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The Evolution of New CBD Veterinary Therapeutics

Using broad-spectrum CBD to bridge the gap between full spectrum and isolates.
By Robert J. Silver, February 2021, Updated June 2021
cbd oil for dogs

Broad-spectrum extract has very low THC content, far below that of full-spectrum hemp. I first developed broad-spectrum hemp products five or six years ago, in the infancy of the pet CBD craze. It was an important way to ensure the safety of these extracts for use with dogs. Over time, we’ve placed 500,000+ units of various products into the hands of veterinarians, and anecdotal reports indicate that there has been minimal to zero adverse reactions to the THC content of these formulations and no perceived diminution of efficacy for osteoarthritis, epilepsy and anxiety, the three most dominant applications for pet CBD.

However, anecdotal evidence is not the same as unbiased, placebo-controlled, blinded research into a product’s efficacy. To this end, we are in the middle of a study at a veterinary rehab hospital in Austin, Texas, to measure the efficacy of our broad-spectrum extract in naturally occurring osteoarthritis in dogs.

Read more: What’s New In Medical Cannabis For Dogs?

We are in the open-label part of the study right now, and then will move to the double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover phase. Unlike existing published studies, this one will use real measurements of arthritis: force-plate analyses of weight-bearing on the affected limb; digital thermography to assess the heat and subsequent inflammation of the affected joint; measurements of C-reactive protein (CRP) to measure whole body inflammation; hyaluronic acid levels, which is an assessment of osteoarthritis; as well as veterinary evaluation of gait abnormalities and video recording of before-and-after mobility improvement in each study subject.


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It’s important to mention that every study that has been published so far has used the isolate dosage for rodents of 2 mg/kg twice a day, which is four times higher than the dosage recommended on the label of our products in use by veterinarians. So this study will not just validate the efficacy of broad-spectrum hemp extracts for OA in the dog, it will also use a dose that’s one-quarter of that used in rodent studies. If this research reflects what we know anecdotally to be true, it means that people can stretch the use of CBD oil products to last two to four times longer. That would be quite a savings in the long-term to help keep their beloved dogs moving and happy.

Isolate is considerably less expensive than whole plant extracts, and most studies, other than an in vitro study of isolated cell lines versus cancer in humans, indicate that whole plant extracts provide efficacy at a substantially lower dose. This’s why the rodent dose of isolate for pain is four times higher than the whole-plant extract. Eventually, when the FDA does get around to regulating cannabis, it is thought by many who are knowledgeable about how the FDA works that they will regulate isolate to be used by pharmaceutical companies, and whole plant extracts to be used by those who make supplements and OTC products.

Based on the studies that have been published for veterinary species, laboratory species and humans, it appears that whole-plant extracts can do the same thing as isolates at a lower dose. So, even if isolates cost less, the fact that they need a higher dose may cancel out any cost benefits to their use.

As long as isolates are on the market, they will be purchased by pet owners and may be able to provide comparable benefits as the whole-plant extracts or broad-spectrum extracts. Whether they (isolates, whole-plant extracts) are interchangeable from species to species, individual to individual, or condition to condition has yet to be proven objectively. In terms of safety, they are comparable at the same dosages, as far as we have been able to tell with the studies we currently have.

To use my personal experience as an example, in products with which I’m associated, I advise the use of low- to no-THC extract; this reflects my concerns about reported animal reactions to THC. These reactions may have been due to an individual sensitivity to THC; poor analysis of the extract; or the high dose of CBD, which brings with it increased amounts of THC that could cause a reaction.

Photo: Unsplash/Pixabay

Robert Silver, DVM, founder of Boulder's Natural Animal: A Holistic Wellness Center, is also a certified veterinary acupuncturist. He received his DVM from Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.

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