CBD for Arthritis & Joint Pain in Dogs: Benefits & Effects

CBD for arthritis in dogs

CBD has become popular amongst dog owners to help with inflammatory conditions like arthritis. It can help dogs with the joint aches, stiffness and pain the disease causes. CBD is a natural extract from cannabis. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-reducing) effects. This is particularly useful for elderly dogs afflicted with joint or hip problems. It can aid them in improving day-to-day mobility, confidence and quality of life. CBD won’t reverse their arthritis but helps to mitigate and combat its symptoms. As a natural alternative to NSAIDs and anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical medications, CBD is an excellent treatment to explore. It might also assist dogs with related inflammatory conditions such as hip hyperplasia. Let’s look at how CBD can help with your dog’s arthritis, how it works, what benefits it offers and tips on using it.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid found in hemp. It’s one of the primary cannabinoids found in the plant alongside THC. Unlike THC, however, CBD is not psychoactive or addictive. It has few side effects and is well tolerated, making it suitable for most people and other animals like dogs. CBD is safe but shouldn’t be mixed up with THC, which has a range of risks in being used. Due to its psychoactivity, THC can have detrimental adverse effects such as psychosis or worsening of mental illness symptoms in humans. In dogs, it’s toxic and must be avoided, or it risks causing liver damage or poisoning. Even trace levels of THC can be harmful to animals.

On the other hand, dogs can benefit from CBD like humans. It can help your dog by reducing arthritis symptoms, lowering anxiety, improving behaviour, aiding with calmness and supporting reduced inflammation. Plus, it also won’t get them high or cause issues provided the product you purchase contains no THC. To avoid this, most CBD products for dogs are extracted from industrial hemp. This is a strain of hemp that has 0.3% THC concentration or even less. These trace levels can also be removed through further refinement, which is needed when creating CBD products for dogs, as even small quantities of THC can be dangerous.

How CBD Works in Dogs

How CBD Works in Dogs

Cannabinoids like CBD provide their health benefits to dogs through the endocannabinoid system or ECS. This is a complex system of enzymes, receptors and signalling mechanisms. It can be found in most mammals, including dogs and humans. The ECS has many functions relating to dogs’ homeostasis or internal state regulation. It also plays a supporting role in areas such as sleep regulation, appetite, mood, memory and immunity. In canines, the endocannabinoid system is essential in stabilising these health factors and building resilience against health disruptions.

When dogs consume CBD, the cannabinoid is absorbed and binds with the dog’s ECS. It attaches to cannabinoid receptor sites, which trigger powerful anti-inflammatory enzymes to be produced endogenously called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids like anandamide are effective in promoting improved health and reducing arthritis symptoms. They can assist in lowering symptoms of pain, reducing inflammatory factors, plus supporting better mood. Vets and dog owners are now using this system by employing cannabinoids like CBD to help in treating chronic inflammation and issues with hip dysplasia in dogs or rheumatoid arthritis.

Why Dogs Get Arthritis

Why Dogs Get Arthritis

When arthritis occurs in your dog, it degrades the cartilage in their joints, known as the synovial sheath. This cartilage provides cushioning and smoothness between joints, allowing them to move with minimal friction. When it begins to wear away, it leaves the bone exposed and causes nerve pain in the affected region. It can strike any joint in your dog but is typically seen in the knees and shoulders. This causes inflammation, swelling and irritation in the joints. It can lead to reduced ability to move, pain and stress. These issues can flow into other problems like issues with sleep, weight gain, decreased mood and irritability. Your dog is more likely to experience arthritis as it ages, but it can also occur in younger dogs. Arthritis in dogs can range from mild irritation to extremely painful in severity.

In dogs, the most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This naturally occurs from the ageing of joints due to ‘wear and tear’. Rheumatoid arthritis is different and arises from autoimmune disorders. In these cases, the body’s immune system attacks the joints. Inflammation is a normal part of the immune response. It causes redness, swelling and soreness from increased blood flow to heal damage. However, with rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammatory response becomes chronic. Excessive immune action can degrade the joint’s cells and tissue. The resulting joint stiffness and pain in moving can lead your dog to lose confidence in running, jumping or activity, resulting in weight gain. Even though arthritis in dogs is a common disease, there is no cure. The best approach to combat it is to mitigate its symptoms through lifestyle changes and supportive products like CBD for dogs.

