CBD Oil for Dogs With Cancer: Everything you need to know

The rise of cancer in dogs has seen an increase in pet parents looking for treatment methods that are more gentle, with fewer side effects and less of a hit to the hip pocket. As CBD use as a treatment for cancer and other illnesses booms in popularity for humans, it makes sense that canine use would not be far behind.

While medical trials are in their early days, anecdotal evidence from communities that have been using CBD to treat dogs for centuries is promising. Studies suggest that CBD can dramatically reduce pain and improve a dog’s quality of life.

Read on to discover more about CBD and the possibilities that exist for cancer treatment in dogs.

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Like humans, our canine companions are susceptible to cancer, with 1 in 3 dogs developing some form of cancer in their life. 1 in 4 dogs will develop neoplasia, the abnormal growth of cells or tissues within the body. The main cause of death for dogs over 2 years old is cancer, and half of the number of dogs over the age of 10 are likely to develop it. Clearly, cancer is common enough that dog owners should familiarize themselves with the main types of dog cancers and how they are treated.

How Common Is Cancer in Dogs?

Like humans, our canine companions are susceptible to cancer, with 1 in 3 dogs developing some form of cancer in their life. 1 in 4 dogs will develop neoplasia, the abnormal growth of cells or tissues within the body. The main cause of death for dogs over 2 years old is cancer, and half of the number of dogs over the age of 10 are likely to develop it. Clearly, cancer is common enough that dog owners should familiarize themselves with the main types of dog cancers and how they are treated.

Most Common Cancers in Dogs

The most common types of cancer in dogs include canine lymphoma, melanoma, and mammary cancer. Lymphoma can affect the lymph nodes, as well as the spleen, gastrointestinal tract, and bone marrow. Melanoma is found on the skin, particularly within a dog’s mouth. Mammary cancer affects the mammary glands. Other common forms of cancer in dogs are mast cell tumors, bone cancer, and Hemangiosarcoma (a kind of cancer found in the heart or spleen).

The good news is that over half of all canine cancers are treatable if caught early.

Signs Your Dog Might Have Cancer

There are various signs that your dog might have cancer, but you need to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian in order to get a diagnosis. Some of the signs and symptoms of dog cancer include swelling, difficulty eating, lumps, and sudden changes in weight. Keep in mind that some of these symptoms are also common in dogs with anxiety problems, or simply dogs who are getting older.

Diagnosing and Treating Your Dog

After your dog visits with their general veterinarian and they suspect cancer, the veterinarian can refer you to a veterinary oncologist who specializes in cancer care for pets. They will provide further details about three main areas - (1) how advanced the cancer is, (2) what kind of cancer it is, and (3) what other health factors will affect the cancer. Then, they will help you make a list of possible treatment options.

You will need to consider factors like - how treatment will affect quality of life (chemotherapy is often the most effective, but it can be painful), how long your dog has left to live, and more. As you’ll see, CBD is a great auxiliary treatment for dogs undergoing painful treatment regimens, or a way to improve the quality of life for pets whose owners decide extensive and invasive treatment isn’t the right option for an aging dog.

What is CBD oil?

CBD or Cannabidiol is one of the better-known cannabinoids, or natural compounds that occur in the Cannabis Sativa plant. CBD oil typically comes from the hemp plant. Once harvested, the CBD is extracted and mixed with an oil to result in the consistency you see in products today.

Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t result in the distinctive ‘high’ that most people associate with marijuana. For this reason, as well as its ability to provide natural relief from a whole host of pain and anxiety disorders, CBD is growing in popularity around the world.

Despite growing popularity, CBD still suffers from something of an identity crisis, with some people still people failing to make the distinction between CBD and marijuana. While it’s true that CBD and marijuana do come from the same plant, the chemical makeup of the Cannabis Sativa plant means that the plants harvested for CBD and marijuana have different properties. To produce CBD oil, a higher CBD concentration of CBD and minimal levels of THC are required, leading producers to favor the hemp plant.

What are the benefits?

Like for humans, CBD and hemp oils have long been used in traditional communities to treat pain in dogs resulting from a range of illnesses including cancer and muscular injuries.

By interacting with the dog’s endocannabinoid system, the CBD can help to effectively manage many different types of pain. For this reason, CBD is growing in popularity as a tool to improve the quality of life in dogs or as a dual treatment method with more traditional therapies.

