids

Like grapefruit, cannabinoids such as CBD may temporarily inhibit certain cytochrome P450 enzymes. It does this both by more readily "using up" these enzymes while also inhibiting the action of others.

As a result, your veterinarian may discourage it's use depending on the other medication your canine companion is taking. In other cases, they may recommend dosing with CBD at a different time than other medications to avoid negative interactions.

Cannabidiol May Enhance Effects of Anti-Seizure Drugs

All drug interactions are not negative. In fact, sometimes an interaction may allow for the adjunct use of one medication with fewer side effects to enhance the action of another medication that has more serious side effects.

Because of its interaction with the cytochrome P450 enzymes, it is sometimes possible to actually reduce the amount of a prescription drug to get the same effect because its metabolism (and excretion) is slowed down by the action of cannabidiol in the liver.

Such is the case with clobazam, an antiseizure medication used to treat childhood epilepsy. Researchers have found that they could reduce the levels of clobazam needed to provide effective control of seizures. As a result of multiple clinical trials and research studies, the very first FDA approved CBD based pharmaceutical hit the market in 2018, known as Epidiolex®.

In addition, CBD oil is known to have anti-seizure properties of its own. In fact, the AKC Health Foundation recently announce plans for a major clinical trial to study the potential for CBD oil for use in drug resistant epileptic dogs.

CBD and Pain Relievers Commonly Prescribed for Pets

Pain and inflammation affect many of our aging, injured, and chronically ill pets. Unfortunately, the most commonly prescribed medications for pain management both have major downsides, particularly when used long term.

Opioids are very effective against neuropathic pain. However, they are addictive which means that over time the dose needs to be increased to remain effective. They have serious side effects to consider, and always run the risk of accidental overdose.

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are commonly prescribed for pets that have degenerative conditions where inflammation plays a major role in pain, such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, and IVDD. A recent controversy about the safety of this class of drugs has rocked both human and animal medicine. In dogs, our senior and immune compromised dogs may be particularly vulnerable to GI upset, liver failure, and even sudden death.

Recent research has shown that CBD interacts with both NSAIDs and opioids through various metabolic pathways, thus allowing less of these drugs for effective pain management. In addition, by activating the CB1 and CB2 neuroreceptors, cannabidiol has pain and inflammation relieving properties of its own that are well documented.

The end result? For some of our furry friends, veterinarians have found that they can use safe and effective CBD oil to reduce reliance on opioids and NSAIDs, two drugs with a less favorable safety profile.

CBD Oil and Chemotherapy

One of the most exciting areas of scientific research on the health benefits of CBD oil can be found in oncology. Cannabis based medicine has been used for quite some time to help with the many side effects of chemotherapy, including anemia, nausea, and pain management. And, the anti-tumor properties of CBD have been established by multiple studies.

However, more recent research has shown that CBD may actually enhance the effect of chemotherapy in the fight against multiple kinds of cancer.

Some research has pointed to the fact that CBD triggers the TRPV2 channels, a chemical pathway that allows cells to communicate with their external environments. In doing so, one research study showed that glioblastoma cells (a type of aggressive brain cancer) became significantly more sensitive to chemotherapy.

Another study has shown that rats with pancreatic cancer had three times the survival rate when treated with CBD and chemotherapy verses chemotherapy alone!

Of course, it is critical to work with your veterinarian to find out if CBD is right for your dog's cancer treatment program. This is especially true since other medications need to be carefully adjusted to prevent them from building up to toxic levels during cancer treatment.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil for Dogs: Phytocannabinoid Interactions

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) remains a rich area of scientific study. In addition, cannabis itself is a family of plants that contain hundreds of compounds that interact with the ECS in complex ways. In fact, in the early 1990's, researchers realized that theses compounds, known as phytocannabinoids, may have increased health benefits when they were taken together. They dubbed this "The Entourage Effect."

Many holistic vets have long preferred "whole plant" supplements for this reason. Ironically, many of the traditional plants used in alternative health contexts also work by activating the ECS. For example, Echinacea, long prized for it's immune boosting properties, activates the CB2 receptor helping to boost immunity and reduce inflammation.

If you are planning to work with your vet to try CBD oil for your dog, be sure to find a full spectrum CBD oil that is made just for dogs, like LolaHemp. Unlike cannabidiol made from isolated CBD, full spectrum oils take a bit longer to produce and must be made from organic hemp (otherwise they can concentrate herbicides and pesticides). This can make them a bit more pricey, but the cost is worth it for your pet's health.

This article first appeared on Cannabis Culture.

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Mark Bernberg
Mark Bernberg

Mark Bernberg is a long-time cannabis investing enthusiast and founder of The Green Fund, Asia Pacific's preeminent media house, positioned at the forefront of the global cannabis industry.

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