80% of the dogs given CBD oil showed significant improvement in pain levels and quality of life… All without observable side-effects. Have you ever been prescribed steroids for your pet? What if I told you there is a natural alternative? Full Spectrum Hemp CBD vs Steriods!
CBD For Dogs: A Natural Prednisone Alternative Dogs Love
Using CBD as an alternative to Prednisone can help your dog avoid the long term side effects that come with the extended use of both Prednisone & Prednisolone.
Cornell University recently published a study which concluded that …
80% of the dogs given CBD oil showed significant improvement in pain levels and quality of life… All without observable side-effects.
Unlike Prednisone, the key part of those findings are that CBD use comes “without observable side effects”
Prednisone certainly does work for some treatments…, but it’s the long term side effects of prednisone that many dog and pet owners should be aware of.
In this article, we break down the ‘pros and cons’ of the popular pet prescribed drug named prednisone as well as using CBD oil as a natural alternative.
Most Common Reasons Why Dogs Get Prescribed Prednisone.
Prednisone is commonly prescribed medicine for dogs and sometimes for humans as well.
Prednisone is a type of ‘synthetic steroid‘ (not naturally produced by the body) known as a ‘cortico-steroid‘.
Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, ‘cortico-steroids’ such as Prednisone are valuable medications.
Prednisone is commonly prescribed to dogs to treat conditions with mild inflammation or to suppress inflammation from an allergic rash.
Prednisone is Also Commonly Prescribed to Dogs For:
- Joint pain (typically caused by arthritis)
- Skin diseases or rashes such as eczema, dermatitis or itchy skin
- Allergic reactions
- Anaphylactic shock
- Addison’s disease
- Disorders of the central nervous system
- Prednisolone is used to treat liver conditions
- Cancers such as lymphomas
‘Tail’ of Caution:
According to Dr. Demian Dressler, author of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide…,
Veterinary overuse of Prednisone has given this class of ‘cortico-steroid’ drugs a bad rap…
Many diseases can be better managed with less serious drugs, but some Vets are too quick to reach for the ‘fast-fix’….
Because of this…a significant number of dogs experience Prednisone’s serious side effects when in reality, they really don’t need to.
What Are The Side Effects of Prednisone
Prednisone reduces inflammation by reducing immune system activity.
The down side to ‘cortico-steroids’ such as Prednisone, is that by reducing immune system activity, it makes your dog more likely to getting other infections.
Because of this side effect it leaves many pet owners looking for alternatives to prednisone for their dogs.
Prednisone For Dogs: Short Term Side Effects
For the first week or two, Short-term side effects are experienced when your dog is initially placed on a corticosteroid.
Short-term side effects generally include:
- Increased thirst and urination
- Increased hunger
- Panting (especially dogs)
- General loss of energy
- Development or worsening of infections (especially bacterial skin infections)
- Vomiting or nausea (less common)
If your dogs gets any of these side effects, they can often be reduced or eliminated by lowering the prednisone dosage or frequency that it’s being taken.
The objective when prescribed prednisone is to determine the lowest dose of medication that controls the condition with the least number of side effects.
In other words….It’s a careful balance between risk & reward
As a result of risk-reward balancing act, when it comes to fighting pain, inflammation, and skin rashes, many dog owners are turning to a ‘side effect free’ alternative to prednisone such as CBD.
Prednisone For Dogs: Long Term Side Effects
Dogs with long term conditions like chronic arthritis will require longer treatment regimens.
But when corticosteroids are used for more than 3-4 months, especially with larger doses, additional side effects become more of a concern.
The most commonly seen long-term side effects include:
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) in up to 30% of patients. Pets receiving steroids will not experience the usual symptoms of urinary tract infection because the steroid will suppress the inflammation and discomfort commonly associated with a UTI. In many cases dogs have to give a urine culture in order to detect the infection.
- Development of thin skin, blackheads, and a poor or thin hair coat or hair loss
- Lowered ability to naturally heal wounds
- Development of obesity due to increased hunger
- Muscle weakness secondary to protein catabolism (breakdown)
- Development of hard plaques or spots on the skin called calcinosis cutis. These plaques are the result of calcium deposition in the skin.
- Increased susceptibility to opportunistic or secondary bacterial infections
- Increased susceptibility to fungal infections (especially of the nasal cavity)
- Development of adult onset demodectic mange.
