deal with canine’ arthritis with out CBD

dr Dara Johns/Special to the NWF Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK
| Northwest Florida Daily News

Rescue dog Rusty finds home in retirement community

Rusty has arthritis and can often be found passed out by 6 pm, but his tail is always wagging. No wonder he’s so popular at his new retirement home.

animal child

I recently received this letter asking about using CBD oil for dogs’ arthritis problems. The letter and my response to it follows.

dr johns,

I just read your article, “How to treat arthritis in older dogs.” My 15-year-old, 50-pound Kelpie has elevated liver enzymes. I recently purchased Lazarus CBD [Cannabidiol] oil for his arthritis, but am not sure I should use it with the liver issues. I see every thought on that online and my vet is completely unfamiliar with the use of CBD.

I tried gabapentin with him, but it made him worse.

What should I do? I want to do something for him, I’ve had him on Dasuquin for years now. He is also taking ursodiol and Denamarin. My vet hasn’t given me any other options other than laser, but he doesn’t do well with that kind of thing; he’s very anxious at the vet.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the CBD oil.

Thank you for your time,

— Jen

Dear Jen,

You are dealing with concerns that many pet owners are also experiencing now that our pets are aging. We have to juggle the benefits of pain control with the side effects and the health concerns of the older pet.

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Specifically, you are also asking about a newer medication that has not been studied in depth by the veterinary community. While CBD is being prescribed by many veterinarians, the data for the drug is new. We don’t have decades of experience with side effects or toxicity studies. I can’t answer most of the questions clients ask me about CBD.

For that reason, when I recommend CBD, I only recommend the product that is sold by the company ElleVet Sciences. It has an advisory board made up of veterinarians as well as scientists. They have research associated with Cornell University to back up the efficacy and safety of the product.

If you go to the website ( and click on the Science section, you will find links to research articles.

One particular link, (, you may find interesting. They do discuss the safety studies. There is discussion about elevated liver enzymes. From what I am reading in the material, use of CBD product in dogs with liver compromise is not encouraged.

Alternatives to CBD

So, if you are not going to be able to use CBD, what are the alternatives? The joint supplement you are using, Dasuquin, should be continued. This will support healthy joints with no dangerous side effects to the liver.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided due to their metabolism in the liver. Gabapentin would be a good choice, but it does not work for your dog. Laser therapy would be an excellent choice if your dog were able to do the treatments.

Tramadol is a pain medicine that has been helpful with dogs that have liver or kidney compromise. It is not anti-inflammatory. Tramadol is not specifically for arthritis pain and it is not my first choice, but when liver problems limit the pain medicine choices, tramadol can be an option.

I would consider trying Adequan. Adequan has been around for decades. The active ingredient is polysulfated glycosaminoglycan. It is created from the cartilage of cows.

Studies have shown that it inhibits enzymes that break down and inflame cartilage and it enhances enzymes that build up and heal cartilage. The biggest drawback is the route of administration and cost.

Adequan is an injection that is given at least once or twice a week for the first four weeks. After that, it can be given once a month for maintenance therapy. These days, pet owners buy the vial and are taught how to give the injections at home. Injectables are expensive medications, so consult with your veterinarian concerning the cost of Adequan.