Impacts of Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis causes both physical and behavioural problems in dogs. Symptoms and how they display can vary based on the dog’s age, weight, breed, and severity of symptoms. Each dog can react differently to their arthritis. The tricky thing about the condition is it’s completely invisible. It occurs entirely within the animal’s joints. The only signs you may see of it are your dog in pain. It could have trouble walking or display stiffness and limping. Other common symptoms are excessive sleeping and lethargy, poor mood, excessive panting, or reluctance to run. You may also see your dog bark more due to the pain they’re experiencing.

Symptoms usually display when the condition has already progressed, which makes it hard to prevent it from worsening. Pain and whimpering are never normal and are not part of a typical dog’s behaviour. Monitor your dog and take them to a veterinarian if they show symptoms. The good news is there are natural methods of treating inflammation in your dog that are safe and effective. For example, CBD is coming to the forefront of attention amongst dog owners and vets for its ability to combat the condition.

CBD’s Role in Alleviating Joint Pain in Dogs

How CBD Helps Dogs With Arthritis

Arthritis in dogs can only be managed due to being incurable. Treatment options focus on slowing its progress and supporting a better quality of life for the dogs affected. There are a few different ways to treat symptoms.

Improving Your Dog’s Lifestyle

The most significant need in mitigating any chronic condition like arthritis is preventative health measures. Most chronic diseases are caused or exacerbated by inflammation. Preventing weight gain, providing your dog with a varied and healthy diet, and avoiding pollution and toxins are all ways to help prevent inflammation from occurring. This can help prevent arthritis in the first place. Even small changes over time, like a daily walk, can make a big difference to your dog’s health.

Medication & Painkillers

Most dogs with arthritis are prescribed painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs by vets to help manage their pain and inflammation. The most commonly used medicines are Remedy and Metacam. These are synthetic and non-steroidal drugs. Unfortunately, both of them have side effects and can be taxing on the liver. The most common side effects are skin irritation, weight loss, black stools, and diarrhoea. Your dog’s kidneys can also be stressed by the chemicals in these medicines. Increased water consumption and changes in urination will often be seen. The side effects of using pharmaceuticals for dogs can be significant. A natural alternative may be better suited in many cases, particularly for older dogs.

CBD’s Inflammatory Arthritis Benefits

CBD is anti-inflammatory, and analgesic can mitigate the pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. It provides its beneficial effects by binding with the dog’s endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids from this system help normalise and downregulate inflammatory activity in the joints, soothing soreness and swelling with arthritis. In particular, they help reduce inflammatory cytokine production in the immune system. Cytokines are proteins that are responsible for the inflammation response. Reducing their production helps in slowing the onset of arthritis symptoms in dogs. CBD also acts on nerve signalling pathways to lower the perception of pain. It suppresses nociception, lowering the intensity of pain. Both of these factors help to reduce joint pain for your dog and support lowering inflammation symptoms.

How CBD Helps Dogs With Arthritis

Arthritis Pain Reduction

There is no doubt arthritis causes pain. Nerve pain is triggered when joints rub against one another as the joint degrades. As dogs age, this can be very painful and a source of chronic, progressive discomfort. Mitigating and reducing pain is a crucial way CBD helps manage arthritis in dogs. CBD is an analgesic or a pain-reducing compound. It may help many dogs to reduce or even wean off more side-effect-prone pharmaceutical compounds like NSAIDs and corticosteroids. If used excessively in the long term, pharmaceutical painkillers can cause liver toxicity, kidney problems and detrimental side effects. CBD is natural and much more tolerated in long-term usage, making it better suited for chronic pain in dogs.

