CBD for Arthritic Dogs: University ‘Clinical’ Trial

Go into most any boutique pet store these days and you’ll likely find a selection of hemp-sourced CBD oil tucked safely away behind the counter.

Thanks in large part to the passing of the Farm Bill in late 2018, these pet-formulated products are set to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the CBD market, potentially reaching $125 million by 2022 according to analysts.

With the growing consumer interest in CBD as a way to safely and effectively treat and prevent conditions associated with pain, inflammation, and anxiety in mammals of all shapes and sizes, veterinarians have been eager to learn more.  But until recently, strict regulations have impeded developments in research and have kept vets, afraid of losing their license, rather close-lipped when it comes to conversations with pet parents.

With shifting federal regulations on the horizon and in line with the recent release of the Arthritis Foundation’s CBD dosing guideline, momentum is growing to understand how this non-intoxicating compound works. This week, Philadelphia Magazine reported on a first-of-its-kind study that will start to address the questions vets have by looking at CBD’s effects on arthritic dogs.

Led by University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine associate professor of small animal surgery, Dr. Kimberly Agnello, researchers at the school have joined forces with Denver-based Dixie Brands, Inc. to source the formulations used in the trial, including a proprietary CBD blend, an isolated CBD oil and a placebo, according to the Philly publication. The trial will be double-blind, meaning neither researchers nor the owners will know which of the formulations is being given to a particular pup.

Pennsylvania has led the way in setting up partnerships that pair university researchers with in-state medical cannabis growers and producers, including other University of Pennsylvania programs, so it’s not surprise Agnello and her team went a similar route. Using products that are readily available to consumers in real-time highlights the need for evidence-based practices among all sectors of the medical community while we await a loosening of restrictions on federal research.

As Agnello explained in the original report, “There are many different products that are sold out there and we really don’t know which ones are helpful, how much to give, or even how safe it is to administer it at different doses. We want to validate whether this is actually helpful and if it’s something we should be recommending.”

While this new trial will focus on canines suffering from osteoarthritis, ultimately increasing veterinarian knowledge and improving quality of life for pets of all sorts, the study also stands to give scientists a better understanding of how CBD works in humans.

As Dr. Agnello keenly pointed out in the original article, unlike lab animals, canine companions live similar lifestyles to the humans with whom they share their homes – the same toxins and environmental factors could play a role in outcomes for both species. Translational studies such as Agnello’s will not only help increase the knowledge base but can be a point of reference as human trials move forward.

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