How CBD is helping Senior Dogs and their owners

Updated on April 21, 2021

With CBD products now found in many grocery stores and pharmacies, an increasing number of seniors are turning to the cannabis supplement to help ease common symptoms related to old age. Some of the most popular uses for CBD among seniors include the treatment of joint pain, inflammation, and anxiety.

Just like their senior owners, aging dogs across the country are also finding a new lease on life with pet CBD – products specifically formulated to counteract pain and mobility issues in dogs, as well as forms of canine anxiety.

Here’s a closer look at how CBD is helping people and their pups as they enter their golden years.

How does CBD work?

CBD oils and snacks are made by extracting anti-inflammatory compounds from the cannabis plant. These compounds (of which CBD is the major ingredient) are not psychoactive, which means that they don’t cause a high. But they are able to reduce pain and swelling by affecting the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

As mammals, both humans and dogs have an ECS system, which is responsible for regulating the release of hormones and stress responses in the body. By stimulating receptors in the ECS, CBD is able to change the way it transmits pain and inflammation signals.

For most people and dogs, this results in the relief of pain and a reduction of swelling and inflammation.

CBD for arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of daily discomfort among the senior population. The degradation of joints in the body – especially in the hips, knees, back, and hands – can cause inflammation, swelling, pain, aching, and restricted mobility.

Because arthritis is primarily an inflammatory condition, a large number of seniors have found that CBD supplementation is able to reduce or alleviate their symptoms. In line with these anecdotal reports, encouraging results have been seen in studies on the use of CBD to treat joint issues and diseases. However, many more studies need to be completed before an official medical consensus is reached.

Osteoarthritis is also highly prevalent in dogs, especially in larger breeds and those who have led very active lives. In the same way, CBD is having a beneficial effect for many pups, increasing their ability to remain mobile into older age.

In 2018, a study by Cornell confirmed what many dog owners already suspected about CBD, with results showing that dogs using CBD experience increased comfort and activity levels compared to a placebo. A similar 2020 study found that dogs on a course of CBD and anti-inflammatory drugs experienced improvements to their quality of life.

CBD for pain

Seniors are often more susceptible to several forms of pain than people of other ages, due to a higher risk of chronic conditions, as well as injuries such as those resulting from falls. By changing the way pain signals are transmitted through the ECS, scientists believe that CBD may help reduce discomfort when pain flares up.

In dogs, more studies suggest that CBD can affect pain receptors and block the release of chemicals that signal a pain response in the body. In this way, research suggests that CBD reduces pain and inflammation in a similar manner to common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This is great news for dogs, who are unable to use many types of NSAIDs due to the risk of liver, kidney, and digestion issues.

CBD for anxiety and dementia

As people enter their golden years, the chances of developing an anxiety condition rise. Dementia and cognitive decline are also most common in the later stages of life. Mental frailties and memory lapses that can occur with advancing age can be upsetting, which adds to a negative effect on mental health.

Thankfully, CBD is offering a safe way to support mental wellbeing and calmness on a daily basis. A handful of studies over the past decade have shown that CBD is able to lower levels of anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), and stress disorders in humans and animals.

While studies on the effects of CBD on dementia are still forthcoming, cannabis compounds have been shown to lessen several neurodegenerative effects associated with the condition. In the UK, a clinical study on the use of cannabis in Alzheimer’s patients is ongoing. 

Dogs are also not immune to anxiety or dementia. Separation anxiety, where dogs are unable to be left alone for even short periods of time, is a common condition across all breeds. As they get older, dogs are also susceptible to cognitive decline and may become confused or upset by changes in their mental state.

While the effects of CBD on canine dementia aren’t yet known, many owners have seen clear success when using CBD to treat several forms of anxiety in dogs. CBD can be effective at calming dogs down to make them more susceptible to training techniques, as well as helping them to deal with common phobias such as water or loud noises.

Does CBD have any side effects?

Like any supplement, CBD does come with a small risk of side effects. However, all evidence suggests that any ill effects are mild and non-serious. When taking CBD for the first time, seniors should be on the lookout for nausea, tiredness, and diarrhea. In dogs, similar mild side effects have been known to occur.

More seriously, CBD has been known to interact negatively with blood thinners such as warfarin. This is because CBD interacts with enzymes in a similar way to grapefruit, meaning that anybody taking medication that comes with a “grapefruit warning” should think carefully before supplementing with CBD.

When considering any new form of supplement for yourself or your pet, it’s always important to talk to a doctor or veterinarian.

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