Lowering Joint Inflammation

Many arthritis cases are either caused or aggravated by chronic inflammation. Particularly in rheumatoid arthritis, a dog’s immune system misfires and attacks the joint, driving the condition. Treating this issue is usually done by employing NSAIDs, which lower inflammation. In dogs, the risks of side effects from NSAID use are very high. They are not safe to use for long periods or in high quantities. CBD is naturally anti-inflammatory and helps calm the immune response. It lowers the production of inflammatory compounds like TNF-alpha to soothe the inflammatory response. In doing so, it can assist dogs in reducing inflammatory damage that occurs with hip dysplasia and arthritis. The swelling, redness and sore feeling from arthritis in the joints can be calmed or even eliminated. Notably, CBD can be used topically as well as orally. You can apply it directly to your dog’s joint to provide local relief in the affected region.

Minimising Pain Killer Reliance

Painkillers like opioids are frequently used in both people and dogs to help mitigate the impact and experience of chronic pain symptoms. Many are addictive or damaging when used too often or for long periods. For example, opioids like fentanyl or oxycontin carry a high risk of addiction. These are prescription-only pharmaceuticals that cause euphoria and help to block out sensations of pain. While not as potent, CBD has several similar effects. It modulates opioid receptors and stimulates similar effects in reducing the severity of pain. Primarily, it works for nerve pain. Other pain types are less manageable using CBD. Most arthritis pain in dogs occurs in the nerves, so CBD is suitable for alleviating it.

Promoting Joint Mobility

One of the most adverse impacts of arthritis in dogs as they age is lowered mobility. Reduced ability to move means dogs lose confidence, run less and gain weight. It can lead to other health problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes or lethargy. Your dog’s mood will be affected as they can’t enjoy the activities they once did, like playing and jumping. CBD for dogs can help them to regain their movement capacity. It allows the joints to rejuvenate and prevents the pain dogs associate with moving when arthritis occurs. Increasing mobility can boost overall health and well-being and aid with issues like blood pressure in your dog.

Mitigating Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Although it is separate from arthritis, hip dysplasia is another degenerative joint condition that can affect dogs detrimentally. It similarly leads to pain, inflammation and discomfort that can worsen over time. Like arthritis, it can result from separate factors, including genetics, age, health status, lifestyle and underlying conditions. It can occur in tandem with arthritis or result from it. Because it affects the hips, the primary levers in moving the legs, it can be even more detrimental to your dog’s ability to move, jump and maintain activity. Just like with arthritis, CBD can assist in helping to mitigate hip dysplasia symptoms. The pathways are also the same in mitigating inflammation and sensations of pain. It supports reduced symptoms and dampens the detrimental impact of hip dysplasia in dogs. As a result, your dog can regain normalised mobility and a better life quality of life.

Research on CBD for Arthritis in Dogs

Research into the efficacy of CBD for arthritis in dogs is limited. Several studies and promising signs suggest it is effective, but limited large-scale trials have been conducted. A clinical review explored the effectiveness of CBD in trials to lower pain and inflammation in animals. It found that the cannabinoid was clinically effective in treating signs of osteoarthritis but noted additional studies were needed. In particular, the review examined the ability of CBD and other cannabinoids to modulate the serotonin, opioid and GABA receptors. Each plays a role in how pain is experienced in the brain. For example, GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Enhancing GABA activity aids in pain perception reduction. 

Similarly, opioid receptors can directly mask sensations of pain or nociception. This is why opiates are used for their analgesic or pain-relieving effects. CBD can function similarly, albeit less potent, on these receptors in dogs to produce a similar effect.

Other veterinary medicine studies have tested the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD in dogs. A 2021 study from the Journal of Vet Science experimented on ex vivo dog blood to understand the inflammatory response it produced in canines. The most notable observations were that CBD lowered cytokine activity from TNF-alpha and enzymes like COX-2, both accelerating the inflammation response. This study successfully demonstrated the capacity of CBD to alter immune cell activity directly. This result provides evidence of CBD’s ability to reduce arthritis inflammation. 

