It seems like cannabidiol (CBD) is popping up in everything these days, from workout gear to skincare. Suddenly, the cannabinoid is being pitched to various populations as a near-magic cure-all and pet owners are no exception.
The psychoactive but non-intoxicating hemp-derived compound has been administered for illnesses such as pain, arthritis, and anxiety in cats and dogs â€” but with very little scientific evidence backing CBD for pets, many veterinarians are wary of the treatment.
But thatâ€™s starting to change. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (UPSVM) is partnering with Denver-based cannabis producer Dixie Brands, Inc. to launch the first scientific study of the effectiveness of a cannabinoid therapy administered to relieve pain and other symptoms of canine joint-immobility.
Kimberly Agnello, an associate professor of surgery at UPSVM, is the studyâ€™s lead investigator.
â€śThere are many different products that are sold out there and we really donâ€™t know which ones are helpful, how much to give, or even how safe it is to administer it at different dosages,â€ť Agnello told Philly Mag.
â€śWe want to validate whether this is actually helpful and if itâ€™s something we should be recommending. Up until now, there havenâ€™t been too many great studies showing that CBD is beneficial in helping to relieve pain in people or dogs with arthritis.â€ť
Agnelloâ€™s team will study dogs suffering from osteoarthritis in order to establish which CBD treatments result in better patient outcomes. The dogs will be divided into three groups â€” one which will be administered a Dixie Brands affiliate-developed CBD formula, one that will be administered CBD only, and one that will receive a placebo.
Agnello says that the study will be the largest-scale canine/CBD trial to date, and may be the first significant double-blind trial for dogs (which means neither researchers or dog parents know which canines have received which medication or placebo), although it isnâ€™t the first time she and her researchers have tried to study how CBD affects domestic animals.
â€śWe actually tried to do a study using CBD years ago but due to regulations around having it here and the fact that it was listed as a Schedule I substance, it was very difficult for us to do the study,â€ť she said.
â€śBecause while it doesnâ€™t contain THC, it is developed from the same marijuana plant,â€ť she explained. â€śNow that those regulations have become less strict, it has been easier for us to do the study.â€ť
Agnello believes that the study could also help humans with arthritis, as most simulate arthritis in rodents â€” but dogs who have been diagnosed with arthritis have more similarities, physically and with regards to lifestyle, to humans.
â€śDogs truly develop arthritis in a similar way to humans and they experience similar chronic pain, she said. â€śUnlike a mouse that lives in a lab, dogs live with us and are exposed to the same toxins in food, in the air, and in the environment. So, theyâ€™re not only similar in the development of disease but they have a similar lifestyle to us. We see a lot of the studies we do as translational studies because the information could also be useful for future studies in people.â€ť
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