- Predisposition to diabetes mellitus
If your dog is prescribed Prednisone for a chronic condition such as arthritis or eczema its important to weigh the long term risks vs. rewards.
In many cases the long term risks can outweigh the reward.
Having said that, many Vets are not up to date on the current research, but Prednisone is not the only option.
CBD For Dogs: A Natural (and side effect free) Alternative to Prednisone
According to research, many conditions in which dogs are treated with prednisone, can also be naturally treated with cannabidiol (CBD).
- Arthritis from Arthritis & Inflammation / Rashes
CBD for Dogs: Arthritis and Inflammation
In one of the most recent studies published in 2020 on ScienceDAILY.com…
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine conducted studies to assess the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) for arthritic pain in dogs….,
And the results could lead the way to studying CBD’s effect in humans.
“We found encouraging results,” Dr. Halpert said….
“9 of the 10 dogs on CBD showed benefits, which remained for two weeks after the treatment stopped. “
“under the conditions of our study, the treatment seems to be safe.”
CBD vs. Osteoarthritis:
Osteoarthritis is caused by the ‘wearing down’ of cartilage… this intern, leads to inflammation…. Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but it can be managed….
CBD studies on dogs conducted by Cornell University concluded that “dogs with OA (osteo-arthritis) receiving CBD were (found) to be more comfortable and active”.
According to Dr. Debra Rose Wilson, PHD from Medical News Today
“At a time when we are trying to reduce the use of pain relievers, CBD oil can be an effective approach to managing the pain of arthritis.”
Dr. Rose continues to say that “Researchers have also recognized the role that CBD could play in reducing the [underlying cause &] pain-causing inflammation of arthritis.”
CBD treats Osteoarthritis by reducing both the inflammation response & the associated pain.
CBD vs. Polyarthritis
Inflammatory Joint Disease (AKA Polyarthritis) can also be effectively managed by using CBD.
Poly-Arthritis, is caused by an internal ‘bodily response’ which in-turn causes the immune-system to attack its own tissue in the joints.
In response to the ‘overstimulated’ response by the immune system, CBD interacts naturally with Endo-cannabinoid receptors.
The endo-cannabinoid system helps to ‘naturally regulate’ immune system responses (but not necessarily suppress it).
This relationship between CBD, the endo-cannabinoid system, and the immune system, is why CBD works well for symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in humans & poly-arthritis in dogs.
The best thing about CBD is that it’s natural, organic & comes with minimal to no side effects.
Bottom Line Summary: CBD has beyond a scientific doubt been proven to reduce & improve arthritis symptoms in multiple canine studies.
CBD Vs. Dogs Skin Conditions (eczema)
CBD not only helps relieve the symptoms of certain skin irritations, like eczema (atopic dermatitis)…, but studies have also shown that CBD can help with regenerating healthy cell growth…
“With measurable anti-itch, anti-pain, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, the effect of cannabinoids (such as CBD) in patients with AD (Atopic Dermatitis AKA Eczema) has already begun to be demonstrated.”
You can see an example of ‘CBD at work’ for a skin rash on a small pup that we recommended CBD for.
Jeanette Jacknin, MD gave an hour long presentation on the benefits on CBD for skin health….During the presentation she concluded that
“There are studies documenting the anti-inflammatory properties of topical CBD”….
She also touted the effectiveness of “topical cannabinoids (such as CBD) working on acne, eczema, and psoriasis”
What Exactly is CBD?
CBD is short for Cannabidiol and is 1 of over 100, completely organic & 100% naturally occurring, compounds produced by the Cannabis plant
CBD was made federally legal in 2018 and NOPE, it doesn’t get you or your dog ‘high‘.
These 100+ different organic compounds produced by the cannabis plant are called Cannabinoids…
(THC & CBD are the most famous cannabinoids)
All mammals, including humans (and dogs), produce cannabinoids naturally within the body.
Cannabinoids interact with a network of receptors that are part of the Central Nervous System known –
This network of receptors is known as the Endo-Cannabinoid System.
The Endo-Cannabinoid System is one of our most important internal bodily systems & is responsible for maintaining many functions within the body.
The ‘endo-cannabinoid system’ works similar to a thermostat in a house…
If the temperature in a room is too hot…., the thermostat goes into ‘cooling mode’ –
If your immune system is over-extended on an allergic rash, the endo-cannabinoid system ‘kicks in’ to normalize the response levels.