Similar trials have produced equivalent effects in double-blind, clinically controlled placebo studies in dogs. A 2020 study from the International Association for the Study of Pain explored the ability of CBD to lower pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis in dogs over four weeks. It provided CBD to dogs via capsules, with blood tests done before and after the trial to monitor for cytokine and immune marker changes. It had several findings. One was that high doses of CBD at 50mg/day had the same benefits and effects as a lower 20 mg/day dose. Cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-alpha were lowered significantly in the study while also increasing levels of anti-inflammatory IL-10 enzymes. CBD helped lower osteoarthritis symptoms and pain. Importantly, no adverse effects of CBD were found during the study. This was tested through multiple blood tests and metabolic screens, confirming the compound’s safety.

A separate analysis explored the analgesic effects of CBD in relieving pain in dogs. It treated a group of dogs who had chronic pain with either placebo oil or CBD oil every 12 hours in a placebo-controlled, cross-over study. Blood samples were regularly taken during the tests. No side effects were seen across any of the dogs during the trial. Hudson activity scoring was used to assess each dog’s pain level and related symptoms. It showed that there was a decrease in pain symptoms among the dogs dosed with CBD.

In summary, the research suggests CBD has inflammation-controlling properties, which help mitigate arthritis symptoms in many dogs. More in-depth and large-scale clinical studies are needed to verify these results and support wider usage of CBD with veterinarians.

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

CBD is non-toxic, well tolerated in dogs, and has a low risk of side effects. It has no psychoactive effects and won’t get your dog high. When side effects occur, they tend to be very minor, such as diarrhoea and changes in stool colour. Don’t mix it up with THC, however. This is the psychoactive cannabinoid from hemp. It is toxic to dogs and should never be given to them. Ensure the CBD product you provide your dog contains no THC. Even trace amounts can be poisonous. If your dog is given THC, it will need veterinary treatment.

Warning on THC Contamination

THC can find its way into your CBD product in several ways. Your product could be mislabelled and contain THC. Many retailers mistakenly label many CBD products as 0% THC when they may have trace amounts of it. CBD products may also become contaminated with THC if it was produced in the same location as THC products. Be extremely careful only to purchase 0% THC products if giving CBD to your dog, and look for those that have been specifically formulated for pets with stringent quality controls.

How to Give Your Dog CBD for Arthritis

CBD won’t replace veterinary-prescribed medication and should only be used in consultation with your veterinarian. It should also never be mixed with other medications until you have checked in with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to guide you on the best approach to treating your dog’s arthritis and give you tips on using CBD. In many cases, it is not necessary or practical to use it. This needs to be carefully assessed. Vets will be able to know if it’s a good option for your dog. Plus, they’ll understand the risks, side effects or medication interactions. CBD should only be provided to your dog if there is a strong chance it will relieve arthritis.

Choosing a Product

When selecting and purchasing a CBD product for your dog, ensure it is high quality, contains no THC and has a lab analysis available. Lab tests will confirm the cannabinoid content and concentration of your product. It should provide specific quantities of each cannabinoid like CBG, CBN or CBD, plus any THC. Always seek out products formulated for pets, as they won’t contain THC. You can typically find treats, dog food or other tasty forms of CBD in Australia that will make it more palatable to your dog. Products made for humans often have additives or flavours which could be toxic to your pet. It’s best to avoid these.

Avoid CBD products that are ‘full-spectrum’ or ‘broad-spectrum’ when buying for your dog. These are less refined forms of CBD extract that are more likely to contain toxic THC. Isolate CBD products boost the concentration of CBD and are more refined, which eliminates any THC content, making them more suitable for canine use. Research your provider and view their reviews to ensure your product is quality and can help your dog. Organic products are typically better quality and produced from plants without pesticide or herbicide treatment. They’re less likely to have contaminants and should be safer to use.


When using CBD for your dog’s arthritis, there aren’t any recommended dosage guidelines. Effective dose and frequency will vary based on your dog’s size, severity of symptoms, age and health status. Most agree that around 2mg/kg as a dose used twice daily is a good starting point. Start with this and increase the dose after a few weeks if your dog responds well. Starting with low dosages will enable you to confirm that your dog is not experiencing side effects. Monitor them for any adverse reactions during this time, such as whining, scratching or irregular moods. If severe reactions occur or you have concerns about your dog, stop all dosing and take them to the vet.

