UNDERSTANDING THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM OF DOGS
*Disclaimer: This article is not meant to serve as a substitute for veterinary advice. Dr.Hempdog believes firmly in the contents of this article because of the thorough research that backs it up and our own experiences with the thousands of dogs that we have helped through the years (including our own). You should always defer to your veterinarian when adding anything to your dog's unique wellness routine.
Scientists have discovered a new frontier for veterinary medicine, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Thanks to exciting new findings, we’re finally beginning to understand the unparalleled potential of the endocannabinoid system, which plays a vital role in keeping every animal on Earth healthy. If you want to learn about how the endocannabinoid system could be the secret to optimizing your dog’s health, take this opportunity to check out the scientific information we've compiled in this article.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system maintains homeostasis in the body by connecting cannabinoids to cannabinoid receptors*, which function like keys and locks. This system is made up of three parts:
- Cannabinoid receptors are unique receptors that can only be activated by cannabinoids. Once unlocked by the right cannabinoid “key,” they send various signals to the brain that help the body function properly
- Cannabinoids are the keys to these receptors/ “locks,” and are naturally found in two varieties:
- Endocannabinoids, which are produced by the body. You can learn more about the two most important endocannabinoids in our article about anandamide and 2-AG.
- Phytocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids from the hemp plant. CBD, THC, and most other cannabinoids you’ve heard of fall into this category.
- Cannabinoid enzymes are responsible for producing endocannabinoids, getting them where they need to go, and breaking them down once they’ve served their purpose.
*Receptors are specialized cells that respond to specific chemical signals. These cells control or influence nearly every biological process, cellular interaction, and organ in the body, whether directly or indirectly.
Cannabinoid Receptors, Explained
So far, we know of nearly a dozen different cannabinoid receptors, and scientists predict that there are still dozens more to discover. CB1 and CB2 receptors are the most significant types of cannabinoid receptors, and have been shown to help manage many different ailments, such as:
- Inflammation and arthritis
- Seizures and epilepsy
- Neurodegenerative disease
- Wound healing
- From Animals journal: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770351/ and Frontiers in Veterinary Science: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7399642/
In dogs, CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain, central nervous system, and spinal cord, as well as in many other organs. Since these regions are closely associated with perception and brain function, studies show that cannabinoids that activate CB1 receptors (such as CBD and THC) tend to be especially good at managing pain, seizures, and anxiety.
- From the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5439392/ and Behavioural Pharmacology: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16148437/
Canine CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune system and bone marrow, as well as in other peripheral organs like the skin. CB2 receptors are activated by most cannabinoids and are particularly important for alleviating inflammation and other localized conditions.
- From Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075023/
The Effects of Cannabinoids in Dogs
Studies have shown that nearly all cannabinoids can activate CB1 and CB2 receptors to help manage many ailments, such as inflammation, pain, anxiety, cancer, seizures, and neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, findings specifically demonstrate how effective the cannabinoids in Dr.Hempdog’s full-spectrum CBD product can be for dogs suffering from certain ailments:
Two similar studies from 2020 and 2018 both found that full-spectrum CBD alleviated pain and inflammation in arthritic dogs.
- From Pain journal: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32345916/ and Frontiers in Veterinary Science: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30083539/
One 2020 review concluded that CBD was a promising treatment option for animals suffering from inflammation, seizures, neurodegenerative diseases, and other conditions.
- From Frontiers in Veterinary Science: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7399642/
Another 2019 study found that CBD alleviated seizures in ~90% of dogs with epilepsy.
- From the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31067185/
Of course, this is just a small sampling of the many clinical studies out there about CBD. To learn more, we encourage you to read our article about the benefits of CBD, which goes through these findings in more detail.
Do you have any questions about how cannabinoids could help your animal(s)? If so, you can schedule a free, 15-minute consultation with our staff by calling or texting us at (720) 773-9595, or by checking the bottom of our website to schedule a free 15 minute call with our expert hemp-for-animals staff. Our team has helped thousands of animals like yours, so we can make things easy for you!