How Does The Endo-Cannabinoid System Work ?
CBD commonly ineracts with 2 specific types of ‘endo-cannabinoid receptors’.
Cannabinoid Receptors Type 1 (CB1) – CB1 receptors are a critical piece of our central nervous system and are most heavily concentrated in our brain and spinal cord.
Cannabinoid Receptors Type 2 (CB2) – CB2 receptors are mainly concentrated in the various parts of the immune system, the skin cells and most internal organs.
Because of the wide reach of CB1 & CB2 receptors in the EndoCannabinoid System, CBD has a wide range of health benefits which are currently being studied.
CBD’s is currently being studied to treat pain, inflammation, anxiety, immune system disorders such as eczema & psoriasis, brain injuries, PTSD & more.
Put simply into a visualization… CBD interacts with both CB1 & CB2 receptors as well as other receptors in the body sort of like fitting a key into a lock, or like Cinderella’s foot into a glass slipper.
CBD Oil for Dogs: a Natural Prednisone Alternative
For an arthritis condition, CBD oil or CBD treats taken orally are most effective.
CBD is most effective after it is able to accumulate in the blood stream for a couple of weeks….This is known as the ‘Cumulative Effect”
For a skin condition, a topical lotion or sprays are effective… and even more effective when combined with CBD oil taken orally.
Taking CBD and Prednisone Together: Is It Safe?
Many Dog owners are asking
“Can my dog take CBD oil with prednisone”
Mixing CBD and Prednisone for dogs may not be the best idea.
CBD oil can interact with prednisone, making side effects more likely. Veterinary Doctors don’t consider them safe to take together.
If your dog suffers from an inflammatory condition and you want to try CBD, you should first wean off prednisone. However, you must do this carefully and under the supervision of your vet.
Here’s what you need to know if you are thinking switching your dog from prednisone to CBD.
Discontinuing Use of Prednisone in Dogs
If your dog is currently taking prednisone and you decide that it may not be the right choice for you, be aware that side effects may occur if you suddenly discontinue your dog’s use of it.
According to 1-800-PetMeds Stopping use abruptly can cause an abrupt increase in joint pain, body aches, nausea, and fatigue.
In order to avoid any discomfort, you want to wean your dog off prednisone slowly.
According to experts, tapering off of a prednisone treatment typically takes between two and five weeks.
Whether you’re using Prednisone, or an alternative such as CBD oil for your dog, make sure to do your due diligence on the long term effects of both options.
Always speak to your Vet, but understand that because CBD has only been legalized since 2018, some Vets are not up to date on the latest science behind CBD.
Ultimately you know your dog better than anyone and it’s up to you to make the best decision in the best interest of your dog….
Each situation is different & only you know what is best for your pup’s long term health.
On a personal note, my chocolate lab Jamaica passed away a few years back due to liver complications from an arthritis medicine she was taking….
If CBD was available at the time, or if I had known about it, taking CBD could have likely helped her arthritis and ultimately extended her life’s journey.
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Steroids vs. CBD: A Topic of Truths and Transitions
Chances are that most humans and pets have been prescribed a steroid medication at some point in their life for treatment of one or more medical conditions. Whether it be for inflammation, allergies, or another type of illness, injectable and oral steroids have been applied by doctors and veterinarians for decades as a part of treatment plans due to their effectiveness in addressing numerous symptoms quickly and effectively. However, although the relatively fast effects felt by starting a steroid may be impressive, long-term use can and very often lead to serious side effects, both in humans and pets. Moreover, despite newer age doctors trying to move away from heavy use and dependence on steroids, this class of medications is still to this day used more than it should be, given that we know now what they likely lead to over time.
In comparison, CBD and other cannabis-based therapies have recently been found to effectively address a majority of the same symptoms steroids remediate, but do not tend to cause any of the same adverse long-term side effects steroids come with. Therefore, there is a huge potential promise in considering CBD as a legitimate therapeutic substitution for steroids when developing a safe and effective therapeutic treatment plan. Ultimately, when a life of longevity, health, and happiness is the long-term goal, understanding the ramifications and alternatives to steroid therapy is critical for the well-being of patients, including your pet.
Table of Contents
What are Steriods?