It takes time and consistency to achieve results. Stick to dosing with your dog and remain consistent. CBD doesn’t work overnight. Continually monitor your dog for any side effects or behavioural changes. You should regularly check in with your vet to confirm your dog is healthy and whether adjustments are needed in dose or approach. The best results are seen when CBD is combined with other therapies or lifestyle changes, such as more activity.


How much CBD do I give my dog for joint pain?

There isn’t a single recommended CBD dosage for dogs with joint pain. Finding the optimal dose for your pup will take some time and testing different amounts. Bigger dogs generally need more CBD, but factors like tolerance, arthritis severity, age and product strength all play a part. Check with a veterinarian specialising in dog arthritis or joints for the best advice. Most studies and pet owners recommend up to 0.5mg per pound of body weight in your dog, but even more might be viable. Dosing over the day is usually better to enable slower endocannabinoid release for your dog’s arthritis. This should net better results in alleviating joint aches.

Is CBD good for older dogs in pain?

Most older dogs will encounter some form of arthritis or joint pain in their lifetimes. Because of this, the owners of ageing dogs tend to use CBD for their pets at much higher rates. CBD can assist with even minor joint aches but can also be combined with veterinary therapies in old dogs for different types of arthritis and joint degradation issues. CBD has analgesic qualities and is anti-inflammatory, which helps it protect the joint’s sheath while dampening pain sensations. It can help senior dogs regain confidence, mobility and quality of life as they age with arthritis.

How many times a day can I give my dog CBD oil for joint pain?

For arthritis in dogs, the quantity of CBD you provide and consistency in usage are more critical factors for success than the number of times per day you dose. CBD can be taken at any time of the day, and doses can be broken up or taken once daily. Most pet owners agree dividing doses throughout the day is a better approach to help their dog tolerate CBD and get more endocannabinoid activity. Always follow your vet’s guidelines and product recommendations. High-strength products may require fewer daily doses to help with joint pains.

How long does it take CBD to help arthritis dogs?

In more severe cases, it will usually take longer for CBD to work for arthritis. Similarly, if your dog is old, doesn’t respond well to CBD or has health issues, results from CBD can be delayed. Typically, owners will see benefits within several days of using CBD for their dog’s arthritis. Some dogs may take a few weeks to see noticeable improvements in mobility or pain. Stay patient, consistent with dosing and stick to your plan while checking in with the vet regularly. Consistency is essential with CBD to let your dog’s endocannabinoid system do its work.

Is CBD good for older dogs with arthritis?

Older dogs usually have more severe arthritis, joint pains or inflammatory issues like colitis, which CBD can assist with. In addition, senior dogs can benefit from the other health-enhancing properties CBD offers. These include boosted mood, enhanced energy, better immunity, and lower anxiety, which can be helpful to your dog as it ages. It’ll help your dog live more comfortably and age healthily with the proper support to get the most out of each day.

Can I rub CBD oil on my dog’s leg?

For treating arthritis in a target area such as your dog’s knee, you’ll want to look at buying a topical CBD cream or ointment for dogs. These are products specially produced to be rubbed into the skin or even your dog’s fur to help with pain and inflammation. They can be excellent at soothing symptoms of arthritis-like stiffness, irritation in the joint and aches that cause discomfort. Apply the ointment based on the dosage recommendation. It will absorb into the joint, where it’ll take effect. Topicals can be easily directed at a localised or specific problem area, making them practical for alleviating joint soreness in dogs.


CBD isn’t a cure for arthritis in dogs but can undoubtedly aid in lowering symptoms of pain and inflammation the condition causes. It does this through the endocannabinoid system, which regulates inflammatory activity and pain signalling. In particular, CBD suppresses the perception of pain or nociception in dogs. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused entirely by autoimmune-related inflammation and responds better to CBD than osteoarthritis in dogs. While more research into the effectiveness of CBD for arthritis in dogs is needed, the current body of research is already auspicious on its efficacy. If you want CBD for your dog, you can quickly introduce it to your dog’s daily routine through dog treats or CBD dog food. Speak to your vet first and ensure you purchase a high-quality product to avoid any THC contamination risk.