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Cannabinoid Therapy for Dogs?

Written by Lydia Kariuki

Pet owners are turning to cannabidiol (CBD) to treat their dogs for many conditions, including anxiety and arthritis symptoms such as pain and inflammation. And yet researchers are just beginning to scratch the surface on research into CBD within the canine system, asking the question: does CBD affect dogs the way it does humans?

A study published in Biomolecules in 2020 investigated the pharmacokinetics (how drugs move within the body) of sublingual Sativex in canines to find out.[1]

Sativex® (nabiximols) is a cannabinoid-based mouth spray manufactured by
GW Pharmaceuticals that is used to treat multiple sclerosis spasticity. It has also been studied for the treatment of cancer-associated chronic pain and rheumatoid arthritis pain.[2,3]

In this study, researchers administered a single dose of Sativex (3 consecutive sprays equivalent to 8.1 mg of ∆9– tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, and 7.5 mg of CBD) at different times across a day in one group and daily 14-day doses in the second group. Blood samples were collected right before and 45 minutes after treatment.[1]

  • In the single dose group, levels of both cannabinoids peaked in the blood two hours after treatment, while in the multiple dose group, cannabinoid levels peaked after 1 hour.
  • CBD and Δ9-THC levels accumulated in the blood after repeated exposure, especially across multiple doses.
  • In both groups, minimal changes were observed in neurological status, rate of respiration, and body temperature.

The researchers concluded that either dose regimen of sublingual Sativex achieved the expected pharmacokinetic profile.[1]

Based on this study, cannabinoid medicine appears to follow the same mechanism of drug absorption in the canine system as in humans. Further investigations of appropriate doses of cannabinoid-based medicines for canine use are required, as well as evaluations of long-term effects.

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  1. Trapero M, et al. Pharmacokinetics of Sativex® in dogs: Towards a potential cannabinoid-based therapy for canine disorders. Biomolecules. 2020;279(10):1-8.
  2. Fallon MT, et al. Sativex oromucosal spray as adjunctive therapy in advanced cancer patients with chronic pain unalleviated by optimized opioid therapy: Two double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled phase 3 studies. British Journal of Pain. 2017;11(3):119-133.
  3. Blake D, et al. Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology. 2006;45(1):50-52.

About the author

Lydia Kariuki