The term “steroid” simply describes a class of molecules that have a variety of influences and effects within an animal’s body. Specifically, there are “natural steroids” which our bodies make on their own, and “synthetic steroids” that are produced in laboratories that overlap with our internal bodily systems.
Steroids became widely popular in the 1940’s for inflammatory conditions . Corticosteroids in particular were and continue to be used to treat symptoms associated with arthritis and other degenerative musculoskeletal conditions. In fact, in 1950, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine went to Dr. Philip Hench, Edward Calvin Kendall, and Tadeus Reichstein for the discovery of cortisone and its applicable uses with rheumatoid arthritis.
Since their discovery and explosion onto the medical scene, steroids eventually became widely over-prescribed, as they were viewed as the “miracle drug” that could help with any and all conditions in conjunction with those initially known. However, as the repercussions of long-term use then began to surface as well, a shift towards healthier, long-term substitutions has slowly begun. Many doctors and veterinarians now only prescribe steroids for short-term applications and rely on multimodal therapies to promote long-term control of the underlying illness(es). However, many other medical professionals have not yet adopted this pattern, and still use steroids more often than is thought to be safe or required. T here are a small number of situations where steroids must be used for long-term immunosuppression (including some refractory autoimmune diseases and Addison’s Disease), but again, these are rather uncommon. Unless your pet has one of these conditions, steroids should be considered a short-term solution only.
The most common steroids prescribed by most veterinarians are prednisone, prednisolone, hydrocortisone topicals, and TEMARIL-P . Steroids do, in fact, reduce inflammation in the body, but not without a cost. The most common side effects of early steroid use include polyuria (excessive urination), polydipsia (excessive thirst), polyphagia (excessive signs of hunger despite not actually requiring more food), and panting. Steroids are also well-known for their serious, and sometimes dangerous, side effects including:
- Weight gain
- Salt and fluid retention
- Cardiac Problems (Heart)
- Increased secondary infection risk
- Slower wound healing
- Loss of muscle mass
- Hepatic Problems (Liver)
“ If any of the following serious side effects occur, stop giving Temaril-P and seek emergency veterinary medical attention ; an allergic reaction ( difficulty breathing; swelling of the lips, tongue or face; hives ). Trimeprazine can cause drowsiness, tremors and muscle weakness . Prednisolone may cause symptoms of Cushing’s disease which include increased thirst, urination and hunger as well as vomiting and diarrhea . Other side effects may also occur. Talk to your veterinarian about any side effect that seems unusual or bothersome to your pet. Do not give any other over the counter or prescription medications, including herbal products, during treatment with Temaril-P without first talking to the veterinarian. Many other medications can interact with Temaril-P resulting in side effects or altered effectiveness. These include sedatives, anesthetics, pain medications, epinephrine and procaine.”
As stated above, there are few cases where lifetime use of steroids is necessary. But, in the majority of cases where it is not a necessity, the body will become susceptible to developing one or more of the many side effects listed, and will also be subject to dependency and severe withdrawal effects if steroid therapies are discontinued too quickly. That’s why doctors generally advise a gradual tapering protocol off of steroids toward the end of a long-term treatment plan. Ultimately, if a steroid has been used for more than 7 days, then it is not advisable to stop this medication abruptly without the supervision of a medical professional, as this can prove detrimental to your pet’s health as well.
What are Steriods Used for?
Oral steroids are the most commonly prescribed medication for dogs (and us). These medications again are synthetic steroids, meaning they are not naturally produced by our body . They are most often prescribed to treat inflammatory conditions, skin conditions, non-infectious respiratory diseases, and degenerative neuromusculoskeletal conditions.
According to Dr. Gary Richter , “ steroids are some of the most powerful anti-inflammatory medications available .” Because of this, they tend to be a commonplace treatment for pets with skin and respiratory conditions. Dr. Richter continued to state, “ despite steroids’ ability to reduce inflammation, their long term side effects far outweigh their benefits .”
CBD is being researched as a ‘steroid-sparing option.’ A study published in Current Neuropharmacology indicated CBD has therapeutic benefits for both people and pets who suffer from chronic pain. There is an abundance of compounds found to reduce inflammation in both us and our pets. The most common phytocannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant, THC and CBD, both possess anti-inflammatory properties. Other minor cannabinoids, including CBG, CBC, and THCV were also found to provide anti-inflammatory properties as well.