For dogs with cancer, some studies have suggested that CBD can even lead to a process called cancer apoptosis, which is essentially the death of the cancer cells. It’s worth noting that CBD as a complete treatment method for cancer has not been proven and the research is in its very early days. Regardless, more traditional cancer treatment methods for dogs can be prohibitively expensive, costing anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 and can involve many of the same negative side effects as in humans, such as vomiting, and loss of appetite.

While more research is needed in this area to fully explore the potential of CBD to cure disease, it remains highly regarded as a form of pain relief.

Are there any risks?

CBD use for dogs, like humans, poses minimal risk. The biggest risks that do exist stem from the lack of regulation surrounding CBD products. Due to the lack of regulation, there are some products on the market that have not undergone adequate testing and not only contain negligible quantities of CBD, also contain higher levels of THC than you may expect. Use of these products may lead to THC toxicity in your dog. Essentially, they may get “high”.

As vets legally cannot prescribe CBD as a treatment option for pain or illnesses in dogs, many owners are effectively going in blind when choosing to dose their animals. The most important thing when looking for a CBD product for your pet is to do your research. Look thoroughly at reviews and begin by testing a small amount to make sure the product is what it claims to be.

Related: Should Your Pet Take CBD Oil Everyday?

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How Does CBD work?

Again, while there are limited studies covering CBD use in dogs, here’s what we do know. Like humans, dogs have cannabinoid receptors which in theory would allow them to experience the same or similar effects from CBD as humans do.

CBD works by mimicking the effects of cannabinoids that occur naturally in the body. Once consumed, the CBD typically targets the CB2 cannabinoid receptors. Studies have shown that by targeting these receptors, CBD encourages the natural production of cannabinoids in the body. In dogs, like humans, this process is part of the endocannabinoid system, which helps with things like mood regulation, memory, pain management, and brain function.

While more research is needed in this area, it’s well established that many instances of disease can be traced back to upset in the endocannabinoid system. By manipulating and helping to regulate this system, it’s likely that CBD could hold big benefits as a form of pain relief and natural medicine.

How is CBD Administered?

CBD can be taken in many forms. It is most potent and ‘pure’ when administered as an oil. CBD oil can be administered directly to the dog’s mouth, or it can be mixed into dog food if you want to disguise the taste for your pet. Keep in mind that this method may not be as effective if your dog is having appetite problems, since not finishing their food means not getting the full CBD dose.

Another way to give your dog CBD is through treats. This is a fun way to help your dog feel calm, since CBD treats feel like getting a reward. You can also use CBD shampoo. This method will not get CBD inside your dog’s system, but it is a good way to complement other forms of CBD treatment for dogs so they feel good inside and out.

While CBD oil can be applied topically, many dog owners find the most effective (and easiest) way to administer CBD to their dogs is orally. Again, consult with your vet to find the best treatment option for you and your pooch, but a good place to start is by mixing the product into food.

Is CBD legal?

The legality of CBD use for dogs exists in a grey area in the United States. While 23 states (and the District of Columbia) have effectively legalized medical marijuana use for humans, and a further 17 states allow the use of derivatives like CBD, laws surrounding canine use are less clear.

Currently, no vets are able to prescribe CBD oil or other products as a method of treatment for dogs. Because of this, some vets that back the product overcome this hurdle by recommending CBD as a supplement rather than medication. Similarly, dog-specific CBD products billed as health supplements are beginning to appear on shelves across the country.

In short, consult your vet and exercise caution before dosing your pet with any CBD product.

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As long as CBD use for dogs exists in a grey area, determining the correct dosage for your pet will be difficult. The biggest issue here is that until products containing CBD are fully regulated by the FDA, there are few checks and balances in place to ensure the quality of the product.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to start slow. After consulting with your vet, start your pet on a low dose of CBD oil and monitor them in the hours after to gauge their behavior. If using a product intended for humans on your dog, start with a considerably lower dose than what is recommended.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! Everything you need to know about CBD oil for dogs with cancer. CBD is a great way to reduce inflammation and manage pain for dogs with cancer, and it might even aid the process of apoptosis (the death of cancer cells). We here at Dope Dog hope this information helped. Be sure to try out some delicious CBD dog treats for your cuddly canine.

Related: A CBD Success Story: Epilepsy

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