According to Future Medicinal Chemistry , “ cannabinoids have exhibited significant potential to be used as novel anti-inflammatory agents and specific targeting of CB2 receptors holds the promise of mediating immunosuppressive effects without exerting psychotropic side effects.”
A Baylor College of Medicine study, using In vitro and in mouse models, found that CBD significantly attenuated the production of proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α while elevating levels of anti-inflammatory IL-10. In the veterinary study, CBD significantly decreased pain and increased mobility in a dose-dependent fashion among animals with an affirmative diagnosis of OA.
According to a veterinarian named Steven Katz , who is one of only a few doctors applying CBD-based therapies in practice, “our experience in my clinic has shown cannabidiol (CBD) is an effective treatment in reducing inflammatory response . We have a passion for improving dogs’ quality of life, and we look forward to learning all we can about therapeutic methods to achieve this.”
The Ultimate Question: Steriods vs. CBD
First things first: If you are reading this and your dog is already taking steroids, it’s absolutely critical the regimen is not stopped immediately. Never attempt to taper this medication without the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
Taking a full-spectrum CBD-based product in combination with a steroid, like prednisone, will most likely (not guaranteed) not result in any detrimental adverse effects. Although both compounds are broken down by the liver, taking both at the same time is unlikely to cause “liver overload” unless the liver is already unhealthy (which would have been or can only be determined by submitting bloodwork with your veterinarian). If the liver is already “sick” then there may be hypothetical concerns regarding administering both at the same time, even though research up to this point has not proven such statements. The reason for this is because research indicates that CBD and other cannabis-based molecules are broken down by the “cytochrome p450 enzyme” group located in the liver, and that CBD specifically inhibits a component of the activity of a particular enzyme (CYP3A4) which is used by the body to break down numerous other molecules. The effects of this are still not entirely known, but with an unhealthy liver, it is highly advised to be more careful when considering any extra stress it may cause on this organ. We do know that Prednisone does cause liver “induction” resulting in numerous secondary effects, both on the liver’s functioning ability and its ability to handle other molecules simultaneously, such as CBD and the other active compounds in a full-spectrum product. Again though, each animal is an individual, and therefore, each case must be addressed individually before making any decisions or conclusions.
Of course, given what we know about steroids and CBD, we should all desire to get more pets off of long-term steroid use, and if appropriate, use a properly-vetted Full Spectrum Hemp CBD-based therapy to address the conditions steroids were originally applied for. But, this transition must be done responsibly. The overall goal is and should always be to promote a lifestyle of optimum healthiness and happiness. With the proper diet, natural supplements, and safe remedies in times of illness like a properly vetted full-spectrum CBD-based product, there is an opportunity to enhance and maintain your pet’s overall well-being without abusing and over-using pharmaceuticals, in an age where pharmaceuticals still seem to be king.
Dr. Zac Pilossoph
Dr. Zac Pilossoph, a Long Island, NY born, nationally recognized veterinary medical professional, a top graduate of Tufts University Veterinary School of Medicine with post-graduate focused training in E/CC and Neurology/Neurosurgery at two of the most recognized programs in the country, and a young multidimensional serial entrepreneur, has rapidly and collaboratively helped promote a new wave of global evolution and individual empowerment in more ways than one. In addition to developing and launching several novel platforms in the veterinary and mental health fields, he is now quickly joining some of the most reputable leaders in the cannabis education and innovation space. Dr. Pilossoph is determined to synergize with colleagues, allowing evidence-based information to fuel a rapidly expanding industry. As one of the world’s most proactive cannabis-focused experts in his respective industry, Dr. Pilossoph provides tremendous value by delivering non-bias, harm reduction education, via both large-scale speaking engagements and individualized consultations, to the global cannabis pet and vet industry. Further, he is a Certified CBD Professional Educator through the CBD Training Academy and has started a nationally influential multi-tiered cannabis brokerage firm titled Excelsior Honour Associates. Lastly, he acts as a consultant for the CBD product space in order to impart as much quality, control, and consistency across the industry as much as possible. Ultimately, through candid education, fierce collaboration, and constructive evolution, Dr. Pilossoph is reversing stigmas and advancing the safe and effective consideration of cannabis into society, for all creatures on Earth.